Spurn Trip – Spring 2011 27th-29th May

We had been meaning to go for a spring visit to Spurn for a few years and now finally got round to it. We set off after work on the Friday and after the drama of the last journey up we were very happy to arrive safe and sound with about half an hour of light left. After seeing off a sausage and chips and listening to a Grasshopper Warbler we hit the sack at the observatory.

Saturday 26th May

We started the weekend with a walk from the observatory up to beacon ponds. The wind was howling and not exactly ideal but there is always something to look at. There were 4 Skylarks on the path with one bravely singing and lots of young Starlings were being fed. On the sea 11 Eider flew south and a party of 8 Swift were also seen heading south.

With it being so windy we concentrated on the waders and at beacon ponds a Grey Plover in full summer plumage was showing well with a few Dunlin and Ringed Plover. We watched the wonderful Little Terns displaying to each other and feeding very close by and 4 Sandwich Terns also passed through. 


Two Yellow wagtails and 2 Wheatear were noted, before we picked up a cracking summer plumaged Curlew sandpiper with a few Dunlin. The brick red plumage really is striking. It showed very well indeed and we also picked up a Little Stint but it was a bit more distant. After noting 2 Little Egret and a Grey Heron on the beach we headed back to the observatory watching House Martins and Sand Martins zipping around our heads. Some really enjoyable birding.


A quick look over the canal scrape produced 2 Gadwall a Sedge Warbler and lots of Sand Martins and we then drove down to the point to find some sheltered areas and watched many Whitethroat a Kestrel and a few Linnet. 

On the beach we watched a few Sanderling and found a Ringed Plover nest with 3 eggs! The adult came straight back on to them after we passed by.

 With the wind relentless we headed for Chalk bank hide for high tide and enjoyed the lovely array of waders that were in very close. Knot and Bar- tailed Godwit with some in summer plumage were seen with Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Sanderling and 2 Grey Plover. Oystercatcher were close in with around 10 Turnstone and a single Black-tailed Godwit flew south.  We were almost nodding off in the hide after being battered by the wind for hours when Greg decided to open the shutter on the side of the hide. On peering as high as possible the words "kite coming over the sea" got us springing out of the hide! To our amazement it was a BLACK KITE drifting slowly towards us! We were with a regular birder that had never seen one in the county and he put it out over the radio. The bird drifted directly overhead and out towards Lincolnshire. What a bird! It goes to prove you should never ever switch off at Spurn! Anything can happen.

After this excitement we went for a wander around the churchyard and popped into Kew to upload some of our photos with the warden.  Having a look at the feeders in church field we noticed a Turtle Dove was in one of the traps. What a bonus. The bird was caught and processed before being released. They really are cracking birds and a bird neither of us have seen many times. The markings on the wings are really stunning and so small in the hand! Their decline is a huge shame!

We then went for a wander round sammy’s and noted 2 Grey Partridge, 2 Wheatear and a single Yellow Wagtail in very blustery conditions.

That evening wasn't so fun as we watched united get undone by Barca but at least we had a couple of free pints for spotting the Kite.

Sunday 29th May

With the high winds still we decided to stick to the waders and headed for beacon ponds again. On route 33 Swift passed through and on reaching the hide a Little Stint showed well. Dunlin, Sanderling and displaying Ringed Plover were seen and many Little Tern were feeding and 2 Sandwich Tern passed through.

Walking back along the beach we had a brief look at the sea and picked up a Red-throated Diver close in on the sea before flying south along with 2 Great Crested Grebe.

We then decided to drive to an ATM to get cash for accommodation and on returning heard muffled excitement coming across the radio. After a phone call we were soon heading back to Beacon Ponds as a Red-Necked Phalarope had just dropped in. We had cracking views of the bird which was an adult female and stayed for around 30 minutes before heading south. Whilst watching this stunning bird the Little Stint decided it wanted to be watched and fed very close by.


We spent the rest of the day searching for birds and watched the waders again from chalk bank and had a Lesser Whitethroat in the canal hedge.

We then left for home after another cracking couple of days. The wind had hampered our chances of migrant hunting but the Phalarope and finding Spurns 3rd Black Kite had made it a special weekend.