Spurn 2010

Friday 10th- Sunday 12th September

We were forced to have our annual Spurn trip a little early this year but were encouraged by the birds present in the week. The trip got off to a very crazy start but for all the wrong reasons. Coming into a roundabout about 30 minutes away we slipped helplessly off the road on the exit and into a lamppost! Disaster! The radiator was smashed and the alternator was loose so the battery wasn’t recharging! We limped the car to a garage and got a taxi to the crown and Anchor. Not a good start but it was game on!

The first bird we set eyes on was a Lesser Whitethroat whilst walking with all our bags to the observatory and 2 Willow Warblers were flitting in the hedges. Nearing the Warren we saw our first Redstart of the weekend. What was instantly apparent was the movement of Meadow Pipits and Swallows. A steady stream of Swallows were passing south and the Pipits were flying up all over the place!


We dumped all our bags in our room and as we had no car decided to have a steady walk to the point. It was pretty quiet and most of the migrants from the fall in the week had unfortunately cleared out. We had very little other than a Redstart en route but we were enjoying watching the visible migration of the Hirundines and Pipits and it as good to be back!


Arriving at the point there were 2 Wheatear with 2 Pied Wagtail near the parade ground and the Starlings were bathing in a nearby puddle. We soon had our first Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Whitethroat were also noted. The wind really wasn’t helping so we decided to find the most sheltered area at the point and searched hard. It paid off almost instantly as we walked in amongst the elderberry bushes a smart Pied Flycatcher showed well. We soon located a tit flock and picked out a Goldcrest before a finch dropped in and landed just in front of us. It was a Common Rosefinch! Unfortunately it took off again in a matter of seconds. A new bird for both of us and we went about relocating it.


As we rounded the corner very carefully looking for the Rosefinch a bird was flushed from the path. We instantly called Wryneck and sure enough there in the bushes sat the bird. We managed to watch it a close range sat there wiping its bill on the branch and looking right at us. An amazing bird that even allowed us to get a few photos!



We continued to the point dunes where we again flushed a bird from the path. This time it dived into thick cover very low down. We were not sure what it was and saw it again fly even deeper into an inaccessible area. It looked to me like a Locustella warbler but just seemed too small and dark all over! We were baffled but had no choice but to move on as the bird was not even close to showing. A bit frustrating! We spent the rest of the day birding around the warren and the Crown and Anchor. We saw 2 Spotted Flycatcher by the Crown and had 3 Willow Warbler and 1 Chiffchaff along Beacon Lane.



We finished the day by walking around the traingle and finding Common Toad then watching 11 Yellow Wagtails feeding in amongst the Cows before getting a lift to pick up the car which was greatly appreciated. It was the end of a day that had its bad moments and its great moments. A great Curry rounded things of nicely.



Saturday 11th  September

We woke up to quite poor weather conditions again unfortunately but we set about a walk around the Warren. A look from the hide over the scrape produced 3 Yellow Wagtails, a Snipe, Dunlin and a single Teal.

We decided to drive to Sammy’s point as we now had the car back to search there for migrants. This is just north of the Spurn recording area. Again it was quieter here than previous years but we had a Peregrine Falcon mobbing crows en route and had 2 Wheatear, Garden Warbler, 2 Whinchat and a flock of Tree Sparrow. There was also a flock of around 80 Golden Plover in a ploughed field nearby.

As we arrived back at the warren conditions were starting to improve slightly with the wind dropping and it was appearing to get a bit brighter. We headed slowly towards the point and scoured the area again in the hope of getting more views of the Wryneck. Unfortunately the bird evaded us today but we did see 2 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Whitethroat. A Grey Seal was spotted on the beach but there was no sign of the unknown warbler species from the previous day.

As the weather cleared a little the visible migration was again apparent. Swallows would trickle through with the occasional large flock heading over. There were a few House Martin and Sand Martin in with them and 2 late Swift were noted. The constant flow of birds really was great to see as neither of us had experienced this before.


We went for another look around the warren and scanned through the many pipits grounded in the hope of a rarity. It was amazing to see quite so many Meadow Pipits, they were everywhere! Whilst sat in the hide again a call came over the radio of an Osprey heading south. On leaving the hide we scanned the skies and picked up the bird heading almost directly over our heads. More visible migration! We had great scoped views of the bird as it headed out over the Humber. Around an hour later another was reported and Greg managed to get on to it briefly but this bird was far more distant.


The rest if the day was spent working the hedgerows. A lovely Pied Flycatcher performed well just outside the accommodation and we had another Redstart, 4 Willow warblers, and 2 Spotted Flycatcher which showed very well around the Crown and Anchor. Watching a Spotted flycatcher doing its thing really is great! After leaving their perch they glide toward the unsuspecting insect snapping shut their bill and returning to the same perch. Great birds that we have been lucky enough to see a lot of this year! It is always a treat and let’s hope they have had a good year as it appears.




We finished off watching a Garden Warbler and 2 Blackcap devouring elderberries by the triangle before heading for the crown for fish and chips and a well deserved pint.

Sunday 12th September

Today started with slightly improved weather. The wind was not as strong and the rain was holding off. We started with the usual walk around the warren and had Pied Flycatcher near the canal. We decided again to go for an early look around Sammy’s and it produced similar results. 5 Wheatear and a Single Redstart were the birds of note, with a Yellow Wagtail dropping in with the horses. Before moving towards the point we looked over the scrape from the hide and had a Corn Bunting feeding in the grass.

We again headed to the point to search again for the Wryneck. On the way we stopped off at Chalk bank hide to have a look through the waders as the tide was high. It was a great scene and we had close up views of a lovely flock of around 60 Grey Plover with many still in their stunning summer plumage.

Also on show were many Redshank, Knot, Dunlin, Turnstone, and Bar-Tailed Godwit with a few Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Curlew and Oystercatcher all busy feeding. A single Avocet was seen in with the waders and an Eider was just offshore. When a Kestrel put the whole flock up it was great to scan through the  mix of waders in flight before they settled once again so close to the hide!

Continuing to the point we were in luck and managed to see the Wryneck again on 4 separate occasions! We had found its favored area and it gave us brief yet close up views. It’s a bird that always leaves you wanting more! Also in the area were 2 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Spotted flycatcher, 4 Whitethroat and 3 Swift passed overhead.


On the way back from the point again we stopped for a look around the bushes and had a look from Chalk bank. All the waders had moved away as the tide had retreated but 2 Common Lizards were warming up on the steps to the hide so we watched and photographed them for a while. It was funny to see them pressing their bodies against the ground but lifting their feet up as it was evidently too hot for them. They have a great range of colour and one was strikingly green!



We spent the rest of the day walking the hedgerows in search of a rarity but there was no joy, we enjoyed more of the Spotted Flycatchers and opposite the Crown and Anchor picked out a smart juvenile Curlew Sandpiper showing very closely!



We went on a final walk towards beacon ponds after a downpour but no rarity was produced. We decided to head for home and the final birds of the trip were 6 Grey Partridge feeding in the stubble field. These are birds I really haven’t seen very often so it was a great end to another great weekend. Quieter than previous years on the rarity front but great fun all the same. The next day late news came through of a Roller just north of where we were searching at the gas terminal. It just goes to show anything can turn up!