Fourteen of us met up at Kilnsea Wetlands on Sunday 8th for one of our annual autumn jaunts to Spurn. It was lovely to have Jenny back with us again, now that she has recovered from her broken hip. The winds weren’t looking too promising (where are the easterlies this year?) and the tides times weren’t overly great either, but it turned out to be a much, much, better day than expected; with around 74 species seen and that doesn’t include the Marsh Harrier spotted on the way there!
With practically no birds on Kilnsea Wetlands as the tide was out, we stopped long enough to pick up a couple of Curlew on the fields opposite the car park and enjoy seeing a large skein of Pink-footed Geese flying over, then headed promptly to the Bluebell car park with the intention of walking the Triangle from there. Stonechats, Skylarks and Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers were all showing well south of South Field and there was obviously a good passage of Meadow Pipits going through. The first Redwings of the autumn for most of us passed over too. We were intending to stop to look for the Jack Snipe at Canal Scrape when we were told of a Barred Warbler by the Warren so we all hot-footed it to there instead. With a bit of perseverance most of us picked up the bird which was being rather elusive and exhibiting skulking/‘crashing through bushes’ behaviour before giving a brief but good flight view, while a male Blackcap did its best to fool everyone into thinking it was the Barred Warbler. There were also three or four Brambling by the Heligoland trap. News of a Rosy Starling, relocated and showing well from the bank along the Canal Zone caused us to continue our detour as we headed along the bank to try to catch up with it. With patience, great views were obtained – it was feeding in buckthorn, with a few Starlings, before flying about with a Starling flock that grew to 50+. In excellent light and calm conditions the pale colouration stood out from the rest of the flock and when perched, the yellow on the bill was evident. The flock was pretty mobile flying between wires and bushes – the Rosy Starling even spending some time on the Solar panels on Southfield farm (rather distant from our viewpoint on the bank). We finally made our way back to Canal Scrape Hide to see the Jack Snipe – picking up a mobile but showy Yellow-browed Warbler on the way (another treat for the day, though given the number of them that were about, it was surprising that that was the only one we managed to catch up with). The Jack Snipe proved to be hard work – even looking through a ‘scope trained on it, it was incredibly well camouflaged. Fortunately, it did bob up and down at times which clinched the bird for many who had been looking in the wrong patch of reeds! We then returned to Canal bank and continued with the Triangle. A few Golden Plover were showing well on the mud in the sunlight, and we also picked up Redshank, Ringed Plover and a couple of Knot (one in summer plumage still). A few Fieldfares flew over and most of us saw Wheatear and Chiffchaff too. There were also one or two Swallows and House Martins seen. Stopping off at Church field, we were given a guided tour of the new viewing platform behind the observatory – great views from the top, but not many birds about, though a GWE was supposed to have come down in Kilnsea Wetlands somewhere.
Back at the Bluebell car park for lunch, a bit of sea-watching gave Noel and Neil a Short-eared Owl fly past (the only two lucky enough to see this); then we all picked up a flock of Common Scoter, a few Gannets and a Red-throated Diver.
Heading to Sammy’s Point, we dipped on Ring Ouzel (present there earlier in the day) but had good views of a Bar-tailed Godwit on the mud and more Wheatears. As it had turned quiet we headed off to Easington Cemetery to see if anymore YBW were about – we didn’t find any, but did pick up a Pied Flycatcher, which was much appreciated, and some more Brambling.
Knowing that high tide was only an hour off we then headed back to Kilnsea Wetlands for birds coming in to feed and roost up. We were also rewarded with seven Brent Geese flying over. The wetlands were far more productive this time – Spotted Redshank, White Wagtail, Shoveler, Pintail and Med Gull all being added to the list. We then walked up to overlook Beacon Ponds and hope a few owls might be about near the listening dish. We had a flock of eight Greenshank, good numbers of Grey Plover, several Little Egrets and, satisfyingly, the Great White Egret too on the shores of the ponds. Heading back to the cars in fading light, and a fitting end to the day, most of the group got all too short views of a Short-eared Owl as it flew over the wetlands bank and dived into the long grass, not to be seen by any of us again.
An unpromising weather forecast for seeing much, but we came away having had a really satisfying day’s birding – even if many of the birds weren’t ones we might have expected to see at the time of year.
The full list of species seen (not necessarily in this exact order) was:
Teal, Wigeon, Meadow Pipit, Shelduck, Goldfinch, Little Egret, Curlew, Kestrel, Pink-footed Goose, Starling, Lapwing, Little Grebe, House Sparrow, Grey Heron, Greenfinch, Skylark, Stonechat, Wren, Reed Bunting, Robin, Dunnock, Yellowhammer, Pheasant, Redwing, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Swallow, House Martin, Brambling, Blue Tit, Blackcap, Barred Warbler, Rosy Starling, Great Tit, Yellow-browed Warbler, Jack Snipe, Snipe, Wheatear, Chiffchaff, Redshank, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Knot, Fieldfare, Chaffinch, Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Short-eared Owl, Mallard, Herring Gull, Great black backed Gull, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Pied Flycatcher, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Linnet, Cormorant, Spotted Redshank, Common Gull, Collared Dove, Brent Goose, White Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Shoveler, Pintail, Med Gull, Greenshank, Grey Plover, Great White Egret, Mute Swan, Black-headed Gull.