Spurn 8th May

Beautiful weather at Spurn all day, though rather chillier than the sun would suggest, was some consolation for a quieter day than hoped for the time of year, with still no Swifts being a notable absence on the summer migrant front.  Sadly for us, we should have been there on Saturday apparently: various rarities having cleared out overnight! Though we met up  at Kilnsea Wetlands most of us headed straight to Rose Cottage to search for a a Red-backed Shrike  which had been reported there first thing – no such luck for us and after our fruitless search we headed back to the wetlands, a few lucky souls briefly seeing a male Ring Ouzel perched on a fence on the field opposite the car park.

What was really striking during the day was general lack of birds in any great numbers (especially waders, of which there were worryingly and disconcertingly few for the time of year) apart from Brent Geese (the flock numbering hundreds with great views of them in flight and on the ground). The Brent flock included a pale-bellied individual – which we did catch up with –  and a Black Brant – which we didn’t – heat haze stymieing our efforts. It was great to see several Whimbrel during the day in full view both on the estuary and in fields though.

However, we did pick up firsts of the year for a number of species for many of us including about 5 Little Terns and a handful of Avocets at Beacon Ponds, a few Grey Plover looking smart in their breeding plumage on the estuary mudflats and good views were had of singing Lesser Whitethroat on the triangle, though I was the only one to see the sole Whinchat of the day. We also had a smart Bar-tailed Godwit in breeding plumage, White Wagtail, Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper on the Wetlands.  Linnets were the exception to the rule of not much of any given species and there were Whitethroats and Sedge and Reed Warblers singing away too along the canal. There were also three Wheatears about and the only wader flock of the day was one of perhaps 80 – 100 Oystercatchers.

Not birds, but three porpoises seen pretty close in on the sea from the Warren seawatch point were a treat, other non-birds including a weasel that shot across the road, a couple of hares and four roe deer.

In the afternoon Sammy’s turned up some of the best birds of the day – a showy and fabulously well-marked female Ring Ouzel (the pattern of grey scalloping on the breast and pale silver wings was really striking) – in the first paddock (where else?!),  a couple of Yellow Wagtail flew over and then a shout went up from Barry of ‘Spoonbill’… which actually flew right over our heads along the bank!  Around 5pm a Cuckoo finally turned up and did a great flypast and we heard it calling too.  Four of us stayed on into the evening and returned to Kilnsea Wetlands to see if the Spoonbill had dropped in there – it had –  which turned out to be very worthwhile as with the wind changing to a southerly  there was an arrival of Sand Martins and Swallows which were feeding low over the water. Then as we were chatting to Terry McEvoy again, he spotted a Hobby shoot through, which we got onto, and he also said that though there had been no further reports of the Red-backed Shrike all day, he had had a female Pied Flycatcher by Rose Cottage a few minutes earlier – so we hared back there and eventually saw it  for  a few minutes before it disappeared into a bush completely out of sight.

A strange Spurn day, seemingly very quiet, but amazingly when we totalled up the number of species seen it came to 71, despite the numbers of birds from any given species being uncharacteristically low and there being an absence of some of the expected birds for the time of year.

Best wishes