Saturday 9 October 2010

A Spurn Spectacular - RUSTIC BUNTING in East Yorkshire

With the weather conditions looking pretty good over the previous few days for a bit of an east coast fall, I decided to head over to Spurn today.  As I headed towards Kilnsea I sensed that I was in for a busy time.  All along the lanes I had to slow down with caution as I weaved through tired pipits, finches and thrushes resting on the road.  As I pulled into the car park it got even better with European Goldfinches and Eurasian Siskins literally dropping at my feet, hungry for seeds and completely unconcerned by my presence.  Looking to the sky, Redwings passed over in their hundreds and Skylarks headed south a dozen at a time.  The thought of rarities and silly year ticks did not even interest me, I was in birding utopia.

A hungry Goldcrest peeks out from a roadside hedge, no more than a two feet away!

As I made my way up towards the Crown & Anchor, hundreds of Goldcrests filled the roadside hedges along with impressive numbers of European Robins.  In the adjacent fields, thousands of Redwings were feeding along with smaller numbers of Song Thrushes and Blackbirds as well as the odd Fieldfare.  A scan of the berry laden hedgerows soon produced the first of six Ring Ouzels I would see during the day.  It was whilst watching one of these fine birds that I picked up a handsome Great Grey Shrike surveying the busy scene from deep within a hawthorn.  Luckily the bird soon started to show off in true Lanius fashion by perching up in the open and providing superb views.

After a thorough search of the Canal Zone I noticed that most birds seemed to be heading south along the peninsula.  I therefore took the decision to head to the Point and see what I could find.  As soon as I left the car the sound of calling Brambling and Eurasian Siskin filled the air.  The atmosphere was electric and to make it even better there were hardly any other birders about.  The Point was full to the brim of Goldcrests and Eurasian Siskins and around the trapping area at least 30 Brambling were a delight to see.  There were also smaller numbers of Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Common Redstarts.  A real treat however was finding a Barred Warbler clambering around in the buckthorn behind the VTS tower.  Along the high tideline, a first winter Black Redstart (286) was good to see, especially as it was my first of the year.  It was at this stage that news filtered through off a PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER further north in County Durham.  A quick look at my watch confirmed that I would never make it there with enough daylight remaining.

A male Eurasian Siskin feeds on roadside weeds no more that a foot away from the camera!

With a LITTLE BUNTING having been trapped, ringed and released at Kew I decided to head back down to Kilnsea to see if I could relocate the bird.  With no sign of it, I eventually gave up and headed back down the lane for a second helping of the Great Grey Shrike.  Whilst enjoying the bird, I picked up a radio message to say that another rare bunting had been found along Beacon Lane.  Within ten minutes I was watching a fine RUSTIC BUNTING (287) feeding along the footpath.  The bird initially showed quite well on and off but as more birders arrived and the light deteriorated the rarity began to get a bit more elusive and flighty.  Even so, I was ecstatic with the end to a another very memorable day in Yorkshire. 

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