Spurn R & R

It was just after 6am when John turned up outside my house ready for a day's birding. I was expecting some other company but it seemed everyone was busy. Even John was having second thoughts about a trip to the east coast, suggesting that the weather may have been too good in the early hours and many migrants might have left. Should we stay in Lancashire? Nah! As I've learned from quiz nights at the local cricket club, if you change your mind from your initial well thought out answer, there's an 80% chance of getting it wrong. We're going to Spurn!
As we approached the coast around 8:30, we could see the thin cloud dissipating but John's pager had bleeped with some good news. We parked up at the Crown and Anchor and set off down the canal bank in search of migrants. The garden on the corner held a couple of Blackcaps, Willow Warbler and Song Thrush whilst the adjacent field was full of Meadow Pipts together with a few Reed Buntings and a single Wheatear. On the estuary behind us the tide had been very high and was just starting to drop. Plenty of Redshank, Knot, Dunlin and Curlew with a few Ringed Plover, Turnstone and a single Grey Plover. Golden Plover flocks were very active and the distinctive call brought attention to a flock of around 25 Whimbrel as they dropped in further up the coast.In the bushes there were a few migrants like Redstart and Chiffchaff as well as plenty of the resident Tree Sparrows. A couple of Yellow Wagtails flew up from the canal area. We made our way across Clubley's as we thought that, with all these Pipits, there must be something else. However we drew a blank. We worked our way back up to the Blue Bell and had lovely views of a flock of Yellow Wagtails doing what they do best - follow cattle around picking off insects disturbed by them.
As we made our way back to the car, we had a splendid male Sparrowhawk in the hedge being mobbed by a Pied Flycatcher. The latter moved out of the way just in time as the Sparrowhawk made a lunge for it!
The high tide had closed the road down to the point but now it was passable. First stop was at post 41 where a small group of birders were staking out a Firecrest. In the brilliant sunshine and calm conditions, it was showing really well - then news of a Richard's Pipt at Clubley's! Back we went and we eventuially got some brief views on the saltmarsh as well as it flycatching before it took off and headed south.Next it was back down to the point. We'd just got out of the car at the very busy car park when John heard what he thought was a Lapland Bunting. We found it perched up with some Linnets before it flew further south. Three good birds in a short space of time! We then made our way through the buckthorn but there was very little of note until we got to the area where a juvenile Red-backed Shrike was showing off its aerial skills. There were still very few other birds in the area so we headed for the parade ground where we found (the same?) Lapland Bunting on top of the trap until it got chased away by a couple of Reed Buntings. However the bird came back and showed very well to the assembled throng (much better than a flight view in the top field at Filey!)
After a bacon butty and other refreshment, we headed for the site of the Barred Warbler. One of the coach parties was there en-masse and nothing was showing until a Lesser Whitethroat fooled me! We spent a fruitless half hour searching but as people melted away we got better views of the LW and then the Barred was seen feeding on Elder berries. I got onto it just to late as it flicked out of sight at the back of the tree. Another frustrating half hour passed as people got brief glimpses. Eventually it took flight and everyone left.... except me and John. I finally moved around some buckthorn where I though it might be, heard some rustling and out it popped only to fly back to its tree and then out of sight again. Ah well!Finally we called in at Sammy's Point where there had been a very obliging, tame Woodchat. "It's in that bush" was the advice. Another half an hour later, it finally poked its beak out of hiding and took in some of the evening sun - lovely. All this and more Redstarts, Spotted Flycatchers and a Peregrine. A very enjoyable days birding with several scarce migrants - glad I went with my initial instinct!


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