East Yorkshire birding at its best

Normally I have one or maybe two trips to the east coast in the autumn, especially if south-easterly winds are blowing. These past two weeks, a high pressure system has sat over northern Scandinavia and drawn winds from central Russia across northern Europe and across the North sea; at this time of year, these winds influence the migration of thousands of birds. Normally a light south-easterly is all that we require but we've had really strong easterlies for several days. So I, like many others, looked to do some birding on the east coast with the hope of bumping into one or two scarce and rare birds.
I have a few favoured spots but even a died-in-the-wool Lancastrian like me has to admit that East Yorkshire is the best place to be in these conditions so last Wednesday John Wright and I decided we'd have a days birding around Flamborough Head. The news of Britain's third Eastern-crowned Warbler at Bempton late on Tuesday certainly gave us a target to start with having seen the first a few years ago near South Shields.

Wednesday 5th October
We arrived at the Bempton car park around 8am and soon had some reasonable views of the Eastern-crowned along with Yellow-browed Warblers and a host of Goldcrests and Song Thrushes. It was all set up to be a good day when news of an Albatross seen off Filey 10 miles north set the pulses racing. The assmbled throng of around 60 birders legged it to the cliff-top observation viewpoints. Within five minutes I clasped eyes on it and with an expletive, got everyone else onto it. Unbelievable - a Black-browed Albatross making its way slowly along the coast - finally caught up with this species, one that I first dipped on forty - sheesh, forty! - years ago.
Immature Black-browed Albatross
Immature Black-browed Albatross
Immature Black-browed Albatross
Once the bird had passed, we continued searching the hedgerows for any more waifs - several YBWs and a Spotted Flycatcher in amongst the Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs and Redwings which seemed to be arriving all the time.

We moved on to Flamborough Head picking up Redstart, a few Wheatears and a lone Tundra Bean Goose but most everything else was being kept down by the wind. Returning to Bempton, we got brief views of a phyllosc that was purported to be a Greenish but later identified as an Arctic Warbler. Some final views of the ECW and we headed back after a great day.
Chiffchaff
Chiffchaff
Sat/Sun 8/9th October
I returned to Spurn with Bernie for the weekend as the winds continued to come from the east. We started at Easington by the old Bus Station where some nice birds had been reported. There were at least three YBWs as well as lots of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. We also had a Red-brested Flycatcher there that was very elusive at times. We meandered down towards the cemetery south of the village where more goodies had been seen. There were hundreds of Redwings and Song Thrushes in the fields. Flocks of Bramblings and Chaffinches mingled with the resident Tree Sparrows - there were birds everywhere and the most ubiquitous were Robins.
Goldcrest
The news of an Olive-backed Pipit at the Gas Terminal decided the next place we'd visit but unfortunately there was no sign. We headed for Kilnsea, parked at the Blue Bell and went for lunch - I wish they'd been a bit quicker with the bacon butty because as we left we bumped into Graham Jones and Gavin Thomas who informed us that the Rustic Bunting was showing in Church Field. We arrived at the gate just as a many were leaving - just flown off - grrrrrr. Ah well, there were more YBWs to enjoy and Goldcrests to search through.

After wandering around the 'Triangle' picking up several shorebirds, Woodcock, Black Redstart, Jack Snipe and the like, we made our way to Sammy's Point but soon after we arrived, news that the OBP was back at the Gas Terminal came out. What an obliging bird in the dimming evening light!
Olive-backed Pipit
What was even better was it staying to the following day when I could get an image in better light....
Olive-backed Pipit
Sunday brought us lots more birds - the buntings still eluded us though (both Rustic and Little). Great Grey Shrike at Sammy's was a long way off! A couple of male Ring Ouzels gave great views alongside Wheatears and more Redstarts.

Pallas' Warbler is a special bird, so one behind the White Horse was a very welcome addition to the day's birds. Though elusive at times it showed very well (when I didn't have my camera of course!)

Then it was back to the cemetery where another Red-breasted Flycatcher was posing.
Red-breasted Flycatcher.
Three great birding days on the east coast in the space of five days, yet there was more to come....

On the Sunday, news broke of a Siberian Accentor on Shetland - there were several goodies up there the following days but there surely had to be a mega on the mainland. Friends who were staying at Flamborough for the week were having an amazing time with some great birds but on Thursday afternoon, all hell broke loose. A Siberian Accentor at Eastington (not 50 yards from where the OBP had been!)

A hastily arranged day off was arranged and John and I headed east once again.

Friday 14th October 
We fully expected a large number of birders in the area - must have been a few hundred in the vicinity with parking all along the road into Easington. Such was the rarity and event, the invasion of birders caught the news headlines.

The bird was very confiding, hopping around the moss-laden tarmac of the old school yard nonchalantly tossing leaves aside to pick up tiny morsels underneath. Everyone was well behaved I'm glad to say.
Siberian Accentor
Siberian Accentor
With the target bird safely under our belts, we then headed out to do some proper birding to see what we could find. We headed to the Blue Bell car park where we managed to find a spot and as we got kitted up, a Shore Lark landed nearby. This bird eventually stayed all day in the same spot allowing everyone a great view.
Shore Lark
Shore Lark
There were birds absolutely everywhere - many more Fieldfares than the previous weekend and a few flocks of Redpolls (judging by the size and call, probably Meallies) moving south. There were Bramblings and Siskins overhead too.  Next though was the news of a Dusky Warbler trapped in Church Field which was subsequently shown off to around a hundred birders.
Dusky Warbler
There weren't many YBWs around though we heard one or two and then got to grips with a cople of Firecrests. As we made out wat around Cliff Farm, a flock of around 65 Russian White-fronted Geese flew over the humber and circled once before heading off. We saw Woodcock too. There had been an OBP near the Blue Bell and a Pallas' Warbler in the Crown and Anchor Car Park  so we headed back there but I soon decided to wander down to the canal scrape area and search for something else. I eventually met up with John again who'd seen the Pallas' and we went for a gander at an immobile Jack Snipe on the scrape. Next were the triangle bushes - I went one side and John the other - plenty of Goldcrests and a few Chiffchaffs and As I got to the Canal Bank I wondered where JW was - I then saw him waving to get my attention - a minute later we were enjoying good views of a very obliging Dusky Warbler 'tchack'ing away.

We eventually left the to the crowd that had gathered and went to complete the triangle but hadn't gone far when we noticed nine Bean Geese on the saltmarsh edge. One had a very yellow bill but as it was a similar size to the rest we assumed all to be Tundra Beans.

After a deserved cuppa, we had a last look at the Shore Lark and then back to the Accentor where there were now only around 30 birders. It gave great views but the light was rather poor. So having sated our appetite for views of this bird, we checked the Goldcrests around and found another Firecrest. And then the one that got away - I pick up a flycatcher silhouette on the back edge of the trees but lost it as it flicked up into the canopy. We searched for quite a while but could only find more crests, a Blackcap and Chiffchaffs. Ah well. We headed to the chippy in Patrington and gleefully scoffed a celebratory fish supper!
Siberian Accentor
What a week and to be present on 4 out of nine days on the east coast in that weather was fantastic - migrants all over the place and one of the best birding periods I've had.
Dark-bellied Brent Geese




Comments

  1. Some awesome stuff Dave, wish we get an Albatross over here in HK or just one of any type of Accentor will be great!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I remember dipping that albatross

    ReplyDelete

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