Thursday, April 26, 2012

Filey, 22nd - 26th April 2012

Singing Willow Warbler

After spending the best part of a week back in London, tying up loose ends and seeing friends, we loaded our gear out of the storage unit, into a whale of a hire van and drove back, in apocalyptic conditions and via a gridlocked M1.... and thus our final physical ties were severed with our home city of many years, and Filey officially becomes the centre of the known universe.

Fly-by Whimbrel
22nd: A stroll around the Brigg and Carr Naze in the morning with our dear friend (and cupid) Eike under stormy skies provided a cracking male Ring Ouzel along the southern flank, a welcome first for the year and evidently fresh in between rain showers; an early afternoon wander around the south side (The Glen, Donkey Bridge, south cliff etc.) included a recon of Golf Course Pond; not exactly undisturbed, but still hosting a Common Sandpiper - one more wader than the Dams could manage, with zero wader habitat and very high water levels there presently.

Ring Ouzel on the clifftop at Long Lane
23rd: A second blessed day in the first month here, and a second jackpot from the short stretch of footpath along the north of the Tip - three Common Cranes approached noisily from the north, circling for several minutes and giving great views before slowly heading south. (More details here).

As well as the Cranes, a day total of 24 Chiffchaffs (as well as a sprinkling of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps), a pair of Grey Partridges (resident around the tip), a 190-strong Linnet flock, the Peregrines acrobatically pair-bonding and very close encounters with Roe Deer and a Fox in Parish Wood made for an entertaining morning in the northern area; a while at the Dams towards the end of the day produced 28 Swallows and a drake Mandarin (which had arrived earlier in the day).

singing male Blackcap (with bling), Church Ravine
24th: A bright and sunny morning after showers overnight, and a circuit incorporating Church Ravine, Long Lane, Carr Naze and the Top Scrub, was notable for more warblers (25 Chiffchaffs, six Willow Warblers and 14 Blackcaps) and two smart male Greenland Wheatears; but otherwise, it was a quiet one after yesterday's excitement.

Herring Gull (with aberrant wing pattern), the Dams

25th: The same route as yesterday (i.e. concentrating on the eastern half of the northern area) in cool, overcast conditions with a moderate ENE wind promised something, but in the end provided little in the way of new arrivals. A Whimbrel low and close up over the Top Scrub, and a male Yellow Wagtail knocking around the Dams, luminous in the afternoon's torrential rain, rescued a pretty hard-going and damp six-hours plus out on the patch.

Barn Owl  

26th: Overnight south-easterlies and overcast skies looked good, and with the wind dropping, milder air circulating and showers moving through, again the sense that something could happen was easily enough inspiration to start early and cover the whole northern area. Alaa, again it wasn't to be, and new arrivals were surprisingly scant, although a cracking chak-ak-aking Ring Ouzel fresh-in at the top of Long Lane made efforts worthwhile.

Chiffchaff, Church Ravine

A baywatch from the top of the Glen in the hope of tern movements in a dark and showery mid-afternoon produced no Sterna or Chlidonias, but two Velvet Scoters (the semi-resident pair), 12 Common Scoters, four Eiders, two Great Crested Grebes and a Brent Goose heading north.

 Wheatear, north cliff

And so month one enters its final few days. A curious few weeks, with migration being distinctly muted and stuttering thus far, even accounting for the time of year and where we are; the endless depressions which've dominated April's charts have evidently blocked the path of a great many migrants, and those that have made it so far have done so unassumingly, almost via the back door.


Still, finding a Great Grey Shrike and three Common Cranes is very satisfying way to get out of the blocks, and more than I'd bargained for this soon; if the spring ended now, I'd be more than happy with it, but I've a feeling there's more to savour just around the corner.