Friday, June 1, 2012
Filey, 23rd - 31st May 2012
May's final week or so brought some late spring rewards, with a couple of generally forgettable preceding weeks happily exorcised. After the winning streak of late April and a promising beginning to the month, a pattern of increasingly slight returns from almost daily circuits followed, with no significant arrivals of quality or quantity to speak of; but the end of the month went some way to redressing the balance.
juvenile Long-tailed Tit
Come the 19th, a scheduled four day trip back to London fell, somewhat nightmarishly, just as a north-easterly airflow settled over the North Sea, bringing a healthy scattering of scarce drift migrants to the east coast.... Something had to give, and a brief Rustic Bunting had unfortunately come and gone by the time I was back in the ring; timely inspiration however, with a clear run upcoming in the field.
And so the high pressure-inspired northerly airflow continued, with the mornings of the 23rd and 24th shrouded in dense, fast-moving fog (not unlike birding with a smoke machine as a constant companion), with the afternoons clearer but still prone to irregular sea frets. Both days were also, despite lengthy efforts, almost migrant-free, with a single Spotted Flycatcher in Arndale the highlight of many hours covering the northern area.
The 25th seemed to be following the same script, with thorough searches yielding nada under clear blue skies; however, a diversion to the obscured north-eastern lip of (the tiny) Carr Naze pond in the afternoon sun to photograph accommodating Sand Martins instantaneously swung fortunes around.
A Temminck's Stint rose from almost underfoot, and then behaved impeccably by alighting just a few metres away on the opposite edge of the pond instead of heading into the ether, and sticking around long enough to have its picture taken before rising over the Totem Pole field and heading west. A wonderful bird, apparently the first Obs record for eight years, and just the reward needed to keep the faith.
Otherwise engaged for much of the 26th, which was again largely sunny, with a variable (but mainly easterly) wind; we did, however, head back in easily enough time to catch up with a particularly talented Marsh Warbler, a masterclass in expert mimicry in the scrub and cow parsley of the East Spur. A good hour or more there also provided several brief but nice views as the bird roamed around its small, temporary territory.
The 27th was another full day in the field with much ground covered, but with little to show for it under more clear skies and a gentle (but cool) northerly. The 28th was likewise sunny and blue-skied, but with the rare distinction of being officially hot; another Osprey through at around 1015hrs was the pick of the bunch, but with a precious dash of genuine summer, it'd be churlish to complain too much.
And so to the 29th. After countless recent false dawns at the hands of inaccurate forecasters, a bona fide easterly wind took hold, however temporarily, raising hopes and focusing minds on the possibility of something special. Hence, multiple fine-tooth combings of the recording area, with efforts as usual focused on the northern / eastern coastal section, as well as a full loop of the south; hedgerows, fields, scrub, golf course, ravines, woodland, clifftops and the rest.
A probable Icterine Warbler in the Top Scrub gave us the runaround before a quick spate of good views and diagnostic song did the job just fine just after lunchtime; a fine bird, and while not quite the late spring killer that threatened, a final quality scarcity in a late month flurry. More signs of movement were evident on the day, not least in the lumbering form of yet another Osprey, which appeared over Carr Naze (and my head) early in the afternoon, making it four for the spring so far.
Of the 30th and 31st, well, not much, despite more constant attentions to detail. But the Dams provided plenty of family entertainment, hosting fluffy fledglings from Tree Sparrows to Mute Swans, plus Barn Owls, Cuckoos, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Foxes, Roe Deer, and plenty of hirundines and Swifts, making for a very affirming early summer scene.
Easterlies for the beginning of June? Anything could happen.....