Thursday, May 23, 2013

Filey, 13th - 22nd May 2013

Whimbrel, the Dams, 17th

There's always tomorrow..... On an ever-extending losing streak, and yet seemingly unable to leave the table while there are still dwindling chips to play with, these last ten days have unfortunately reinforced both this spring's refusal to play nicely and the use of lazy gambling metaphors.

Goosanders, 17th

Out in the field pretty much every day over the last six weeks or so, for at least several hours at a time (and often several multi-hour sessions per day) is a state of play that increasingly strikes of punishment gluttony, which isn't easy to deny. It's the time of year when anything can happen - even in unfavourable conditions, and in adverse circumstances; and yet, against all odds, effectively nothing has (at least, not until I finally blinked on Saturday morning).

After several days pounding the paths but struggling to justify a notebook entry, the 15th finally provided a little inspiration in the shape of south-easterlies and showers early on, which, after most of the day in the field, at least produced a scattering of fresh-in migrants: a Pied Fly and a male Common Redstart in Long Lane, a Spot Fly in the Top Scrub, four Wheatears in the fields and half a dozen Lesser Whitethroats at the tip, with additional single Pied and Spot Flys in Church Ravine late on. Something to work with at last.....

Turnstones, Dunlin and Knot heading north

But promising conditions for the 17th - south-easterlies, overcast, misty - proved beyond a shadow that no matter how conditions and timing may conspire to (justifiably) raise hopes, there's no room for any sense of entitlement, failing to produce a single genuinely new migrant in many hours tracing and retracing the circuit.

Kittiwake and Knot on the Brigg

For the 18th, less welcome conditions and almost as quiet, but for four drake Goosanders battling into the strong north-westerly, a wonderfully accommodating Whimbrel at the Dams, and various waders on the move or touching down on the Brigg, including Sanderlings, Turnstones, Knot, Common Sands and Dunlins. Of passerines, again, not a single genuine migrant.

Sod's little emissary

And so with good friends having arrived that evening and with heavy rain forecast until at least lunchtime the following day, it was time to put the Leicas down and knock back a few glasses. What could possibly go wrong?

"You snooze, you lose"

Alas, the gods were in particularly malevolent mood, invoking the Law of Sod to a comical degree. As I rose later than usual the following morning, what was strutting around on Carr Naze (part of my daily circuit for each of the last 4,000 days or so) like a Robin with extroversion issues but a stonking male Red-spotted Bluethroat. You've got to laugh, which I involuntarily did when the text came through, before trundling up (after a leisurely breakfast, in the spirit of being less hassled about such things these days) and enjoying what was a truly stunning little bird, as yet untrampled by the masses and showing off impeccably.

Pied Fly, Church Ravine

The following day (19th) and, despite a hangover from the previous night's house-warming party, up and out early and onto a Carr Naze encouragingly smothered in sea fret; multiple fine-tooth combings of here and all the other usual local sites produced a few new arrivals (with Sedge Warbler, Whitethroats, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff all on the cliff slope), waders on the move (inc. Grey and Golden Plovers and more Whimbrels), and several Spotted Flycatchers in Long Lane and Church Ravine. Not forgetting the Bluethroat, which allowed me to pretty much sit beside it as it sang into the fog.

Why the long face?

As for the 20th, 21st and 22nd, consider the equine carcass meticulously and consistently flogged, with barely a new arrival to trouble the notebook or camera. With salt in wounds provided by the multitudinous, zombified dog-walkers and their wrecking-ball companions, an acute awareness of habitat limitations and frailties, and the taunting barrage of target scarcities littering the coast via numerous grey squares on the Birdguides map, it's been a period, and to a great degree a season, to avoid dwelling on. Still, there's always tomorrow.....