Saturday, June 27, 2020

Honey-buzzard, Swifts & more - Muston Sands, Filey, 27th June 2020

Another very entertaining morning perched atop the cliff at my Muston Sands watchpoint just south of Filey town, on the high point of the bay's gentle curve.

With cloud and a south-westerly forecast, the hope was for a big push of Crossbills and Siskins - stars of the 'autumn' so far as they continue to irrupt from our northern forests - with the wind ideally nudging them along the coast and the cloud lowering their flight height.

In position for before dawn, it soon became evident that the wind was barely a whisper and the cloud was, well, thick fog, effectively writing off the first hour or so.

But tentatively, gradually, the blanket withdrew and the movements began, with Crossbills and Siskins in good (if not storming) numbers, plus a few waders, gulls, ducks, and other finches and passerines on the move.

But two iconic long-distance migrants stole the show, although there were almost 1500 more of one than the other. The latter number was today's Swift tally, which, while impressive, hardly does justice to the experience - a relentless, joyous torrent of birds zipping past at eye level, above and below, many almost brushing my cheek, and many others way, way out to sea. Ah, Swifts, seriously....

The other, meanwhile, is (over-)represented in these photographs, as it approached along the cliffs from the south (thanks Keith and Will for the early warning) - a breath-takingly smart and accommodating male Honey-buzzard, which performed ridiculously well and even made direct, extended eye contact with me as it glided north.....

A species that is less than annual locally and that I've caught up with maybe three or four times here over the last eight years, but never with such incredible views. Worth getting out of bed at 0340hrs? Absolutely.

Also on the move, pictured - Siskins (first two, below), Crossbills (next two), a vismig Dunnock, and Swifts (lower two).