Champions of the Flyway!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Filey, 1st - 25th July 2013

Avocets at the Dams, 24th

Leaving it this long since the last local round-up usually means there's been little of note to report, and the midsummer (or winter) doldrums have firmly taken hold. Not so this time, however; in fact quite the opposite - it's been such an entertaining few weeks, there's been plenty to post about outside of the chronological summaries and time has instead been dedicated to enjoying as many daylight outdoors as possible.

The start of July seems like a long, long time ago, but signalled the beginning of month two of our seasonal monitoring in the bay; beyond that, much spare time was often spent similarly looking out over the ocean (although usually on Carr Naze or the Brigg for more dedicated sea-watching). Throw in regular hits on The Dams and East Lea (our local wetland reserves), and the choices are enviable.

Arctic Skua, passing daily in modest numbers

The first week of the month saw good movements of Common Swifts (often in three figures), Curlews, and Sandwich Terns (and small numbers of Arctic and Common), and the odd Grey Heron in off the sea; in the bay, a sprinkle of non-breeders included Great Crested Grebes, Common Eiders, Red-throated Divers, and Common Scoters were beginning to move in their hundreds (with variable groups of a handful to a hundred also in the bay).

Adult Little Gull - always a joy on a seawatch

By the second week, subtly positive changes included a few more Manxies and Arctic Skuas coming through, the first Red-breasted Mergansers, Wigeon and decent Teal flocks on the move, Scoters consistently in three figures, Sandwich Terns numbers steadily increasing, and incoming Whimbrels starting to outnumber Curlews.

A small part of the 500+ strong scoter flock in the bay - spot the male Velvet (click to enlarge)

The first returning Sanderlings, Purple Sandpipers, Turnstone, Med Gull, Greenshank, and Little Egret stopped by, an early Sooty Shearwater cruised south and an unseasonal Red-backed Shrike at the Tip were all easily distraction enough, but the on the 9th, a single Minke Whale - at the time, exceptional - was the harbinger of an unforgettable fortnight to follow.

Some of the 56 Lapwings that dropped in to the Dams on 24th - spot the male Ruff

Which is something to be left for next time and deserving of more specific attentions, but lord, what a fortnight; more to follow on the subject soon (but plenty of photos here, here and here). By the third week, said cetacean-watching happily dominated daily proceedings but inevitably involved avian diversions; while watching multiple Minkes on the 18th for example, I'd single Little Tern and Little Gull north and a good cast of waders including summer-plumaged Knot and Black-tailed Godwits, while on the 22nd and 23rd, single Pomarine Skuas lolloped south beneath the vantage point.

A bit more Ruff, same time, same place

Little Gulls have graced several other days since, as have Crossbills, with several in off the sea and odd singles or couples knocking around on Carr Naze and elsewhere (sadly lacking nice stripey wings); most the action, however, has concerned waders. It's that time of year when possibilities increase with each day, and when the right conditions conspire, anything can happen.

Summer-plumage Knots heading south over Carr Naze

An early morning session at the Dams - quiet the evening before - in murky, drizzly, misty conditions on the 24th was excellent, with a trio of Avocets fresh in from the north, and then three Ruff (with no less than 56 Lapwings) suddenly dropping in out of the gloom. With five each of Green and Common Sandpiper also there, it was a timely reminder of the how enthralling a modest bit of mud can be at this time of year.

Sanderlings and Redshanks, ditto

At sea and on the Brigg it's mainly about the waders too, with shimmering flocks of Knot, Sanderling, Turnstone, Whimbrel, Redshank and various other species heading south or stopping by. A fine few weeks, and it's all set to get better and better from here....