Champions of the Flyway!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


A wonderful morning - one of those that makes you acutely, emphatically aware of why you bother to get up and roll the die. It started out innocuously enough, with the usual cycle to the Country Park, walk along Carr Naze and scramble down to the seawatch hide not suggesting much was going on overhead before training the scope on the sea. With a brisk south-westerly blowing and the northerly airflow of a couple of days ago long gone, the sea was predictably dead - in contrast to the last few days, when long sessions have yielded several Long-tailed Skuas, a Cory's Shearwater, a couple of Poms and other seasonal goodness - and so I wandered out onto the Brigg to check the waders (and my messages)...

I glanced up to see a flood of hirundines bombing down the same slope I'd gingerly negotiated an hour or so before, and then looked further up to see more at higher altitudes, heading south, south-east, and south-west.... clearly something big was underway, and within a couple of minutes I was back up onto Carr Naze and in position, facing north-west along the cliff-edge. For the next 90 minutes - roughly 0800 to 0930 - it was a constant, exhilarating barrage, with masses of House Martins and Swallows, a good few Sand Martins and regular Swifts whipping up over the cliff and past me in their droves, at all conceivable heights. Counting was fantastically difficult, with a mess of a notebook covered in arrows pointing to new pages and columns, with dozens becoming hundreds becoming thousands. Just a an absolute joy to behold.

Contact with Keith and Nick a few miles down the coast at the vis-mig bottleneck of Hunmanby Gap revealed a similarly excited and manic situation unfolding there, and between us we witnessed perhaps the biggest and most intense hirundine movement ever here in the Filey recording area. Full counts to follow, but my totals (0750-1050) - low as they are, having no doubt missed many - happily read:- 4470 Swallows, 3650 House Martins, 95 Sand Martins and 15 Swifts. Priceless.