Champions of the Flyway!

Friday, October 29, 2021

Wader clouds, Killingholme, Oct '21

From this week's surveying on the muddy banks of the Humber - Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets, and the odd Dunlin and Redshank along for the ride.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Diversity on the Brigg, 24th Oct '21

Another from the weekend: after the wonderful session on the Brigg on Saturday (see here), another quick session on Sunday yielded hundreds of Starlings (last pic) pushing miraculously into the strong south-westerly and in off the North Sea from the continent (with some Redwings and Skylarks), perilously close to the raging seas, and a cracking almost-full-breeding-plumage Great Northern Diver among other treats (see below)...
.... and this Red-throated Diver performed beautifully for the camera as it (just) avoided a crashing wave on the Brigg, illuminiated by surf and a little splash of late autumn sunshine.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Iceland Gull - Filey Brigg, 23rd Oct '21

As detailed in the last post, I'd spent the working week guiding at Spurn Bird Obs, returning late Friday night; Saturday and Sunday would need some serious attention paid to desk-based work - but we all need fresh air and birds to focus our working minds, right? And it is late October on the Yorkshire coast....
Thus, a 'quick' session on Brigg seemed reasonable, and as always at this time of year, it was a joy. Redwings and Starlings battling in over the waves, a Lapland Bunting trilling low and in off the sea, Rock Pipits and Siskins on the move, two Tundra Bean Geese south over the sea (as well as 470 Pinks) - all quite enough, but the icing (cough) on the cake was this truly stunning Nearctic Larus.
Approaching from the north-east over a tumultuous, washing-machine surf over the Brigg, it wheeled closer, gave me the death stare and headed south - but not before kindly turning around, dropping onto the Brigg, and resting up for a while. Iceland Gulls are proper scarce here at Filey, and indeed are less than annual in recent years, and so any encounter with them is a special one - and even better when they're so accommodating.


Saturday, October 23, 2021

Guiding at Spurn, Oct '21 (in pictures)

Redwings - they came, we saw, they conquered (us)

We're just back from a wonderful five days at the mighty Spurn Bird Observatory, where we (Rich and I) had the pleasure of guiding pretty much dusk 'til dawn - Rich with our five-day group, and I with a different team of clients every day on our new Spurn Migration Discovery Days.
Whooper Swans - possibly my favourite of all late autumn east coast migrants

Naturally, it's all about the clients and their enjoyment of the birds, and so the camera stays in the bag or the background; hence, a justifiably lean memory card from the week - but it was at hand for a selection of often random moments, some of which are shown here.
Little Egret transmitting the right messages

From a rarity perspective, the Two-barred (Greenish) Warbler (below) was naturally the pick, and continued our seemingly unstoppable run of either finding or jamming in on rarities this autumn; from a migration memories and general highlights perspective, however, it would struggle to make the top ten. Spurn in late autumn always provides, and every day was different - giving unique experiences for my daily clients, and keeping it constantly entertaining for me.
Two-barred Warbler - nice

Too many great experiences to describe here, at least if I want to actually get this post published before it gets lost in the mix.... but I do want to say how great Spurn is, and in particular, the people there - singling out the wonderful messrs Fisk and Collins for their sterling efforts and generally lovely dispositions, as ever. We're back for a week (lots of work elsewhere) and then we return to Spurn for a repeat performance the week after, in early November - can't wait!
More Whoopers - but never enough
Little Gull on Kilnsea Wetlands
Fresh-in Ring Ouzel on the listening dish
Shoveler, Black-tailed Godwit, and masses of Pink-footed Geese on Kilnsea Wetlands
Chiloé Wigeon, with Eurasian Wigeons on Kilnsea Wetlands - it may have cruelly got the blood pumping fast on first glance, but at least its living its best life after escaping some depressing collection
Incoming Whoopers over the North Sea - photobombed by the, er, North Sea
Peregrine - trouble on the estuary
More Redwings? Yes please...

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Autumn Migration Days 2021 - unbeatable?

Q: What do Red-flanked Bluetail, Black-browed Albatross, Glossy Ibis, Taiga Flycatcher, migrating flocks of Whoopers and Pink-feet, Spotted Redshank, Yellow-browed Warblers, falls of thrushes and Wheatears, big movements of finches, pipits and larks, Sooty Shearwaters and Pomarine Skuas, and frolicking pods of Bottlenose Dolphins have in common?

A: They've all been enjoyed on our Yorkshire Coast Nature Migration Specials at Flamborough in the last month.....
Black-browed Albatross, Bempton - when it returned at the end of June, who would've bet it'd have (just) hung on in time for a mid-September Migration Special?

What a roll we're on.....! I've loved delivering our Autumn Migration Specials for several years now, and I have to say, we always provide unique and varied days for our clientele - of whom there are no more than four on every day, to ensure a top quality experience - and while there's always the option of us going further afield, we're usually centred on and around the Great White Cape of Flamborough Head.

Why? Well, because it always seems to provide. Previous years have been fantastic, with a perfect mix of migration spectacles, rare and scarce migrants, and unique bird and wildlife adventures; this season, however, has been borderline ridiculous. It seems, even with the theoretically more productive option of casting the net wider to incorporate a variety of alternative local sites, that taking it slowly and just absorbing everything Flamborough wants to give us is the winning formula.

Putting us in the right places at the right times is part of my job, and while just enjoying what's happening around us (and incorporating local goodies) is our MO, I have to say, when our group finds include the only mainland UK Bluetail this year and Flamborough's third Glossy Ibis, they're cherries on an already very tasty cake.
Is there a more evocative sign of autumn east coast migration than the beautiful tootin' of an incomong Whooper flock?

It's gratifying that they book up so far in advance, and it's even more gratifying that clients return time and time again - a testament to the fact that, despite often covering the same areas, no two days are ever the same. Roll on next year (dates to follow on the YCN website soon), but now, down the coast and to Spurn for a week's guiding .....