Champions of the Flyway!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Filey Fall - 22nd May '24

Jesus, well that was fun. A bit of context first: there's been an excellent run of conditions this month on the coast, with easterlies and rain encouraging drift migration and the classic species / scarcities associated with them; however, I've had very little opportunity to get out locally due to other commitments*, with just the odd hour stolen here and there since getting home from Romania a little over a week ago.
Today, though, had the tasty words 'office day' written on the calendar, and one of the good things about being self-employed is, well, 'reshuffling' all that important desk-based stuff to, er another time. After a severe, very wet, very windy weather front went through (from the east...) overnight, through the morning and into the early afternoon, it looked promising for when the conditions calmed - which, by about 1330, they did.
Work went out of the window and I went out the door, and headed up to my beloved Carr Naze, here on my doorstep in Filey. Chatting with Rich on the phone as I opened the car door, a greyish warbler flew past me, which turned out to be a Garden Warbler - encouraging. Back on the phone to Rich, and a flash of red, grey, black and white likewise whizzed past me - Red-backed Shrike, surely? A check of the fenceline where it headed and bingo - my first (UK) bird of the spring.
Game on, or an isolated lucky strike? Well, fifteen or so minutes later, and I was sitting on the southern slope of Carr Naze watching not only another two male Red-backed Shrikes (!), but two Bluethroats, simultaneously, all from the same spot; so, yes, it turned out to be the latter.....
Again, a little context - I've found plenty of Red-backed Shrikes here in Filey over the years, but a notable year would be, well, more than one or two; even more pleasingly, Bluethroat was one of my notable self-found omissions here - despite seeing three or four here, I'd not actually found my own, in twelve years. Until today, that is....
Further patrols of the Northern Coastal Area (Top Scrub, Rocket Pole Field, Long Hedge) revealed a bare minimum of five male Red-backed Shrikes - making them the commonest grounded passerine migrant in the area!
Back on Carr Naze, and we (there were now a couple of other birders around) established that the Bluethroat tally was three; dare I say it, but really, just like the old days.... other migrants included Tree Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher, Arctic Tern and an acredula-type Willow Warbler, but it was the shrikes and the 'throats that stole the show. What a session!
*guiding in Transylvania, guiding locally, and breeding wader surveying up on the Moors... I know, cry me a river (although I have been ill, too, so it's not all rainbows and unicorns)