Brambling on the beach, Spurn (above and below)
Hot on the heels of the preceding day out to Dorset was a one night visit to East Yorkshire, we left early an arrived on the north shore of the Humber during mid-morning. The forecast looked great for arrivals from the North Sea. Unfortunately the sea mist and fog was getting denser, visibility reduced to the extent that birding mostly concerned calls. Tree Sparrows, Redpolls, Bramblings, Redwings and a few other species were heard flying over in the murk.
A reported Little Bunting and the long staying Arctic Warbler never appeared, the latter seemingly departed overnight. Another Little Bunting was seen at Spurn Point as well as Olive-backed Pipit and Shore Lark before the fog dropped so it was clear that things were happening, just not clear enough for us to see.
We carefully checked the hedges and scrub logging plenty of migrant Goldcrest, Robin and Redwing but decided to take a timely lunch break at the Blue Bell Cafe in hope that it might clear. Refreshed and watered we made for the sea breach in the gloom. Reaching the open sandy bank that kept the North Sea from the Humber visibility and our luck changed.
A few juvenile Gannets looked lost on the ‘wrong’ side of the sandbank, Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Redshank fed in the tidal pools. A Brambling dropped out of the sky and attempted to alight on Ian’s head opting to plonk down on the sand near him. This exhausted finch had just made it to land, it was in a sorry state but alive and feeding on tidal strand seeds. A Redwing did the same nearby, we began seeing flocks of these small thrushes arriving en masse, 100s of Blackbirds were in among them with a few Fieldfares.
As the afternoon progressed the migration tempo increased to phenomenal levels, 1000s of thrushes were arriving in off the sea, we began seeing numbers of Song Thrush and then Ring Ouzels. At least six were noted but I believe many more were involved. Four cracking drake Eiders flew along the Humber shore.
The thrushes were dropping into any berry bush, we even saw 100+ Redwing crammed onto one garden lawn with Song Thrushes and Blackbirds. A Short-eared Owl arrived overhead and dropped onto the salt marsh to rest, a few Reed Buntings were scrutinised and we had great scope views of feeding Ring Ouzels. A Stonechat and calling Water Rails added to the interest.
All the while the tide was coming in so we had huge flocks of Knot, Dunlin with Grey and Golden Plover, Curlew and a few other species of wader. There was so much to see. Another check of the Crown and Anchor pub car park gave us more views of Bramblings and Chiffchaffs, other than that we could only muster common birds.
We eventually ended up back at beach car park and conducted a little sea watch. Offshore were Little Gulls, a pair of Scaup flew by as did some unidentified auks. Gannets cruised about and a few scoter went through. Flocks of Teal, Wigeon, Pintail and more thrushes were logged, a few thrushes struggled over the sea only just making it ashore.
Finishing off our birding for the day we drove to our accommodation, the grand Royal Hotel in Kingston upon Hull to settle in for the night, a good meal included a ‘Hull pattie’ starter, a new one for those that tried it, a couple of drinks and an early night rounded off the day nicely.
A decent nights rest followed by a great breakfast and we were ready to go birding again, our first stop was at Weeton where we scoped a flock of 350 Pink-footed Geese, they were accompanied by 200 Greylag and a few Greylag x Canada hybrids, a rather unfriendly local let his German Shepherd dog run toward us and proceeded to ask what were up to, he wasn’t happy that we there, we must’ve looked so menacing. Later on it became clear that the goose flock that he hadn’t realised were there had been flushed, we guessed intentionally by him. Yellowhammers and Linnets could also be scoped feeding on the weed seeds nearby, at least they were cheering.
Moving on we stopped at Easington, the long staying Rose-coloured Starling arrived on time when Ian spotted it atop an aerial.
Rose-coloured Starling aka Rosy Pastor or ‘Pink Stink’.
Our next stop was at Kilnsea Wetlands where we saw Lapwing, 4 Whooper Swans (one juvenile), 4 Little Stints, a Ruff, a flock of Dunlin and a selection of wildfowl. Back at the seaside car park we tried another seawatch, flocks of Starlings were arriving, the dabbling ducks were still moving south and we had better views of a few passing Brent Geese and Common Scoter flocks. On the cliff top a Black Redstart fed which made a nice addition.
Wandering back along the lane seeing flocks of Tree Sparrows we stopped at Kilnsea churchyard where two Chiffchaff and a smart Yellow-browed Warbler gave intermittent views, the latter bird also called for us many times.
Yellow-browed Warbler, Kilnsea
Another check of the Crown and Anchor pub car park we saw a few common passerines but it was now getting breezy and harder to bird. After another lunch stop and short birding walk we loaded up mid-afternoon and set off for home getting back for 7pm.
Thanks go to Ian, Bettie, Roberta and Dot for your company, it was so good to catch Spurn on a good vis-mig day.