Saturday 3 September 2022

August 31st 2022 First Full Day at Spurn Head


Staying for the night and the next two months, at the superb Spurn Bird Observatory... 

... I am up early, around 5am, to go seawatching at the seawatching hide at The Warren.

Soon joined by the Spurn regulars, armed with my new OPTICRON Travelscope, birds passing, with nearly all heading south, included over 350 Kittiwakes. These were mostly juvenile/1st year birds, over 90% of them and show that Kittiwakes at least have had a good breeding bird.

Soon tuning into the direction signals and markers, for instance the above photo shows the wind farm's power substation, local experts, like Steve, soon shout out as birds of note pass.

Fifteen Scoter north past left five.

I note down each passing bird, be they Gannet, Sandwich and Common Tern, Razorbill or Oystercatcher and am delighted when three Sooty Shearwaters * pass by, taking my BIGBY bird list for 2022 up to 257.

Incoming Whatsapp news of a Citrine Wagtail has everyone packing up and soon, within a very packed hide at Kilnsea Wetlands, I am adding the bird to my list. 258.

High tide in The Humber Estuary has waders roosting at Kilnsea and a long-staying Spoonbill is entertaining as it swish swish feeds in the shallow waters.

Now as I am a Friend of Spurn, a fully paid up member thanks to my daughter, Rebecca's Christmas present, I am allowed access to areas not available to non-friends. One of these is Syke's Meadow and a reported Icterine Warbler has me exploring the area, with other birds.

No sign of the Icky, news of a Red-backed Shrike at Vicars Lane, Easington has me cycle there but once again I dip.
Win two, lose two, I am not too upset by the dips, I have two months at Spurn Head ahead of me so there is plenty of time and a good chance that both these birds will be seen.

Back to the Bird Observatory for some tea; lentils and a protein drink bought for me by my son, Joshua, I am relaxing as the sun starts to sink.

News of a Wryneck disturbs my evening snooze and within ten minutes I have pedalled to Sammy's Point to not only add yet another bird to the BIGBY bird list but also see two birding friends, Mark Thomas of the RSPB and Niall Hunt, a birder who kindly put me up for the night back in January.

Three new birds in one day, this Green Birding lark is easy! With September starting tomorrow and with an average of 16 new birds for my list seen over the last ten years at Spurn; maximum of 21 in 2020 and minimum of 11 in 2015, I have a great chance to see a fair chunk of the 42 bird spcies I need to get to the magic, almost mythical target of 300 by the end of the month. 

I will be up with the lark once more tomorrow, to seawatch once more.

Friday 2 September 2022

Back at the Incredible, Amazing, Wonderful SPURN BIRD OBSERVATORY


After stopping off at the wonderful Sandwell Valley RSPB reserve in the West Midlands, after having said goodbye to my 'in their Nineties' Mum & Dad, both of their birthdays being celebrated; Mum being 90 last Tuesday and Dad being 91 a few days later.

Day after day, alone on a bike, the man with the foolish grin . . . 

. . . cycles back to the incredibly wonderful Spurn Head in East Yorkshire where The Biking Birder, that is ME, will be spending the whole of September.

Leaving my Mum & Dad's home in North Worcestershire on the 24th of August, I cycled via Lichfield, and Derby when news of a Roller had me cycle 65 miles (!) in order to add this to my European BIGBY list. Impetus to see it was increased due to the fact that it was also a British Lifer for me!

Maybe not the best photograph of a Roller every taken, definitely a candidate for my 2023 National Geographic/Worst bird photos ever calendar but seen well in the fading light and BIGBY bird number 253. I promise it looked better through my new OPTICRON Travelscope and better still through a Wolverhampton birder, Kevin Clements' 'scope!

How lucky was I? The bird had gone the next day and I was the last to ever see it. That last happened to me with the Chestnut Bunting on Papa Westray, Orkney. I was the last one to see that bird too and as it had a habit of practically walking around birders' feet, I was accused the next day of treading on it.         I hadn't. Honest.

A Pectoral Sandpiper didn't play the game and left Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve before I arrived there. This was after yet another 60 mile plus cycle day.

Great to relax there though for the morning and watch waders and Marsh Harriers, as well as chat with Stuart Taylor and Darren, RSPB staff there before setting off for North Cave Wetlands. There a Spotted Crake, although distant, did show and became BIGBY bird number 254.

And so to Spurn! With the nearest shop to the observatory being nine miles away from the Observatory, I loaded up, literally, with three large carrier bags full of food . . .

... and had a rucksack full of food on my back also. How I would love to know what the weight of everything was on my poor little bike.

Into the fabulous SPURN BIRD OBSERVATORY, booked a month's stay, unloaded everything and went off birding.

Two nearby, Beacon Ponds, Red-necked Phalaropes were soon seen and in the evening, an Arctic Warbler showed itself.

What an incredible start to my prolonged stay at Spurn.

It's going to be a superb autumn. Bring it on!

BB 2010 Oops, crash and a motorway Abominable Snowman in Hemel Hempstead January 5th

5 th January                                                            Tragedy                                              The Bee Gees   ...