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Eurasian Wryneck

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SPURN MIGRATION FESTIVAL 2014

Eurasian Wryneck, Beacon Lane, Kilnsea (on the same driveway that the 2013 Great Snipe frequented)

A GOOD SELECTION OF MIGRANTS AT SPURN THIS WEEKEND tempted me across the Pennines again. Coincidentally it was also the Spurn Migration Festival so there were a lot of birders around (although I have seen just as many or maybe more on an autumn 'fall' weekend) and I caught up with a few friends as well. Whinchats were probably the most visible migrants but there was also a wide variety of other species. I spent a long time trying to take photos of wryneck and Barred Warbler (I saw one of the former, mostly along Beacon Lane and the adjacent campsite and two of the latter, one in the hedge opposite the church and another in a hedge at Kilnsea Wetlands) but also caught up with sother interesting birds including a first winter Caspian Gull (expertly picked up flying north by Martin Garner at the warren and thanks to Garry's emergency stop we saw it fly by just south of the Bluebell). Martin said it was only around the 10th record for Spurn as this recent taxon catches up much rarer birds with records already in double figures here. A sandy-coloured Lesser Whitethroat in the Crown & Anchor car park was probably a blythi Siberian bird but I missed the 'Lesser' Golden Plover that flew over my head at the warren. Pied and Spotted Flycatchers were everywhere and Common Redstarts popped up in hedges here and there. Chattering flocks of Eurasian Tree Sparrows passed overhead at the Warren - is there anywhere else that you can see this in the UK I wonder? I have not heard so many flava wagtails flying over in this country for many years and newcomers like Mediterranean Gulls and Little Egret (at least five of each) were also conspicuous. I love birding at Spurn, despite the crowds of other birders and hope to be back there again later this autumn.

Barred Warbler, in the hedge opposite Kilnsea Church, a real brute that stuffed its face with elderberries all day

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EAST COAST WRYNECK FALL!

Eurasian Wryneck, Crown & Anchor, Kilnsea. Magic!  

Eurasian Wryneck, Crown & Anchor, Kilnsea. Magic! 

A BIG FALL OF WRYNECKS ON THE EAST COAST prompted a visit to Spurn Point with Mark Varley and Rocket. We arrived to news of a wryneck trapped at Kew Villa, which we zoomed off for immediately. A lifer for Mark it soon showed how it got its name, twisting and turning its long neck before it was released. There had been an unprecedented 20-30 wrynecks the previous day but we were happy to see a total of six, including a couple of very showy and confiding birds, feeding on ants on sunny grass verges in the evening. It is great to know that drift migrants can still turn up in such good numbers and we were surrounded by others - smart whinchats and wheatears were dotted all along the Humber shore to the point, as well as lots of warblers, mostly Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats and we also managed to see two Icterine Warblers. One of the 'Ickys' disgraced itself while Rocket was barbecuing his head in the hot sun, landing a fence wire only a few metres away. Other interesting migrants included Yellow Wagtails, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, however, the bird of the day for Spurn was a Yellowhammer over the Warren – good one for us too, it was lost as a breeding bird from the East Lancashire Ornithological Desert years ago. It was also nice to see lots of familiar faces at Spurn today with cars from Burnley and Blackpool as well as Spurn regulars Adam Hutt and Garry Taylor. Less welcome was another encounter with armed police. We had been reported acting suspiciously near Easington Gas Terminal in the morning – looking for another wryneck. They added this facility to their list of other places I’ve been stopped that already included Heysham and Seaton Carew Nuclear Power Stations! Should I be worried?

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