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Spurn Point

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STEJNEGER'S STONECHAT AT SPURN

Stejneger's Stonechat, Spurn Point. 

THE PARTY WAS OVER at Spurn today with no sign of such as the two Red-flanked Bluetails, Pine Bunting and Eastern Black Redstart etc but at least the putative Stejneger's Stonechat was still present in the Sea Buckthorn bushes beyond green beacon at the point itself. Still worth the late drive from Norfolk and a night in the Hotel Honda though. Even better that it was Andy Roadhouse who showed it to me! Thanks mate. Some painful buckthorn bush walking got me a bit closer but it was generally quite unapproachable while I was there. The warm rufous rump looks spot on according to the literature, as do the other features but we will know for sure once the DNA is extracted from its poo. It is amazing that Dan Branch managed to find it! Stejneger's is already split from Siberian Stonechat so it will be another UK lifer if it is confirmed by the DNA, however, there is a view that, like most things once we know more about them, this species will be accepted from field observations/photos in the future. There's no place like Spurn!

16 January 2017 Update: Well it was worth the drive from Norfolk and sleepless night in the car after all, as this bird has been confirmed as a Stejneger's Stonechat by Doctor Martin Collinson's team at Aberdeen University. However, it is ironic that the folks who ignored it and then went to Dungeness for the grey morph Common Stonechat, which was reported as having been DNA-identified as Stejneger's, should lose their tick, the test results having been mixed up with the positive-tested Spurn bird. How's that for a kick in the stones? All I need to do now is to wait for BOU to recognise Stejneger's Stonechat as a separate species from Siberian! I was surprisd to see that Lee (Evans) doesn't split it yet given the number of heavyweight taxonomists advising IOC who do. Surely just a matter of time?

Stejneger's Stonechat - record shot of its small, warm rufous, unmarked rump.

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I LOVE SPURN IN AUTUMN!

Pallas's Warbler, Easington

A GRAND DAY OUT AT SPURN started as usual at the Warren, with a hopeful seawatch. A few Red-throated Divers were on the move south, some Common Scoters went in the opposite direction and three eiders flew south, they have apparently become very scarce in Yorkshire now, which is worrying news. A Pallas's Warbler eventually showed at Easington, in some disused land near the church - found by Paul French, thanks! However, it was very lively and hard to get a prolonged view of, hence the poor record shot. Just like at Bempton during the week there were lots and lots of chiffchaffs here, as well as some goldcrests. Yellow-browed Warbler(s) were also calling frequently nearby.

In the absence of a better idea I found myself walking down the point, past lots of Redwings, Song Thrushes and particularly robins. A few swallows and skylarks flew south along the point and chiffchaffs, blackcaps and chaffinches were also here. A redpoll looked good for Mealy but I didn't manage to get a shot of it and there were Northern Wheatear and Black Redstart by the jetty at the point. As the summer visitors depart the brent geese have already arrived for the winter.

Adam Hutt was running a mist net at the point bushes beyond the green beacon and we watched a Little Bunting hit the net here, get in! A nice bright one. The point bushes were alive with Redwings, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds. A few Bramblings and chaffinches were also flying about here. Despite a bit of effort I didn't see much else as everyone walked around in disbelief at the news of the Siberian Accentor on Shetland. Well it's still up for grabs as a first for Yorkshire and Spurn and there's Black-throated to come one day as well...

Adam with the Little Bunting at Spurn Point

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SPURN MIGRATION 18 OCTOBER 2015

Pallas's Warbler in autumn colours, Kilnsea

PALLAS'S WARBLER WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF ANOTHER GRAND DAY OUT AT SPURN with Mark Varley and Rocket. A constant stream of admirers passed by the roadside verge at Kilnsea to look for this albeit elusive little beauty.  Difficult enough to see, let alone photograph, we spent several hours standing around trying the recreate the first few minutes of our time with it to no avail. Truth is there was so much else to see on a classic late autumn day of migration at Spurn.

Soon after we got out of the car at the Warren the first of three Great Grey Shrikes was on driftwood along the saltmarsh, which it occasionally returned to when not hunting Goldcrests. The sky and bushes were full of birds: many hundreds of winter thrushes and starlings; siskins and redpolls headed south calling overhead all day; a few small groups of Bramblings were our first of the autumn; two or three Short-eared Owls frequented the Triangle area; a female Merlin dashed past at the new narrows hunting shorebirds and a three Whooper Swans flew south whooping as they went. The birds certainly brightened up a dull day with a light NNE wind and occasional drizzle! The variety of migrants was fairly low with typically later birds like Goldcrests (every bush had at least one or two!) robins and Redwings, Fieldfares and blackbirds dominating with a few Blackcaps and chiffchaffs amongst them. Migration spectacles like this are definitely the 'new rarities' for me! There is nothing quite like an autumn fall at Spurn.

We ended with a fine point blankSnow Bunting in the clifftop caravan park and the American Golden Plover in a field with lapwings along the Easington straight. What a great way to finish off another fantastic day! Back to the Middle East tomorrow.

Goldcrest = another contender for bird of the day! Some within touching distance.

Snow Bunting, Kilnsea Caravan Park - I hardly dropped below 3200ISO in the gloom today.

Everyone loves Pallas's Warblers!

The Humber shore from the Canal.

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MASKED SHRIKE

Masked Shrike at Kilnsea, Spurn

THE UK'S THIRD MASKED SHRIKE happily stayed long enough for Mark Varley and me to cross the Pennines again to Spurn. We spent a couple of hours trying to make the most of some very harsh reflected light on the bird, which was busily feeding on the third day of its stay. However, later in the afternoon it approached to within a few metres at times catching craneflies (you can see a cranefly leg still stuck to the feathers on its head!) on the edge of the grassy field in the lee of its favoured roadside hedge but always ‘against the light’. Long after the crowds had gone home, there were fewer than 10 people still here on a sunny afternoon, including artist Darren Woodhead, who did some really lovely watercolour field sketches of it. Thanks to the Friends of Spurn for organising a great viewing area and especially to Mark for doing the driving today! We even had time to enjoy a couple of Jack Snipe in front of the canal scrape hide as well as some great fish and chips in Patrington on the way home. A classic!
 

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