After last weeks 71 species and a hand full of “year ticks” we found ourselves going to Spurn again! The reason, a certain Masked Shrike that had been found on Saturday morning, the third recorded in Britain. We waited for news before “going over the hill” into Yorkshire and around 7am the bird had been found so, the 2 Steve’s and myself were ready to go by 8am. Steve K kindly drove and by 10-15am we were drawing into the temporary car park in the Well Field to park and after passing at least 3 decent crowds of birders all watching something. Then, a dash to look into a field behind the Blue Bell cafe and the juvenile Masked Shrike was seen, a little distantly, so the 2 Steve’s had a lifer in the bag. I had seen the Fife bird a few year’s ago, what a journey into Scotland that was to see this small shrike species. Cracking bird to watch catching various insect prey and with 5 Redstart’s for company it was really special. A Lesser Whitethroat in the same bush as the shrike was also a real smart bird. After a good look at the shrike we had a go for a Barred Warbler, a species that we have not had a lot of joy with lately. After meeting lots of our birding friends from past & present we got to a line of bushes near the “Crown & Anchor”. After a good wait the bird failed to put in an appearance, we thought we would try again later. A Red breasted Flycatcher was showing well in the pub car park and so was the landlady, time to go. The canal area was next where an Olive backed Pipit had been seen, albeit rather fleetingly, as it was a lifer for Steve B. We waited for a while then went and saw a well hidden Jack Snipe, always easy to see when you know were they are! A small crowd was assembling near where the pipit had been last seen, so off we went again. One of the Spurn regulars was going to walk the area and attempt to flush this well known “skulker”. After about 20 yards walking / flushing, a small pipit flew out and landed in a small bush for around 2 seconds, just allowing time to I.D. it (yes, I know what you are going to say) it then had another brief fly and promptly disappeared into the deep grass. We had a small seawatch and managed a Sooty Shearwater, much more success along the eastern coast in other places just made us have a look. Now for another go for the Barred Warbler, within 5 minutes the bird was performing admirably for around 10 minutes, cracking close up views. A juvenile Hen Harrier female was then picked up, as it hunted low over the mud in search of some food, lovely to watch. A few Wheatear, Whinchat, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher along with some common warblers were seen around the canal area. The place was full of migrant birds. Finally a juvenile Peregrine was plucking a small bird only 15 yards from the roadside, not at all bothered about us watching it! There can be few places in England better than Spurn to see lots of migrating birds in autumn. The crowds were well-behaved and a vote of thanks to all the Spurn organisers in making the day again, memorable. We reached Rochdale and home by 5-30pm another great day out! We managed about 57 species, 2 lifers for Steve B and 1 for Steve K and at least 5 year ticks each.

Dave O.


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