14 September 2008

Back out birding...

Yesterday, after a three-week break, I finally picked up my binoculars again and went birding. I’ve not bothered to check the exact distance but I guess I was just a little outside my “10-Mile zone” - I was in Filey, North Yorkshire with the Derby RSPB Group.

The day started off a lot better than the weather forecast had predicted with plenty of sunshine, very little in the way of cloud and only a light breeze. I had been expecting rain so I was more than happy as we headed north. A stop at the motorway services en route lifted the spirits just a little more... or at least the bacon sandwich did!

The coach pulled into Filey Country Park at just before 11:00AM and, as usual, everyone set off in their quest to locate the birds. Lynda and I chose to head for the area know as “Top Scrub” which is basically a long thin line of small trees and brambles. It was also very, very muddy yesterday! The slip sliding in the mud was worth it as we were rewarded with great views of three Whinchat and also a Spotted Flycatcher. The flycatcher was my first of the year so it was good to see - pity it wasn’t about 90 miles closer to home though.

From Top Scrub we headed to the coastal path and a spot of sea-watching. On the way we came across a couple more Whinchat, numerous Linnet, Goldfinch, and a single Coal Tit. By now the wind has started to pick up just a little and it was also coming in off the sea - just what we needed, an easterly wind to bring any passage seabirds closer to land.

Views of the cliffs at Filey.

Once at the cliff tops it quickly become clear that there was a large movement of Gannets heading south. There were groups of six or eight or more passing every couple of minutes or so, often quite close in. Sandwich Terns were also heading south but in much smaller numbers. Overhead, a number of Swallows flew back and forth as they contemplated the long journey ahead of them this autumn.

After spending a short time looking out over the cliffs Lynda and I took the coastal path towards Filey Brigg, the main area for sea-watching. The walk to the Brigg provided us with views of Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Cormorant, Oystercatcher and Fulmar. A single Wheatear was flying around no doubt eager to be heading to warmer parts of the world. As we approached the Brigg we were alerted to what was possibly the most unexpected sighting of the day, a Pied Flycatcher.

Pied Flycatcher.

A Pied Fly at Filey, in September, isn’t all that unusual but seeing one feeding out in the open, some distance from any trees, on the coast path was a little different! The bird was more than happy to continue feeding as we stood and watched.

Once at the Brigg the sea-watching started in earnest. The wind had picked up some more and the birds were stating to show; Common Scoter, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Kittiwake, Teal and Wigeon were all passing in good numbers whilst out on the Brigg itself Redshank, Turnstone and Dunlin were roosting. Out in Filey Bay we located a couple of Guillemot and a single Shag lingered just off the end of the Brigg.

Filey Brigg - in the sun.

By early afternoon the wind had increased but unfortunately it also brought with it a rather heavy sea mist. At first the mist meant we lost view of any distant birds, later it meant the vision was down to less than 200 feet! This was not what we needed! Lynda and I stuck it out for around an hour and did manage to see both Arctic Skua and Great Skua before finally admitting defeat and heading back inland a little.

The mist rolls in!

Back in the Country Park things weren’t much better and the last couple of hours of the day were more of a gentle stroll around the area than serious birding. We did manage to find a male Eider Duck in Filey Bay, when the mist lifted for a moment, and also came across numerous Speckled Wood butterflies in a sheltered area of brambles. As we walked back to the coach a quick check of a hedgerow by the car park turned up probably the most colourful bird of the day, a stunning male Redstart. Again, this was another year tick for me and again I would much rather have seen it closer to home!

Speckled Wood.

By the end of the day we had recorded a total of 43 species. It wasn’t my best ever day-list by a long way but it was still an enjoyable day out and it didn’t rain!

1 comment:

  1. Nic (Birdnerdblog)15 September, 2008 20:24

    Beautiful photos of the Pied Fly and the Speckled Wood!! Sounds like you had a good day out!