Spurn Point in September Part 2 – Waders, Wheatears and more

After posting exclusively on the wryneck yesterday, this post wraps up the rest of what we spotted.

It was a generally lovely, bright and sunny day, as this little panorama I took halfway down the point shows:

Unfortunately the downside of a bright Autumn or Winter day can be, if the sun is in the wrong direction, lots of back-lighting that makes ID tricky. These Meadow Pipits illustrate the problem:

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High tide had been fairly early, so the sea was well out on the Humber by the time we arrived. Most of the waders were visible only as a distant mass:


Fortunately not all the waders were long gone, and many were preferring life on the fringes.

There were several Golden Plovers wandering the flats:


Female Golden Plover

It’s harder to ID Golden Plovers outside their summer finery, but the large eyes, golden colour, and short bill pretty much give it away.

There were also males coming out of their summer plumage:



Male Golden Plover

As usual, there were plenty of Redshanks moving about:


Redshank and two Golden Plover

There were also seven or eight Little Egrets moving along the point:


Little Egret


Little Egrets

The odd distant Little Ringed Plover could be picked up too:


Little Ringed Plover, looking small, lost and alone


Little Ringed Plover on the move

As always, Spurn is one of the best places to see Curlew and there were a good number around the site:



Of course, every now and again you get back and realise you picked up something you didn’t actually spot in the wild. Sure enough, while casually photographing Golden Plover, I’d managed to catch another bird:



While it’s a little distant and obscured against the background, the longer bill, dumpy body, brown back, black belly, all scream ‘Dunlin’. Probably broken off from that massive flock we mentioned earlier.

This was all on the humber estuary side of the point. On the North Sea side, there was plenty more to see.

A wind-swept and interesting bird of prey caught my eye at one point, posing against the sun:



While I initially thought this could be something more interesting, once it took flight it was clearly a female kestrel. She seemed to be following us along the spit in fact, constantly popping up in front of us hovering and hunting in the dunes. There were actually two or three individuals, and we got decent views all afternoon:

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Another regular sight was one of my favourites, the Wheatear. Like robins these birds are pleasingly photogenic and have a tendency to pose obligingly:

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They weren’t the only birds feeling showy. Having initially been hard to spot, walking back with the sun behind us, the Meadow Pipits were enjoying themselves hunting small insects around the tracks, sand and grasses:

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Back at the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust hut the Meadow Pipits were also much more identifiable on the wires too:

????????Swallows were also massing and perhaps thinking about leaving:

Young swallows

Young swallows

Goldfinches were enjoying the autumnal bounty of various seed-heavy plants such as thistles:

Spot the goldfinches

Spot the goldfinches

Finally in the car park, a Spotted Flycatcher was taking a breather from all the September insects he’d been predating:

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All in all, a lovely day out as always. I look forward to my spring 2015 trip.

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I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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