Spurn Migration Festival – A few highlights from Saturday

Having visited Spurn often, but not tried the Migration Festival, I thought I’d have a visit for the Saturday. Tomorrow I’ll talk about the actual experience provided on the day, but first I wanted to share a few highlights of the feathered variety!

For a couple of weeks prior there had been a juvenile Red Backed Shrike hanging around one particular field, so we were hopeful this would still be present. I’ve seen an adult bird before (see here), but it was fairly distant.

The gathering of men and women in camo gear with scopes and cameras told us the bird was still around, and it didn’t exactly keep us waiting.

Red-backed Shrike. Not a Sparrow.

Red-backed Shrike. Not a Sparrow.

In a picture, you could probably mistake that for a sparrow at a glance, but it’s a noticably bigger bird.

Despite the audience it has had, it’s been very relaxed and showy. A good supply of food, suitably secure roosting spots, and you have one happy shrike.

DSC00247 (1024x820) DSC00223 (1024x959)  Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a cute little baby bird however. In true shrike fashion, he was working through a healthy supply of bees, wasps, caterpillars and crane flies. Any he caught and didn’t eat straight away get ‘lardered’, impaled on a thorn to be eaten at a later date.

Apparently he was showing a preference too. Wasps and caterpillars got eaten immediately, bees and crane flies battered into submission then stored for future consumption.

Butter wouldn't melt...

Butter wouldn’t melt…

The shrike was the bird drawing the crowds, but by no means the only highlight. Having never seen a Pied Flycatcher it was lovely to find two close to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust centre, again like the Shrike very open and obliging, working through the local insect population (Spurn was a bad place to be an insect this weekend).

Eying up lunch

Eyeing up lunch

They were spending their time between the undergrowth and various perches where they could spot prey.

DSC00772 (854x1024)At least one had been ringed, whether at Spurn or elsewhere I don’t know. If it was at Spurn, it hadn’t made the bird leave in a hurry.

DSC01030 (1024x698)The other real birding highlight was the sheer prominence of Kestrels around the site, with many of this year’s youngsters stocking up on small mammals before moving on for the winter.

DSC00977 (1024x726) DSC00978 (1024x765) DSC00353 (1024x971) DSC00973 (1024x656)DSC00792 (686x1024)This abundance of small falcons was highlighted when one youngster, sensing an easy meal, headed into the mist nets and ended up caught and ringed.

DSC01123 (681x1024)The bird was described as ‘very calm’, but still tried to take a chunk out of the man ringing him!

There were plenty of other birds seen and photographed, and I will come to them tomorrow, but for now I just wanted to highlight my personal three star species of the day.

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One Response to Spurn Migration Festival – A few highlights from Saturday

  1. Pingback: Spurn Point, October 2017 | Why watch wildlife?

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