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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Incredible falls of migrant birds on the East Coast ... Pallas's Warbler, Isabelline Shrike, Dusky & Raddes Warbler, Firecrest and more!!

What a stroke of luck I had last week ..... I'd arranged a house sitting engagement a few months back in the village of Flamborough and only hit on the best week for falls of migrant birds the East Coast has seen for many a year. Rarities everywhere and me cosily placed in a lovely little cottage with 3 adorable cats to watch over .... thank god one of them didn't bring in Yellow Browed Warbler as a little gift!

Thank you Antoinette ... I had a super 5 days and was sad to leave.

Met tons of other birders from all over the country ... a few who even read my blog. Most gratifying and humbling to be read by some of these birders, nearly all I met taught me a thing or two so cheers guys!

On to the birdies then and where to start! Well I didn't see everything that was about and for sure dipped out on a few photo opportunities but how's this for starters ... a stunning Pallas's Warbler .....

Pallas's Leaf Warbler, Flamborough, Oct 2013
I stayed around from the 14th - 18th and this little beauty was flitting around in a secluded gully near South Landing for ages along with countless Goldcrests, Willow Warblers and Chiff Chaffs. A 'lifer' for me and although I was aware of it's general location, even better to seek it out and see it on my own in such lovely conditions. Not quite as good pics but here's another 2 of the same bird....
Pallas's Warbler, Flamborough, Oct 2013

Pallas's Warbler, Flamborough, Oct 2013

Redwing & Blackbird freshly in off the sea, Buckton, Oct 2013
The day before I'd tramped around Buckton, land of the Buckton Birder, just a bit to the North of Flamborough and got my eye in with some visible migration. Stacks of Redwings, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Skylarks and assorted finches all streaming in from Northern Europe and beyond after prolonged North & Easterly winds.

Here's a terrific and very confiding male Brambling, one of 20 or so buzzing about in the late afternoon sunshine .......asking to be snapped!
Brambling, Bucton, Oct 2013

Brambling, Buckton, Oct 2013

Chiff Chaff, Flamborough, Oct 2013
Same day and thanks to a fellow birder, I had the briefest of glimpses of a Raddes Warbler in the same location, a couple of Redstarts and a Black Redstart, several Blackcaps, many Goldcrests (at least 80) and smaller numbers of Willow / Chaffs. There were birds flying in off the sea almost constantly early in the week ...  bloody marvellous!!


Goldcrest (cheeky shot!), Flamborough, Oct 2013

Goldcrest, Flamborough, Oct 2013
Robin, Flamborough, Oct 2013
Even if you don't see a rarity at such times just the obvious increase in the number common birds like Robins, Wrens, Dunnocks, Skylarks, Redpolls, Blackbirds and Chaffinches is always good to witness. They all come in about this time and to see them descending on our shores from further North never fails to engage me.

Lesser (Common) Redpoll, Flamborough, Oct 2013


Mealy Redpolls, Buckton, Oct 2013
In amongst there are always different races and subspecies that all birders love to differentiate between and debate. I'm pretty hopeless most of the time when it comes to splitting feathers (usually end up spitting feathers!) and happy to be corrected, but pretty sure these are Mealy Redpolls (the Northern race of our 'Lessers'

And so it went on.... 4 days of some of the best migrant birding the UK has to offer, ever looking skyward for stuff flying in and constantly checking bushes and hedgerows for warblers and other wee birds already in and 'skulking'. Hit and miss as far as the photographs went but I did ok. As well as the above I watched with others my 3rd ever Dusky Warbler at South Landing but failed to get a single shot at it. I stood for hours waiting for a Rustic Bunting to show but was disappointed along with the crowd .... turned up next morning and got all excited with this pic but on later inspection its just a Reed Bunting!
Not the Rustic Bunting!

This is the real thing (pic courtesy of AW Birder) ... see how how easy it is for a simple minded fool to get over-excited!
Rustic Bunting, Flamborough, Oct 2013

I gazed into someone's back garden (again I wasn't alone in this curious pursuit), and managed some ok pics given the appalling light of this star bird ... an Isabelline Shrike (Daurian race most reckon!)
Isabelline Shrike, Flamborough, Oct 2013

Isabelline Shrike, Flamborough, Oct 2013

Olive Backed Pipit? Surely not!!

I took a distant 'record' pic of a pipit that was in the general vicinity of a recently sighted Olive Backed Pipit and it is without doubt the worst picture I've ever posted ... it's probably just a Meadow Pipit but maybe, just maybe?

Closer, much more familiar and thankfully in focus was a Wheatear, one of just 2 seen all week, in the same field.

Northern Wheatear, Flamborough, Oct 2013

One day I forgot to eat till tea time and found myself salivating whilst I was taking a picture of a squirrel eating an apple!
Grey Squirrel ... very scary eyes but very tasty looking apple!

On my last day but one and with sandwiches in tow, I finally got to grips with a Firecrest that was harbouring in Old Fall Wood but alas too flitty and too dark to snap, and away from the throngs of birding enthusiasts and general hubbub there was always the North Sea itself, and being not a stone's throw from Bempton cliffs Gannets always loom large around here and I guess they've seen it all before!
Gannet, Buckton, Oct 2013

Gannet, Buckton, Oct 2013

As have the Peregrines around here ..... this one was very interested in the Thrushes at Buckton ....
Peregrine Falcon, Buckton, Oct 2013
Somewhat disappointedly I didn't see a single Yellow Browed Warbler and dipped out on a Bluethroat but you can't have it all ... I saw close on 80 bird species including what surely must be my last Swallows and House Martins and even saw a fair few butterflies that also seemed to be coing in off the sea, mainly Red Admirals and Tortoiseshells but at least a couple of Commas too.
It wasn't all birds, birds and more birds ..... I ate, slept and fed cats too, entertained my best mate for a day or so and strummed my guitar regularly; my only regret was that my kids couldn't make it up for a few hours  ... I guess for the young, in reality, the bright lights of Driffield are in fact more appealing than this! The weather was great for mid October and if I get another chance I'll be back on the east coast for more migrant hunting before the Winter sets in .... you simply can't beat this neck of the woods at this time of year for birdin!
Autumn sunshine at South Landing, Flamborough, East Yorks.

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