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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Back to Spurn ... Migfest revisited, tidal washovers and hordes of migrants

How disrupting to life is selling up and moving on! I'm now in the final flings of casting off for good my comfortable 3 bed semi in the suburbs of York for a more adventurous existence in the new motorhome for a few months before heading to Spain for a few more months this coming Winter. Sounds like fun, and I know it will be but my oh my its been a distraction!
Determined to keep this blog going though and without further ado here's a post from the 2nd annual Spurn Point Migfest earlier this month.
No better place to start than with this splendid and very confiding Wryneck, one of at least 4 seen on the point that w/e. It was a rather restricted shooting angle as the bird was nervously settled down in someone's back yard and I had to creep up and point the lens through a garden fence! I wasn't the only one either but he didn't seem that bothered. Unique birds, sadly not breeding here in the UK anymore but they're always a special sighting on migration.

Wryneck 'wrying its neck'!

Wryneck - shame about that grass stem!

Tidal surge, Dec 2013, Spurn Point (Hull Daily Mail)
I've posted on Spurn a few times and indeed on the last year's migfest here, so no need to dwell on the marvels of this place except to say that as many of you will know, Spurn Point suffered a significant breach in its historically flimsy defences last winter due to an unusually large tidal surge that affected the whole of the east coast of England. More info here

The road to the point swept away and unlikely to be restored, each high tide now cascades over the 'Narrows' (the thinnest point of the peninsular) making part of Spurn a temporary island, and there's many that believe this may well be a permanent reality in years to come.

Spurn Island

During the 4 days I was there I walked to the point and back twice and on the last occasion we timed it right to catch the high tide 'washover' and a chance to see some wader action! This it what we see now at high tide at the 'Narrows'

Warning, no vehicular access at high tide! (R.Marrs)

Spot the Knot amongst those Dunlin? (R.Marrs)
Brilliant for close wader shots if you don't mind getting your feet a bit wet!

Dunlin fly past


Dunlin close up, still in full summer kit!

Here's a pic of that solitary Knot ...strange to just get one in the flock when there were  1000s elsewhere on the estuary.

Knot .. lovely 'margination' on those winter feathers!
This is a 'feet soaker' coming in!

Bar Tailed Godwits have the legs to cope the waves!


Constantly 'klacking' Oystercatchers all around us!
Whatever happens to Spurn in the future, for now this almost daily 'washover' is becoming quite an event in itself for visitors ... but as the warning signs clearly nag - 'you've got leave enough time to get back', otherwise you're stranded for an hour or two (not a bad place to be stranded though!)

Waders aside, the point was positively thronging with common passage migrants and the odd rarity all weekend and blessed as we were with predominantly good weather there was plenty to see and photograph. Whinchats were maybe the most obvious with small 'gangs' of up to 15 flying around together ...

Whinchat, juv. On a car tyre!
Wheatears were also 'getting around'
On one of the days there was an influx of Common Whitethroats with a few Lesser's mixed in and it seemed to me that there was one in nearly every bush



Plenty of Willow Warblers about of course and the juvs are so tricky but I'm going Chiff Chaff on this one ... sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong!

This is a far from perfect shot of one of the rarer warblers that were about ... a juvenile Barred Warbler. Skulky bloody things!!
  Some equally poor shots here I'm afraid but anytime you get to see Pied Flycatchers in decent numbers you have to have a go ....

and to round things off after a superb few days here's a nice Redstart in the last rays of the evening sun .. with luck this and all the other migrants will be well on their way to down towards Africa by now and who knows I may catch up with some of them early next year when I'm in Spain!



  1. Great photographs Tim. Enjoy the motorhome. Jim

  2. Cheers Jim ... oh I will, and the freedom, and the lack of household bills!!