Post-exam trip to Spurn

When I arrived late Wednesday afternoon, after a full day of travelling up by bus and train, the weather mirrored that of the first day of my visit to Spurn back in June last year. The wind was fairly strong, visibility was quite poor and there was some drizzle. Nevertheless, after unpacking, I set off out down the canal bank and towards the sea watch hide. After walking no further then a few hundred metres I was surrounded by singing Reed Buntings, Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers, and watched a Cuckoo calling from a nearby hawthorn bush. There were also a few waders, including Curlew and Oystercatcher, to the right of me patterning their way through the mudflats. From the sea watch hide, sights included Black Tern, Kittiwake, Gannets and Guillemots.

I made a strange comparison between the Spurn I revised for my AS Geography exam and the place I was going to be spending the next five days. Neither were a like as one thing they don’t tell you in the text book is about the incredible place that it is. I was very excited to see what the following days would bring.

On the Tuesday morning, like every morning of my visit, I was up early for the seawatch. This produced Kittiwake, gannet, Fulmar, Auk, Manx Sheerwater, Puffins, and Red-throated Divers. After a while it was time to see what could be sighted from Numpties which included a few Swifts but not a touch on as many as I hope to see and count when I visit Spurn later in the summer to count those migrating, as I did on my visit last year. Other birds included Spotted Flycatcher, Hobby, Tree Pipit, and over 600 Brent Geese. However the highlights of the day included a Bluethroat being rung and seeing an Icterine Warbler, which was a lifer too!

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The excitement didn’t die as on my second day, before 9 o’clock, I’d seen a Red-breasted Flycatcher and a male Red-backed Shrike which we also got to see being rung. A beautiful bird. A few times I’ve seen a Great-grey Shrike on my local patch of Cannock Chase but the red back was another lifer. In the morning, on my way to the seawatch hide, I also had the delight of watching some warblers darting themselves at one of the three local Cuckoos. Other birds included Avocet, Redshank, Marsh Harrier, Velvet Scoter, Wheatear and two Garganey. I also took a wonder down to the Eastern Lagoon where I spotted Sandwich, Arctic and Common Tern, and Turnstone.

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Saturday was another wonderful day and something that made it very special was the pair of Turtle Doves which flew past over the Humber and travelled South. A beautiful bird and one I was extremely pleased to see. I also watched the Red-backed Shrike for some time. Diving onto the ground and catching insects. Other birds included Black-tailed Godwit, Red-breasted Merganser, Short-eared Owl, a Grey Headed Wagtail and ten Porpoises out in the North Sea.

On Sunday, it was fairly quiet compared to previous days but the sea watch brought some Eider, Gannets, Scoter, Kittiwake, Fulmar, then later on almost 200 Arctic terns.

On my last full day at Spurn, on Monday, it was a superb day with many more brilliant birds and I managed to get another two lifers. This came as a surprise due to the very strong Northerly winds. Nevertheless, I saw my first Melodious Warbler and Rosefinch. Views of the Melodious Warbler were difficult to get but we were able to enjoy the bird call as it was projected.

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Going to Spurn two days after my last AS exam proved a great idea after the tense weeks of revision and exam preparation. Those who work, volunteer and visit Spurn are a brilliant bunch and the new observatory accommodation is fantastic too, after its recent opening earlier in the year.

Altogether over the five and half days I spotted almost 100 different species which I am thrilled about and am already organising my trip later in the year for a week of swift counting!

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