Sunday, 16 October 2016

Sibe attack

Friday 14 October 2016
There are birds in field guides that you think you'll never see and there are those which look great, you really want to see , but again think you'll never see. Siberian Accentor is one of those and with it breeding in Siberia regions then migrating to south-east Asia for the winter, that's a double whammy and confines itself just to my bird books.

Last week the relentless stream of easterlies, brought about by an anti-cyclone sitting over Scandinavia brought one of these Megas to Shetland. Incredulous news, a first for Britain, but what a bird ! The cheque book birders and top listers were away, and £700 later had bagged a dream bird, added to their list and presumably sat back contented with what surely they thought must be a true blocker.

Not so however, as with continued easterlies and more of these birds turning up in Sweden, Germany and Poland, another found it's way to Spurn in Yorkshire. News received on my pager at 3.30pm while working in the shop and by 6pm I had negotiated the necessary domestic permissions, Malc had kindly agreed to run the shop and Oli was as keen as mustard.

5 am the next morning and it was off to Hull !
A drizzly drive over the Humber Bridge, but at least drizzle would keep the bird down and hopefully stop it thinking about moving onto Thailand ! On arrival at Easington we were ushered to a car park in the village and walked to where the bird had been seen. A queue of people waiting and thoughts now turned to why didn't we leave at 3am ? were spinning round my head as I envisaged everyone looking skyward as the Accentor took off never to be seen again.

All was well organised and within half an hour I was looking at a fantastic Siberian Accentor. Oli and I made three repeat trips to "back of queue and look again" and saw the bird feeding on the ground closely. It was with our Accentor, The Dunnock, and when we left was still happily feeding.

The day ahead then.... next on the list was a Shorelark.

and then some walking around the lanes. The bushes were full of Goldcrests and Robins, birds were literally falling out of the sky and into the nearest bit of cover. In the next hour we must have seen 150 Robins, they were everywhere and close enough almost to touch.
We had a brief view of a Firecrest and then an equally brief view of an extremely mobile Pallas's Warbler.
A seawall beckoned for some reason and we decided to leave the crowds and walk a track leading east to see what we could find. Mealy Redpoll and Woodcock were the first two notables but the sheer numbers of Robins was still mesmerising. They were in fields, on paths and in the Spartina grass, and rocks on the shoreline.
Then a Redstart popped out from the Spartina.
 Showing off it's characteristic rump and outer tail feathers

News of other birds was coming thick and fast, Radde's at The Point , Olive-backed Pipit near the Cafe, we tried for the OBP but to no avail. So time for breakfast. £4.95 for a full english breakfast including a drink - we really knew we weren't in Norfolk !
Refreshed and we returned to Spurn. A less confiding but fine male Redstart helped us with the disappointment of missing a Little Bunting by a few minutes. A group of Bean Geese had the locals very excited.
But more exciting for me was a showy Mealy Redpoll.

A great day and it ended with a final trip to the Siberian Accentor, no queue this time. 
We started as we ended, a mega bird and one I never thought to see. But in a strange way this was bird spectacle of the day - I have no idea how many must have been dropping out of the skies, we saw around 250 , a fraction of how many must have been present.
Horrible traffic to the Humber Bridge and closure of the A17 did nothing to dampen our spirits - a great day !

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