Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Flamborough Head, 28th - 31st August 2007

Flamborough Head, 28th - 31st August 2007

Several days back home for the first time in many months, and straight onto the head soon after arrival at lunchtime; with early autumn drift migration occuring along the coast over the previous few days, and conditions remaining promising, it was hard to resist. The first port of call was Thornwick Pools, an area of extensive set-aside containing some mixed scrub, two recently man-made scrapes and bordered by intermittent hawthorn hedges.

Almost immediately treated to a Red-backed Shrike and a Barred Warbler, in the very same gnarled hawthorn; in fact, while trying to photograph the (surprisingly skulking) shrike, the Barred Warbler almost magically appeared in the same frame, albeit only for a couple of seconds. Also present in this small but fruitful newly created habitat were several Yellow Wagtails, Willow Warblers and many finches (mainly Goldfinches and Linnets), as well as a flock of Tree Sparrows, which remain a comfortingly common presence on the Head. Single Dunlin and Common Sand were on the pools, and a Tree Pipit flew overhead.

On the outer Head, the area of set-aside down Old Fall Hedge was also buzzing with new arrivals; 16 Wheatears and four Whinchats were in the field, nine common and one Lesser Whitethroat were in the hedge, and two Snipe and single Golden Plover flew over.

A late evening seawatch under the fog station produced a varied, if fairly typical, haul of passing seabirds: Shearwaters offered some good close views, with Manxies and (especially) Sooties hanging around off the tip and moving south; Skuas were less prevalent, but Arctic, Pom and Bonxies passed south and harassed some of the many hundreds of terns moving through. Otherwise, the three common tern spp. were out in force, and a trickle of Little Gulls passed before the light faded.

29th - 30th

With conditions clearing and the wind veering back into the westerly half, walks on the 29th & 30th were pleasant but hardly exciting; Holme's Gut (a scrubby gulley between North Landing and Thornwick Bay, well known for producing good birds and now managed by the YWT) held a selection of passerines early on, including several Willow Warblers, a Reed Warbler, four Common Whitethroats, a Blackcap and a Whinchat. South Landing, meanwhile, held three Lesser Whitethroats, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Knot on the beach. The Shrike and Barred Warbler remained at Thornwick Pools (unfortunately constantly disturbed by rampaging twitchers), and two Ruff considered putting down before moving south. A full cliff walk on the 30th produced very little in warm sunshine, but for a Whinchat at Northcliffe.