Monday, May 09, 2011

'Spanish plume' delivers a full monty !

Another great few days at Buckton. Saturday promised much but delivered a Whinchat, Cuckoo and 5 Barnacle Geese, the latter a site tick for me, if they are wild?
Sunday was a corker, it rained over night on a strong warm SE airflow originating all the way from Spain, this continued until mid morning when it cleared slightly and immediately set about a movement of Swallows SE along the cliff top. As the weather improved further, the Swallow front became broader and it was clear that a massive passage of displaced birds was underway. Every few seconds small groups swept passed the observation point at ground level and headed off over the farmland towards Bridlington bay. Around 2042 birds were counted during the day with many being missed due to the afternoon distraction, more on that later! Spurn Bird Observatory recorded over 12,000 Swallows - smashing their previous spring total by thousands ! Whilst scanning for Swallows I picked up four different Hen Harriers on view at the same time, one being an adult male. At this point I was joined by Dave Wardby who was informed of the unfolding drama. After a while we got on to a new long winged and tailed harrier some distance away, we considered Montagu's Harrier but couldn't clinch it from the distance. We blasted along the fields in the car and got much closer - A cracking sub adult male Montagu's no less ! The tail had barred outer tail feathers, giving away its immaturity. The bird was a site tick for both of us and a much wanted one at that. The bird remained in the area for other 3 hours and was enjoyed by other local birders. During this period a total of up to seven different harriers were seen including three different Marsh Harriers.
Later in the afternoon a throw away comment to Dave about a pea field I have been checking for Dotterel saw us both turn and scan the field at some 3/4 mile distance, suddenly in the middle of the scope was a bloody great big Crane, no not a piece of machinery, a grey long necked monster with a feather duster of a rear. Dave was the quickest off the mark, with some understated remark about there being a Crane in the field ! After another rapid drive we had it in the scope at 250m, an adult, wowzers ! Thanks to Brett Richards for the big picture. Other birds during the day included 2 Hooded Crows, a Merlin, a Short-eared Owl and 3 Grey Plovers. Local patch watching at places like Buckton is all about finding birds that would otherwise get missed, some days this is clearly easier than others !

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