Thursday, 8 May 2014

NGB Does Spurn - 2nd-4th May 2014

What do you get when you cross 20 like-minded birders between 16-24 and plonk them at one of the best migration locations in the UK? You get the Next Generation Birders first official birding meet up ever!

I set off from Bangor to Spurn with Conor John on Thursday lunch with the intention on stopping off in Preston to do the Whimbrel roost at Brockholes. That went really well with 187 Whimbrel into roost as well my first Hobby and Swift of the year.

Arriving at Westmere Farm on Friday afternoon, we set up our tent (or should that be, 'Conor set up the tent whilst I wasn't helpful and slowed things down when I tried') and when Daryl Watson, Jonnie Fisk, Scott Reid and Harry Martin arrived, I picked up a Short-eared Owl over by Church Field, which flew right past the tents. Superb start!
Lesser Whitethroats were singing down Beacon Lane which was a lovely treat.
One real surprise was a flock of 7 Barnacle Geese that dropped into Humber on Sunday which feed up in amongst the Brents before their move north.
It wasn't just Barnies in amongst the Dark-bellied Brents. There was also a couple of Pale-bellied/Proper Brents as well as a couple of hybrids noted by Martin Garner on Sunday. Great to see and hear up close.
Despite the constant breeze over the weekend, the mist nets at the Warren were remarkably still and I observed a Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Swallow and a Tree Pipit being caught. The Tree Pipit was the first one I've seen in the UK in the hand, so that was a nice surprise.
Wader migration was evident and you couldn't look into a field with a puddle in it without seeing a small flock of waders, whether that be Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrel or even the occasional Golden Plover.
This is a poor record shot/videograb of Golden Plover, but taken in strong wind and poor light at about 300m, I'm pretty pleased.
Aerial migration was evident throughout the weekend included a large passage of Swallow, Woodpigeon and Yellow Wagtail
Spending a lot of time over the weekend looking for insects with Jonnie Fisk. Loads of Oak Eggar caterpillars around the point including some giant examples measuring at least 4 inches.
One of the highlights of my weekend was this brilliant find by Jonnie Fisk. A Chinese Character that was sat in the middle of a Hazel Tree. A beautiful moth and an amazing spot!
You can't really go to Spurn without noticing Brown-tailed Moth caterpillars. They're everywhere on Sea Buckthorn (plus a few other shrubs). Pretty larvae when you actually avoid them and avoid getting a rash from them!
In amongst the many Brown-tailed Moth cats, we found two Yellow-tailed Moth caterpillars which are gorgeous things!
Delving even further into the realms of entemology, I did a spot of Hoverflying and managed three species including Rhinga campesteris.
And finally Eupeodes sp (probably Eupeodes luniger)

I would like to thank Oliver Simms for aranging the weekend as well as Nathan and Spurn Bird Obs for being so hospitable and adding to the enjoyment. Finally, thanks to Westmere Farm for putting some of us up for the weekend. I'll certainly be going to the next meet up!

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