Monday, 7 September 2015

Migfest and my Girlfriend's bogies

juvenile Red-backed Shrike
Another year, another Migfest! This weekend saw the third annual Migration Festival at Spurn held at Westmere Farm. I camped with Danni at the farm and arrived Friday evening ready for the first round at Crown and Anchor! Needless to say that wasn't the last!
We awoke at half five on Saturday and headed to the Warren to do some seawatching. With strong North North Westerlies, seawatching was really the only option. We found a spot and started scanning. It was pretty quiet to begin with with a few Gannets and Red-throated Divers moving through. It was about an hour into the watch before a Sooty Shear was called. I got onto it quickly and it was nice and close, so it was pretty easy to get Danni onto it. Her first lifer of the trip. Throughout the day, I had about 15 Sooty going North.
Tim Jones, Liam Langley and Scott Reid joined us and Tim picked up a Manxie which again was a lifer for Danni. I then popped to Warren to go through the Moth Trap where I saw a few nice firsts for me including Frosted Orange and Rosy Rustic. Whilst I was away, Danni got a Long-tailed Skua going south from the hut which was a lifer for her. I was a little gripped but I was happy to see a further two later in the day, including a really nice 1st summer with an Arctic showing the differences in decreased primary shaft flashes, skinnier body, skinnier wings and more tern like flight. The tail was also rather short and lacking any obvious spikes as in the Arctic. 
At 09:09, something crazy happened when I thought I heard word of a Cory's further down the line. I quickly ran over and turns out there was one flying north at mid-distance. I managed to get onto it after a short while and obvious the slow, lazy wing beats and effortless flight. I absolutely did not expect that when I stumbled out my tent on Saturday morning. Four lifers for Danni...not a bad seawatch!!
In addition to the seawatching we paid homage to a juvenile Red-backed Shrike at Corner Field, a Barred Warbler at Westmere played cat and mouse for most of the day, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Lesser Whitethroat at Rose Cottage and a handful of Pied Flycatcher dotted around. 
The Hogroast in the evening was quality with bacon sized pieces of crackling and a great talk by Yoav Perlman. 
juvenile Barn Swallow
1stw/female Pied Flycatcher
Sunday saw Danni and I walk to the point and saw some really enjoyable passage of Painted Ladies and Silver Y, plus a Bordered Straw and Gold Spot. Scott and Nathan found a Barred Warbler at Wire Dump, but despite much searching, Danni and I couldn't refind it. I got a couple of nice shots of two Kestrels, but that was only just about compensation. In the afternoon, we spent more time with the Red-backed Shrike and caught up with some good mates on a gloriously sunny day.
day flying Bordered Straw
Kestrel
Kestrel
Kestrel
day flying Goldspot
We headed back early afternoon and Danni quickly scrolled through my Birdguides app to check to make sure there was nothing en route home for us to see. For a long time now, Danni has tried and failed to see Black Redstart on numerous occasions. We tried ourself just last week for the Winter Hill trio, but hadn't realised it was a serious walk to the compound and we were very strapped for time. Anyway, there was one in West Yorkshire which would be very likely to be en route. It just so happened the location couldn't have been much closer to the border if it tried and was only 400m from J22 of the M62 which happens to be the one Danni comes off to go home!
We arrived mid-afternoon and walked round the outflow and spent around half an hour searching for it. There was no sign of it or indeed any bird. It was almost eerily quiet and Danni was understandably getting all the more frustrated about the prospect of dipping again. It was putting a dampener on what was a wonderful weekend and I was having non of it. Just as we'd started contemplating giving up and walking back, a bird shot out and landed on a pole about 10m in front of us. I recognised the flight straight away and as it landed, its tail 'wobbled' and was rufous coloured. Danni refused to believe me as I said 'that's it!'. She couldn't do much more than believe me when it took off and landed on the ground only 4-5 metres away showing really well. She just started laughing at the ridiculousness of it! Why does it always happens like that with bogey birds?! It continued to show well for about ten minutes and we then went back and had a lovely relax at the end of a fantastic weekend.
female/immature Black Redstart

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