This is the first weekend I’ve been out birding since the beginning of July! Yesterday was the Stockport Birdwatching Society’s trip to Flamborough & Filey. Due to sickness and holidays on the part of the usual leaders I ended up in charge for the day. After having to navigate the coach around a road closure on the far side of Bridlington we arrived at Flamborough Head at 11am, a little later than planned. It was just as I arrived on the clifftop I realised I’d made a really amateur schoolgirl error – a Willow Warbler flew into a close bush so I lifted my camera to take a photo only to find I’d left my memory card at home!!!!
The area was generally quite quiet, westerly winds didn’t make for ideal east coast conditions but we still managed to pick out a pale phase Arctic Skua, a flock of 6 Puffins, several Red-throated Divers and hundreds of Gannets. A group of Whinchats and a single Wheatear were nice added bonuses.
After a call into the café for an ice cream we headed onto Filey Dams. The water levels here were perfect for waders – singles of Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Dunlin, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper fed in the shallows and two Hobbies hawked for dragonflies overhead. The sun had come out by this point so insects were out & about – Small Copper and Speckled Wood butterflies plus Helophilus Pendulus & Myathropa Florea hoverflies.
The final stop was Filey Brigg. As the tide was out we walked down Arndale Ravine along the beach to the the Brigg.
Sitting on the bench next to the sea watching hide was very pleasant in the afternoon sunshine. At least 3 Arctic Skuas were seen flying past and there were plenty of Sandwich Terns around. Walking back along the clifftop there was a lovely family group of 4 Kestrels hunting and hanging on the wind quite low to the ground – would have made for fabulous photos if I’d had my memory card!!! A single Purple Sandpiper was a great way to end the day.
Today I had a bit of a lie in before heading west to Skippool on the River Wyre. A Semipalmated Sandpiper had been knocking around and, as it was a lifer for me, I was keen to get a look. I drove through some awful rain on the way there but it was dry by the time I arrived.
As I arrived at the site it became clear that the bird had moved out of view about 10 minutes previously but patience paid off and, about an hour after I got there, the bird showed again. It very noticeably smaller than the Dunlin it was feeding with and I enjoyed some good views even though it was quite distant.
It was great to get out birding again and I can’t wait for more autumn migration action!