Sunday, 16 October 2016

Easy Easington

Saturday October 15

The news came through on Thursday afternoon, too late to go there and then. Otherwise we could have taken P and made sure not to miss a world lifer. Should we go on Friday the 14th ? I left the decision to Pam as it was her birthday. Her decision was to go to Snettisham late morning, where we saw not a lot. We'd hoped that the tide would be on its way back in from the far distance. We did see an always delightful and, very bright, Grey Wagtail at Sculthorpe Mill and a flock of wildly flying Redwing and Fieldfare along the hedge approaches to Abbey Farm.
On the way home, the decision was made to go to Easington, a small village in East Yorkshire, on Saturday if the wanted bird roosted to-night. I was wary of Saturday traffic and the undoubted crowds of birders. 1200 yesterday and a queue system in place, 40 birders at a time to view the bird from a restricted area for about 5-10 minutes before the next were shown in. Hm. Dodgy. Surely there would be even more to-day, not all birders took the day off work yesterday.......?
We left home at 6.15 a.m., neither of us got much sleep last night, I don't think I managed 2 hours. My hope was that the initial flush of birders would have left by the time we got there. The SatNav took us on a route which did not have any motorway cafes and we had to stop at a garage in order to use a loo before arriving at Easington.
The advice, via the pager, was to park in a designated field east of the village and NOT IN THE VILLAGE. We drove to the field entrance, finding it to be quite a walk from the village, turned round and parked very tactfully and safely in the village Very near to Vicars Lane, which was blocked by bollards and attended by members and staff of Spurn Bird Club.
As we left the car, Paul N and Fizzy from Yarmouth Bird Club crossed the road to speak saying that the crowd was quite small now, they'd been back for a second visit.
It was a 400 metre walk up Vicars Lane, a 'nice' residential area, the lane lined on one side by deciduous trees full of migrant passerines. Dripping eith Goldcrests and the occasional Firecrest and Lesser Whitethroat. Greg B from our moth group passed us - most people do - as we trudged along the road. A left turn at the top took us past a Gasworks enclosure, the donation bucket and more helpers who directed us straight to the viewing area. The latter was a small area of trees and grass overlooking the old school car park. An anxious first scan saw the Siberian Accentor feeding busily on the patches of lichen which covered most of the old concrete surface. Waw. The first for the UK was found in Shetland last week, this is the second ......and a third turned up in Cleveland to-day. An unprecedented movement of this bird into western Europe, several in Scandinavia.
A pretty bird, very like Dunnock in its movements, never still for a second, constantly looking for food, flicking leaves over like a Turnstone does with stones. The distance away, its constant short-hopping movement, taking photos against what little light there was, meant that I was very disappointed with my results. The sun did come out later but that made the back-lighting worse. These are the least bad of my results  - just imagine how bad the others were. .

Its head markings looked mask-like, bandit bird.
I was lucky too in that the two men in front of me left soon after we'd arrived so that I could set up my seat with unrestricted viewing - apart from the wire fence. Greg beckoned us to look through his scope, thank you. I hadn't carried mine as I was lumbered with the seat and my camera.
We stayed for 45 minutes, enjoying the bird, before returning to the car. Carl reckons that its in a bad way, having a tick below each eye, I couldn't see that, but his excellent photo seems to show them. I applaud all those who managed good shots.
Someone took our picture walking down the road and posted it on Facebook !!  Not one of my 'friends' , Jacquie B phoned from Shetland to tell us. I didn't see anyone I knew...
We breakfasted/lunched in a layby bordering a field full of migrant thrushes. Lovely. So many birds in the area. We didn't have the stamina to go on and add Pallas's, Dusky, Radde's, Red-flanked Bluetail etc  that were nearby at Spurn and area.
After having a hot meal at a Little Chef west of Kings Lynn, we got home at 6.15, 12 hours after leaving. No crowds, no queues, no hassle. Great.
One of the Spurn men stood beside me so I told him that I hoped birders had been generous and thanking him for the services provided. They'd raised  £1200 from a similar number of birders, donations ranging from 10p to £10. There are some parsimonious people about.

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