Thursday, 9 February 2017

Pine Bunting in Yorkshire 4th February 2017

Having not been able to visit the Shropshire PINE BUNTING at the start of the year, and having only seen the one bird in Britain in 2004, we did consider heading up to see the Dunnington bird on a few occasions, but we never got round to going. 

So with not too much in Britain to go for, CJW devised a trip to go up for the PB, and then hopefully, if we had time, head to the coast to see a few year ticks. The plan sounded good, but it all depended on the PB playing ball.

We left Stoke at the reasonable hour of 6am, picked The Stalker up and headed straight up to Dunnington, near York. We arrived just after 8am, and there was already a small crowd gathered in the paddock, looking towards a hedgerow and a stubble field. On the odd occasions when the whole flock was flushed, we were amazed at how many buntings there were in the area. We saw Yellowhammer, Reed and Corn Bunting, but there was no sign of the 4th species. Then the whole flock was flushed, and the area became quiet.  

We stood around, watching a few birds flying back in but still no sign. There was never any suggestion that we should head off, but we knew that there was now a chance that this was the only bird and site we would see today. 

Then at 11:40hrs, following a previous false alarm, a shout went up and there was the male Pine Bunting. It perched up in the hedge and showed well but distant. We watched it several times before it disappeared and so we headed off.

Next stop was Rufforth where an immature Glaucous Gull was sat in the field opposite a very handily placed layby. The tip was only a few fields away and it was heaving with gulls. No wonder they get so many gulls here. We also had two Red Kite over the tip.   

Imm Glaucous Gull at Rufforth.
Then we came to a halt. We considered going for the SNOW GOOSE in Lancs, but that was over two hours away, then we thought about the PALLID HARRIER near Spurn, and that was an hour and half away. We just sat and pondered, until someone grabbed the horns by the bull and said "Spurn". 

The journey down to Spurn wasn't too bad, and we soon arrived on the edge of Spurn, at Welwick Saltmarsh. There was only one car parked at the bottom of the lane when we arrived, and we soon found him on the edge of the marsh. We were soon watching a Merlin and a quartering SEO. He told us he'd possibly seen the PALLID HARRIER but it was distant and disappeared. As soon as he said that, The Stalker picked up the wintering Pallid Harrier flying over the saltmarsh. We'd been there almost five minutes. 

We decided to wander to get better views of the SEO and PH when they returned. We found the Brent Goose flock and picked out four Pale-bellied Brents among them. After they were all flushed, I started scanning through and found the Black Brant. Probably the first time I'd seen all three types together in the same flock. 
Videograb of the Black Brant

We eventually walked round as far as we could and stopped by the pumping station. It was only then that we realised it was the site of 2013 Ivory Gull twitch.

We stood around for about an hour until the sun dropped. It was a really fantastic spell of birding in a superb location, with two Barn Owls, two Short-eared Owls, and then at one stage we had Marsh, Hen and Pallid Harrier all in the same view together.