Friday, 20 October 2017

October 2017 - Gwent, Spurn and Northumberland

October wasn't go well for me, but there was always the two weeks holiday I had booked off for the last two weeks. Amazingly, Hilda's nephew was off for exactly the same two weeks. Unbelievable.

My holiday actually started off earlier than expected. On Thursday 12th October, a ROCK THRUSH had been found in Gwent. We tentatively made plans to head off early if it was re found, but at first there was no sign. We also had our scout Grizzly on site to provide us with updates. And it wasn't looking good until just before 11am, when it was located again. When you are sat at work, having had no time off for virtually seven months, and your boss is out of town, it was a very difficult decision I had to take. 

Hilda's nephew picked me up at 1130am and he kindly drove to Gwent. As I was being chaufferered down, it occurred to me on my last visit to the same area, I was kindly driven as well, by PJ. A little bit ironic I thought, don't you think

We parked up on a desolate hillside and calmly walked along a path to a quarry face. We stood with a small crowd, waited about twenty minutes until one member of our group located the male Rock Thrush perched behind a boulder. Eventually it came out into the open and we watched it flit from rock to rock. And there was my first tick of the year. Only a ten month wait, and a bird I'd dipped once and was thwarted on two other occasions. Unfortunately, the wind was howling and the drizzle turned to rain, and we walked back to the car.

Bunch of amateur dudes to be honest. More interested in chatting and one mistook a Wheatear for the Rock Thrush

We returned home, and the next morning we headed off to Spurn armed with our bins and suitcases. First stop was in Easington where we soon found the immature Rose-coloured Starling that was cavorting around with the resident Starling flock. We always think its important to get the first bird of the day under the belt. Next stop was Kilnsea, where we eventually saw the Arctic Warbler in the churchyard. The area was actually quite quiet, and so we went for a wander down Beacon Lane and to the Wetlands. It proved quite productive with two Whopper Swans over, a Great White Egret, six Little Stints and a Slavonian Grebe. But by mid afternoon we decided to head home.

It had always been the plan to head up to Northumberland after Spurn, stay overnight and then look for the RICHARDSON'S CANADA GOOSE in the morning. However, there had been no news on it all day, and that's why we were heading for home. We were heading back to Hull when Hilda's nephew noticed that it had in fact been on. We pulled over, booked a hotel and headed north.

Well it wasn't as simple as that. We tried to book a travelodge, but the prices were different to what we were led to believe they were. Then "the nephew" found a cheaper one, £35 a night, en suite and our own rooms. It was booked and sorted. Then he started to read the reviews of it. 

Well we survived the night. The shower was the sort you'd keep your boots on in, my bathroom had a few mold free walls, the rooms were tiny, I had coffee making equipment, my door handle came off, and I was outside by 630am. "The Nephew" had a worse night than me. But he chose which key to have.

So we headed up the A1 and stopped for breakfast at Macs. We were soon on site in Budle Bay. It took us a while to sort the area out. There were thousands of Barnacle Geese flying out from the roost, but very few were going into the fields. It appeared that only when the tide came in did they finally go into the fields. We found a nice spot, and spent nearly two hours scanning through thousands upon thousands of Barnacle Geese and Pink-footed Geese. As you stood there, you spotted flocks high in orbit dropping into the bay, obviously fresh in on migration. Unfortunately, no one had spotted the small one yet. 

At 10am, we made the short distance to Gosport Golf Club where the obliging immature Long-tailed Skua was still in residence.

By the time we returned, the tide had come in and the vast majority of Barnacle Geese were now in a field, distantly viewable from the Harper's Heugh layby. After a few false claims, we eventually were watching the Richardson's Canada Geese. It is actually an England tick for me, and a British tick for "The Hilda". It looks like some of the new wannabe's let this one waft over their heads even without noticing it. Apprentices my feckin arse.

I borrowed this picture from twitter and I thank the original photographer from the bottom of my heart, and if you are ever in England's finest city, I'll show you on a map where Westport is. 

And so we headed home. In the first two days of our holiday, we'd had a decent start.