Tuesday, 14 October 2014


WHAT a great day (Monday October 13) at Spurn!

The north-easterlies blew in a juvenile bluethroat (which sheltered from the wind behind the Riverside Hotel) and a juvenile great grey shrike at The Warren.

Meanwhile, there were also sightings of black redstart, redstart, wheatear, firecrest, yellow-browed warbler and, out to sea, skuas and shearwaters galore.

Alas, I didn't see any of them - I wasn't present. I have just taken this info from the observatory's daily log!

However, suitably inspired, I took  a sortie today along Cleethorpes foreshore and the first 300 metres of the sea bank from the yacht club towards Tetney.

No rarities, sadly, but highlights included two redwings (my first of the winter) on the Thorpe Park golf course ) at Humberston (Spurn had 132!), 1 kingfisher, 1 male blackcap and goldcrests galore (pretty well two birds per bush).

There were also numerous robins - is anyone old enough to remember the famous "robin winter" of 1951 which is sometimes mentioned in books?

And the numbers of brent geese feeding on one of the cereal fields adjacent to the sea bank has  exploded - the flock has now reached 300-plus. The farmer will not be at all happy!

But back to the splendour that is Spurn - for the benefit of birders, please will  someone with a deep pocket launch a twice-daily hovercraft service across the Humber!

Climate change has encouraged more blackcaps to overwinter in the UK. This bird was photographed near his home by Ron Knight of Seaford, East Sussex (Wikipedia Commons). Mine was feeding in a tree off the bridleway at the back of Humberston's Thorpe Park caravan park.


DOWNSIDE of this morning  was the sight of heavy mowing activity by a North East Lincolnshire Council maintenance team along the stretch of the coastal nature reserve that runs from Cleethorpes leisure centre to Humberston fitties.

Historically, that has been a great place to catch up with flocks of goldfinches, linnets and other songbirds feeding on the seeds of long grass and weeds such as dock.

Today, none was to been or heard - just magpies, carrion crows and woodpigeons.

The work has doubtless given the reserve a more "manicured" park-like appearance and  made it  more
accommodating to dog walkers - but does  the expanse of adjacent beach  not provide space enough for letting dogs run free?

The site was designated a "nature reserve" - so what about the welfare of its birds and other wildlife such as voles, rabbits and hedgehogs?

The mowing under way - pity it couldn't have been left, at least until  the goldfinches  had had time to benefit from the food crop

And shouldn't this sort of work be undertaken with scythes and other hand equipment  by wildlife volunteers who would have monitored how individual  plant, bird and animal species  were being affected?

 Nice and neat - but since when has tidiness been a prerequisite of a nature reserve?  

THE goldcrest - now there is a species that never lets anyone down!

Just when the migration season starts to turn quiet, it is the turn of huge numbers of this superb little bird to announce their  presence.

Offhand, I can  think of no other birds (not even chiffchaffs or whitethroats)  which are quite as persistently vocal -  even as they simultaneously hunt for something to eat.

Unfortunately (through lack of patience), I've never knowingly encountered  its cousin, the firecrest, but  I've vowed to try harder this winter.

Ever active and ever-vocal, the goldcrest. Photo: Missy Osborne, New Forest (Wikipedia Commons)

Incidentally, the British company behind such hit movies as Local Hero, The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire and Gandhi was Goldcrest Films which was set up by a Canadian banker, Jake Eberts in 1977.

Alas, it was unable to repeat the success with Revolution, The Mission and Absolute Beginners which were all box office flops.

But there are hopes that  Goldcrest will enjoy  renewed success with forthcoming movies, Slumber, a supernatural thriller, and World's Greatest Explorer, which will document Mike Horn's attempt to circumnavigate the globe from North to South in under a year. 

His expedition is set to begin in September 2015.


WHAT good news that the corncrake recovery in Scotland shows no signs of losing momentum!

According to the RSPB, no fewer than 1,289 calling males - the highest tally in 45 years - were recorded north of the border between May 20 and July 10 this year.

The progress is attributable to farmers agreeing to leave certain hay fields uncut and ungrazed during the birds' breeding season.

Lincolnshire was possibly  once a breeding stronghold of corncrakes, but not within the  living memory of most of us.

When did they last breed widely in Lincolnshire and could there ever be large-scale  co-operation (posssibly funded) between the county's farmers and conservationists to revive its fortunes here?

Few birds are as elusive as the corncrake but Rachel Davies managed to capture this great shot (Wikipedia Commons)


A PUBLICAN who supports Premier League club Crystal Palace (nickname: The Eagles) has incorporated a golden eagle into the new thatch on his re-roofed pub in Sussex.
See: http://www.holmesdale.net/page.php?id=106&tid=148696

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