Saturday, 7 January 2017


THE acclaimed author of one of the most important bird books of 2016 is among those who have joined the debate on Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's proposed visitor centre at Spurn.

Andy Roadhouse speaks with authority  because he wrote the definitive volume, The Birds of Spurn, which covers all avian records for the peninsula over the past 160 years.

In his submission to  East Riding planning department, he writes:" I am not opposed to a visitor centre at Spurn but just the proposed positioning  which is badly thought out and, in my opinion, just a way for the YWT to recoup losses they have made since the road to the lighthouse was washed away in December, 2013.

" I do not understand why the trust is allowed  to re-apply for planning permission when there do not  seem to be  any amendments  on  the two issues  - health and safety and visual impact - for which the first application was refused.

 "It has  just produced some glossy video of the projected development and its proposed location."

Andy continues: "Politics aside, more than  3,000 birdwatchers came to see a rare Siberian accentor in Easington during last October, then made their way to Spurn to see all the other birds present.

"I spoke to many birders for whom  it was their first visit to Spurn -  they had heard how good it  could be on good fall days, and many were amazed at the number of different birds they saw.

"That is the beauty of Spurn. It is a magnet for migrant bird species from near and far.

"Many birders were witnessing the aftermath of continuing small falls of migrant birds.
"It needs to be remembered that these falls pose potentially  devastating risk for the birds involved which may arrive in an  exhausted state.

"They do not get to choose where they land and refuel for the rest of their arduous journeys whereas, by contrast, the YWT gets to decide where to destroy migrant feeding habitat by building  a great big carbuncle of a visitor centre."

Andy,  of Wath-upon-Dearne, near Rotherham, continues: "Over the years, many will have visited Spurn when the grass paths and bushes and hedgerows have been full of goldcrests, chiffchaffs and other warblers, plus robins, thrushes and finches - often feeding within just a few feet of view..

"These birds need every bit of habitat where they can feed and protect themselves from the elements.

"Every square inch the YWT seeks  to tear up and build upon will reduce this precious habitat." 

Andy makes an additional point. He says that, when it was suggested that   part of Well Field might be used  for the siting of the visitor centre, the YWT's argument against  it was that it was an occasional feeding habitat for whimbrels - only for the same organisation subsequently to dig scrapes and mounds, thereby  making it useless for feeding whimbrels! 

The author concludes: " I should like to point out that the YWT did not lift a finger in the parking arrangements  for accommodating and managing the managing the thousands of birders who visited Spurn during the Siberian accentor twitch.

"It was all down to Spurn Bird Observatory volunteers and locals who did a fantastic job!"



               The Birds Of Spurn

                                                  £52.50 Inc P&P

Andy Roadhouse  spent eight  years researching and writing this superb book. It is the first definitive work on the birds of the Spurn area, including Easington. with records dating back to the mid-9th Century. The book is hard backed with over 700 pages and full colour throughout.

All 387 species recorded in the Spurn area up to the end of 2014 are included and all are illustrated with either photographs or with artwork provided by some of the best bird artists in the country. 

There are plenty of statistics and graphs taken from 70 years' worth of observatory records. 

The content is further enriched with  accounts of certain rare finds, tales of great days birding, whether it be falls, good sea-watches or good vis-migging days. 

The history of Spurn is covered along with the people who have made a difference and put the peninsula firmly on the map. 

Descriptions of habitats and sites provide an invaluable site guide, and there is a useful a where-and-when-to-visit section.

More details are available on the shop page of the Spurn Bird Observatory website

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