Tuesday, 1 March 2016

A day on the Yorkshire Coast

It's been quiet for birds in Derbyshire the last few weeks so I jumped at Simon Roddis's suggestion of a day on the Yorkshire coast. American Wigeon at Scalby followed by Black-necked Grebes then Med Gulls and finally Surf Scoter at Filey were all on the menu so the day certainly had promise.
It looked like high tide was best for the wigeon, at low tide all the ducks are dispersed over the hundreds of rock pools but at high tide they tend to congregate together and can drift quite close. It meant an early start but we arrived about 08:30 just after the tide had turned and sure enough there were several hundred Wigeon in loose groups dispersed in front of us. It didn't take long to pick out the male American Wigeon, not in the closest group unfortunately, and whilst it occasionally looked like it would drift closer it maintained its distance. Great scope views though and close enough for a decent record shot.

American Wigeon - male with female Wigeon
On to the harbour. Single Razorbill and Guillemot were soon located and it wasn't long before we saw first one then both of the Black-necked Grebes, that have spent the winter there, diving by the harbour entrance. They gave fantastic views before drifting out in to the bay. If Carlsberg did eyes, I'm sure they would do them in red!

Black-necked Grebe
A dozen Turnstone in the harbour with a variety of colour-rings and flags on their legs. Not sure where these are from but I hope to be watching Turnstone on their arctic breeding grounds in a few months time.
Next stop the Holbeck car park on the south side of the town, armed with a bag of bread to entice the gulls closer. There was no real need for the bread. Black-headed Gulls with several Mediterranean were stood right where we parked the car.
I think watching and photographing these gulls at such close quarters was the highlight of the day for both Simon and I. We have both spent many hours watching the gull roosts locally, with occasional success giving distant views of a Med, so to have them in all identifiable ages, first and second year and adult in almost touching distance was fantastic.
Mediterranean Gulls - first winter
Mediterranean Gull - second winter
Mediterranean Gull - adult summer
Two of the adult birds were colour-ringed, Simon established one had been ringed as an adult in Antwerp, Belgium in May 2015 and the dark hooded bird above in Poland in May 2013. 
The bread gave us the chance to watch the birds in flight.
Mediterranean Gull - second winter

Mediterranean Gull - first winter
We knew the Surf Scoter off Filey Brigg was going to be more of a challenge to get good views as it tended to stay several hundred metres off shore in the bay. We soon located it and got surprisingly good views through Simon's telescope but it was well beyond sensible photographic range but the photo gives some idea of the 'jizz' and plumage of this second year male.
Surf Scoter - second year male
The brigg was otherwise quiet with just 8 Purple Sandpiper and a couple of Rock Pipits of note. 
It was early afternoon so we decided to call in at Bempton before heading for home. Plenty of auks on the sea and Gannet and Fulmar on the cliffs but no Kittiwake yet and we didn't see Puffin. Whilst there we heard that a Richard's Pipit had been seen again at Thornwick Bay which is only a couple of miles further on.
Fortunately Brett Richards was watching the bird when we arrived or it could have taken some finding, but it was the only passerine in the first field after the buildings on the coastal footpath. It was on the far side of the field and I didn't bother trying a photo but just as we were leaving I thought I might try a record shot and that's what I got. Still a great way to finish a fantastic day on the Yorkshire coast.
Richard's Pipit

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