Hornsea Mere And Flamborough Head On Our Tour For Two 5 October 2020

The lighthouse at Flamborough Head in the October sunshine - great weather.

A bright sunny morning and we were soon at Hornsea Mere – so much better conditions than our visit on the 3rd of October. Lots of wildfowl on the mere and we carefully checked through them and it was Ruth who picked out a Scaup amongst a large mixed flock of Coot, Tufted Duck and Pochard. This scarce visitor was tricky to get on as it kept diving but we kept at it and all enjoyed good views. A flock of distant geese, high to the north, came closer and closer and we could hear their lovely “wink-wink” calls – Pink-footed Geese perhaps just arriving from Iceland? So exciting to see migration happening right above us, October is a wonderful time to be on the East coast. Reed Buntings were in the reed-bed – where they should be – and we had great looks through the telescopes.

Tree Sparrow Bempton 1

It was great seeing so many Tree Sparrows over in Yorkshire rare birds at home in Wales.

We then headed north to Flamborough Head, not far but it was a slow drive featuring a number of slow moving tractors, where it was still sunny and bright. We parked at the lighthouse car-park towards the east end of this large headland and heard that a Great Grey Shrike had been seen nearby, we set off to look for it but no sign and no one looking for it. Another birder appeared and it was our great friend Mike and he had not seen the shrike either or anyone who had and he had been in the area all morning, odd. Taking the footpath that runs south alongside the “Old Fall Hedge” we enjoyed lots of birds particularly on the east side where it was sheltered and sunny. Finding a good vantage point we set up the telescopes and waited to see what might appear along the sunny side of the hedge, it was alive with birds! So many Robins all feeding here darting out from the cover into the ploughed field to grab an item of food and then back into cover. Lots of finches too with Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Linnets all feeding on the recently turned over earth, amongst them we saw a beautiful Brambling glowing orange and white in the autumn sun. Rachel spotted three Yellowhammers also in the mix along with Tree Sparrows, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds – a wonderful experience watching so many birds in such a small area.

A tiny Goldcrest in the Old Fall Plantation on Flamborough Head.

Further along the hedge we reached the “Old Fall Plantation” a collection of mature trees on the east side of the hedge with a fenced path taking us inside the trees. In this sheltered spot we watched a lovely Spotted Flycatcher high up above us against the bluest sky. Lots of Goldcrests here in the trees and some coming very close indeed allowing us super views of these rather sad looking tiny birds, but as ever tricky to photograph as they move so quickly. A few Chiffchaffs here too and at least one Blackcap along with more Robins, we wondered just how many must have arrived on this stretch of Yorkshire coast. Back on the path we soon reached the south side of Flamborough Head and had a great view over the calm sea where we saw many Red-throated Divers. It was past lunch time so we headed east along the coast path back to the lighthouse and on to a little café for food.

After our meal we went to look for a Barred Warbler just below the café. It had been seen the previous day but was reported as very elusive and we had watched other birders looking for it unsuccessfully as we ate. The sun was out and the bushes were sheltered so we thought it worth a try and we stood, like the others before us, but no sign of the large grey warbler. We were thinking about leaving when Ruth spotted a bird in the middle of the bushes – the elusive Barred Warbler! Well right then it was not being elusive at all just sitting in the sunshine allowing us super views. Through the telescopes we had frame filling views and could see the pale eye and large strong bill of this chunky warbler. The Barred Warbler just sat there and we all had time for prolonged views and to take lots of photographs though a little far for our modest camera. What a wonderful encounter with this scarce migrant from Eastern Europe.

The chunky Barred Warbler enjoying some afternoon sunshine at Flamborough Head.

We then walked down to the point of Flamborough Head and scanned the sea but little was moving, a few Gannets passing and both Razorbill and Common Guillemot were on the water below the cliffs. At least three Atlantic grey seals were in the sea here and had good looks at them through the scopes. In the bushes, as we walked back to the car, we watched Stonechats, Linnets and Reed Buntings all in all a great day with lovely sunshine and blue sky and dramatic coastal scenery to compliment the birds.

But the day was not quite done as we reached the car we saw our friend Mike on the far side of the car park looking intently at a sycamore tree. Mobile phones are very handy things and a quick message of “What you got?” got a fast response “Yellow-browed Warbler”. We dashed over to join Mike but the tiny warbler was playing hard to get, amazing how a bird can hide so well in one tree! Twice we went to leave thinking the Yellow-browed Warbler had given us the slip only to have a brief view of this Siberian migrant. But try as we might we could not get really good views of this very shy bird so we thanked Mike and headed back to base.

Another great meal was enjoyed in the evening and the checklist was done while we waited for the large portions of great food, we all agreed we liked Yorkshire, very much!

Rachel commented after the tour "Thank you again for a great birding experience, as ever you take us on an amazing birding journey and I enjoy every minute of it. We feel The Tour for Two worked really well and we were happy to be guineapigs!"

Come and join us for a “Tour for Two” – very small group just two guests with two guides, tailor made itinerary, low risk in these COVID-19 times and of course lots of birds and an excellent chance of enjoying them all. Do drop us a line and we can make all the arrangements be it a day trip, two days, three day or as long a tour as you wish. We would love to arrange a Tour for Two ideal for you and are/have already run tours to Wales, Norfolk, Suffolk, Somerset, Yorkshire and the Highlands of Scotland and can arrange a tour anywhere you would like to see birds.

We are so lucky to have so many species and habitats within easy reach here in North Wales we would love you to join us for one of our Best of North Wales Birdwatching Trips days out. We expect to enjoy a lot of birds during these relaxed pace tours and we can tailor make the day to suit you.

We would love you to join us on our Birdwatching Trips in the future just drop us a line to arrange a custom tour and please see our tours pages for set departure trips. If you have any questions at all please fire away here….


We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds in beautiful places with you soon!

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