Red Was The Colour On Day Two Of Our Tour For Two In Yorkshire

What a way to start any birding day? Red-flanked Bluetail at Spurn, Yorkshire.

Sunday the 4th of October was one of those wonderful days when everything just dropped into place. Our Tour for Two with Mike and Rachel was billed as “Yorkshire Migration Special” but of course planning tours ahead we never know if the migration would be happening! We should have known not to worry as Spurn on the north side of the Humber Estuary is world famous as a migration hot-spot and early October is a wonderful time to be there.

After a good breakfast we headed south down to Spurn and as we reached the Crown and Anchor pub we saw a gang of birders all looking into the garden opposite. We parked and jumped out and met our friends Steve and Lewi from Anglesey – small world – they told us a Red-flanked Bluetail was in the garden! Wow this would be an amazing start to our visit to Spurn and we hurried to join the other observers. At first no sign of the rarity but a lovely juvenile Spotted Flycatcher and a beautiful male Common Redstart were showing both great migrants to see in their own right. We moved to the other side of the garden where birders were looking more animated and quickly saw the gorgeous Red-flanked Bluetail and what a stunning little bird it was. Maybe orange-sided would be a better name but we soaked up the views and cameras were in over-drive despite the poor light. Everyone was really helpful ensuring all got good views and offering advice on the best spots to view from and making way for new arrivals to see the bird. The Spotted Flycatcher also continued to show off and three Common Redstarts zoomed around the garden joined by a very showy Redwing and several Chiffchaffs and two Goldcrests – this is how we dreamed it might be!

Do love a "bird in habitat shot" - there's a Red-flanked Bluetail on the doorstep!

But there was so much more, immediately behind us lay the Humber Estuary covered in waders and gulls as the tide was just dropping. It was crazy birding, one moment looking at an amazing array of grounded migrants then turning to see flocks of Knot, Dunlin, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Grey and Golden Plovers all just behind us. Spurn at its very best and we were all thrilled by the birds all around us. A Greenshank flew in calling, Curlew, Oystercatchers, Lapwing and Ringed Plover all added to the day list. One of the Common Redstarts landed on the beach right below us as Skylarks and more Redwings flew over – what a fantastic place!

One of the two Spotted Flycatchers we enjoyed at Spurn on this amazing day.

Eventually we moved on from the garden having seen so many birds in a tiny area and looked around the bushes near the pub. Here we watched a second Spotted Flycatcher, marvelled at tiny recently arrived Goldcrests, more Chiffchaffs, more Common Redstarts, Blackcaps, lovely Tree Sparrows – a species we seldom see at home – and so many Robins! Walking a little way north of the pub we had brief views of a Yellow-browed Warbler in a small clump of willows. Amazing to think this tiny warbler had travelled all the way from Siberia to land here on the Yorkshire coast. In the same patch of scrub we watched more Tree Sparrows and a flock of Siskins dropped in. Breathless birding and it had given an appetite so we walked the fifty yards or so to the pub and enjoyed our meal sitting out in the sunshine seeing more birds! Another male Common Redstart was feeding along the seawall where it was joined by a colourful male Grey Wagtail, two Chiffchaffs and three Northern Wheatears all the while we could see masses of waders out on the mudflats what a super place for lunch.

Common Redstarts seemed to be everywhere including this male along the sea-wall.

Dragging ourselves away from the birds at the pub, a recurring theme at Spurn so many birds at every stop, we walked the lane down to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust visitor centre. Progress was very slow indeed every few steps there was always something to stop us! Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs kept catching the eye and of course each one needed to check to verify the identification – always check every bird at a migration hot spot. Redwings and Song Thrushes were all over the place and hundreds of Starlings lined the telephone wires. Blackcaps, Common Redstarts and Stonechats popped up and entertained us and it was a case of where to look next. We took a short detour to the beach where we saw flocks of Teal resting on the brown sea and a gang of Pintail flew south. A Northern Wheatear flew in and landed on a rock at the edge of the North Sea perhaps literally just arrived from Scandinavia? What a wonderful image, this beautiful migrant standing with the cold sea just behind it somehow summing up Spurn in one image – migration happening right now. Eventually we reached the visitor centre and enjoyed a warming hot chocolate and adding Moorhen to the amazing day list. The sun had gone and grey clouds looked threatening but the rain stayed away apart from a few spots. We then followed the coast path back to the pub completing the famous Spurn Point “Triangle” area. More birds of course on this return leg with waders and migrants to enjoy but one bird really stole the show a wonderful Short-eared Owl. This beautiful bird was first seen on a fence post being mobbed by a Sparrowhawk and then flying slowly over the rough grass fields by the path what a fantastic end to a breath-taking bird filled day! Our heads were spinning with so many birds in such a small area; we had probably walked about two miles all day! We enjoyed a lovely pub meal in the evening and relived the many highlights of our first full day of birding on this Tour for Two.

Keeping the red theme going this Redwing was sharing the garden with the Red-flanked Bluetail.

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 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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