Autumn Migration Tour For Two Yorkshire 25 To 30 October 2021

A wonderful way to start our Tour for Two - White-tailed Lapwing - eventually!

Our tours for two are very popular indeed and they give our guests great flexibility to enjoy the trip at a pace ideal for them and target the birds they particularly want to see. With a larger group there are of course always compromises to make but with a custom tour for two none required, want to look for birds’ dawn to dusk and even beyond no problem, want a lovely relaxed breakfast before heading out no problem, want to include other activities along with the birds no problem.

We met first John and then Lyn at RSPB Blacktoft Sands reserve in Yorkshire on the 25th of October 2021. We began by enjoying a flock of Pink-footed Geese in the field by the entrance to the reserve. There was good news at the reception building the long-staying very rare White-tailed Plover was still here and seen from the Singleton Hide so that was our first port of call. We entered the hide where a few birders were in place but we could not see the rarity. Asking our fellow hide occupiers it transposed that the long-legged wader had walked behind a small lump of mud some time ago and had stayed hidden from view. We were not worried it was here just out of sight and the clump of mud was pretty small. As we waited for the Lapwing we enjoyed superb views of Spotted Redshanks in the sunshine and Marsh Harriers floating over the reeds. Time ticked by and still the Lapwing stayed firmly hidden, by now were getting hungry so decided to break for lunch hoping our luck would change after food. Luckily it did and we enjoyed fantastic close views of the beautiful White-tailed Lapwing, whew, and what a stunning bird it was. Of course there was lots more to enjoy at this great reserve including Tree Sparrows, a treat for us as now rare in North Wales, a very showy Water Rail and masses of ducks.

We then headed over to Beverly and settled into our lovely hotel our base for the five nights of the tour. After a delicious breakfast on the 26th we headed off south to Spurn at the mouth of the Humber Estuary a migration hot spot. Even before we reached the Bird Observatory we stopped to watch a flock of Whooper Swans in roadside fields along with skeins of Pink-footed Geese over and Dark-belled Brent Geese further back from the wild swans – fantastic start. Due to the strong westerly winds not many passerine migrants were in the area but we still enjoyed lots of great birds with masses of waders, ducks and geese to enjoy. A Merlin tore through the wader flocks causing mass panic, a Little Owl posed for us, three late Swallows moved south past us and we had a great lunch in the pub. But the best was saved to last, as is always the best, at Sammy’s Point we went looking for Short-eared Owls. We scanned the rough grassland by the coast path but not an owl to be seen, and then Ruth spotted one! This most beautiful bird was in the grass and once seen we had fantastic views in the scopes! What a way to finish a great day.

Snow Bunting 1

Always a thrill to see Snow Buntings and even better when Twite are at the same location!

On the 27th we headed north to Flambrough Head and parked near the lighthouse before walking down to the point. We scanned the sea and enjoyed watching passing Gannets – still good numbers of these wonderful birds offshore here. Other birds here included Red-throated Divers, Razorbills, Common Guillemots, Shags and an Eider. We walked east from North Landing along the cliff tops to reach a bare field where after some scanning we enjoyed good looks at four beautiful Snow Buntings scurrying around like mice along with two Twite here in the same field. As we watched the Snow Buntings loud familiar calls had us looking up, Peregrine Falcons! Two of these most awesome birds were fighting in the air above us what a thrill to see and hear! Next we drove the short distance to RSPB Bempton Cliffs and walked down to the spectacular cliff tops. The scenery alone is well worth coming to see but of course there are birds too. Gannets were still about some cruising along just below us allowing wonderful views; offshore Razorbills and Common Guillemots were on the clam sea. As we headed for home we had a wonderful view of a covey of Grey Partridges in farmland just inland from Bempton Cliffs.

On the 28th as there was little migration along the coast we headed inland and first call was at Southfield Reservoir not far from Goole. We found the water after a little confusion as to where the access was, none of us had been here before, and could see four birdwatchers in the distance. We walked over and joined them and were delighted to find they were watching the hoped for juvenile Ring-necked Duck. This rare visitor from North America was loafing around on the calm water with Pochard and Tufted Duck allowing super views.

Very happy with our rare duck we headed off to RSPB Old Moor where we were greeted by a low flying Peregrine right above the entrance. We decided on an early lunch so we would have more time to explore having eaten and this reserve has a great café. Out on the reserve we were soon enjoying wonderful views of a Jack Snipe feeding at the edge of a reedbed constantly bobbing away just brilliant! We had a lovely walk around this inspiring reserve on the site of old coal working and we were all impressed by the work the RSPB are here to manage both nature and people so both can enjoy the site, inspirational stuff.

On the 29th it was a day of gale force south-westerly winds, just about the worst weather you could hope for in October on the east coast of the UK. We took our time over breakfast hoping it might improve, it didn’t. So we stuck to plan A and headed down to Spurn it was no surprise at all that there was little or no migration taking place too windy. Of course lots of birds in the area as usual and we enjoyed watching thousands of waders on the Humber Estuary along with Dark-bellied Brent Geese. At Kilnsea Wetlands we at least had the shelter of the hide and enjoyed super close views of waders and ducks. At least six Mediterranean Gulls were great to see here and a big flock of Brent Geese dropped in a wonderful sight. We tried Sammy’s Point again at the end of the day but the wind was even stronger and we could barely stand up really wild weather so we headed back to the hotel.

On the last morning of the tour, the 30th, we took the short drive to Hornsea Mere but again the weather was grim, windy with very heavy rain showers. But we battled on and did enjoy some great birds. New for the trip were Goldeneye lots on the water, a wonderful flock of Barnacle Geese feeding in stubble fields and most unexpectedly a drake Mandarin circling the mere before heading off east. We also enjoyed great looks at a hunting Marsh Harrier first time we have seen one here. We ended the trip with lunch before Lyn set off for home, John stayed on another night so the three of us were able to enjoy dinner together that evening. Our Tours for Two are great fun and we would love to arrange a special custom tour for you, just drop us a line here…

We look forward to enjoying great birds and wildlife with you soon.

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