Second Back To Back Custom Tour For Two In Yorkshire 31 October To 5 November 2021

So very lucky to be able to start two Tours for Two back to back with White-tailed Lapwing!

We met Phil and Gail at RSPB Blacktoft Sands on a bright 31st October and within a few minutes were soaking up amazing views of the mega rare, long staying White-tailed Lapwing. What a start to this latest tour a very rare and very beautiful bird showing off in the sunshine. The impossibly long bright yellow legs of the rarity looked way to long for the bird but it didn’t fall over once. The White-tailed Lapwing put on a fantastic show often feeding near Common Redshank – nice for comparison. Another major highlight on this first day were beautiful Bearded Tits feeding at the base of the reeds and oh what stunners they were. A flock of eleven Spotted Redshanks were a delight to watch including feeding as a pack runing through the shallow water feeding on fish and shrimps so different to the more sedate Common Redshank seen earlier. We also enjoyed fantastic views of Marsh Harriers, up to five in the air at once and Phil took some great action shots as the birds sparred in the air so close to us. Very happy indeed we headed off to our lovely hotel in Beverly.

On day two, the 1st of November we awoke to a howling gale not good weather for birds especially as it was from the south-west so not going to bring the hoped for migrant birds from the east. We took our time over a delicious breakfast and then stuck to plan “A” and headed north for Flambrough Head. When we arrived the wind was even stronger and it was literally hard to stand up! But we battled down to the point and tried to do some sea-watching but it was very hard to keep the binoculars steady. We did manage to see a few Gannets, Razorbills, Common Guillemots, Red-throated Divers and a single Eider but it was not fun in the crazy wind! But we did see a pod of bottle-nosed dolphins which put on a good show considering the rough sea we watched them a long time with lots “ooos” and “ahhhs” certainly the highlight of the sea-watch. We battled back to the car-park and enjoyed a cuppa it was so good to be out of the wind.

We braved the elements again and did a circular walk over the eastern headland but the gale force winds kept birds hidden mostly. We did enjoy a lovely flock of Tree Sparrows, a Goldcrest yes just the one, Skylarks and a wonderful sight of a flock of Whooper Swans riding the rough sea. These poor migrant birds looked as fed up with the weather as we were, they did eventually continue their journey south-west and it was wonderful to see manage to get airborne again and head off.

We enjoyed our lunch at nearby RSPB Bempton Cliffs Nature Reserve where the wind continued at gale force. We walked down to the cliffs to admire the dramatic scenery and watched more Gannets but little else. Back near the visitor centre we noticed two birders looking intently into “The Dell” an area of scrub in a small ravine and went over to see what had caught there attention. The answer was a Ring Ouzel a great record for early November and we had good views after a little wait. The Ouzel was in the company of a flock of Redwings and we soaked up the views of these beautiful birds a super end to our Bempton Cliffs visit.

As we headed for Beverly we encountered a huge flock of Pink-footed Geese in fields either side of a narrow lane – what a fantastic sight and sound as they lifted into the air on mass, wow! Gail also spotted a Peregrine Falcon on the ground close to the road allowing us super views of this ultimate bird of prey.

On the 2nd of November we spent the whole day exploring the area around Spurn and nearby Kilnsea always a wonderful place to be. With the wind still strong from the south-west we knew there wouldn’t be many migrants about but we still had a great day. The bushes held Redwings and good numbers of Blackbirds, small flocks of finches including Siskins were moving south. Huge numbers of waders were on the Humber Estuary and a real thrill to see on the move. We watched Whooper Swans and Dark-bellied Brent Geese in the fields, gulls, ducks and waders on Kilnsea Wetlands where Mediterranean Gulls showed off. A lovely lunch in the pub, overlooking the mudflats teaming with birds and then we ended the day watching four Short-eared Owls in the late sunshine – not bad at all.

On the 3rd of November with the weather still stuck with south-westerly winds we opted to head inland for a change of scene and visited North Cave Wetlands Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Reserve and it proved to be a good move. The drake Green-winged Teal was still present, we saw it last week on our previous tour, and showed very well indeed. While watching this rare visitor from North America we had a great view of a Green Woodpecker on a fence post opposite the hide a real treat for us as we seldom see them at home. Four Red Kites soared over the reserve – new for our trip – and we enjoyed lovely views of a stunning male Bullfinch – also new.

It was great to bump into Steve M one of the driving forces behind this wonderful man-made reserve. Steve had given us a guided tour of the area many years ago when we came to give a talk to a group in Hull. It was wonderful to see he was enthusiastic as ever about the reserve and plans to extend the reserve further in the near future. The reserve is created from gravel workings and as the contractors pull out a wildlife haven is created where there had been industry – gives us hope.

Phil and Gail were keen to visit the minster in Beverley and as a custom tour that was no problem at all so the afternoon was spent exploring this lovely town.

On the 4th November we took the short drive to Hornsea Mere and walked the southern bank of this large lake. Yet again the weather wasn’t great with strong winds and some very heavy showers. Luckily we all had the right kit and carried on birding! Goldeneye were some of the first birds we saw, another new bird for the trip, always great to see these winter visitors back. Lots of birds out on the water, literally thousands, with big flocks of Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Coot, smaller numbers of Shoveler, Pochard, Great Grebes and Cormorants a great location to enjoy birds. At the west end of the lake we came across a hedgerow with a “set-aside” field alongside and it was alive with birds! Amazing what can be achieved with the right habitat management and surely every farm could have a small area like this? Hundreds of Linnets were moving between the field and hedgerow and amongst them Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Reed Buntings and best of all a beautiful Brambling! What a fantastic spot and we spent ages just soaking up the views. As we headed back towards the car a flock of Barnacle Geese flew low over head what a fantastic sight! Four Whooper Swans also lifted off the lake and flew west and we had great looks at a Marsh Harrier.

Next we headed north to Flambrough Head where the wind was gale force, again, but we braved the elements and did a sea-watch and were rewarded with a fly past Little Auk! This tiny sea-bird moved fairly slowly past into the wind a wonderful bird to see all be it in terrible conditions. A hot drink was our reward for battling the wind and peering out into the storm. Very few birds around the headland so we opted for an early lunch at the North Star Hotel and then visited nearby Thornwick Pool which was battered by the wind and almost bird less!

We needed to find somewhere more sheltered so headed for South Landing, having just checked to see that no birds had been reported nearby we could go for. At the valley of South Landing it was much more sheltered and a few Blackbirds were moving about and three Fieldfares flew low overhead – better. As we made our way slowly down towards the sea two other birders came hurrying down behind us having that look about them that suggested they had not come to see Blackbirds. They were rather taken aback when we didn’t know about the mega rare Taiga Flycatcher that had just been reported on Rare Bird Alert! They had been birding nearby and dashed to South Landing and seen us and assumed we were also after this amazing rarity! The two birders raced ahead of us and we lost them behind bushes so we weren’t really sure where to go! Not good. Luckily some walkers came along the cliff top path to our right and they had seen anyone pass them so we took the left path. Huge relief when we saw half a dozen birders by a fence at the edge of a wood – must be the spot. Brett Richard’s conformed the bird was still here working up and down the edge of the wood though last seen moving away. A tense few minutes followed, despite the reassurance of those already on site that it would return, and then a flash of bird out of the trees down to the ground and back! No doubt this was the bird even on such a brief view and that took the pressure off and we waited more relaxed as the bird moved closer and closer. We had what can only be described as mind-blowing views of this incredibly rare vagrant to the UK as it moved up and down the trees over the fence often perching on the fence rails. It was a wonderful encounter with a really lovely bird and Ruth was able to take some great photos using her iPhone and our superb Leica APO telescope. More birders arrived, though not many as it was late afternoon when the news broke too late for the masses to get to Flambrough Head. It was great to catch up with old friend Jon, from Birdline North East, and chat about all things birding.

What a finish to day five of our amazing Tour for Two in Yorkshire - Taiga Flycatcher.

We ended this most memorable day watching the sunset from the cliff top at South Landing barely able to believe just how lucky we had been to be in the right place at the right time! Again.

Last day of this Tour for Two, the 5th November and we headed inland again and at last the weather was so much better about time! It was clear and clam as we said goodbye to our hotel and watched skeins of Pink-footed Geese from the car park. As we were heading home later in the day Phil and Gail took their car to save coming back to the hotel. We headed over to RSPB St. Aidan’s where the weather was lovely so nice to watch birds without a gale force wind. We had a lovely walk around the reserve in the sunshine. Plenty of birds to enjoy including wonderful Goldeneye, lots of beautiful Teal, big flocks of Fieldfare were passing overhead great to see migration happening even far inland. We added to new birds for our already impressive trip list – a Great Egret and best of all a wonderful ring-tail Hen Harrier that posed for us in the sunshine a fitting finale to a wonderful Tour for Two with wonderful company, huge thanks to Phil and Gail we look forward to the next time.

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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