Sunday 6 October 2019

Birding the UK eastern coast based on Flamborough

Saturday 5 October

Received a detailed report form my UK birding pal, Chris Bell who lives in Worksop, not so far from my Midlands home in Stamford, Lincolnshire.  He loves to travel to all those UK hotspots that I am yet to visit and his report mirrors his expectations and sightings in the UK compared to my Spanish sites.  For those who have yet to explore the north-east cost of England you will not the many birds that might be considered somewhat scarce if not rare over here. Out here in Spain these wader reports remind me that we are yet to receive our Autumn/Winter visitors, whether staying or passing through, so lots of good sightings should now be well on their way south.  Indeed, for many I suspect a visit to the far north on the bay of Biscay/Atlantic coast might be a necessity if wanted to add to a Spanish list.

Flamborough, Yorkshire: Saturday 5 October

I had pencilled in a visit to Flamborough for Saturday and even when I was making my sandwiches at 6 AM in the morning having looked at the various weather forecasts once more, I was still debating whether I should instead visit Rutland Water.  Well it was Flamborough, having added an umbrella to my rucksack and going for an intermediate weight waterproof.

I had visited Newington with a scope and tripod on Thursday and not needed it, had followed that up with a 2 hour visit to Budby on Friday without a scope, and a stubble field with small birds had me regretting not brought it with me so I had to settle on 28 Red-legged Partridge ,a similar number of Pheasant, at least 6 Yellowhammer ,and a hand full of Skylark with bins . A pair of Stonechat and also a Raven on the common itself were some compensation.

I decided that a scopeless visit was the way ahead for Flamborough.  Having had a short look around Bridlington harbour (at high tide), Turnstone aplenty, a dozen Redshank, a few Purple Sandpiper, even a couple of Kittiwake, and Gulls, I started in Flamborough village making my way to “Old Fall Plantation” picking up on the way my first Redwing of the season and was to see more later.  I quickly picked up on the call of my target species.  Initial birds I could see were Wren, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Goldcrest, but always difficult I managed to view a couple or three Yellow-browed Warbler.   Whilst there a Great-crested Grebe over-flew.   I was almost sure I could hear 200 yards away on the sea an Eider Duck.

Yellow-browed Warbler Mosquitero Bilistado Phylloscopus inornatus  (eBird on Internet)
Making my way to the cliff top I immediately could see quite close in a Red-throated Diver.  First I walked south and then north picking up on Curlew and Oystercatcher, but starting to miss not having my scope.  I had my picnic lunch on a park-bench high over the lighthouse/fog station with views onto the sea.  Even distantly I could see birds on the water which were certainly divers and isn’t that an Eider?  I chatted to a pair of passing photographers who told me that they were going to try to photograph the Yellow-browed Warbler so I told them in detail where I had seen them and as they (so typical) didn’t know the call, I tried to help them on that score.  Best of luck to them of course, and luck they would need.

Down to the cliff edge after lunch and I was now really missing my scope as the more you looked the more birds you could see.  In addition to Red-throated Diver I could make out at least one male Eider Duck but what might the scope have revealed. Definitely Common Seal and even a Porpoise seen but I wasn’t able to id many, if not most, of the birds.

Male Eider Duck Eider Comun Somateria mollissima (From Internet)
A comfort stop, coffee and cake at the cafe from where the local Tree Sparrows were obliging, and then back to the cliff path travelling north and now appreciating not having my scope with me as there wasn’t too many species to view, Rock Dove with perhaps some real ones, Kestrel, Shag, Linnet, Crow, Jackdaw, Yellowhammer, Goldfinch, 100s of Gannet, HerringGreater-black backed and Black-headed Gulls as I made my to Thornwick Bay and then back to Flamborough North Landing to start my journey home. I did look in on the small Thornwick Pools which are being re-modelled to create some more diversity. All I saw was Moorhen and Coot, and the makings of a Starling murmaration with a couple of hundred birds.

All the weather forecasts proved pessimistic with not even a hint of rain, however the cloud did look threatening at times. After mid-afternoon the wind changed direction and I donned my waterproof to reduce the effect of windchill, 14C max I understand. It had been 9C when I left home.  The sea temperature at 13C would have made sure that you didn’t even think of making a big toe test, never mind even consider that you “might” take to the water.

Chris Bell

These recent wader reports that I have received form Chris illustrate the birds that each of us does not normally see, Yorkshire coast compared to that in Andalucia.  But though certainly scarce, if not rare, it would appear that many of our Autumn/Winter visitors are on their way.  Just imagine to where one have to travel to add some of these birds to a Spanish list, Atlantic coast/ Bay of Biscay?  Now what flights do we have from Malaga to San Sebastian, Santander, Bilbao, etc?

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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