Tuesday, 7 August 2012

High Tide at Spurn

My Monday trip was to Spurn. The tide was scheduled to be a high spring tide at about 9.00am, so my plans were to be in the hide at Chalk Bank an hour or so before. With the sun behind me, I was expecting to get some good shots of the waders as the incoming tide would move them up the beach. Often plans don’t work out - as at Alkborough - but today it all went swimmingly.
When I arrived the spit was occupied by a crowd of Oystercatchers and some Curlew, with the outposts being guarded by Great Black Backed Gulls. Very soon though the Knot and Godwits began to arrive – most still in their summer plumage, but a few already dressed for the coming winter.


Knot in flight

Knot landed
All the while there was a steady stream of birds heading south. Swallows continued their journey, but very soon there was a small colony of 50 or so Sandwich Terns taking a break from theirs. Others of the party didn’t bother, and I must have counted a good couple of hundred before I left. The juveniles were easy to spot, having much less of a black head than their parents. Interestingly some parents continued to fish as they flew south, bringing sand eels back for their offspring.

Sandwich Tern - complete with food parcel
Bar-Tailed Godwit - in winter plumage

Bar-Tailed Godwit - in summer plumage
 At the height of the tide flocks of Dunlin arrived, some still in summer garb, but most having made the change. All waders use the high tide period to roost, and for Dunlin this is very important to their survival - I guess because they are not as long-legged. Thirty minutes after high tide I made my way down to the Point to see if there were any other migrants, and was astonished by the numbers of Dunlin on the east side beaches. I hadn’t seen such a gathering before, and there were other similar sized groups further south on the peninsula.



Roosting Dunlin - seen from the dunes above the Point 
On the way home I stopped in at the new Kilnsea Wetlands area. Of course it is a bit bare at present, and that will change as the site develops. Today there were 4 Avocets present – a breeding pair and their two offspring. While there I saw one parent drive off a Redshank and a Common Sandpiper – behaviour I haven’t seen in Avocets elsewhere! I wondered if the absence of others birds may be down to this aggression? We will have to see next year if they return. Either way I’m sure that the hard work put into this area will pay dividends.

Juvenile Avocet

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