...followed by a weekend of dross.
But still, Friday was a very good day. I had a six hour dawn survey, beginning at 6am, at a site in north(ish) North Yorkshire. Normally these surveys drag a bit, with hours passing without seeing a recordable bird, or getting excited about a single feral Greylag at a miles range that can be recorder. Not this time however, with wader action coming thick and fast, lots of autumnal flocks of the commonest waders, plus a migratory Dunlin, a White Wag on the deck, and a fair few passerines on the move overhead, with hundreds of hirundines hawking around. All of this would have been enough to make the morning pass fast enough, and lead to a good day, but to top the survey off, after returning from an enforced hours break, an Osprey was circling over site, before heading off at about 10:30ish.
During the break, I had recieved a call from Tim Jones about the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper that had been found in Gretham Creek. We made plans to meet up in Northallerton at the end of my survey, and sure enough, despite Tim hitting some rough traffic on the way up, we were under way by 14:30. I wasn't particularly optimistic, with the bird having gone missing once already, and it apparently being very flighty. It was with great surprise and relief then that we rocked up in Cleveland to people walking away from site, looking pretty happy and reporting the bird as still there. Five minutes later, we were watching a stonker of a summer-plumages ST Sand at about 70m range, showing off a fantastic array of plumage features. I will at some stage try and upload my field notes, which completely fail to do it justice, but they are full of outrageous comparisons, from Stilt Sand through Ruff to Pec. An all brown wader never looked so good. Sadly, its absence on Saturday came as no surprise, with it being very flighty and not particularly happy associating with the Dunlin flock. There were a few Curlew Sands and Ruff around, allowing for further comparison to a few common species.
We carried on to Whitburn, in the hope of getting Tim another multiple tick day, but sadly neither the AGP or Bonapartes Gull felt like co-operating, the highlight being an interesting small gull, that I think is a Med Gull x BH Gull hybrid, and Tim thought was a slightly abherrent Med Gull (although he may have returned to sitting on the fence by now).
After such a good day, the weekend had a lot to live up to, which it spectacularly failed to do. Saturday I headed over to Flamborough, a bit late on in the morning admittedly, and had a wander round Old Fall and the Gorse field. This produced a dozen odd phylloscs and a Spot Fly. Then spent 30 minutes looking for a slightly suppressed RB Fly, before giving up and having a look round Holmes Gut. After not seeing another bird, I gave up in disgust and went home.
Sunday wasn't much better, but at least involved less petrol. A trip to Wheldrake resulted in little more than a new found appreciation of Wheldrake when there is actually water there. In fact, I got so bored, I started to learn stuff about common birds, disgusting. If you're interested, the amount of orange on Teal's beaks is quite important in ageing and sexing them. There was a 2y male and a juv Marsh Harrier buzzing about as well. I then headed on to North Duff, again no water, and again another juv Marsh Harrier and not a lot else. A wandering route home meant that I (independently) bumped in to the same gull flock Russ had, this time with just the one YL Gull in it, near East Cottingwith, as a mild bit of interest to round off a niceish weekend.