Spurn Head

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I went on a bird watching trip last Sunday, organised by the Sutton Coldfield RSPB. It was an early start, 7am from Sutton which meant the alarm on for 5.30am! We headed off north, stopping for breakfast at a motorway station. Enjoyed an egg and bacon muffin and coffee – luckily calories on a bird trip don’t count! 3 ½ hours travel got us to Spurn Head in East Yorkshire. For those who are not familiar with the area, this is a narrow spit of land jutting out into the Humber. The habitat is sand dunes, marram and freshwater pool. I didn’t take my telescope as I find it too heavy to carry, so employed my birding technique of tagging onto a group of knowledgeable young men with scopes and attitude, who identified the birds and let me look through their scopes! I didn’t want to look too pathetic though, so wandered off to sample the cafe, that did excellent coffee and carrot cake. I next planned to get the bus to the point, about 2 miles along a single track road with cars parked in the passing places. The bus was early, so had to flag it down as I was in between bus stops. It stopped, rather than run me down and even accepted my bus pass! I spent nearly 2 hours slowly walking back. First I walked along the beach, deserted except for fishermen, the sand pristine except for a few lines of footsteps. Some interesting stones, washed smooth and round by the sea, but had to limit how many I put in my pocket! Next I wandered through a scrub and found a bird hide overlooking the estuary, but the birds were too far away to identify. By now I was getting tired, and mindful of the trip rule not to wander off on your own, thought it best to keep to the road. I reached the visitors centre and checked what was around. There were two rare birds, a hawfinch and a rosefinch – but at the other end of the reserve. Although tired, I trekked off in search of them, but had no luck. So, what did I see? A total of 36 species, which included a short eared owl, purple sandpiper, brent goose, gannet, wheatear, scaup, knot, grey plover and jack snipe. Some birds were travelling into the UK – the owls and fieldfare appearing from over the sea, others were on their way south – wheatear, swallows, and martins, waiting for favourable conditions to start their journeys. The most amusing bird was a jack snipe that had a strange bobbing walk. It was quite a poser, and paraded in front of a hide so an Autumn Watch camera team caught it in a good light – I must watch the programme this week to see if it made it! In total, I walked for about 6 hours, as did most other people. Spurn head is a reserve for the keen, with only 4 hides and no special restaurant or toilets (the cafe and toilets are for general public use, next to the caravan site) It is surprising how stamina is found when the prospects of birds is there! I must add that I am not a twitcher, I do not travel for miles in search of rarities, but rather keep an eye open where ever I am. Bird trips for me are an excuse to go out for the day for a good walk, consequently I don’t see as much as some. The combined total of birds seen on the trip was 86, which left me wondering, as usual, was I on the same trip! Yes I was, but probably looking in the wrong direction – at the waves, stones and clouds! I’d recommend a RSPB trip, a day out at reasonable cost, where you can be both on your own but with like minded people, where no one minds if you are not an expert – and where you can indulge in an egg and bacon muffin even if you are silvered haired!

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