We got to the dams before dawn in the hopes of easily getting both Barn Owl and Water Rail early on. As the sun broke the horizon, the silhouettes of Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Ducks, Moorhens, Coots, two Snipe and a lone Lapwing appeared. A Sparrowhawk also sped through. As it got lighter passerines started to become active with plenty of Reed Buntings, Chaffinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Wrens, Tree Sparrows and many more common garden species, but unfortunately no Barn Owl or Water Rail!
After spending dawn at the Dams we decided to get to the Brigg for a morning seawatch. In country park we saw a Pied Wagtail, Herring Gulls, Oystercatchers, Redshanks, Black-Headed Gulls and a Fieldfare, the latter was part of a large arrival of thrushes which was more prevalent later in the morning at the Tip. As we headed down Carr Naze towards the Brigg Goldfinch and Stonechat were added onto the list. Then two small waders flew in at eye level. The first a Turnstone, the second a Purple Sandpiper. They rose high and headed Northeast up the coast. Once we got down onto the rocks we saw Rock Pipits, Shags, Cormorants, Great-Crested Grebes, two Great-Northern Divers, two Common Scoter and small numbers of Eider. A Peregrine also flew in off the sea with a prey item. We very quickly realised through watching and chatting to a couple of seawatchers already present that the sea was pretty dead. The only things moving were Fulmars, Guillemots and Red-Throated Diver with a few Eider and Wigeon also. We didn't even manage to see a Kittiwake or Gannet! We had some luck with waders; Dunlin, Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper and Ringed Plover but all in incredibly low numbers. There were no Knot, Sanderling or Grey Plover present. We decided to head back up onto Carr Naze and return to the carpark. We watched a flock of Goldfinches fly towards us but something wasn't right. That was when a second flock of about 30 birds from behind them. Much to our amazement they were Snow Buntings. They went West past us and flew along North Cliff and appeared to drop into the Stubble. This changed our plan. In case something like a Lapland Bunting joined them in the stubble we decided to head along North Cliff, down to Parish Woods and back along to Country Park following Long Hedge into Top Scrub.
Thrushes were very active with c80 Fieldfare, c20 Redwing and low numbers of Song Thrush and Blackbirds in Long Hedge. The stubble field contained Meadow Pipits, Rock Pipits and Skylarks but there was unfortunately no sign of the Snow Bunting flock. We know they were not in the field and they hadn't double backed as the other team (who by this point were on Carr Naze) did not see them. A conclusion was reached that they had probably continued west. The Tip was fairly quiet aside from a nice group of 13 Grey Partridge. We moved briefly into Parish Woods were there was a Great-Spotted Woodpecker, a flock of Long-Tailed Tits and groups of Starlings, Rooks, Crows and Jackdaws heading over. We also flushed a Woodcock from the edge of the woods. Returning along Long Hedge towards Top Scrub there were still quite a few Redwing and Song Thrush as well as a flock of Linnets. Top Scrub contained more Redwings and Son Thrushes but nothing new. By this point it was about midday so we decided to return to the Dams.
The local goose flock of Greylags and Canadas had returned and with them was a single Pink-Footed Goose (which has been with them for a little while). However there were no Shoveler, Little Grebes or Stock Doves. After having some lunch at the dams we headed round to East Lea where there were unfortunately very few birds. There were still some species we needed to add and we decided to head to Primrose Valley.
On arrival we went round to the 'new' lake. In with the Canada Geese there was a single Barnacle Goose. We scoured the trees for both Siskin and Redpoll but failed. The ravine down to the beach however produced Mistle Thrush, Stock Dove, Goldcrest and Bullfinch. A flock of Sanderling on the beach was a welcome addition but still not a single Gannet or Kittiwake. House Sparrows and a Coal Tit visited a feeder by the road also. As we were leaving we bumped into the other team. They had just seen a Short-Eared Owl at the Tip, much to our annoyance as we had walked through that area earlier in the day. They also tipped us off on Little Grebe.
We decided to follow this Little Grebe lead as we were starting to struggle to add new species. Little Grebe was quickly added down the coast on a pool at The Bay. We continued south to Hunmanby Gap in the search of Yellowhammers but with no luck. By this point it was late afternoon and the light was disappearing rather rapidly. Curlew was a notable absence from our list so we hightailed it from the southern end of the recording area to the northern limit at Gristhorpe Bay, where there were good numbers of this species.
The Golf Course and Martin's Ravine was our penultimate stop off. Martin's Ravine unfortunately didn't add anything but a male Gadwall at the Golf Course was an excellent addition to the list. As the light was fading at almost 5 o'clock we returned to the dams in the hope of adding one last species to the list. We did just that, as three Mute Swans had dropped in.
The list was added up and we finished on 78 species. Some species we were surprised not to get were Grey Heron, Shoveler (the other team got), Gannet, Kittiwake, Buzzard, Treecreeper and (rather annoyingly and slightly embarrassingly) Greenfinch(!) (which the other team got). The overall species count between the two teams finished at 82, not bad for a day in January, especially with the sea producing so little!
|Great Northern Diver|
|Snow Buntings (honestly)|
|Pink-Footed Goose (with Canadas|
|Barnacle Goose (with Canadas)|
|Gadwall (top with Mallards)|