Having managed to miss a Black Brant with my usual incompetence down at Donna Nook while I was seeing 2015 in with the outlaws on the east coast, it seemed sensible to try to redress the balance as I visited for Xmas with a wee trip to Spurn (any excuse).
True, it took me twelve months to tie up this particular loose end for the year, but Black Brants are always striking birds and worth a detour, especially as Spurn was bathed in warming bright sun yesterday, and only an hour away from the festivities.
I got to Spurn mid-morning and called in a Kilnsea Wetlands where the Brent flock were all out on the water with Wigeon and Mute Swans.
I picked up the dark back, belly and bright white flanks of a Brant fairly quickly, before all the birds took to the air chuntering overhead then dropping into the roadside fields for a graze near a few Whoopers and Mutes.
A bit of crawling along the verge and slithering down a bank and I was able to watch the bustling little geese from a hundred metres or so without disturbing them.
The Black Brant was still there, but kept disappearing into the confusing melee of light bellied and dark bellied Brents – I don’t get to watch Brent flocks that often, but it was fun trying to age and assign the birds to races.
Occasionally the great big neck collar of the Brant was obvious too – but not always. It seemed to depend on the stance of the bird.
I got good ‘scope views of the yankee, but continued incompetence (at least I’m consistent) meant I never managed a clear picture of it, and I left the Brents and Brant nibbling away in the sun once they’d twisted my melon for an hour or so.
The peninsula was pretty quiet otherwise, as were other favoured haunts during the wet and generally windy break and more typical winter grey.
Mild, but wet, Far Ings had winter thrushes, feeding flocks of titmice and calling Cetti’s Warbler and Bearded Tit, but high winds when I called ensured I was always onto a loser there.