Staring wistfully towards the horizon, the big lad was as enigmatic as ever at Bempton today – you could almost see the wheels turning and sense the albatross-thought waves rippling out from the cliffs, over the swell, thousands of miles across the doldrums and away off into the South Atlantic.
What a bird – I’d dropped in for my third visit with the Black-browed Albatross as I took an admittedly circuitous route back home from a few days at Spurn, and popped in to see the Blacktoft White-tailed Lapwing too.
The albatross dozed and preened amongst the Gannets in the hot sun on the steep rockface of Staple Newk.
A bit distant perhaps, but still a privilege to scope it for an hour or so, willing it into the air.
Wonder how many more chances I’ll have of further audiences this year?
Far closer was the gangly legged White-tailed Lapwing which fed in front of the Xerox Hide at Blacktoft to the tune of clattering camera shutters – an obsessed chorus beating out its tunes with wooden spoons on a host of plastic trays.
The third one of these megas I’ve seen in the UK now (after Caerlaverock and Seaforth), but still great.
Occasionally it glanced hide-wards at the big lenses rattling away before going back to feeding, either by stirring the mud with its paddling feet like a giant Ringed Plover, or striding and snatching invertebrates in the more conventional wader way.
I shot some iffy video through the heat haze, but it was a bit blurry through the shimmer – you can watch it on YouTube here and here.
Plenty of Bearded Tits/Reedling with Snipe, Greenshank and Green Sands at the reed-fringed lagoon too.
The albatross and plover were a great conclusion to a few days birding on the east coast, (thanks to Neill Hunt for letting me crash in his caravan as usual), but Spurn, while still hugely enjoyable, with northerlies dominant, was a little quiet.
Twice daily seawatching sessions from the edge at Sandy Beaches provided a few Sooty and Manx Shearwaters, cruising north, but generally at range, dark shapes against the vastnesses of the seas…
Reasonable numbers of Arctic Skuas (double figures each day) with a few Bonxies, were busy mugging unfortunate Sandwich Terns offshore – it just ain’t your day tern-wise when you’ve got four jaegers on your tail…. with some of the pirates sweeping in over the coast.
Yesterday evening small numbers of Little Gulls, beautifully lit by the sinking sun, and including three gorgeous first year birds trekked north in little trains, a change from the Kittiwakes, Gannets, Fulmars and Red-throated Divers.
The northerlies really churned up the high tides, dirty crests of muddy water crashing down on the coastal path north of the seawatching hide.
A full summer plumage Purple Sandpiper fly-by felt pretty special.
Wheatears watched me ‘scoping the waves and when the sun did emerge, so did commoner migrants including Lesser Whitethroats and Pied Flys…
A bit scarcer, but far more skulky was one sulky Wryneck in the garden of Chapel Cottage, flitting about and lurking in the willows.
A short distance away a Barn Owl was dozing in hawthorns on the path to the Canal Zone, and Kestrels, Sprawks and a zippy Merlin were all on the look out for an easy meal.
Kilnsea Wetlands was as dynamic as ever, with commoner waders, Yellow Wagtails and plenty of hirundines.
The gull and Sandwich Tern roost on Thursday held a juvenile Caspian Gull, browner than the slightly older first year birds I’m more familiar with, but still distinctive as it tottered about on long legs.
I got a bit of video in gloomy, windy conditions, which you can watch on YouTube here, proving perhaps you can have too much of a good thing…
Thanks to all the Spurn regulars for the warm welcome as usual – I look forward to getting back as autumn ramps up.