What a great Hobby

I went to Spurn this morning with high hopes of something good after yesterday's strong winds (although slightly from the wrong direction) and heavy rain.

I started off at the Warren  looking over the Humber. A massive flock of waders looked resplendent in the early morning sunshine and a few gannets flew out of the humber.

The peace and tranquility was soon broken as something resembling the charge of the light brigade from the direction of the sea-watching hut signified the discovery of an Arctic Warbler in Easington.

Within 5 minutes I had joined the rapidly increasing throng and not long after that a cracking arctic warbler was feeding in the willows above our heads.

After some clever 'pishing' by one birder it was on show again, this time amongst clear branches allowing some decent but brief views.

A ring-necked parakeet flew overhead calling as we waited for the Arctic warbler.

After a while it appeared to disappear so I went back down to the canal to look for a red-breasted flycatcher. I only had a brief view as it flew past me calling.

A shout on the radio highlighted a great skua flying out of the humber.

I then went in search of a yellow-browed warbler. One had been reported on Holderness Fields but on arrival there was no sign.

Then one was in sycamores in Kilnsea Village. It was giving off its tell-tale call and buzzing about high up in the canopy. A fly by hobby was a nice bonus.

I went back down to the canal and was treat to more prolonged views of the hobby. It was hunting dragonflies over the canal.

Another yellow browed warbler showed well at the Warren and it was then on to the poignant ceremony for scattering Andy Roadhouse's ashes at 'Numpty's Castle' migration watchpoint.

It was a very fitting celebration of a great man and the words spoken and amount of people there was quite moving. 

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3 Sides To Every Story

There is a well known saying that there are 3 sides to every story, their side, your side and the truth.

Well I'd just like to give you an update on the Spurn Visitor centre.

I have had a response from the head of planning at the East Riding of Yorkshire Council regarding Planning Condition 21. Rather predictably he wrote back to say that in his view the Planning Condition had been complied with as a protocol document had been submitted and the liaison group had been set up. In his view this constituted compliance. The fundamental point that he was missing however, was the one about KEEPING PEOPLE INFORMED. (that is stated quite clearly in the wording of the condition).

As you will be aware the Spurn Liaison Group had asked for clarity on opening times, the extent of gates, access for disabled people and particularly sea anglers, clarity on the extent of double yellow lines, sight of the Spurn masterplan and how suggestions made by the Liasion Group could be incorporated in to that plan, and a copy of the Considerate Contractors Audit, I could quote more but these are the main points. 

All of these reasonable questions remain unanswered, The chap from ERYC Planning believes that Planning Condition 21 has been complied with and as such the Spurn Liaison Group has been adequately informed. To be blunt, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust could have submitted a protocol document about the life and times of Mickey Mouse for what the document was worth.No doubt it would still have been approved by ERYC.

I have not had a response from the CEO of ERYC (see my last blog post on the SLG) which is disappointing.

I have not had a response from the Chairman of the Spurn Liaison Group for him to confirm his position which is particularly disappointing.

There has been two interesting articles in the press just lately.

One was in the Holderness Gazette whereby locals from Kilnsea and Easington had expressed their disappointment at the lack of engagement from YWT and that the Spurn Liaison group had been ineffective since its formation.

As you would expect the Gazette also obtained a quote from YWT which said;

“During the planning process, representatives from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust admitted mistakes had been made in the past and we established the liaison group to improve relations in the local area. We have tried very hard to support this, providing regular detailed information about the Spurn Discovery Centre and our longer term vision. The liaison group has been very helpful in disseminating information through information points, publicising drop-in sessions and distributing the Spurn newsletter. The feedback we have received from visitors, local people and members of the liaison group has been very positive.”

Regular detailed information was not forthcoming and I would refer anyone to the irrefutable fact that those basic questions at the start of this blog remain unanswered.

The Spurn Masterplan or 'Long term Vision' as it is described has not been shared with the Spurn Liaison group. That is an irrefutable fact.

I cannot comment on whether visitors have given YWT positive feedback (i have looked all over social media and I cant find any) but at the last Spurn Liaison Group meeting in August I read out the list of things YWT hadn't done and the response from YWT was 'I'm sorry' .That is an irrefutable fact.A clear acknowledgement that YWT had not responded  to reasonable questions when reasonably asked. I am not aware of any significant positive feedback discussed or minuted (Check them out for yourself on YWT website) from members of the Spurn Liaison group.


The other interesting article in the press is this one in YWT's magazine.

It says that the bulk of the construction ... has been undertaken off site to minimise disruption and disturbance to wildlife in its final location'. If anyone was to see the site now it would probably be safe to say that as a result of this visitor centre being constructed Spurn is suffering from the biggest man made disruption to wildlife in living history.

'Reducing current visitor pressure' it is widely claimed that Spurn gets about 20,000 visitors a year. YWT have an aspiration to increase that figure to 60.000 a year. 3 times more visitors will reduce current visitor pressure? Really?

The centre received £900,000 from E.ON. The Spurn Liaison group was informed that the project final cost was going to be nearer £1.3 million (or 45% over buget) and the shortfall would be paid for by Coastal Communities money. The article states 'supported' by the Coastal Communities Fund. I say bailed out.

As I said at the start of the blog, there are 3 sides to every story.

Thanks for reading.


Migfest 2017

I was particularly looking forward to Migfest this year as I had been asked if I would like to have a stand promoting wildlife photography at Spurn. So my plan was to get out early then get back to Migfest HQon both days for around 10ish and then spend the rest of the day talking to anyone who was interested about what Spurn has to offer in terms of wildlife photography.

So a very early start on Saturday had me at the seawatching hide before dawn and it wasnt long before an enthusiastic crowd had assembled some watching the skies for visible migration and the others hoping for something good out to sea.

The sea was fairly quiet but the higlight for me was a calling roseate tern with a mixed flock of common and sandwich terns. Also a few gannet, red throated diver and a sizeable flock of common scoter. A short eared owl flew north along the edge of the cliff and there was good numbers of meadow pipit, swallows and tree sparrows flying overhead.

My next port of call was the hide at Kilnsea Wetlands  and here the highlight was a close little stint as well as curlew sandpiper, ruff and pleanty of common waders the numbers building as high tide approached. I heard that the previous night's wryneck was still around so I made my way to the cliff top at Kilnsea Caravan site and sure enough the wryneck performed admirably feeding on aphids on flowers and was frequently out in full view oblivious to the appreciative crowd.

I had a fruitless look for the black redstart on the caravan site and then made my way back. to Migfest HQ.

I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon chatting away to various people about all things Spurn. The day threatened to end quietly when pandemonium ensued as news of a long billed dowitcher crackled over the radio. Within 5 minutes I was amongst a throng of people enjoying good but distant views of a superb rare American Wader and only the third for Spurn.

The day ended beautifully as the wind died down and a glorious late summer evening was enjoyed by everybody enriched by a cracking hog roast and a general sense of contentment acknowledging what had been a superb day.

Sunday started with a magnificent sunrise and I photographed a few common gulls and waders over the sea. I went to have another look at the long billed dowitcher and the wryneck then added caspian gull, black redstart and pintail to the weekend list.

The weather was looking a bit ropey so I headed back to Migfest HQ a little earlier than planned and I quickly put together a montage of shots I had taken over the weekend then spent the rest of the afternoon talking to lots of people about photography, Lightroom Spurn and everything in between. The peace and quiet was broken again by news of a Sabines Gull flying over Migfest HQ which i unfortunately missed by seconds.

Overall the weekend was a huge success, there were some brilliant birds, a magical place and some very friendly people. Huge credit must go to the organisers from the Spurn Bird Observatory and all of the volunteers who contributed to making this (in my opinion) the best Migfest yet.

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