Icterine Warbler and Citrine Wagtail

Spurn – cooking today!

Spurn, East Yorkshire. 14th August 2010.

Arrival delayed by traffic. 4.00 pm. Winds NE and sunshine promised some classic early autumn drift, soon realised when Red-backed Shrike and Wryneck had been found by Spurn regulars Ian Whitehouse and Mick Turton. Got both of these plus Pied Flycatcher and Redstart by dark. Wanting to get in-on the scarce bird finding action I opted for an early walk to the point the next morning.

Spurn. 15th August. 5:30 wake-up and by 6:00 I was heading south of the Warren – no other birders in sight and winds still northeast and overcast. I opted for ‘naked birding’ strategy. Bins only, no scope or DSLR – only small compact camera and ‘Remembird’. Bush-bashing over 3 mile walk does not lend itself to being over encumbered with heavy gear.

Merlin hunted over the mudflats and several flava wagtails south and couple Willow Warblers. Little else noteworthy, until about an hour later.  A flushed passerine looked interesting but flew a considerable distance before perching up. I could just about make out a semi-silhouetted warbler type with peaked crown and what looked like vaguely pale wing panel. Icterine Warbler? He flew on. My mind began to doubt the suggested ID. I pressed on and flushed it again, then again – this time into an elder bush at closer range, where it finally came into view. Lemony-yellow washed face and breast- isolated big dark eye – plain lores and big orangey bill- it is! An Icterine Warbler (the first of 3 found today), moving about confirmed briefly seen pale wing panel, before sunk back into bush.

The Icky Elder and old lighthouse at Spurn. Places where rare birds are found become hallowed ground – at least to the finder – don’t they?

Half an hour later – chatting with Garry Taylor and planning fresh assault on the Icky when the radios crackled. This bird had just dropped into reeds in the Canal Zone:

First winter Citrine Wagtail, Spurn 15 August 2010. Found by Mike Pilsworth who is ‘on form’ (see Semipalmated Sandpiper post below)

This is one of those birds that rarity hunters ‘train for’ to be able to detect that rasping call from above. While several fly-overs have been suspected this is, surprisingly, the first autumn record for Spurn (only previous record being of female, 10th May 2008)

Already having undergone some moult, this is technically in first winter plumage- and rather early compared to most British records.

Wood Sandpiper (here) as well as 2 Green Sandpiper and 5 Little Egrets were all momentarily over- shadowed by the brief staying Citrine. A post lunch Marsh Harrier viewable from my caravan then led to contented afternoon nap.

Early evening this juvenile female Sparrowhawk was trapped at Kew- not a local bird and in the middle of its tea- the remains of a small 1st year passerine in its talons, which was beyond my identification skill but, using the very few remaining feathers, the ringers were at least having a go!

The Blue Theme – on other wildlife

Spurn is jam-packed with wildlife at this time of year- here are 3 blue things from today. Male Common Blue Butterfly , Cornflower and Migrant Hawker (with a little bit of blue):


About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
This entry was posted in Raptors, Wagtails, Warblers. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Icterine Warbler and Citrine Wagtail

  1. thedrunkbirder says:

    I did a bit of ‘naked birding’ on Fuerteventura some years ago… plenty of Whimbrel and Kentish Plover viewable from the dunes… a famous nudist beach!

  2. Pingback: Sedge Warbler | Birding Frontiers

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