Twelve members went on the trips to East Yorkshire based in Bridlington.
We met at Fairburn Ings RSPB reserve in the Aire valley which is series of pools and lakes formed by subsidence from the Yorkshire coal fields. A pair of Buzzard sailed over a nearby wood as soon as we arrived in the car park. On the feeders were good numbers of Tree Sparrow, a Yellow Hammer and Bull finch, several Goldfinch and a female Bullfinch. From the first hide which overlooked a pool we had Little Egret and Grey Heron, some Moorhen and on a nearby feeder, a Willow Tit. We then walked to the hides which overlook the main lake from where we saw Great Crested and Little Grebe, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Gadwall, Pochard and Tufted Duck, and Cormorant. We then moved about three miles to St Aidan’s a very new RSPB reserve, one that none of us had visited before. The visitor centre overlooks a huge area formed by open cast mining. On the site is one of the absolutely massive machines that was used in the excavations. One of the volunteers showed us a Little Owl, one of a pair that nest in the excavator and, after a short walk, we saw several Stonechat, a Kestrel and a pair of Stock Dove again nesting in the machinery. We then continued our journey to Bridlington to our Hotel.
After an excellent meal, a good nights sleep and an equally excellent breakfast we set off on the long and winding journey to Spurn Point. A group of birdwatchers was looking for a rarity as we arrived in Kilnsea so we joined them but no rarity (an Arctic Warbler) was seen though we did record a Short-eared Owl. As we parked the cars a Kingfisher flew the length of the nearby pond. We first spent some time sea watching. A constant stream of Gannet was moving south along the point and we also saw flocks of Common Scoter and Teal and singles of Manx Shearwater and Kittiwake. It would have been nice to drive along the length of Spurn to the lighthouse, but the storm surge in 2012 finally made a breach of about half a mile; it will not be long before the present sand bar is washed away and Spurn becomes an island. We walked along the point until we came to the breech. The west side of the point is part of the Humber estuary, and the tide had driven in huge numbers of waders. The most numerous were Bar-tailed Godwit, but there was also a large flock of Golden Plover, many Grey Plover, Red Shank, Knot, Lapwing and Dunlin, a small flock of Sanderling, and several Curlew. In the Sea Buckthorn bushes we had a superb view two Whinchat, several Reed Bunting, a Blackcap and Robins; Linnet and Lesser Redpoll, Skylark and Meadow Pipit were added to our list. We then moved to the area near Kilnsea church, a good location for passerines, where we had Yellow-browed Warbler, and both Pied and Spotted Flycatcher; a Red-breasted Flycatcher was seen further down the road. Those of us who had not seen the Red-breasted Flycatcher followed a report of one being seen in the bushes on the coast; we did not find it, but did see a Common Whitethroat, a Reed Warbler, several Redstart, a Chiffchaff, and several more Whinchat. A Marsh Harrier flew purposefully down the point, and a Hobby and Peregrine were seen. We then moved to Kilnsea Wetland where new birds were Pintail, Wigeon and Ruff. Hornsea Mere was on the way back to our hotel, so we planned to call in, but on arrival the gate was closed so we returned to our hotel.
The next day, Friday dawned wet, but the forecast promised better. We started at South Landing at Flamborough and walked down the steep hill to the beach where we had good views of a small Flock of Rock Pipit, some Pied Wagtail and a small flock of Oystercatcher. On the way back up the hill we had Long-tailed, Blue, Coal and Great Tit, but a walk in the rain through the wooded ravine yielded nothing more. We then moved to the Lighthouse at Flamborough Head and walked along one of the hedgerows, added Song Thrush, another Yellowhammer and two more Whinchat. We walked back to the cars along the cliff top and saw several Red-throated Diver flying over the sea and lots more Gannet. A large flock of Linnet was seen in the bramble scrub. Our next port of call was to Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve where a previous warden gave us a talk on the birds we might expect to see. He played us the call of Yellow-browed Warbler, one of which had been on the reserve for several days. First though we headed to the cliff tops where some juvenile Gannet still had not fledged. We saw these and some adults, though all that remained of the thousands of birds that would have been there two months earlier were Feral Pigeon and Jackdaw. So we headed back to the trees around the Visitor Centre to find the Yellow-browed Warbler which some of us had not seen at Spurn. After much searching it finally started calling and we all managed to get good views. We also had another Pied Flycatcher and another two Whinchat. It was becoming dusk, so we waited on the verandah of the Visitor Centre and were rewarded by seeing both male and female Barn Owl quartering the field in front of us, a fitting end to another good day. At the evening meal that night much ribbing took place concerning the perils that might arise on the boat trip next day, and even the recorded telephone message, which at first said that the skipper was not sure that the trip would take place added to the speculation; later the sailing was confirmed , but we all went to bed a little apprehensive.
Saturday however dawned bright and calm, so we all set off to catch the boat much relieved and with great anticipation. This anticipation was misplaced, despite the jettisoning of much “chum”, a mixture of fish, oil and offal, guaranteed to attract terns, shearwaters and skuas, all that was attracted were Gulls and Gannets. We did however see Guillemot, a few more Red-throated Diver and five Eider flew past. A disappointment, though the views of the Yorkshire coast were spectacular. On our return to harbour we saw Kittiwake on the sea wall. One of us did not go on the trip and she saw six Purple Sandpiper on the harbour slipway. In the afternoon we headed to Filey Brigg, a narrow spit jutting out into the sea, but here again there were no new birds.
Next day, Sunday we left the hotel and headed first for the harbour where we all managed to see Purple Sandpiper on the slipway along with several Turnstone. From here we went to Hornsea Mere where we saw a Black Tern and a Little Gull flying together over the water both new birds for many of us; fleeting views of Sand Martin and Goldeneye added another two birds to our list. The last place we planned to visit was Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve which is situated where the confluence of the Ouse and the Trent form the Humber. However the bridge over the Ouse in Goole was closed, so, after some debate we decided to make the thirty mile detour round the motorways to approach the reserve from the Lincolnshire side. A large flock of Golden Plover greeted us as we arrived and there was the usual flock of Tree Sparrow on the feeders. From the Visitor Centre we added Spotted Redshank to our list and from the hides we saw Black-tailed Godwit, lots more Ruff, a single Green Sandpiper and several Marsh Harrier. A Cetti’s warbler was heard, but as usual not seen. A Water Rail made a couple of brief appearances from the reeds, but though we watched diligently for some time most of us missed it.
We then headed back to the M180, not the motorway we expected to be on, and so to home. The weather had not been too bad, the hotel and the food had been excellent and, apart from the boat trip specialities, we had seen some very good birds; between us identifying the 121 species.