Sunday, 18 September 2016

Post 438 - Magnificent Mig Fest

Probably the star bird of MigFest - Kentish Plover
One of the MigFest Photos by Dave Tucker
Hey everyone today's post is 438 and this time last week I was still recovering after an amazing weekend at Spurn Point. Specifically, Mig Fest! This is an event that happens every year at Spurn to celebrate all the migratory birds coming through on their annual migration.

Dad picked me up from school and after a brief stop at home to say bye to Mum and Esme we set off. Even though I live in Yorkshire it's still a long way to Spurn! We got there and put the tent up straight away as it was already getting dark, and then we went off to the talk about how some migratory birds that you wouldn't expect to end up here with theories such as reverse migration theory (where the birds go entirely in the wrong direction) and the dog leg theory (where they start off right and then take a 45* turn.)

Saturday was wet! Dad and I drying off a bit in the barn
Stuart (@raptorwatcher) has his back to the camera
It was great to get to say hello to a lot of people I knew again too like Stuart Pike, a lot of the young birders from BTO bird camp (more on that in a bit) and some of the BTO staff like Andy, Paul and Debbie. Over the weekend too I got to bump into Mike Dilger who I'd missed meeting at Birdfair but who was at Migfest as he's the patron of Spurn Bird Observatory. It was great to meet Mike and we talked about blogs and birds for a while while waiting for tea,

It was dry when we got there on Friday evening, but not the next morning! It rained pretty much from 4 in the morning to 6 at night. And there was a lot of it! We were out at 6am and spent pretty much all of that day wet, and there was no point changing either as those clothes would have got sodden too! I'm quite used to the rain, living in the North, but as people were coming from all of the country (some even from the rest of the world), some people weren't best pleased about the rain!

Still damp but happy and nice to meet Mike!
It didn't matter though about the rain, It was a magical experience to see how many birds there are there, I remember going there in February and not being as impressed as this time, but that was because I went at a quiet time. This was absolutely amazing, I saw 9 new species of bird when I was there:

  • Red-Throated Diver
  • Common Scoter
  • Manx Shearwater
  • Whinchat
  • Wheatear
  • Spotted Flycatcher
  • Arctic Skua
  • Pied Flycatcher
  • Kentish Plover

The last two were both interesting finds, the Pied Flycatcher was when I was talking to some people in the Triangle and a small black and white bird flew up and hovered for a few seconds before going back down.

The Kentish Plover was when we were Sea-watching and word came through over the radio. Andy Clements had found it.

Dawn from the campsite
The hide erupted with activity as everyone rushed to the car park to get a lift from someone down to where it was seen.   We got there and met up with the group that were with Andy when he found it and started to have a good look round for it. After looking for about 10 or 20 minutes, it was decided it had flown somewhere else. Me and some other young birders (George Dunbar, Eleanor Morrison, Sam Pitt-Miller , Jacob Spinks, Harry, Ellis Lucas, Joel Tragen, Findlay Wilde, Frank Osterberg, Toby Carter  and Darragh Hudson  decided to have a look at Kilnsea Wetlands as the tide was coming in and a lot of the birds would probably head there. It was nice to go there and get into the hide out of the rain for a while too. Low and behold it was there, Findlay refound it. We headed out in the rain to get better views like these:

A Meadow Pipit being ringed

I spent most of the rest of the day birding with the young birders until it was teatime and time for more talks.

The Saturday night  talks and had speakers from two other amazing bird observatories on peninsulas, one in America (Cape May) and another in Sweden (Falsterbo). They were amazing places and the numbers of birds that passed through them were incredible. It seems that peninsulas are the best places to see migrating birds as they all get funnelled down the land before they eventually head off to sea, so that way you get to see lots of them. These two observatories and Spurn are going to be working together on research in the future. After this most people headed to the pub so I joined the young birders in a glass of J2O, chatted about birding and just generally had a bit on banter and a laugh. We tried to twitch a badger too but sadly we missed it.

Sunday was another early start as I had arranged to meet the Young Birders at the sea watching hide again at first light. It was hard to get up at 5am but worth it as dawn was amazing. Funny thing with Spurn is that you could see both dawn and sunset over the sea! Sunday was a lovely warm sunny day and was definitely a Meadow Pipit day, thousands of them flew over that day. We saw a flock of Golden Plovers too high in the sky which was incredible watching how they glittered as they changed direction. I spent quite a while there before I went off for another activity,

Looking up at the lighthouse
My blog has been a brilliant project for me. I've met lots of great people, seen lots of great people and lots of great places. My Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserves challenge has been great too and because of what I have been doing they did a really nice thing for me. They offered me a free Spurn Safari which was so nice, thank you very much YWT! I got to go right to the point on the Unimog (a big truck with seats in the back) so I managed to get some good pictures of wildlife on the way there. But when we were there we went right to the top of the lighthouse to have a look round. It was an amazing view as you could see for miles right up the point and straight over the Humber!

A panoramic shot from the top of the lighthouse

When we came down we went for a walk with the Guide who was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the Point and also about the wildlife around there. Common Lizard and Common Blue butterflies were the highlights - it might have been a Barred Warbler but the glimpse of the bird that may have been one was too quick to be sure sadly.  We stood at the very tip of the peninsula which was the most southerly point in East Yorkshire before heading back.

A Common Blue Butterfly on the point
That was more or less the end of the weekend. We headed to the farm to put the tent away, dried out by the lovely sunshine and then managed to get to say goodbye to a few people before setting off.

Well, it was an amazing weekend and I look forward to next year!

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Smashing post Zach. Glad you enjoyed the weekend too in spite of the precipitation!

  2. That shot of the dawn from your campsite is amazing Zach, lovely capture and glad you had a good time - looks like loads of fun! - Tasha