Trip reports

Group field trip to Filey Brig, guided by Mark Pearson

Group field trip to Filey Brig, guided by Mark Pearson
Collage: Mark Pearson, Wendy Robinson, Paul Barrett

Saturday, 18 November 2017

There's nothing quite like birding in new territory where the geography is adventurous and the birds unfamiliar. We were glad of Mark Pearson's expertise in bird ID as well as knowledge of paths and tides. It was one of those cold, bright days but for future reference greater birding days at Filey are to be had in stormy weather when the sea-birds dash for the security of shore. However, we weren't disappointed with what the Brig had to offer.
Our first leg was along Filey Brig at sea level and onto the end of the peninsula. Here was a marooned great northern diver trapped in a rock pool. They need a longer flight runway than the pool would allow and I guess it felt like a long wait for this loon until the tide came in bringing freedom.
One bird's saviour is another bird's demise and after a few minutes watching some purple sandpipers we advisedly returned to the main shore, safe from the incoming tide. Thinking of popping along yourself? Check the tides.
The afternoon was filled with a leisurely stroll along the top of the fast eroding Brig where the main point of interest was a kestrel which posed nicely for us well within decent binocular range. Then, we had a group photo taken by a runner and we jumped back into our coach where we warmed up.
The day's bird list is a full one, including some less and some more common sightings. Our species count for the day can be divided into three broad categories.
Firstly, the commonplace which are included because they are beautiful and special as well as bulking up the day's count to something bordering on impressive. These are mostly birds seen at the bus station or car park.
Secondly, there was a category of sighting which has the heading in my notebook of 'Dots in the Distance' which is made up of tiny dark splodges on the ocean unidentifiable by anyone but our keen-eyed guide, Mark. As such, for me, they don't really count as sightings so much as moments of binocular envy but I will include them in the list.
The third and final category is for birds of genuine unusualness for us inland people but maybe not for our salty guide who has seen and photographed it all.
So here's the list:
Sparrow Oystercatcher Wood pigeon Collared dove
Starling Magpie Pied wagtail Turnstone
Merganser (dot) Rock pipit Goldfinch Cormorant
Grey heron Purple sandpiper Herring gull Great northern diver

Black headed gull Red necked grebe (dot) Crow Greater crested grebe (dot)
Guillemot Wren Redshank Greater black backed gull
Shag Blackbird Kestrel Common gull
Teal (dot) Razorbill (quick dot) Scoter (dot, if that)

We also saw a seal and inspected some hydroids which are colonies of tiny creatures which haven't been given the dignity of a proper name except zooids and what's more, they look like they should be plants. But they're not. For those who wish to look them up, the varieties were Square-end, Hornwrack and Hogwrack. Go on, look them up - they're fascinating. To inspect them closely, Mark showed us how to turn our binoculars into microscopes by simply looking through the other end. Awesome skills to have.
Thank you Mark Pearson. What a day!