19 September 2014
Birdwatchers from across the UK and beyond gathered at Spurn National Nature Reserve for this year’s Spurn Migration Festival.
Spurn is renowned by birdwatchers as one of the best places in the UK to witness the autumn bird migration spectacle. Across the 5th, 6th and 7th of September 2014 Spurn hosted over 300 people at the second Spurn Migration Festival.
Founded in 2012 by local birder Andy Roadhouse and Birding Frontiers Martin Garner, the festival kicked off with a hugely successful event in September 2013. This year and last, the event was hosted by Sue and Andrew Wells at Westmere Farm in Kilnsea with activities taking place on Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Spurn National Nature Reserve and around the Kilnsea and Easington area.
124 species were recorded over the weekend by the Spurn Bird Observatory who enthralled everyone with their ringing demonstrations and informative migration walks.
One of the great spectacles was the large numbers of common migrants stopping off at Spurn on their way from Scandinavia to Africa. Good numbers of whinchats, wheatears, redstarts, warblers, spotted and pied flycatchers, enabling many festival goers to see these birds well for the first time. There were even a few rarities seen including a Pacific golden plover, a Caspian gull, a long-tailed skua, several barred warblers and of course the very popular wrynecks.
Paul Collins from Spurn Bird Observatory said: “We ringed 370 birds of 33 species across the weekend including sparrowhawk, great spotted woodpecker, whinchat, wheatear, barred warbler, pied flycatcher and lesser redpoll. Many of our younger festival goers were thrilled with having the chance to release the birds once ringed.”
Spurn Bird Observatory Trust’s Patron and natural history TV celebrity Mike Dilger graced the stage for Saturday’s evening lecture; calling on all the festivals attendees to inspire, educate and encourage younger generations to partake in watching wildlife and caring for the environment.
The festival’s focus was not only on the wonder of bird migration – plant, strandline, history and insect walks along with wildlife and landscape art also formed a big part of the festival. Artist Darren Woodhead gave a wonderful lecture on his work and a highlight for many was to see him in action as he competed with Martin Garner from Birding Frontiers and Mike Dilger in a ‘paint off’. Safari tours of the peninsula were run too, giving people the chance to explore the iconic nature reserve.
Martin said: “I am bowled over once again. The heady mix of Britain’s top bird migration spot, the superb team spirit of volunteers and some very special guests and exhibitors made for another roaring success.”
A wide range of birds and other wildlife were seen during the festival. A highlight for many were the small number of wrynecks that showed themselves off. An attractive bird with cryptic plumage and a quirky character. Belonging to the woodpecker family it undertakes long distance migrations and those spotted during the festival were likely migrating to tropical Africa.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Director of Development Jonathan Leadley said: “As I walked round the corner, a birder was filming something almost at his feet on the drive next to the Blue Bell Café. I carefully headed over to see if he was filming a butterfly or something and was amazed to see the reptilian form of a wryneck on the ground literally six feet away!”
The partners of the Spurn Migration Festival would like to thank all those who came to this year’s event along with the team of volunteers who worked tirelessly and helped make the event run so smoothly.
For those who missed the festival the autumn migration has only just started and with lots of smaller events being held at Spurn NNR across the season there are still many opportunities to get involved. A DVD of this year’s event will also be available to purchase. Visit spurnbirdobservatory.co.uk and ywt.org for more information.