Holmethorpe Sand Pits … 16th October – 7th November

On the 16th October, Gordon Hay found an adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULLon the sand spit at Spynes Mere. I made my way to add this locally scarce species to my year list but, five minutes before arriving at Spynes Mere, Gordon phoned to say the bird had just flown.
Earlier in the day, Ian Kehl had found our first local Fieldfare for the autumn.

The 19th October produced a Peregrine over Mercers Farm carrying prey and on the 20th I found a drake Pintail on Mercers West Pit, another new local year tick. A couple of the other local birders saw it but it only stayed for the one day.

On the 21st, Gordon and I spotted a Peregrine heading east over Mercers Farm and, on the 23rd, Ian Kehl saw our first Little Egret since May. That bird didn’t stay long enough to be refound.

The 27th produced two Common Crossbills for Gordon flying east over Mercers Farm - another new species for the year – and yet another year tick came on the 28th when Gordon spotted a SHORT-EARED OWL being mobbed by corvids over Mercers West. Paul and I were at the eastern end of Spynes Mere but, despite a call from Gordon alerting us to this bird, we failed to see it.

On the 29th, Gordon struck lucky again with 12 Common Crossbills flying west over Spynes Mere and on the 30th he found a Stonechat out on The Moors NR. I managed to find the Stonechat the following day but it hasn’t been seen since then.

No really notable birds were seen until the 6th November when Gordon found Holmethorpe’s third ever FIRECREST in the car park at Mercers Country Park, another bird that unfortunately didn’t hang around long enough for others to see. On the same visit, Gordon also had a Redshank flying south and calling.

The 7th November proved rewarding when I met up with Gordon at first light and he almost immediately spotted a SHORT-EARED OWL being mobbed by corvids over Water Colours. It eventually shook of the crows and headed south – the second for Gordon this year, the first for me and, surprisingly, only the 6th local record of this species. About an hour later we picked out a first-winter LITTLE GULL at Water Colour Lagoon 1. It only stayed for ten minutes before flying off to the south. Later in the morning we saw the first two Golden Plovers for the year at Holmethorpe, flying north over Mercers West Pit.

The Holmethorpe year list now stands at 138 species, which is the same number that we had recorded by the end of November last year.


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