Day trip to see the Desert Wheatear

I had been loving all the images of the Desert Wheatear in Whitby and when a free day presented itself when my wife was off out shopping all day on Saturday I immediately thought “another lifer?”.

A very early morning departure – 5.30am – meant the 140+ mile drive was easy and pretty quiet and I was soon the first in position to see if the Desert Wheatear would show. It was a blustery, cloudy and cold morning as the light slowly tried to improve (it didn’t really) and within 5 minutes of setting up my camera and tripod the Wheatear appeared on a post about 40 feet from me and as quick as it arrived it flew off again, perhaps thinking “only 1 birder here at the moment? I will come back later when more can admire my splendour”

During the 2 1/2 hours I was there birders came and went – I guess about 20 in total with them all getting nice views of the active bird as it flew in close then further off, chasing a nice looking male Stonechat off on one occasion too.

I had got the best images I was going to get considering the poor light but was really pleased I had ticked another one off!

Onto Scarborough to see if the 2 Waxwings recently reported could be seen and also a wander around the harbour area to see what was sheltering from the roughish seas and of course hopefully views of Purple Sandpiper, possibly my favourite wader.

A walk around the harbour took in the breakwater and no Purple Sandpipers to be seen, I was told later on via Twitter that 24 were in the Whitby harbour – bugger! A lone juvenile Guillemot was happily diving for food around the boats, at the end near Marine Drive a Redshank dropped in fleetingly and a Great Black Backed gull was attempting to feed on a dead juvenile Guillemot.

In my experience of visiting Scarborough, you can always depend on close views of Turnstone and this visit was the same, I sat harbour-side on some nets and awaiting the birds’ arrival closer to me as they avoided the other seaside revellers.

Bird-wise it was daily quiet around the harbour so with a bag of fish and chips in hand off to B&Q I drove to see if the Waxwings were around, parked up and spoke to a birder from Stourbridge called Chris that I had previously seen at the Wheatear ‘twitch’ and no Waxwings were around although they were reported earlier on in the morning. So, I had to sit in the car tucking into still warm fish and chips scanning the trees etc. as I ate in comfort.

Nothing appeared so now fully re-charged I drove to the car park on Holbeck Hill to see if any Mediterranean Gulls was at the roost. Arriving at the car park once again I bumped into birder/photographer Chris. 2 Med Gulls were around with a few Black Headed Gulls; I had missed out on another 4 that had left the spot a little before my arrival.

The birds were feeding close to the cars and I got the following images from the passenger seat in my car. Nice to get a little Black Headed to Mediterranean Gull headshot comparison like in the above images too!

All in all, a long day, up at 5am back home at 4.45pm and close to 300 miles driven, when is the next day out?

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