Monthly Archives: July 2015

Spurn, Swallows and Spectacles beyond imagining

Come on, Enter in.

Martin Garner

I am musing about Swallows. And Spurn. And the 2015 Migration Festival. I am going to blog about Swallows at Spurn. About amazing days with huge numbers flying south past the Warren at Spurn. About entering in to the story of the Swallow and how it can be utterly captivating.

About Red-rumped Swallows I have also seen, at Spurn in early September. And about strange Barn Swallows in the Middle East which is also the home our one of our special guests this year.

For now- a little of what is going on. Come on- Enter in. To a world of wonder and discovery.


140707 Spurn Mig_ eventsposter_A4


Cameras- Revelations

What the human eye doesn’t see…

Martin Garner and John Beaumont

In the next book in the Challenge Series: WINTER, I have included a section as part of the introduction about cameras. It’s really about the fact there is no substitute for watching a bird in the field. The camera can lie. I receive photos weekly, often daily, usually with the question,”What is this”, or “Is this one?”. Nearly always my reply includes a caveat, something along the lines: I can’t see all the information, and the photos may be an inaccurate representation.

Here’s the flip side.

Modern cameras can capture information which the eye cannot see, or which we miss in the field. Also in most chapters in the new Challenge Series book I will reference the usefulness of photos. They can capture nostril position on a bill, wing formula, patterns of white in the tail… and so on.

John Beaumont has noticed in a few of his recent photos details which he didn’t see in the field. I think they are very cool and informative! I especially like the owl- take a look:

P.S. This is John Beaumont’s post and pictures- just with little waffle from me (MG).

Swift J Beaumont (1 of 1)

Common Swift. Look closely. The wings are in an almost vertical pose. Yet the head remains in the horizontal plane. Didn’t know they did that! 

Long-eared Owl J Beaumont (1 of 1)

Long-eared Owl. Low evening sunlight is lighting one side of the bird. This has produced a camera artefact of  yellow iris in the right eye but also revealed a real feature of a less dilated pupil (in reaction to the light). Compare with the left eye which is normal orange with more dilated pupil. Didn’t know they did that!   

Common Tern  J Beaumont (1 of 1)

Common Tern. Not noticed in the field, this apparent adult has dark marks in the leading secondary and primary coverts. This suggest it may well be a second summer bird (3cy). And it’s breeding.

So cameras aren’t all bad!  Any similar revelations with your photos?

Digiscoping Swifts and phonescoping Whinchats.

Posted by Justin Carr.

I recently took a trip to the Old Moor RSPB reserve for an American wigeon, after getting good but distant scope views my attention turned to the many hundreds of common swift over the reserve, there had earlier been an Alpine swift pass through spurn earlier in the day, so after a scan through the flock in the hope of picking up the rare visitor from the Med, i thought i would have a go at photographing its common relative. below is the best of my efforts.

feeding swift

feeding swift





I have to admit the top image was a pure fluke but thats how it works sometimes.

The next two images were taken on a trip into the Peak district, they where both phonescoped with an LG G4 handheld to the scope.





All images taken on a Swarovski ATX 85.

Good Digiscoping.


Happy Days! It’s coming soon!

The Spurn Migration Festival.This unique event enters its third year. Now is the time to book in and launch your autumn birding season in the best possible style. At #migfest 2015.

Spurn Migration Festival 2015

Tickets have now gone on sale for this bespoke festival celebrating the great bird migration spectacle that passes through Spurn in East Yorkshire every year.

The Spurn Migration Festival is a weekend-long celebration of the autumn migration of birds and includes an extensive programme of walks, talks and demonstrations that will be delivered by the Migration Festival Team.

The festival runs from the 4th – 6th September 2015 and takes place across Spurn, Kilnsea and Easington. Lectures, exhibitions and food are hosted by Sue and Andrew Wells at Westmere Farm in Kilnsea together with the now famous Saturday evening Hog Roast and lecture. This years talk is being given by Yoav Perlman and titled ‘Israel – Where migration is defined.’

 Across last years festival 124 species of bird were recorded together with other wildlife and the highlight for many was the stunningly close up views of that enigmatic bird called a Wryneck. Up to 3 of these birds were on full view throughout the weekend before continuing their migration to Africa, south of the Sahara.




Tickets can now be purchased from the Spurn Migration Festival dedicated website or by telephoning 01904 659570

Hope to see ya there!


Spurn Migration Festival one