Category Archives: Spurn Migration Festival

VERY IMPORTANT – Please pass it on

Spurn Migration Festival 2015


To our quiet surprise 2015 has been widely saluted as the best one yet. The Spurn Migration Festival this year gathered nearly 300 people. The event is quickly becoming a key event in the birding calendar. However having a vision is one thing. Turning that vision into a reality requires real people and hard work! The reputation of the migfest has been established by local people serving visitors in a very special way. Then from outside individuals and organisation have come and engaged with the migfest, partnering with its aims and ambitions.

So here’s a tiny THANK YOU to all of those who mucked in and made this years Spurn Migration Festival, that bit extra special.

It’s 15 Minutes long. Lots of folk get mentioned. Some get a bit humour chucked at them 🙂

Can YOU please pass this on to those who need to hear it. THANK YOU!



Spurn Migration fetival (1 of 1)

Eastern Subalpine Warbler ID

But it’s about way more than that!

Genuinely. It’s hard to contain the sheer enjoyment I get every day right now. Because every day there is migration magic. And behind so many species are extra-ordinary stories of avian derring-do.

Yesterday alone. Yes we had a good bird. A ‘Birding Frontiers’ kind of bird in a hedge that runs away from the end of my garden (though too far for a garden tick!) at Flamborough. But there was much more to yesterday.

Juvenile Swifts – Migration Magic

It was the Swifts. Magic views of juvenile Common Swifts yesterday. Unless there has been an upsurge that I missed these are seemingly very rarely photographed in this plumage. Can someone put me right?

Here a few snaps from yesterday. It’s an ID challenge covered in here but more these little waifs won’t land again for 2-3 years. They will travel from here, probably to Spain, down west Africa and perhaps across to Mozambique. Then back again to fly past Spurn next summer. 🙂 #migrationmagic

Common Swift 6 (1 of 1)

On the seawatch – Migration Magic

In the morning yesterday I saw my ALL TIME BEST bird: Sooty Shearwaters. More than one. Gliding past from their breeding home – an island in the southern Atlantic Ocean- bonkers! Viewed just down the road from my little house in East Yorkshire. Never mind the Pomarine and Arctic Skuas from the Arctic,  Balearic Shearwaters from the Mediterranean and Waders and Wildfowl, some of which are coming 1000’s of miles from Siberian breeding grounds.

Little Stint – Migration Magic

Like this juvenile Little Stint hatched form an egg on some permafrost in central Siberia and feeding on little invertebrates on a pond at… Buckton. Buckton (near where domestically I picked my daughter up from her train yesterday evening) ! I got thrilling alone time with another stunning, intricately pattern wee shorebird with a migration narrative that defied human logic. This one was a couple of days ago- but needed slipping in!

little stint 9small juv 27aug (1 of 1)


Wood Warbler and friends – Migration Magic

Back on the land little ‘songbirds’ which had crossed the North Sea- crossed the north sea? Have you seen how big … err. how small they are? Redstarts, Willow Warblers, a Wood Warbler….

wood warbler three (1 of 1)


Eastern Subalpine Warbler – Migration (and rare bird) Magic

Then the ‘what the heck are you doing here’ surprise.

That was a fun garbled message and discussion with Phil C. What a star. Didn’t he do well in a spot we don’t really look hard at.

So why is it an Eastern (thinks me)? We haven’t  heard a call (at least not yet) or recorded any outer tail feather patterns. But, it’s an adult male. It’s already got a rather intense deep blue head more so than you get on Moltoni’s and Western (subtle) in autumn. Critically the underparts at first look are rather white, even silvery, the there is a subtle wash comes into view on the upper breast, weak, hard to make the colour. But stuck right in the middle of the throat and chin is a deep vinaceous-brick spoldge. It’s a dark Eastern Subalpine coloured patch. 🙂  Exactly the kind of colour and distribution of that colour you might expect for an ‘Eastern’. Then (perhaps less should be read into it) but them thar Easterns – even if the colour doesn’t but up to the white malars- so often have big broad long white malars that stand out in the head pattern- just like this one. So the sum of some bits are all very Easternish…

ad male Eastern Subalpine Warbler 900 (1 of 1)


Which is all by way of saying – birds and migration are amazing! These are a little handful of the kinds of things I ruminate on every day. and it thrills me.

I will be spending from Friday to Sunday at Spurn. At  the Third Migration Festival. Loving it!

Give Something Back:

Those three words encapsulate the Spurn Migration Festival. Andy Roadhouse and I conceived the idea several years ago we wanted to give something back. Guiding folk around Spurn we became aware that what had become familiar to us was a huge wow to our visitors. Indeed it was magical- almost like a kind of ‘best kept secret’ in British Birding. So the question was how to share the wonder of Spurn, it’s birds, its wildlife and the extra dimension of phenomenally accessible, very visible migration. As we approach the third festival we do so with great expectations!

Day Trip the Migration Festival

We have similar number of folk to last year booked for the whole weekend. It looks likes plenty are planning to ‘Day Trip’. Highly recommended! Two organisations have done a great job at putting together an overview of th festival with details; Please follow the links (with big thanks):


go >>> HERE <<<

Rare Bird Alert

go >>> HERE <<< 



I love the Spurn Migration Festival…

Neil Glenn

journalist –  Birdwatching Magazine columnist

I love the Spurn Migration Festival…

…because after the manic whirlwind that is The Rutland Birdfair, it gives me the chance to chill and actually get out and about to do some birding!
Right from Day 1 of the very first Spurn Migration Festival, it was obvious that this was going to a very friendly event. I love the way birders of every ability and age mix together to help each other find and identify birds. There is a tremendous atmosphere around the Spurn area over the weekend.
Even though this is only the third # MigFest, it has already become an established event in the birding calendar and I would hate to miss it.

I know all of my old and new friends I have met at the event feel the same.

See you there!

Neil messing about on the Birding For All stand at Birdfair 2015

Neil messing about on the Birding For All stand at Birdfair 2015



August at Spurn: NOW!


Andy Roadhouse

The list of rare and scarce birds seen at Spurn in August this year is mouth-watering and there is still a week left – Black Stork, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Black Tern, White-rumped Sandpiper, 2 Red-footed Falcons, Greenish Warbler, Pectoral Sandpiper, Bee-eater, 2+ Caspian Gulls, Cory’s Shearwater, Corncrake, Honey-buzzard, and several each of Wryneck, Barred Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Red-backed Shrike, Wood Warbler, Spoonbill, Long-tailed Skua and Balearic Shearwaters.

Apart from rare and scarce birds there has already been some good migrant passage with good numbers of wading birds moving south off shore and some good Swallow passage, with a few days recording over 1000 birds moving south.

Over the last couple of weeks there have been a few small falls of drift migrants producing several of the scarce migrants listed above. However on 23rd and 24th an incredible fall occurred, probably the best ever in August, certainly for some species and record counts of Willow Warblers (345) and Pied Flycatchers (230) occurred, along with good numbers of regular drift migrants such as Tree Pipits, Redstarts, Whinchats, Wheatears, Garden Warblers, Spotted Flycatchers.

Even on quiet days the number of waders present either on the Humber or at Beacon Ponds and Kilnsea Wetlands has been impressive with over 50,000 birds present on some days, the fields are starting to attract gulls with several Caspian Gulls and Yellow-legged Gulls recorded and up to 49 Mediterranean Gulls.

The tern roost movements have been fairly quiet but still up to 20 Black and 4000 Common Terns have been logged.

So do you want to see just a part of this – then come to the #MIGFEST.

The best place for migration in the UK!


Bird Race- New this year a bird race will run from dawn on Saturday to Sunday lunchtime with prizes for the winning team (2-4 members) of the new Birds of Spurn book, and the Challenge Series: Winter book. Full set of information (and tips on winning!)  will be given to all bird race entrants.

“Where migration is defined”  -Sat night lecture Yoav Pearlman will be speaking on migration through Israel. With massive resurgence and interest in the migration flyways of the Middle East – conservation is at the fore but there are also new discoveries about bird movements and new taxa being discovered. It’s one the best place to pioneer and get ‘wowed’. The sheer spectacle is one of the wonders of the world.

Where to buy tickets click  >>>HERE<<<

Day tickets might be the way forward for you. Come for the Saturday or Sunday, especially if it’s your first time. Taste and see!

The 2014 #migfest video. For a fuller flavour- just watch here:

……………………. >>>> Vist Dave’s Site <<<<



Spurn Migration fetival (1 of 1)




Have Your Say! on the Migration Festival.

Tim and Rob share the passion…


Tim JonesTim Jones scops pic fb

“I’ve been coming to Spurn regularly for the last 4 years and am now well and truly addicted to the place! For me, although a bit morbid, this Whimbrel shows exactly the reason why I keep coming back time and time again, for the sheer thrill of witnessing epic migrations that these birds undertake. Born in Western Finland this summer this bird has flown a minimum of 1500km to reach Spurn where it was too exhausted to continue and unfortunately died. So the reason I’ll be at Migfest this year is to witness these awesome waders flying in off the sea, calling excitedly, having just travelled thousands of km to reach us having been born in some stunning bog in Scandinavia, what a privilege! For me there is nothing better than seeing birds flying in off the North Sea, so come and join in seeing this spectacle at the Migfest!”

whimbrel tile



Rob Stoneman, rob cropCEO of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

“I can vividly remember the excitement all those years ago. The early morning start. The beaten up old Bedford van that took us 10-year old aspiring bird-watchers out to the east coast. The grey skies, the mud and sand merging into the sea and then the birds – thousands of them, flying in from the sea and landing all around us. Thrushes, warblers, Goldcrests all tumbling out of the sky to find a bush near me. A look through my army binoculars (handed down from Grandad), a quick check in the bird book and TICK. Satisfaction and passion for wildlife ran through my very being.

I still find it exciting: the rarity, a gloriously good view, the sheer volume of birds on the move; amazement at the distance travelled. The migration is spectacular and awe-inspiring. It grounds me to this little Atlantic island that sits at the heart of one of the greatest spectacles on Earth. The migration beckons.”

More on the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust  and #migfest HERE


140707 Spurn Mig_ eventsposter_A4

Have your Say: From Heather and the Chairman

On Spurn and the Migration Festival

“You have to experience it for yourself…”


Heather BennettHeather Bennett

My name is Heather Bennett. I’ve been coming to Spurn since becoming Little Tern Warden in 2013, and am now an assistant warden for the RSPB. I regularly come back to Spurn, because I just love the place. I’ve seen some amazing wildlife here and learnt so much from the wonderful people who are so willing to share their knowledge regardless of how ‘birdy’ you are! But that’s not what keeps me coming back, it’s something else, just the feel of it, the atmosphere. But it’s not something I can describe, it’s something you have to experience for yourself…


and… a lovely personal welcome to this years Spurn Migration Festival:

Rob AdamsRob Adams (1 of 1) (chairman of the Migration Festival 2015)

“I have been very much a part of Spurn now for the past 45 years and the magic of this place never ceases to amaze me. It’s the only site I know where you can witness the mystery of migration on such a grand scale. So with that in mind I really don’t think you can afford to miss the 2015 Spurn Migration Festival. It’s so easy to book your tickets by going on-line to I really do look forward to meeting up with you there and it is my personal I promise to you that you will not be disappointed.”


“My personal promise to you… you will not be disappointed!”