Sunday, 20 April 2014

Short-toed Lark

Until today there had been a slight sense of frustration with my spring birding at Long Nab. A recent illness following a trip to Tunisia in March had severely compromised birding activities, with a few fairly short and limited visits about the size of it. I had missed most of the few birds of, albeit fairly limited, interest so far seen on site - Marsh Harrier and Corn Bunting being the most notable. Yesterday I conducted a breeding bird survey which had yielded few migrants of interest, although the first Lesser Whitethroats of the year were newly arrived on site and it looks like Skylarks are doing OK here. 

With a strengthening north-easterly during my visit this morning, the wind direction seemed encouraging, but perhaps it was a week or two too early to produce the goods? Therefore after meeting up with Nick on arrival at Crook Ness, we headed directly to the seawatch hut. Although there were a few Sandwich Terns offshore, and the large numbers of larger auks that were streaming past included my first Puffins of the year, there were very few indications of migrants on the move. After an hour and a half or so we gave the sea up and walked north more in hope than expectation.  I headed inland towards the cover crop whilst Nick continued along the cliff top path. I started sifting through the sizeable Linnet flock in the cover crop field hoping for a Serin or something of even greater interest, but it was not long before my mobile was ringing and it was Nick announcing that he had found a new bird for the Scarborough area! Soon I was running back to the clifftop and it was not long before I was enjoying nice views of a smart and nicely rufous-toned Short-toed Lark. Brilliant! And in the very field I had long expected to produce this species at some point. 

I rattled off a few record shots before it flew into the middle of the field and disappeared from view. We did a circuit of the field without any success but soon the first local birders were arriving on the scene. As I had to leave for other commitments, I left the others too it and it was not long before news came through that it was performing well. I am sure better photos than these will be posted elsewhere before too long.

My initial views of the Short-toed Lark.

Fairly inactive when first found and perhaps newly arrived.

Sneaking about on the edge of the field