6th November

A surprisingly excellent day with several nuggets of quality unearthed out of what seemed like very unpromising windy and occasionally very wet conditions. The majority of rewards were from the sea and shore, with a wrecked Long-tailed Skua on the Fleet at Ferrybridge the stand-out highlight. Ferrybridge itself was busy, with 2 Little Gulls and 3 Kittiwakes through, 2 Goosanders were new arrivals and 1400 Mediterranean Gulls, 1050 Dark-bellied Brents, 8 (or 12 if some later in the day were additions) Pale-bellied Brents, a Great Northern Diver and a Little Grebe along with the usual wader selection; nearby, another Little Gull was off Smallmouth. Seawatching at the Bill returned totals that included c800 Kittiwakes, 4 Pale-bellied Brents, 3 Arctic Skuas, 2 Balearic Shearwaters and singles of Red-throated Diver, Tufted Duck, Great Skua and Arctic Tern. The land got relatively little coverage, with a Brambling and a Siskin through with a small passage of other finches over the Bill, 3 Purple Sandpipers and singles of Cetti's Warbler and Reed Bunting on the ground there, 4 Firecrests at Church Ope Cove, 12 Redwings at Wakeham, a Black Redstart at Nicodemus Knob and a Short-eared Owl at High Angle Battery.

The most gripping bird of the day was this small skua that Steve Mansfield spotted floating down the Fleet near the oysterbeds beyond Ferrybridge; it eventually came close to shore near to the Crab House Cafe but despite hitherto having looked decidedly wrecked it then took flight and flew off inland over the nearby caravan site. Although clearly a Long-tailed Skua (the bill structure - eg the 'nail' is the same length as the rest of the bill and the nostril is positioned closer to the feathering than to the end of the bill - eliminates both Arctic and Pomarine Skua) we were intrigued by its plumage: at first we just assumed it was a dark juvenile but then realised that of course it had almost no scalloping - pale feather edges - on its upperparts; looking closely there is a ghosting of them here and there but nothing like as much as a juvenile ought to have. Are we missing something here? - can juveniles exceptionally be this plain above or is this maybe some sort of sub-adult that we hadn't appreciated could be a dark as this? © Steve Mansfield:

Freak of the day - we do love these barmy things and wonder what this bird would have been called as if it had flown past the Bill on its own! - was this leucistic juvenile Brent Goose amongst a family party at Ferrybridge © Debby Saunders: