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Wildlife Sightings - July 2016

  • Sun 7th Aug, 2016

July 2016 signalled the start of summer on the Yorkshire coast after a terrible June, temperatures faring better further inland across North and East Yorkshire.  It wasn’t until mid-month when both day and night warmed up to around average temperatures for the time of year, finally bringing smiles to many naturalist faces!

The first week of July is usually quiet for rare birds but birders were awoken from their summer siesta on the 1st when news broke of a Short-toed Eagle near Wykeham village. Unfortunately after the first sighting by a tour group it was never seen again but you never know… North Cave Wetlands YWT was probably the best site for scarce birds on the 1st boasting Bittern, Black-necked Grebe and Wood Sandpiper. Blacktoft Sands RSPB was then hot on the heels of YWT with a max of 8 Spoonbill on the 4th, female Montagues Harrier and 16 Spotted Redshank on the 2ndEuropean Storm Petrel ringing at Filey Bird Observatory and Group got off to a cracking start on the 6th/7th with 10 birds bagged. Great numbers continued all month making this site one the best on the English east coast for ringing Stormies!

Cold nights in the first week meant moths were still in low numbers; despite this a beautiful Clouded Magpie was caught in Scarborough on the 8th and a Small Yellow Wave on the 10th. The July 6th was a great day to be at Wharram Quarry YWT where a butterfly count produced; 101 Common Blue, 135 Small Heath, approximately 50 Ringlet, 13 Meadow Brown, one Brown Argus, and 20 Marbled White.

Clouded Magpie © Dan LombardClouded Magpie © Dan Lombard

Migrant waders migrating south from their northern breeding grounds started to arrive and two of the earliest were Black-tailed Godwits and Whimbrel.  Godwit passage was concentrated at Spurn with a maximum of 108 on the 8th whilst further north very few were reported the most being 9 at Filey on the 6th. Whimbrel took a few more days to increase in numbers peaking at 116 at Spurn on the 10th with 48 at long Nab and 69 at Hunmanby on the same day. Swifts and Sand Martins were also on the move at Spurn with 3,480 Swifts on the 7th and 1,247 Sand Martin on the 8th and a second peak of 1758 on the 13th. Flamborough recorded a record breaking 305 Sand Martin on the 10th. Hunmanby Gap and Long Nab were the best sites for watching Swifts move in North Yorkshire with a maximum of 730 on the 8th at the Gap and 1035 on the 9th at Long Nab.  A Saker was seen at Flamborough on the 8th wearing what appeared to be a satellite tag…

Spurn birding sparkled into life on the 11th with a Bee-eater flying south. The first rare wader on the coast turned up mid-month with a very welcome Pectoral Sandpiper at Thornwick Flamborough on the 13th. On the same day at Spurn a Roseate Tern dropped in at Beacon Lane alongside a Willow Tit at the nearby Warren. A post-breeding Willow Tit also turned up at Long Nab on the 8th. The first Purple Sandpiper at Filey arrived back on the 14th. A Yorkshire Coast Nature Above and Below seabird cruise off Flamborough Head discovered a Sunfish close inshore off South Landing on the 15th followed by a Quail singing at Bempton. The first influx of Little Gulls of the late summer occurred on the 16th as 161 moved over Kilnsea/Easington. The first Curlew Sandpiper of the autumn arrived at Spurn on the 17th. A Black Tern was seen at Filey on the 20th.

Sunfish © Richard BainesSunfish © Richard Baines

Pectoral Sandpiper © Andy HoodPectoral Sandpiper © Andy Hood

Purple Sandpiper © Mark Pearson Purple Sandpiper © Mark Pearson

By mid-month moth numbers were recovering after a slow start to the summer. Beautiful Hook Tips have increased in numbers with more than usual found in traps in VC61. Reports this month came from Melbourne, York, Lund and the Scarborough area. On the 15th the North Yorkshire forest team had a good night catching a stunning Lilac Beauty. Also around this time a garden in Filey became a popular destination with a fabulous colony of Lunar hornet Moths on show. On the 18th one of the first White-letter Hairstreaks of the summer was found at Fountains Abbey.

Lunar Hornet Moth © Allan Rodda Lunar Hornet Moth © Allan Rodda

The first two Sooty Shearwaters of the autumn flew past Long Nab and one past Flamborough on the 20th. Another site autumn first was an Osprey over Scarborough Harbour on the 21st. Black-tailed Godwit numbers increased again with the second monthly peak now occurring in the north of the region. 20 went south at Long Nab on the 24th. Whimbrel picked up again with an impressive month high of approximately 150 moving through the Filey recording area on the 23rd. At Flamborough, Thornwick Pool continued to attract waders with eight species of wader present on the 20th including two Avocets. All eyes were back at Spurn in the third week as wader numbers really boomed. 6,000 Dunlin were counted on the 21st followed by a Red-necked Phalarope on the 22nd. Along with many other waders were 2 Purple Sandpiper, 71 Knot and 336 Sanderling migrating on the 24th. Dunlin had increased to 10,000 by the 25th and a White-rumped Sandpiper rounded off the show on the 27th. Overnight on the 30th a Leaches Petrel was caught at Long Nab Scarborough, a red letter day for local birders who had only just finished watching a pod of Dolphins a few hours earlier (see below)! One of the rarest birds of the month for Yorkshire birders was a splendid Caspian Tern seen by a handful of lucky folk at Faxfleet on the 24th

Leaches Storm Petrel © Dave Bowes Leaches Storm Petrel © Dave Bowes

Odonata were on the increase and sharp eyes at Flamborough picked out two Red-veined Darters on the 19th. By the 22nd there was a regular flow of scarce moths. A fabulous Leopard Moth was found at a tennis court in Hull and on that same night not one but three Beautiful Snout were found in North Yorkshire. One was found in Whitby and two in Dalby Forest, the first time this species has been seen in V62. Essex Skipper is a relatively new colonist to our region but strangely there have been records further north in Teesside in the last few years, apparently hopping over our area. Butterfly seekers stepped up their interest in this species in 2016 and were rewarded with three at North Cave YWT on the 22nd and one on the Hudson Way rail line on the 23rd. Dark-bordered Beauty is one of the UK’s rarest moths so local naturalists were very pleased when 16 individuals were found at the colony on Strensall Common on the 25th, the biggest count since 2011. A Pine Hawk Moth was at Spurn on the 25th and a Mere Wainscot was trapped at Pilmoor Boroughbridge on the 31st.

Dark-bordered Beauty © Allan Rodda Dark-bordered Beauty © Allan Rodda

Beautiful Snout © Allan Rodda Beautiful Snout © Allan Rodda

The final week in July is usually good for cetaceans and this year was no different as a pod of up to 10 White-beaked Dolphins were found offshore on Whitby Whale Watching Cruises on the 30th. What may have been the same pod but now counted at five individuals were then seen for at least two hours off Scarborough Marine Drive in the evening. Minke Whales were present in the zone between Whitby and Staithes but in apparently low numbers, a large individual was seen well from the Yorkshire Coast Nature cruise on the 24th

Richard Baines YCN

For more wildlife sightings visit these great web sites!

Spurn Bird ObservatoryFlamborough Bird ObservatoryFiley Bird Observatory and GroupNorthern Rustic blogspot Scarborough BirdersButterfly Conservation Yorkshire Branch  Yorkshire Nature Traingle