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Wildlife Sightings - August 2016

  • Fri 2nd Sep, 2016

August felt like the first settled warm month of the summer in East and North Yorkshire. Temperatures were at or above average for most of the period. A high of 24° was reached on five dates in Scarborough. Winds were predominantly from the south and west quarters with few periods of easterlies. It was also a relatively dry month.

Waders were still stealing the limelight in the first week of the month. 273 Whimbrel passed through Spurn on the 2nd the highest count for the month in the region and a good illustration of the passage period of this species, with the biggest numbers in late July and early August. It was also a good period for Wood Sandpipers; recorded from virtually every wetland in the area in small numbers. Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints arrived in the first week. First off on the Humber then small numbers trickled north to appear at Pulfin High Eske YWT, Top-Hill Low, Flamborough and Filey. An Ocean Sunfish was seen off Marine Drive Scarborough on the 2nd.

Little Stint Thornwick Flamborough © Andy HoodLittle Stint Thornwick Flamborough © Andy Hood

Curlew Sandpiper South Landing Flamborough © Andy HoodCurlew Sandpiper South Landing Flamborough © Andy Hood

Honey Buzzards have been very scarce in the region this summer with very few records from the breeding areas in North Yorkshire. A single over Filey North Cliff on the 3rd was therefore a very welcome local sighting. Filey also celebrated its first Caspian Gull found roosting in a field west of the Dams area on the 7th. An adult Caspian Gull sporting a Polish ring was found at North Landing Flamborough on the 6th. Mediterranean Gulls built up in numbers at Spurn early in the month with a count of 21 on the 5th.  It was a good month for Willow Warblers one of the first large movements was at Spurn on the 6th involving 73 birds.

Caspian Gull Flamborough © Andy HoodCaspian Gull Flamborough © Andy Hood

White-letter Hairstreak butterflies were recorded at several locations including a small colony in a Whitby garden. A Poplar Lutestring moth was trapped in Dalby Forest on the 5th; this was the first county record since 2011! A Fen Wainscot caught on the same night was a rare moth for the Scarborough area with another caught in a Scarborough garden on the 12th. It was turning into a great moth week for the Scarborough Butterfly Conservation team and it was rounded off with a gorgeous Barred Hook Tip on the 7th. The hoverfly Eriozona syrphiodes was found in Dalby Forest on the 8th, this species was only recorded for the first time in the UK in 1950.

White-letter Hairstreak at Whitby © Wendy Holliday White-letter Hairstreak at Whitby © Wendy Holliday

Poplar Lutestring © Allan RoddaPoplar Lutestring © Allan Rodda

Eriozona syrphiodes Dalby Forest © Nick AddeyEriozona syrphiodes Dalby Forest © Nick Addey

The first good sea watch of the month was at Flamborough on the 9th. A NNW wind helped blow a Storm Petrel, Pomarine Skua, Long-tailed Skua, 3 Sooty Shearwater, 73 Manx Shearwater and best of all a Great Shearwater past the headland. Also on the 9th an adult Grey Phalarope was seen at Fraisthorpe near Bridlington. The 10th produced two Balearic Shearwater and 14 Sooty Shearwater with a Pomarine Skua at Bempton. The northerly element in this wind finally benefited Spurn on the 14th when a cracking adult Sabines Gull flew north.  Red-veined Darter dragonflies have been scarce this year so one at Filey on the 14th was a welcome sighting. Top Hill Low nature reserve near Driffield scored on the 16th when a Pectoral Sandpiper was found.

Minke Whales drifted south and towards Flamborough Headland mid-month with one seen on the 14th and three off Bempton on the 17th. Hirundine passage was well underway, an excellent count of 1121 Sand Martin flying south at Spurn on the 15th. The first scarce bird ‘fall’ of the month occurred in light SE winds on the 16th and 17th. A Greenish Warbler at Old Fall Flamborough on the 17th kicked things off. Spurn then had to wait until the following day to catch up but did so with a good run of scarce songbirds; Ortolan Bunting, 2 Icterine Warblers and Barred Warbler alongside some good common migrant counts which included 140 Yellow Wagtail. On the 17th at Flamborough there was a new Icterine Warbler accompanying the Greenish at Old Fall. Spurn was the best place to be on the 18th with a Greenish Warbler, Barred Warbler and Red-backed Shrike. Filey had a Barred Warbler and small numbers of common migrants on the 19th. Up in the North Yorkshire forests the local moth team were still trapping and came up with another locally rare moth in the form of a Twin-spotted Wainscot.On the16th a very popular long staying Spotted Crake arrived at North Cave YWT. 2 Raven flew past Long Nab on the 18th.

Greenish Warbler Flamborough © Lee Johnson Greenish Warbler Flamborough © Lee Johnson

The 20th and 21st August were notable days at Spurn for large numbers of waders. 20 species were logged including an excellent count of 23 Curlew Sandpiper, 669 Ringed Plover and 6 Little Stint. Alongside the waders it was the best day of the month so far for Pied Flycatchers with 22 recorded. The E/SE wind continued for a few days, producing more good passerine movements at Spurn on the 22nd and 23rd. A large fall of Willow Warbler arrived on the 22nd with 350 counted alongside the first Wryneck of the autumn and a new Icterine Warbler. On the 23rd 130 Willow Warblers were counted at Flamborough and 45 at Jacksons Bay Scarborough. Down at Spurn on the 23rd was a Red-backed Shrike, 300 Willow Warbler, 28 Spotted Flycatcher and 37 Pied Flycatcher. Good birds were still present over the next two days with a new Icterine Warbler and a juvenile Sabines Gull seen offshore on the 24th and 2 new Barred Warbler and a Caspian Gull on the 25th. The first Dotterel of the autumn flew over Spurn on the 28th. A tantalising brief sighting at Flamborough on the 28th involved a possible Hudsonian Whimbrel which if confirmed would have been a first for Yorkshire.

Ospreys were seen at many locations throughout the month with small numbers passing on the coast and a long staying bird at Scaling Dam towards the end of the month. A flourish of seabird activity late in the month saw an increase in Arctic Skua numbers and small numbers of Long-tailed Skua seen at Hunmanby Gap, Flamborough and Spurn. Balearic Shearwaters were also recorded at Long Nab and Flamborough although generally seabird numbers were low almost certainly due to the lack of any northerly element in the wind direction.  Minke Whale numbers were building up nicely by the end of the month. YCN Seabird and Whale trips and Whitby Whale watching were out from Staithes and Whitby on the 27th and recorded up to 20 between 6 and 10 miles offshore. On the 24th a Humpback Whale was seen breaching off Ravenscar! Four Brent Geese at Flamborough on the 29th and two Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Scalby Mills on the 30th were early migrants. The first Red-necked Grebe of the autumn flew past Filey on the 31st an excellent day in that area with lots of waders including Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint showing well.  

Insects were back on track at the end of the month. A fabulous Hornet Hoverfly Volucella zonaria was found at Woodend in Scarborough; equally impressive lookers were three Large Rannunculus moths trapped in Scarborough.

Hornet Hoverfly Scarborough © Jim Middleton Hornet Hoverfly Scarborough © Jim Middleton

Large Rannunculus Scarborough © Allan Rodda Large Rannunculus Scarborough © Allan Rodda

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