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Wildlife Sightings North And East Yorkshire - June 2018

  • Sun 8th Jul, 2018

Light winds, no rain and temperatures of around 20°C started the month but it wasn’t long before the wind switched to the north bringing cooler and misty conditions to the coast. Temperatures on the coast dipped to 13°C on the 6th. On the 13th storm Hector hit the UK bringing south-westerly winds with gusts of 57mph at Fylingdales on the 14th. A day or two later Hector had blown himself out and it was back to warm settled weather again with little or no rain. After several days of westerly winds the coast became cooler again in a north-north-easterly airflow which brought a bank of fog with it on the 26th. By the end of the month the fog had cleared and the dry sunny warm weather dominated with temperatures off 24°C in York on the 30th.

June started as May ended with a good selection of overshooting scarce and rare birds. A male Rustic Bunting was the pick of a great bunch of birds at Spurn on the 1st alongside Golden Oriole, three Red-backed Shrike, Marsh Warbler and two Common Rosefinches. Rare moths don’t always arrive at the same time as rare birds but a day later a Purple Cloud caught in Kilnsea proved it can happen. This was the second this year but only the third record in Yorkshire. The following day a Golden Oriole flew up the Humber at Stone Creek and another flew over the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Living Seas Centre at Flamborough. By the time the Oriole visited south Landing, bird find of the day had already happened at 0555 when a puzzled visitor in Bridlington photographed an unfamiliar bird which turned out to be a male Black-headed Bunting!

European Honey Buzzard North Yorks Forest © Adrienne LucasEuropean Honey Buzzard North Yorks Forest © Adrienne Lucas

The mini influx of Rose-coloured Starlings into Yorkshire continued with one in Scarborough on the 1st and another at spurn on the 4th. Another two sightings of possibly different birds were briefly at Scalby on the 6th and Robin Hoods Bay on the 12th. Ravenscar often pulls in Red-backed Shrikes and this spring was no different with a male there on the 2nd and another male down the coast at Hayburn Wyke on the same day. The above average (based on recent years) showing of Red-backed Shrikes this spring continued with a female at Flamborough on the 3rd and a male at Hornsea on the same date, two more were then new in at Spurn on the 7th. On the 2nd a male European Honey Buzzard was seen from what was soon to become a very popular raptor watch point in Wykeham Forest. By the end of the month up to three birds were in regular attendance including last year’s white male and a female which was seen first in 2010 and last seen in 2016. Further inland the Iberian Chiffchaff was still singing its heart out at Norwood Edge. A Cory’s Shearwater flew past spurn on the 5th, a very unusual for the time of year and only the third to be ever seen here in spring. Two Western Ospreys took up temporary residence at Scaling Dam on the same date.

Wood Tiger in Dalby Forest © Nicky WearmouthWood Tiger in Dalby Forest © Nicky Wearmouth

A Scorched Wing moth was caught in Lund East Yorkshire on the 3rd. Wood Tiger moths were on the wing in Dalby Forest on the 5th. A Hummingbird Hawk Moth was at Buckton on the 7th and on the same night a Pale Oak Beauty was caught in a moth trap in Lund East Yorkshire, if confirmed this would be a first for Yorkshire. At Pexton Banks/Ellerburn a Marbled Brown and a Grey Scalloped Bar were caught in the first week of the month, both scarce/local species in Yorkshire. Two Birch Mocha were caught in Broxa forest on the 9th and another at nearby Low North Camp. A Minke Whale was seen off Flamborough Head on the 10th.

Birch Mocha Broxa forest © Allan RoddaBirch Mocha Broxa forest © Allan Rodda

A spring Little Gull in suitable breeding habitat is a potentially excellent find and one lucky observer combined this and a Common Crane at Pulfin YWT and High Esk Nature Reserve on the 9th. The following day a Eurasian Bittern was seen at North Cave YWT and five Eurasian Spoonbills were at RSPB Blacktoft along with the regular female Montagu’s Harrier. Another sighting of a female Montagu’s Harrier came from near Lockwood Beck Reservoir on the 12th. The advantage of having more attention at Scaling Dam was evident on the 12th as one of the bird finds of the month; a male Woodchat Shrike found at nearby Bella Dale Slack staying three days to the delight of local birders.

Woodchat Shrike at Scaling Dam © Martyn SidwellWoodchat Shrike at Scaling Dam © Martyn Sidwell

A Pied Crow was a spectacular sighting at Spurn on the 13th but unlikely to have arrived unaided or it may have escape from captivity. On the same day the first south-westerly winds of the summer kicked off the first Common Swift movement at Spurn with 669 on the 13th increasing to 2439 the following day. European Storm Petrel ringing got underway on the 15th at Filey with one caught overnight. The 15th also signaled the first significant movement of Manx Shearwaters on the coast this year when 209 flew north at Flamborough along with a Sooty Shearwater. A few days later 216 were seen. A male Common Rosefinch was heard singing at Hornsea on the 16th. A high count of 125 Little Tern was made at Spurn on the 18th. A Red-necked Phalarope at Hornsea on the 19th was a popular find, showing well at Kirkholme Point. An adult Garganey with ten young was seen in the Lower Derwent Valley on the 20th. A Firecrest was a surprise find in the ringing nets at Spurn on the 24th. Fog covered the coast for several days in the last week hanging over the high cliffs of Flamborough, but it didn’t prevent a Grasshopper Warbler making its way to Bempton RSPB on the 26th. The final period of the month also saw the first buildup of post breeding waders with small numbers of Wood Sandpipers seen across the area and 51 Black-tailed Godwit were counted at Spurn on the 20th.

Squacco Heron at Kilnsea © Richard WillisonSquacco Heron at Kilnsea © Richard Willison

The first migrant Green Sandpiper (at Flamborough) was at Thornwick Pools along with a Dunlin and Little-ringed Plover on the 28th, a small taste of autumnal waders for Flamborough birders. The following day five Common Crossbills were on the Headland; signs of probable continental migrants. The first Little Tern chick hatched at Spurn on the 23rd and down the road in Easington a garden pond saw a wildlife scene straight out of the deadly 60 as a Grass Snake devoured a Common Frog as the owners camera clicked away! A European Bee-eater was on wires at Spurn on the 27th. The rarest bird find of the month prize goes to Johnny Fisk (Spurn Bird Observatory) who found an adult Squacco Heron at Spurn on the 29th still present into the beginning of July. 20 Little Gulls were at Hornsea Mere on the 30th the first significant count of the summer.

Large Heath at Fen Bog © Peter MathewLarge Heath at Fen Bog © Peter Mathew

A Beautiful Carpet was a new species of moth for Spurn caught on the 20th. New for the Nidderdale area was a Beautiful Snout caught on the same night. Six Clouded Buff moths were found at Jugger beck on the 24th. One of the first summer sightings of Minke Whale came from Staithes on the 25th with another sighting down the coast from Long Nab on the 30th. A Hairy Hawker dragonfly was only the third for Spurn when it was found hanging in a bird ringing net on the 28th. On the last day of the month there was a noticeable influx of Silver Y moths at Flamborough with 75 counted at Thornwick alone. Up on the North York Moors National Park at Fen Bog good numbers of Large Heath butterflies were reported along with Dark Green Fritillaries and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. Also on site were good numbers of day flying Small Argent and Sable moths. On the 30th a Mugwort Plume moth caught in Bishopthorpe was only the third record for VC64. Three scarce VC62 moths were caught in Dalby on the 30th; a Beautiful Carpet, Beautiful Snout and a Beautiful Hooktip! On the coast at Thornwick Pools Flamborough a female Keeled Skimmer on the 30th was a very good record of this highly restricted Yorkshire species, away from its normal sites in the North York Moors NP. By the end of June there had been a distinct increase of Turtle Dove records in the eastern part of the North York Moors NP. Up to 20 birds were reported including several small gatherings in suitable breeding habitat. Its hoped this is good news rather than a sign these endangered birds are moving away from traditional breeding sites further west...

Keeled Skimmer at Thornwick Pools © Anthony SimpsonKeeled Skimmer at Thornwick Pools © Anthony Simpson

Many thanks to all the observers who contributed sightings and photographs. This article covers North and East Yorkshire. For more wildlife sightings visit these great local, regional and national web sites

Spurn Bird ObservatoryFlamborough Bird ObservatoryFiley Bird Observatory and GroupNorthern Rustic blogspot Yorkshire Naturalists UnionYorkshire Wildlife TrustScarborough BirdersButterfly Conservation Yorkshire Branch  Yorkshire Nature Traingle  For National News: Birdguides

Richard Baines 

Yorkshire Coast Nature