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Wildlife Sightings North And East Yorkshire - August 2018

  • Sat 8th Sep, 2018

Despite a relatively slow start to the month for unusual sightings there were some surprises around, the biggest was arguably the Eurasian Stone-curlew at Smallways Lake on the 2nd, a great inland sighting for the north of England. On the 3rd the first proper songbird fall on the coast saw an early surprise arrival of Pied Flycatchers, Spurn headed up the show with 41 counted with smaller numbers at many sites further up the coast. Just as interesting was by the following day they were virtually all gone with only four seen at Spurn. Two Common Cranes arrived at Kilnsea Wetlands on the 4th. The first rare wader of the month was found at Blacktoft Sands RSPB on the 4th a Buff-breasted Sandpiper which then remained for several days.

Pied Flycatcher at Filey © Dan LombardPied Flycatcher at Filey © Dan Lombard

Two days later on the 6th 26 Pied Flycatchers arrived in a new wave along with a count of 100 Willow Warblers. This movement was also recorded at Filey with 40 recorded on the same day. Earlier in the same week at Flamborough, three Balearic Shearwater flew past on the seawatch on the 3rd and Bempton was the place to be for Yellow Wagtails with an excellent count of 62 on the same day. Up to three European Honey Buzzards were still performing well at Wykeham Raptor Viewpoint in the first week of the month. Sightings then continued for longer into August than in 2017 with individuals seen well into the last week of the month. A final estimate after examination of photos was of at least five different birds seen from the viewpoint over the three months June-August. On the 11th another female European Honey Buzzard was even seen over Morrison’s supermarket car park whilst nearby three were performing at the forest view point.

European Honey Buzzard Wykeham Forest August © Richard BainesEuropean Honey Buzzard Wykeham Forest August © Richard Baines

On the 6th the adult Franklin’s Gull present in late July was found again at Scaling Dam. The north of the county scored again a day later with a brief White-rumped Sandpiper found at Redcar, nearby at South Gare Roseate Terns were being enjoyed by local birders, seen daily in small numbers with a maximum of 16 on one day.

White-rumped Sandpiper at Redcar © Damian MoneyWhite-rumped Sandpiper at Redcar © Damian Money

Butterflies and Moths were still in the news at the start of the month as the warm weather continued. After Flamborough Headlands first record of White-letter Hairstreak in July, a count of five was made in South Dykes, Flamborough on the 3rd. Brown Argus were appearing on the coast, with small numbers seen at Filey and Flamborough in the first week of the month. Five Hummingbird Hawkmoth at Ravenscar on the 3rd was a good sign of a significant arrival. A Convolvulous Hawkmoth was at Kilnsea on the 5th. A Silver-washed Fritillary was seen in the Scarborough forests area on the 6th with reports of good numbers in the main East Yorkshire site on the 15th.

Silver Washed Fritillary © Nick HallSilver Washed Fritillary © Nick Hall

White-letter Hairstreak at Danes Dyke © Andy HoodWhite-letter Hairstreak at Danes Dyke © Andy Hood

Minke Whales continued to be seen in larger numbers than usual between Flamborough and Long Nab Scarborough at the start of the month. Cetaceans kicked the month off really well at Long Nab with two Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphins and a Minke Whale on the 1st.Meanwhile down at Filey the peak count were three offshore on the 6th. The biggest whale sighting trophy of the month though was easily won by Flamborough seawatchers on the 10th when a Fin Whale was seen for 12 minutes feeding along with an excellent count of 25 Harbour Porpoise and 37 Atlantic Grey Seal. Whilst counting Minke Whales at Filey one sharp eyed birder saw two Eurasian Hobby arrive from over the sea along with a Eurasian Marsh Harrier. Eurasian Hobbies were also in evidence at Flamborough on the 8th indicating a likely migration movement. Another noticeable movement involved Common Crossbill with small numbers seen on the coast away from the forests at Filey and Flamborough in the first week of August. Minke Whale numbers then increased to a monthly maximum of five at Filey on the 9th. New invertebrate records were still being broken; a new Southern Migrant Hawker was at Spurn on the 6th and the first ever Red-eyed Damselfly to be seen at Flambororough was found on the 7th.

European Turtle Dove at the Mill Inn © Richard BainesEuropean Turtle Dove at the Mill Inn © Richard Baines

The first Red-backed Shrike of the autumn arrived at Spurn on the 8th. A noticeable increase in Caspian Gull records occurred at the start of the month with records on the coast particularly at Spurn and inland as far away as Smallways Lake on the 2nd. Hornsea Mere had a good start to the month with two Eurasian Spoonbills, two Wood Sandpipers, Black Tern, Garganey and still small numbers of Little Gulls on the lake. The first Long-tailed Skua to be seen in August was off Flamborough Headland on the 10th in what was to prove a very poor month for this species on the coast. Up to three European Turtle Doves were still in the vicinity of the Mill Inn at Harwood Dale on the 10th.

The 12th was a cracking day at Kilnsea Wetlands for waders with both American Golden Plover and Pectoral Sandpiper found. Two more Red-backed Shrikes arrived one each at Flamborough and Spurn on the 14th and 15th. 150 Willow Warbler was a good arrival at Spurn on the 17th. On the same day 67 were counted at Flamborough increasing to 122 on the 20th. North Cave Wetlands YWT had a good day on the 17th with both Eurasian Bittern and Black-necked Grebe on the reserve. The first Icterine Warbler of the autumn arrived at Sammy’s Point Easington on the 19th with another in the area on the 21st. Also on the 21st a high count of 36 Common Sandpiper was made across the Spurn and Kilnsea area along with another good count of 40 Pied Flycatcher and a Wood Warbler. Monday the 20th was a great day at Blacktoft RSPB with Hen Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Spotted Redshank and Common Crane seen. An excellent count of 4891 migrating Barn Swallows was made at Spurn on the 22nd. An Ortolan Bunting made a brief visit to Bempton RSPB on the 23rd and a day later two Fin Whales were seen from Flamborough Headland Fog Station. The seawatching excitement continued on the 25th when a Great Shearwater, one Balearic Shearwater, 14 Sooty Shearwater and 161 Manx Shearwater flew past along with three Pomarine Skua. The following day an autumn high of 40 Sooty Shearwater were recorded at Flamborough. A Eurasian Dotterel was seen on the 25th near Danby Beacon.

Ringed China Mark Wykeham Causeway © Allan RoddaRinged China Mark Wykeham Causeway © Allan Rodda

The Scarborough moth team came up with a big surprise on the night of the 21st when they caught six Ringed China Mark moths in one night at Wykeham Causeway. These are the first modern day records for VC62.

By the end of the month the annual evening Tern roost movement was really hotting up at Spurn. On the 26th 10,700 Common Tern, 48 Arctic Tern, 240 Sandwich Tern, 4 Roseate Tern and 8 Black Tern were recorded. The end of the month is almost always great birding and this year was no different. At Spurn over the three days 28th, 29th and 30th birders were treat to Temmincks Stint, Woodchat Shrike, two Barred Warbler, three Icterine Warbler, Common Rosefinch, Black-throated Diver, Pomarine Skua, male Hen Harrier and a great count of 51 Whinchat. On the 30th a Citrine Wagtail and two Red-backed Shrike joined the impressive list of scarce and rare birds. Whilst Spurn was dominating the birding show during this time Flamborough did manage to fight back with an adult Sabines Gull on the 30th along with a Eurasian Dotterel over nearby Bempton RSPB on the same day.

Pomarine Skua at South Gare © Richard BainesPomarine Skua at South Gare © Richard Baines

At south Gare a very showy adult Pomarine Skua on the last couple of days of the month proved very popular with photographers. Little Gull numbers built up again at Hornsea by the month-end with highs of 3,700 on the Mere on the 25th and 3,200 offshore at Hornsea on the 30th. A surprise Grey Phalarope was seen off Hornsea on an evening seawatch on the 26th.

Minke Whale at Staithes © Mike HesseyMinke Whale at Staithes © Mike Hessey

Five Minke Whales were recorded from Long Nab on the 19th. By the end of the month there was a distinct change in distribution of Minke Whales with fewer sightings in the southern zone towards Flamborough and a return to much higher numbers in the Whitby-Staithes area. A great record of ten counted from Old Nab at Staithes on the 26th was joined by a probable Humpback Whale on the same seawatch. On the same day two Minke Whales at Long Nab was a good sign they hadn’t given up this area completely. Two days later a fantastic count of 26 in the same area was made on the Yorkshire Coast Nature trip along with 17 Puffins; 16 juvenile and one adult. The big numbers of Minke Whales continued to be seen in the Staithes area from the boat trips with 15 estimated on the 31st.

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