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Wildlife Sightings North And East Yorkshire - September 2018

  • Fri 12th Oct, 2018

The month started with warm weather as the southerly airstream continued from late August. On the 1st and 2nd a small arrival of scarce song birds brought three Ortolan Buntings to the coast with one at Long Nab on the 1st and two at Spurn the following day along with a good fall of 25 Whincat. A Corncrake and a Barred Warbler were also fresh in at Spurn on the 1st. Scarce birds still present from the end of August in the region included the juvenile Red-backed Shrike at Spurn, two Common Crane at Carlton and the Montagu’s Harrier and Red-necked Phalarope at Blacktoft Sands RSPB. A Spotted Crake was also seen at Blacktoft on the 2nd making it a very good couple of days for the reserve. In the north of the region at South Gare the Pomarine Skua continued to perform well along with good numbers of Roseate Terns which were also showing well on Filey Brigg early in the month.

Roseate Tern on Filey Brigg © Mark PearsonRoseate Tern on Filey Brigg © Mark Pearson

Evidence of raptor movement away from breeding areas continued with a European Honey Buzzard over Beverley on the 1st. The first Redwing and Fieldfare arrived during these two days with singles respectively at Spurn and Flamborough. An adult Caspian Gull was a good find in the gull roost at Top Hill Low on the 2nd. Seawatchers were rewarded during the first week of the month with a good variety of species including daily small numbers of Skuas of all four species, the 4th was a good day for Shearwater passage with 200 Manx Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater and Sooty Shearwater recorded at Filey. Other offshore highlights up and down the coast on the 4th included Red-necked Grebes at Hunmanby and Spurn, Red-necked Phalarope seen from Hornsea and Sabines Gull and 11 Roseate Terns at Spurn. A day later Hornsea was still going strong as a Grey Phalarope flew past, a very rare two Phalarope species in two days!

European Nightjar © Mark PearsonEuropean Nightjar © Mark Pearson

Arctic Warbler at Flamborough © Andy HoodArctic Warbler at Flamborough © Andy Hood

The 4th was an excellent day on Flamborough Headland. An Arctic Warbler was found at Old Fall and a very confiding Wryneck at Bempton RSPB. At Thornwick Pool a Caspian Gull dropped in for a bath. The following day Flamborough scored again with a Greenish Warbler near North Landing. An Icterine Warbler seen near Flamborough Lighthouse on the 8th brought to close a very good start to the month for the Great White Cape. A migrant European Nightjar was at Spurn on the 8th with another appearing as a mysterious visitor to a Filey resident’s garden on the 9th. On the same day at Spurn two Common Rosefinch and a Cetti’s Warbler entertained visitors to the Migration Festival. In the north of the region a Great Egret performed very well at Scarborough Mere for several days from the 10th. On the same day a big movement of Meadow Pipit saw a spectacular 3619 counted migrating south-west at Hunmanby Gap and 3409 over Spurn.

Great Egret at Seamer Mere © Steve RaceGreat Egret at Seamer Mere © Steve Race

Wryneck at Bempton © Andy HoodWryneck at Bempton © Andy Hood

Second generation Brimstone butterflies were found in a Scarborough garden at the start of the month. Rarities at the start of the month included a Convolvulous Hawkmoth at Filey on the 4th, and the very rare migrant micro moth Palpita vitrealis in York on the 5th. Barred Sallow appeared to be having a good autumn with small numbers reported in a wide variety of locations. An Orange Sallow was caught at Wykeham Causeway on the 2nd.

Barred Sallow at Wykeham Causeway © Allan RoddaBarred Sallow at Wykeham Causeway © Allan Rodda

Convolvulous Hawkmoth at Filey © Dan LombardConvolvulous Hawkmoth at Filey © Dan Lombard

The middle of the month was characterised by a drop in songbird migration but waders and geese were on the move. 630 Grey Plover and 21 Greenshank were good counts at Spurn on the 12th. On the same day five Short-eared Owls were in the Holderness Field area. The following day 300 Sanderling and 33 Little Egret were also logged at Spurn. The 14th saw the first significant movement of Pink-footed Geese. This annual wild migration spectacle kicked off with 80 over Filey, 230 over Flamborough and 607 flying south over Spurn. The following day a further 800 were logged over Spurn along with a noticeable Diver movement including 54 Red-throated Diver and two Black-throated Divers. The first two Dark-bellied Brent Geese touched down at nearby Kilnsea for the winter on the 16th. On the same day a Red-footed Flacon was a great sighting at Nosterfield Nature Reserve along with a Long-eared Owl on the same day. Small numbers of Garganey were seen at several reserves during this period including juveniles at Top Hill Low.

Minke Whales were still present in high numbers between Staithes and Whitby until at least the 20th with a great count of 22 from the Staithes YCN trip on the 15th. On the same date 15 Harbour Porpoise were also counted from the boat along with two juvenile Atlantic Puffins. Juvenile Atlantic Puffin numbers generally peak in late August with lower numbers by mid-September and very few by the end of the month. A Risso's Dolphin offshore at Saltburn on the 23rd was very rare in our part of the North Sea.

A Small Rannunculus was trapped at North Duffield on the 17th, a very rare moth for VC61 recorded for the first time in this vice county in 2011. Two freshly emerged Merveille du Jour were caught in Scarborough on the 18th. Small Copper and Comma butterflies were being reported in good numbers in many places towards the end of the month indicating a productive autumn brood. A Delicate moth was caught at Spurn on the 19th along with a Convolvulous Hawkmoth and another Delicate on the 22nd.

A Buff-breasted Sandpiper flew past migration watchers at Spurn on the 17th whilst nearby a Wood Warbler and Wryneck livened up the day further. Barred Warblers have been scarce this autumn so one at Spurn on the 19th was welcome. The following day, 7555 Meadow Pipit were counted migrating over Spurn the highest count in seven years, the movement was also evident further north at Hunmanby Gap where 2917 we logged. Also at the Gap other highlights included 1150 Siskin and 75 Reed Bunting moving on a significant day for visible song bird migration. The first Whooper Swans of the autumn were a flock of four seen over Hawes on the 20th. Two Red-necked Grebes showed well on Hornsea Mere on the same day whilst Flamborough logged 305 Little Gulls on the seawatch. The following day a Pectoral Sandpiper was found at Scorton Gravel Pits. The 21st was a big Pink-footed Goose day as 905 moved over Flamborough and 2288 were counted migrating over Spurn alongside an impressive morning count of 6040 Common Tern. A White Stork was seen flying over Watton village on the 23rd.

The final week of the month kicked off with the best sea watching day of the year at Flamborough on the 24th. North-westerly winds got the show on the road bringing four Sabines Gull, 21 Pomarine Skua, 68 Sooty Shearwater and a Storm Petrel amongst many other less notable species. On the land a Hawfinch was seen on the same day. A Pectoral Sandpiper was found at Smallways Lake on the 24th and the first Lapland Bunting of the autumn flew over Hunmanby Gap.

House Martin at Hunmanby Gap © Keith ClarksonHouse Martin at Hunmanby Gap © Keith Clarkson

September 2018 was significant for large numbers of House Martins moving down the coast and smaller numbers inland. Visual migration counts at Hunmanby Gap every morning resulted in the 10,000th bird recorded in September on the 26th, a fantastic milestone. Even more impressive when you consider the first two birds were only seen on the 7th, the first large count involved 708 on the 13th. The biggest day was the 21st when 2437 were counted flying south. The peak day at Spurn was on the 22nd when 5353 were logged moving south. The first Brambling of the autumn arrived at Spurn on the 25th. Another Sabines Gull was seen at Flamborough on the 26th. The first Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn was found at Flamborough on the 27th on the Outer Head. A Firecrest singing at Kew Kilnsea on the 28th became significant as the first one to be seen in our region this autumn. A confiding Red-necked Phalarope entertained birders in Bridlington Harbour on the 29th being perfectly timed just a few hours prior to the FBO sea watch hide fund raising auction nearby. The final day of the month brought a very welcome Baird’s Sandpiper to the best site for finding rare waders in the region Kilnsea Wetlands.

Red-necked Phalarope in Bridlington Harbour © Richard BainesRed-necked Phalarope in Bridlington Harbour © Richard Baines

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