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Wildlife Sightings - June 2017

  • Mon 3rd Jul, 2017

June started as all mid-summer months should, warm and sunny! After the cold June of 2016 when we were haunted by sea mist and northerly winds this was a very welcome return to normality… with winds from the south and high pressure, temperatures hit a balmy 22° on the 1st in East Yorkshire. Settled weather then took hold for most of the month with south west - south easterly winds predominating. On the 19th it got even warmer with temperatures reaching a regional year peak of 30° in East Yorkshire. It was bound to change eventually and so it did on the 27th when a north-easterly airflow hit the coast alongside heavy rain and the associated drop in temperature to a maximum of 14° in Bridlington.

The start of June can be a great time for rare and scarce birds. This year however sightings were much slower than previous years, although scarce large water birds were once again in the news. On the 1st both Great White Egret and two Spoonbill flew past Spurn. On the same day a Great White Egret was at Top Hill Low. Another Spoonbill flew past Spurn on the 3rd and one flew south over Scarborough. Spoonbills were destined to become one of the birds of the summer in Yorkshire as later in the month news broke of the first Yorkshire nest recorded at Fairburn Ings. Scarce songbirds were few and far between but Flamborough scored on the 2nd with a singing Golden Oriole. A Common Rosefinch was found at Spurn on the 3rd along with an Icterine Warbler and a Honey Buzzard. A male Honey Buzzard took up residence in the Great Yorkshire Forest from the first week of the month, displaying above Wykeham raptor viewpoint regularly by the third week. The first week was a good period for raptors in this area with Red Kite and Osprey seen over Hackness. The immature Glaucous Gull was still hanging around Ravenscar and Long Nab at the beginning of the month but was not reported after the 3rd.  On the same day the lingering Iceland Gull was also seen at Hornsea Mere and a rare inland sighting of a Little Tern at Southfield Reservoir. Back at Spurn a Common Nightingale was singing for two days from the 4th and Spurn’s sixth Red-footed Falcon went south on the 7th. On the same day an Osprey moved south over Filey. A possible Little Swift seen at Hornsea on the 6th, may count as the rarest bird this month to escape certain identification.

Honey Buzzard © Adrienne Lucas Honey Buzzard © Adrienne Lucas

Insects were hot on the heels of the birds. Red-veined Darters were present at Spurn on a daily basis at the start of the month peaking at 11 on the 4th and there was a female at Flamborough on the same date. Later in the month both Scarborough and Filey got in on the act with four at Seamer tip pool on the 17th and four at Filey on the 19th.

Red-veined Dater © Mark Pearson Red-veined Dater © Mark Pearson

On the moth front, June got off to a great start with good numbers of Wood Tigers found in Dalby Forest at Sutherbruff Rigg on the 2nd. On the same day, three Beautiful Snout were caught in Broxa forest with another 11 on the 11th at the same site. A Marsh Pug was found day flying at Wold Top Brewery meadow in VC61 on the 3rd. A Pearly Underwing was caught at Kilnsea, Spurn on the 8th and a Birds Wing on the 9th. Nearby a Broad-barred White was caught at Easington on the 10th.

Beautiful Snout © Allan Rodda Beautiful Snout © Allan Rodda

Wood Tiger © Nicky Wearmouth Wood Tiger © Nicky Wearmouth

There is an annual mid-summer passage of Manx Shearwaters on the Yorkshire coast in June. This month saw the peak numbers recorded at Flamborough on the 8th when 386 were counted passing offshore. On the same day a Black Guillemot also flew north at Flamborough. This kicked off a good period of birding on the Great White Cape. A Common Crane and Turtle Dove were seen on the 9th with Red Kite on the 10th. The Crane appeared again on the 13th with a summer plumage Great White Egret on the 15th. Two surprise scarce songbirds then arrived on the 18th a Common Rosefinch at Buckton and a Red-backed Shrike at Bempton. On the same day three Quail were singing at nearby Speeton. A Red-necked Phalarope was found at Nosterfield Quarry on the 10th. The day after another or the same bird was found at Easington Lagoon and still present on the 12th. A Hoopoe was a great surprise find at Brandesburton on the 11th and on the same day the female Montagu’s Harrier was again seen at Blacktoft Sands RSPB. A Roseate Tern was at South Gare on the 13th. The first big 2017 movement of Common Swifts occurred on the 15th when 3012 were logged at Spurn. A Bittern was a very unusual mid-summer sighting at Wykeham South Lake on the 14th. One of the rarest birds of the month for Yorkshire) a Spotted Sandpiper was a great find at Scaling Dam on the 16th. On the same day a female Red-footed Falcon was seen at Caldwell. The first Balearic Shearwater of the summer flew south at Flamborough on the 21st. A colour ringed Great White Egret was found at Johnsons Marsh Scarborough on the same day moving north to Scaling Dam later in the day.

Five Large Heath butterflies were counted at Fen Bog on the 14th. A Clouded Magpie and a Birch Mocha were caught in Broxa on the 16th. There were lots of reports of Dark Green Fritillary from widely distributed sites including Brockdale YWT and the Great Yorkshire forest indicating they are having a good year. White-letter Hairstreaks emerged in a Whitby garden almost five weeks earlier than in 2016! The first sighting this year was on the very early date of the 19th June.  A Grayling was seen in Wykeham Forest on the 23rd. This is a very good record of this rare and declining butterfly in Yorkshire. In the warm weather Golden-ringed Dragonflies were being reported from many sites in the North York Moors NP. Both Beautiful Demoiselle and Banded Demoiselle were found at Folkton Bridge on the 18th. The second record of Hairy Dragonfly at Spurn after the first in May this year was found here on the 24th. On the same date the first Emerald Damselflies of the year were seen at Top Hill Low.  

A Platytes cerussella caughtat Spurn on the 21st was only the fourth record for Yorkshire. Common Emerald moths were caught in small numbers at Wykeham Causeway from the 24th. A great moth night at Pilmoor on the same date saw over 550 individual moths caught of 86 species including three of the rare Ancylis laetana, one Willow Tortrix, Scalloped Shell and Beautiful Carpet. The 24th was the first date this year for Red-tipped Clearwings sightings at Top Hill Low whilst Six-belted Clearwings were seen this year from the 17th at the same site. Ten Dark-bordered Beauty were counted at Strensall Common on the 26th which is two weeks earlier than in 2016. By the end of the month over 20 had been counted at this site, a welcome increase on the lower numbers in 2016. Also at Strensall towards the end of June were Silver Hook and large numbers of Small Chocolate Tip caterpillars. Moth trapping in Healey near Masham yielded Grey Scalloped Bar and Obscure Wainscot in the third week of the month.

Dark-bordered Beauty female and male © Allan Rodda Dark-bordered Beauty female and male © Allan Rodda

Cetacean sightings on the coast increased towards the end of the month with White-beaked Dolphins bringing great joy to wildlife watchers from Flamborough to Whitby. Three were first seen at Flamborough on the 20th followed by 12 at North Landing Flamborough on the 22nd. What was presumably the same pod were then seen from the Whitby Whale Watching boat on the 24th. Small numbers of Minke Whale were staring to be seen including two from Runswick Bay on the 18th.  

The final week of June was surprisingly all about scarce and rare seabirds with daily highlights of some expected and other unseasonal species. A Leach’s Storm-petrel was a great catch at Filey overnight on the 23rd, only the fourth to be ringed at Filey in 30 years! On the same night three European Storm-petrels were also caught. On the 24th a Black Guillemot was at South Gare and nearby a Roseate Tern was at Saltburn on the 25th.

Leach’s Storm-petrel © Dan LombardLeach’s Storm-petrel © Dan Lombard

On the 26th a first summer Sabines Gull was a wonderful inland find at Flask Lake Nosterfield. On the 27th 1333 Common Scoter flew north at Flamborough along with 89 Manx Shearwater. Then on the 28th the big boy was back! 46 days after its last visit to Bempton the Black-browed Albatross returned to grace the reserve again. This time it spent a few hours on the reserve even landing on the cliffs by the side of some shocked looking Gannets! Despite a smart male Green-winged Teal showing briefly in Filey Bay on the 29th, this day really belonged to Spurn. A summer plumage White-winged Black Tern arrived to spend the first of several days in the Kilnsea Wetlands area and on the same day a Long-tailed Skua and a Pomarine Skua were seen nearby.

White-winged Black Tern © Justin Carr White-winged Black Tern © Justin Carr

Scarce songbirds were not surprisingly in short supply during the final week although a Nuthatch at Hunmanby within the Filey Bird Observatory area got local birders excited on the 28th. Despite the fact they breed within 10 miles of the Observatory area this is still a rare bird on the coast. To prove there some amazing animals on the seashore, we finish this month with a common but rather unusual example of the Chiton, Lepidochitona cinerea. This beauty was found on a Yorkshire Naturalists Union marine and coastal field meeting at Bogle Hole on the 25th June.

Chiton, Lepidochitona cinerea © Paula LightfootChiton, Lepidochitona cinerea © Paula Lightfoot

Richard Baines YCN

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