Yesterday the final Thursday session until September went ahead even though Yorkshire was ringed around with heavy showers. Some on the pm session were wondering if it was worth leaving Church Fenton, Wressle or Goole where it was hammering down with rain, but it was actually nice weather at Spurn. We set off along Beacon Lane, where we immediately encountered House Martins and a few finch species: Goldfinches, Greenfinches & then flyover Linnets. The best early bird during the pm session was a singing Wren perched above the hedge belting out its 10-second- 100+ note trills. Normally there are plenty of Linnets along here, but there are definitely fewer of these this year.
It was the sunniest day we have visited this location this year, and there was a corresponding increase in insect activity. There were a couple of Red Admirals & Large Skippers, some Small Heaths, a single Small Tortoiseshell, and a few Ringlets and Meadow Browns. There was also a single large dragonfly hawking along the lane. Over the fields the activity of the Meadow Pipits and Skylarks was more subdued than last week, and the Sedge Warblers seemed less willing to sing in the open. Many more Burnet-Moths had emerged since last week, and were making the most of the sunshine. There seemed to have been a noticeable influx of Silver-Y Moths in the afternoon, which wasn’t apparent in the morning. A young Kestrel spent the whole day among the sand dunes & caught something small on the sand, which it proceeded to eat & then it walked up the dune looking for more of the same.
Little Gull (flying past a Common Tern)
From the hide it was evident that the loss of many of the Little Tern chicks since our last visit had caused the netting to be rearranged in front of the hide to protect 2 or 3 nests there. Sandwich Terns were more in evidence, perched on a couple of concrete slabs with a few of their youngsters. A couple of Common Terns were perched nearby, and an immaculate Little Gull flew through. The pm crowd watched a Cormorant catch an enormous fish, whilst I was trying to determine if a tern in awkward light could possibly be a Roseate – unfortunately, it turned out to be a Common. There were also Ringed Plovers, Oystercatchers, and after we left the hide in the morning 3 Knots with remnants of breeding plumage headed south. Liz did very well to spot a distant soaring Sparrowhawk, which everyone managed to pick up before it was lost to sight.
At lunch-time I went to Canal Scrape, but was disappointed that there were no Lizards on the posts outside – perhaps the sun was too strong? The prospects from the hide didn’t look too good either. The water was dominated by squealing baby Coots, whilst the grass was overwhelmed by moulting Mallards. I had a quick span, but couldn’t see anything of interest, so I cracked open my sandwiches. I was tucking in when there was an unusual wader call. I looked out of the window and spotted a pair of tiny waders on the shore. At first glance without bins they looked like Dunlin, but the sound was different. The bins revealed them to be Wood Sandpipers with their pale vague eyebrow, speckled back, delicate bill & yellowish legs. They remained there 15 minutes until they were attacked by a stinking Coot & they flew West over the Humber. Meanwhile a Little Egret flew in & was preening among the Mallard. It only stayed a couple of minutes before flying off North-West. Four Cygnets emerged from the reeds and swam right across the pond, but there was no sign of either of their parents. There was no one to say 'awwww' at their appearance this time. A Small Tortoiseshell was outside the hide on a thistle, whilst when I joined the main road a Sedge Warbler was perched with its bill stuffed with insects.
Mute Swan Cygnets
It was great to bring this term to an end in decent weather conditions when we have had to endure all sorts of unseasonal showers, winds, mists and generally appalling weather over the last few weeks. We deserve a peaceful, Indian summer after this unsettled so-called Spring & Summer, but will we get it?