Wednesday, 31 July 2013

High Summer Hits Spurn

Last Friday I attempted to take Ben on his annual pilgrimage to connect with Spurn's Garden Tiger Moths with his new bridge camera.  Unfortunately, last week Spurn was enduring very high tides, and the new road laid on the river side was under water when we arrived.
Garden Tiger Moth
We had to visit Canal Scrape and Kilnsea Wetlands instead.  There were plenty of young Swallows and Sand Martin at Canal Scrape but not a lot  else to see, but Kilnsea Wetlands was much more productive.  There were Avocets to see from the hide, plus immature Shelduck and some Redshank.  We counted 7 Little Egrets, but recently 35 have been seen in the area - an amazing total.  In the furthest part of the water were some waders, which included a few Knot, and possibly a reported Ruff, but without a telescope it wasn't possible to make this out. 
Small Tortoiseshell
 Little Egret

As it was high tide there were thousands of waders on Beacon Ponds, and occasionally clouds of these lifted into the air, and at times a few flew over our vantage point.  There were a reported 10,000 Dunlin, and a few of these can be seen in Ben's photo.  Sandwich Terns also flew over throughout our visit, and on one occasion a Little Tern.

There were plenty of insects in the warm sunny weather, including Small Tortoiseshell and Ringlet butterflies, and a Darter dragonfly, but the highlight were some crickets.  Ben's young ears could hear these as we walked back towards the car park, and although I could still hear them 5 years ago, my ears have now hardened to these insects.  So, if I ever want to try & photograph Bush Crickets again, I only really stand a chance if I have a pair of younger ears in tow.  

 Roesel's Bush Cricket
 Immature Shelduck
 Knot [centre]
 Dunlin Flock (c) 2013 Ben Coneyworth 
 Ringlet (c) 2013 Ben Coneyworth
Yesterday we tried again, and this time we managed to get right down to the point.  We made out way to the VTS tower and stumbled across a Garden Tiger Moth almost right away.  Therte weren't hundreds as we've managed to see in the past, but we did find 4 individuals.  We alms saw my first ever Privet Hawk Moth, but unfortunately, it looked as though this had been run over by a vehicle.  A Peppered Moth was also hunkered down on the concrete.  I hope it avoided a similar fate.  A strange black beetle was also scurrying around the bottom of the tower.  Perhaps we had disturbed it, before it could dispose of the Privet Hawk Moth?

A walk around the Parade Ground showed that the wildflowers had peaked since my last visit, but there were still some Pyramidal Orchids sheltered by the northern side of the ringing lab.
 Privet Hawk Moth
 Peppered Moth
 Garden Tiger Moth
 Burying Beetle Species
 We went back to Chalk Bank as the time was coming in, and Ben was interested in seeing large numbers of waders in their summer finery.  He wasn't disappointed, as there were a few very bright Bar-tailed Godwits, Grey Plovers, and thousands of Knot and less colourful Dunlins.  Also present were Redshank, Curlew, and a sprinkling of Turnstones.  A family of Kestrels were in the chalk bank area, and one of these flew in front of the hide, and temporarily flitted some of the more skittish waders.  We stayed there for over 45 minutes, and the tide hadn't quite reached its full extent.
Bar-tailed Godwits (and Curlews)
 Grey Plovers [centre] with Turnstones, Dunlin, Redshank & Knot
 Knot [& Dunlin]
 Knot & Dunlin
 Green Sandpiper
 On the return journey we saw a juvenile Cuckoo near post 43, and a few Whimbrel quite close to the road, but a large family walking on the beach ensured there weren't any other good wader views.  A high tide at Spurn is better earlier in the morning if you want undisturbed close views of waders from your car.  We dropped in at Canal Scrape again, but this was much quieter than last Friday.  Steve Exley kindly filled us in with recent sightings in the area.  He left us to catch an early lunch, and shortly afterwards a Green Sandpiper dropped in, but it took fright at a low-flying Swallow and left the area desolate of birds again. 
Female Common Darter

Monday, 29 July 2013

2014 Calendar is Ready!

[Front cover featuring Red Backed-Shrike (c) Andy Hood & Kestrel (c) 2013 Chris Cox]

A unique feature of the calendar is that it includes 300+ lines of info of what wildlife to see, & when & where to see it 

My new 2014 Yorkshire Wildlife Calendar is hot off the press.  Featuring stunning photos of Kingfisher, Red Squirrel, Long-eared Owl, Firecrest, Wryneck, Jay, Crossbill, Yellowhammer, Black-necked Grebe, Red-backed Shrike, Stoat, Kestrel, Stonechat, Yellow Wagtail, Long-tailed Tit & Foxes in the snow.  All photos taken within the old Yorkshire boundary by top-notch local photographers incl: Dave Bowes, Maggie Bruce, Vince Cowell, Chris Cox, Andy Hood, Dave Mansell, Mike Robinson.  Cost £9 (incl P & P) to UK addresses only.  Cost £8 if collecting in person  

These are lower resolution pictures.  The higher resolution images can only be seen on the actual calendars

 Kingfisher (c) 2013 Vince Cowell
 Red Squirrel (c) 2013 Vince Cowell
 Yellow Wagtail (c) 2013 Michael Flowers
 Firecrest (c) 2013 Mike Robinson
 Long-eared Owl (c) 2013 Richard Willison

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

On the North Coast of Yorkshire

On Monday I took my nephew to see the Minke whales off Filey Brigg, but of course they were long gone.  We stopped off first just south of Bridlington to see how the Sand Martins were managing.  They seemed  to be progressing well with plenty of young birds flying around and landing on the cliffs, with adults still feeding young birds in their nest-chambers.  
Common/Harbour Seal
Sand Martins
Removing a Fecal Sac
Sand Martin
Two First-summer individuals (right)
A Large Group of Immature Individuals
We stopped off at Filey Dams, but there wasn't a great deal to see here.  Just a couple of Herons, a Woodpigeon, and a female Mallard and her new brood of ducklings were virtually the only birds worth noticing.
Herring Gull
Meadow Pipit

We carried on to the Brigg which Ben had never visited before.  We tried to avoid the prodigious amounts of dog mess without complete success.  There were a few Guillemots and Razorbills on the sea, as well as a large flock of Gulls, which also included a Gannet or two, and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull.  There was a Fulmar near the cliff top with a recently-hatched chick - the first I've ever seen.  I don't usually visit the East coast cliffs much after June, or before September.

Among the umbellifers a Meadow Pipit was calling loudly in-between catching insects for its final brood of the year.

Fulmar & Chick
4 Whimbrel
Common/Harbour Seal

We then began to scramble down the precipitous path towards the concrete path on the Brigg.  We heard and then saw a couple of Sandwich Terns fishing in the bay, but there was a lot of activity too.  We spotted an ambulance on the beach, and then a huge rescue party taking care of a gangly, bandaged  man.  It seems he may have fallen on the large slippery boulders strewn all over the Brigg.  The rock pools were searched for cranes, sea anenomes, small fish, limpets and whelks.   

As we neared the tip of the brig 4 Whimbrel flew south, whilst in the opposite direction twice as many Eider powered their way north.  There were wader calls among the rocks on the waters' edge, and these resolved themselves into a group of summer-plumaged Turnstones, plus a few winter-plumaged Dunlin, and Knot.  However, the highlight was a very confiding Common Seal, which proved a great draw for the few people who ventured the full distance.  Right at the very tip were a few Cormorants, and a single Shag frying themselves on a rock.  Even further along the Brigg appeared to be another Common Seal with her pup.  

2 Cormorants (right)
Aftermath of an Accident