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

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