Friday, 31 August 2012

Flamborough Head and North Landing

We visited the North Landing for a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust 'Captivating Crustaceans' event. The beach was a pleasure to be in, the weather could't have been better, mild, clear skies and a non noticeable wind. We were shown Lobsters and various crabs by a local fisherman committed to sustainable fishing, who explained to us what he does to keep the lobster fishery thriving. The kids enjoyed rock pooling and rock hopping.
A dozen or so Fulmars circled around approaching their nests and going away (maybe encouraging their chicks to fledge?) and a chirping colony of House Martins on the cliffs, the first I have seen in years, with young still being fed. An incongruous pair of Woodpigeons were ever present, the male displaying over the beach and courting the female on the cliffs. Squadrons of Gannets, in orderly lines, flew past by in the direction of Bempton Cliffs and passing Cormorants and Shags were also numerous. A Grey Seal greeted us first thing in the morning, but after a while it disappeared to give way to the bustle of visitors and dogs in the low tide.
 Later in the day we moved to Flamborough lighthouse and walked around the headland, where I hadn't been in quite a while. The views of the coastline from the cliff tops are amazing, with stacks, white beaches, and steep soil cliffs at the top.  The meadows had recently been mown, but there were still some wildflower patches and longer grass by the cliff edge. One of these, with hawkbit and an umbelifer was busy with in butterflies (Peacock, Wall, Small Copper) and a lone Silver Y and many bumblebees and hoverflies. A large ragwort was being munched by cinnabar caterpillars. The highlight was a confiding Wheatear that hunted on the cliffs. 

A view of North Landing
House Martin nest with chick on the cliff
Shore crab, Carcinus maenas, thanks to Graham Scott for the ID. 
Edible Crab, Cancer pagurus
Velvet crab, Necora puber
Squat lobster, Galathea strigosa 
A female European Lobster laden with eggs is being V clipped so that she can safely lay and survive at least another three years, as capturing marked individuals is illegal and the clip takes three years to heal.
There is a Fulmar chick there, I promise
Another view of the Wheatear
Silver Y feeding

Bird list
  1. Black-headed Gull 
  2. Cormorant 
  3. Feral Pigeon 
  4. Fulmar, Occupied Nest 
  5. Gannet, many out at sea
  6. Herring Gull, a young one on top of a stack being fed by adult
  7. House Martin, Many nests with young on N Landing
  8. House Sparrow,  Male feeding young in nest under boat house eaves
  9. Jackdaw 
  10. Kestrel 
  11. Mallard 
  12. Oystercatcher 
  13. Rock Dove 
  14. Starling 
  15. Stock Dove 
  16. Woodpigeon, courtship and Display 
  17. Collared Dove 
  18. Great Black-backed Gull 
  19. Kittiwake 
  20. Pied Wagtail, family on the lighthouse car park 
  21. Shag 
  22. Wheatear 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Hornsea Mere and the moulting Mute Swans

We visited Hornsea mere today. After a mostly cloudy morning threatening rain, the day became much sunnier by the time we got to the lake. We walked around the point and then hired a rowing boat and rowed around Swan Island. The first surprise was the numbers of Mute Swans in the lake, I had never seen so many together. There were many in Kirkholme, but the shores were peppered with them. There must have been well over a hundred, all congregated in the lake for their annual moult.
On the lake Many Coots, Mallards and Black-Headed gulls. Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins flew over, but we didn't see Swifts. A Tern (Common/Arctic) fished near the boating area.
Another highlight of the visit were the good numbers of Little Gulls, mostly in their winter plumage, although some still with darker heads and red legs. They swam on the lake and sat on the jetties. We spotted many feeding over the lake on our rowing boat trip and some more on a shingle beach between the islands, where they sat with terns - again unsure if Common or Arctic, I wish I had taken more powerful binoculars today.
A lone juvenile Red Crested Pochard amongst mallards by the shore was also seen.

A view of the lake from Kirkholme point towards Swan Island
Black Swan
The ringed leg of a Mute Swan. I have reported the number, I will update here if I am informed of its origin. NEWS from BTO: "Ring Number: ZY1607. This bird was ringed as age 1st year , sex unknown on 09-Aug-2009 at Driffield, East Riding of Yorkshire. It was found 1113 days after it was ringed, 21 km from the ringing site, direction ESE."
Little Gull
The same little gull with a mallard for comparison
Juvenile Red Crested Pochard
Compare the tiny Little Gulls with the Black Headed gull in the middle
Little Gulls and Terns, I am not sure what species


Canada Geese flock feeding by the lake

Bird list
  1. Black Swan, lone one
  2. Black-headed Gull, many about
  3. Canada Goose
  4. Common Sandpiper, on a shingle ridge with Redshank, and terns
  5. Common/Arctic Tern
  6. Coot
  7. Cormorant
  8. Feral Pigeon
  9. Greylag Goose, also a hybrid and an odd couple of a Chinese Swan Goose and domestic goose with two goslings
  10. Herring Gull
  11. House Martin
  12. Jackdaw
  13. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  14. Little Gull
  15. Mallard
  16. Mute Swan
  17. Pied Wagtail family
  18. Red-Crested Pochard
  19. Redshank
  20. Sand Martin
  21. Swallow
  22. Woodpigeon

Monday, 20 August 2012

Sandwich Terns and Swallows at Spurn

It was a lovely day at Spurn, very warm in the sun, but there was plenty of high cloud and a light breeze, so the temperature was quite pleasant. Hundreds of Swallows flew over us due south today. Perched on the wires around the Bird Observatory, Swallows, many young, with a few Sand and House Martins groomed themselves in a brief stop in preparation for their journey ahead.
Swallows and Sand Martin
We spotted a single Swift near the Crown & Anchor, I hope is not the last in the year.
 At sea, Sandwich terns practiced their bomb-diving and we spotted a grey seal swimming near the shore. On the side of the estuary, a group of Turnstones, Ringed Plovers, and other waders fed on the mud, with the background noise of passing Wimbrels whistling.
 Invertebrates are always plentiful in the dunes. Chirping grasshoppers, Cinnabar caterpillars...I spotted a female sand wasp, Ammophila sabulosa, carrying a green caterpillar to her nest. The caterpillar was quite large and the wasp dragged it while walking.
 Upon reaching the nest, spotted by my 4 yr old, she left the caterpillar aside, and started uncovering the nest entrance by digging and dropping handfuls of sand nearby. These wasps stock their nests with caterpillars and lay an egg on the first one for the young wasp larvae to feed on them.
  As for butterflies, we saw Wall, Red Admiral, Peacocks (a couple were trapped in the Heligoland bird trap), Common Blue and Gatekeeper.
Wall Butterfly
A very fresh Common Blue on Hawkbit
Red Admiral on the buddleia behind the observatory
Gatekeeper on Ragwort
 Black Tailed Skimmer
 Amphibious Bistort
Wild Carrot and Sedges on the cliff, there were many wildflowers including Common Knapweed, Hawkbits, Ragwort and Mayweed.

Longhorn cattle, used by the Yorkshire Wildlife trust to graze on nature reserves
Sand hopper, it quickly buried itself in the sand
Mating Robber flies

Bird list

  1. Black-headed Gull
  2. Common Gull
  3. Common/Arctic Tern
  4. Feral Pigeon
  5. Greenfinch
  6. Herring Gull
  7. House Martin
  8. House Sparrow
  9. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  10. Linnet
  11. Magpie
  12. Mallard
  13. Ringed Plover
  14. Sand Martin
  15. Sandwich Tern
  16. Starling
  17. Swallow
  18. Swift
  19. Turnstone
  20. Whimbrel
  21. Woodpigeon