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

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