Monday, 29 June 2015

Flamborough Head: North Landing to Breil Newk

This morning I travelled to Flamborough and parked at North Landing. I had been before at the landing itself, but I hadn't explored the cliffs to the east. The sea was flat, barely any breeze and very warm and sunny as I arrived.
I followed the clifftop path and soon, in one of the inlets of the landing a pair of Puffins made themselves visible. A flock of Linnets, including a very bright male, moved up and down the cliffs. Meadow Pipit sung their 'click-click-click' parachuting song with the backdrop of Skylarks. On the path I flushed a Painted Lady who settled shortly after.
 The young and old birds at the cliffs were panting due to the warm, sunny weather. When it clouded up at around 11 it became much nicer.
  I walked up to Breil Newk, an area which I had seen from the Yorkshire Belle boat before, but not from the clifftop. A photo does not do justice to this amazing place, watch this short clip to get an idea (the only thing you need to imagine is the smell of guano drifting from the cliffs).

There were many Shags on the rocks. In a little cave at the bottom of the chalk stack, the finger-like rock sticking out from the sea, a Shag nest with young. Somebody seems to have climbed the stack and placed a tyre on top, which is now a convenient nest for a pair of Herring Gulls.
 I came down to the North Landing itself for lunch, and was very entertained watching the House Martins, with their chirruping calls echoing as they approached their cliff nests. The nests are a bit hard to count, as they are quite camouflaged, but there must be at least 20 nests in this colony.
 These cliffs feel very wild: there are not fences keeping you from the cliffs, or artificial balconies. You get to see the birds as you follow the unfenced path on the cliff top and the views are amazing. The cliffs are not linear, but there are stacks, inlets and little headlands which adds to the variety and makes the viewing easy. The clifftop flowers were also fantastic. The only bird not breeding here is the Gannet, but I saw many passing by just offshore.
Painted Lady
North Landing
Guillemots with a chick, and a couple of Razorbills
Sea Pink on the cliffs
North Marsh Orchid, there was a large patch of them.
The very hot Kittiwakes on the cliffs
Kittiwake with chicks
Shag nest on Breil Newk
The King of the castle. A pair of Herring gulls with chick.
These Guillemots kept panting and left their wings half open to thermorregulate
Herring Gull on a cliff ledge
Kestrel hovering and Gannets passing by.
House Martin leaving nest
Curious Meadow Pipit. For a while I thought there was a cricket about, when I realised it was this Meadow Pipit.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

A sunny walk at Snuff Mill Lane

I went for a morning walk to Snuff Mill lane. It is usually busy with dog walkers but for an hour and a half I had it all to myself. It was warm and sunny, with an occasional breeze. In the sheltered, nettle-packed entrance to the first field I stumbled across a Four Spotted Chaser and a Large Skipper. Later, on the first field, the first of many Meadow Browns. I was moving slowly, checking for insects and taking photos, and that is probably why I spotted the fox before it spotted me. I watched the top of his head and ears as he trotted down the path towards me. Predictably, as it approached it sensed something was amiss, it stopped, spotted me, and swiftly turned back, and with a couple of bounces it was gone.
 Cheered up by this encounter, I carried on. There were more Meadow Browns and Skippers, and another Four Spot chaser. I went into the second field, everything looking so lush. There were many warblers singing (Chiffchaff, Willow, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Blackcap). A kestrel hovered in the distance. A Moorhen called nervously from the pond, probably hiding chicks. There were a few Chimney Sweeper moths, very nervous and hard to photograph on the long grass. Also, a range of bumblebee mimic hoverflies.
 I saw the first people as I was leaving, what a great day at Snuff Mill lane, bliss!
Four Spotted Chaser
Volucella pellucens
View of the first field
Meadow Brown
Male Large Skipper
A flowering honeysuckle
Chimney Sweeper Moth
Eristalis intricarius
Volucella bombylans

Monday, 22 June 2015

North Cave Wetlands in a cold summer day

The showers and overcast weather didn't bode well for a trip to North Cave wetlands. At least the hides come in handy to shelter from showers. It was quite chilly, with a persistent wind, and there were only the briefest of sunny spells at midday, but overall the insects performed noticeably well, probably raring to go in what is being a very cool season so far.
 The visit started well with a stoat crossing the road in front of the car as I was getting to the reserve. There were many Swifts and Sand Martins on the reserve today. There was a Kestrel hunting by East Hide. No terns on the raft, just more and more Black Headed gulls. I moved on from the hide. Turret hide was closed as one of the steps was broken. I wasn't too bothered, as the black-headed gull racket is a bit too much there. I searched for bee orchids on the banks, but no luck.
 It was far too cold and overcast on the dragonfly ponds for any hopes of a dragonfly. A Large Skipper appeared briefly on a birds-foot trefoil, but disappeared before I could take a photo. I got a very bright moth instead, new for me, the Yellow Shell. It started to spit. I put my hood on and sheltered the camera and binoculars and sat on a bench by Reed Bed. It looked that it wouldn't last long and it didn't. There were many Avocets but no sign of chicks. Some were sitting on nests. An avocet was quite defensive and kept attacking a Black-Headed gull, which in turn was being chased relentlessly by a couple of juveniles.  A Reed Warbler sung nearby, a Reed Bunting in the distance. I heard a Sedge Warbler. It was at the top of north hedge.
 I popped into Crosslands. Little of notice, there were a pair of Common Terns and scattered little ringed Plovers. On the shore of the deep pool a group of immature and adult Lesser Black-backed gulls.
 At the start of the butterfly path, on a sheltered area, I got my best sunny spell. Dragonflies appeared in numbers, and three Common Blue butterflies followed each other. Hoverflies and flies, including a male Square-spot deer fly with stunning eyes, appeared as well.
The soldier beetle, Cantharus figurata
Yellow Shell moth
Little Ringed Plover
An Avocet, Black-headed gull confrontation. The BH gull chicks weren't helping, just pestering the parent for food.
A neat Black-headed gull nest.
This Moorhen appears to have copied the nest design and position of Black-headed gulls. I've never seen such exposed Moorhen nest!
A Sedge Warbler, singing and keeping an eye on overhead predators.
An inquisitive Whitethroat
Male Blue Tailed Damselfly
 Female Blue Tailed Damselfly, form rufescens
Female blue tailed damselfly, form violacea
Male common blue damselfly
Male Deer fly, Chrysops viduatus
A Black Snipe fly
Two Common Blue butterflies checking each other
One of three highland cattle grazing on the reserve.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Butterflying at Kiplingcotes

I had a busy and enjoyable day in the Kiplingcotes area. First, I had volunteered to carry out a House Martin Survey for the BTO, and I had chosen a square near the nature reserve as I wanted to combine the survey with a trip to the reserve. The survey was a bit sad, as there was a colony, with nine complete nests, but no house martins were around. The farmer remarked how fewer swallows they have now compared to previous years. There were two pairs of Swallows with active nests, but evidence of many more nests not in use inside the barns. A Red Kite flew over the farm.
 After the relatively quick survey I popped to the nearby Kiplingcotes Station. Shortly after starting the walk East on Hudson Way I heard the purring of a Turtle Dove. It called several times, and I tried to locate it unsuccessfully. They have been heard there in previous years, but it was still nice to have my first Turtle Dove in East Yorkshire since 1997. A Lesser Whitethroat sung quite exposed opposite a Greenfinch also singing. There were at least a pair of House Martins and several nests in the station.
There were sunny spells, but only at around midday, when it started to be warmer, butterflies made an appearance: Red Admiral, Peacock (very battered), Small Tortoiseshell and a Common Blue, with a Cinnabar flying too.
 I moved to Kiplingcotes chalk pit NR for lunchtime. There were several butterfly species on the wing, including Dingy, Large Skipper, Common Blue and Small Heath. A couple of new beetles for me, an Orchid Beetle on nettles and a very flighty Garden Chafer.
Dingy Skipper
Common Blue
Male Large Skipper
Trochulus sp.
Orchid beetle, Dascillus cervinus
The large bumblebee mimic hoverfly, Volucella bombylans. Note the very long tongue!
Another colour morph of Volucella bombylans, this one mimicking a red-tailed mumblebee
A Yellowhammer having a bath in a puddle on the car park.
Common Blue
Helophilus trivittatus (?) on the meadow at the top of the post.
Empis sp.
Red Admiral
Lesser Whitethroat singing
The first Pyramidal Orchids are blooming.
Wild Pansy
A young Grasshopper, possibly Common Green
Ant Woodlice, Platyarthrus hoffmannseggi with yellow meadow ants.
Lauria cyclindracea, a tiny snail.
Garden Chafer, Phyllopertha horticola
Male Common Blue
Small Heath
A view of Kiplingcotes NR from the top.