Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Spurn trip: Day 3. Kilnsea saltmarsh invertebrates

After the long walk yesterday, today we take it more leisurely and we head out of Westmere Farm B&B towards the sea across a couple of fields at the back of the farm. By the beach, where the clay cliff is very low, there is a thin strip of dunes (top shot). The sun is shining on blue skies, there is the lightest breeze and it's low tide. While the kids play on the beach, I watch insects on the dunes. Fleabane, sow thistle and ragwort are blooming in profusion. Butterflies are aplenty, including very fresh looking Small Tortoiseshells, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small White, Common Blue and a Small Heath.
 There are also many active bees, including a Sea Aster bee, Colletes halophilus, a first for me.
Small Tortoiseshell.
Many Small Whites
Peacock, here with Small Tortoiseshell on ragwort.
Red admiral on saw-thistle
Painted lady on ragwort
And a patrolling male common blue that briefly landed on a flower bud
Another Peacock on fleabane
Female Sea Aster bee, Colletes halophilus collecting pollen on Sea Aster. It's hot and the bee is very skittish, almost jumping between flowers. It's a female completely covered in aster pollen.
A close up of the Sea Aster Bee.
One of a few stands of Sea Aster where the bee was feeding.
One of many Dune Robberflies, Philonicus albiceps with fly prey.
Eristalis tenax, on saw-thistle
The spotty-eyed hoverfly, Eristalinus aeneus on fleabane. 
Helophilus pendulus
Many 11 spot ladybirds on reeds, these mating (you can see an aphid on the bottom left hand corner), also 7 spots.
There are also plenty of crickets and grasshoppers about, according to the kids, that are totally astounded I am unable to hear them sing. I was pleased to find a female Short-winged conehead resting on a fence.
A Lesser marsh grasshopper grooming its antennae
Short-winged conehead

Just before leaving Spurn, we stop for a drink at the Blue Bell Cafe and by the beach, we spot two more butterflies for the day.
Painted lady on mayweed.
Small Heath on mayweed

Monday, 29 August 2016

Spurn trip: Day 2. Walk to the point

The highlight of our trip to Spurn was the walk to the point and back. This 15 km round trip was greatly aided by the weather, sunny, warm and with a light breeze, which was much appreciated, as out of the breeze it was really hot. We started at the B&B, which made the walk a bit longer, but it was nice not to have to drive at all. 
We started the walk at 9:30, with a young robin sunbathing and yawning.
By the Crown and Anchor we watched a couple of Turnstones. 
Crickets and grasshoppers were singing. I still need to identify this one.
Just after the Warren, we saw a Brown Argus...
...and the Unimog taking people to the lighthouse.
This is the area occasionally breached at high tide, the narrows, looking north. Most of the way to the point was at the low tide, with expansive horizons of exposed sandy beach.
Roe Deer prints near the lighthouse.
fox prints?
After what it felt a long while, the lighthouse towered over us. 
A Common Seal resting by the surf.
We had a picnic at the point proper, and then walked around the point. 
A Grey Seal watching us.
Common Tern at the point.
A seal pup with a puncture would on its neck.
one of the kids found this porpoise skeleton.
Most of the way small parties of Sanderlings were chasing waves by the beach.
Here a mixed flock of Sanderlings, Ringed Plovers and a couple of Dunlin briefly rests by the dunes.
Meadow grasshopper, Chorthippus brunneus.
On the way back we had a vantage point on the dunes that allowed us to appreciate how narrow the spit is. The estuary on the foreground, the open sea in the horizon. Red Admirals were hilltopping on the dunes.
A Wheatear, a common migrant at the point, near the Warren. A lone Swift flew overhead. Many Swallows were passing through.
Curlew resting at high tide.
We arrived back a bit short of 5 pm, tired but elated after the wonderful day at Spurn.
A Painted Lady flew at dusk by the poplar, settling on the leaves for the night.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Spurn trip: Day 1. The Triangle

The kids and me are spending the bank holiday weekend at Spurn, staying at Westmere Farm B&B. We travelled on Sunday morning and were at Spurn by 10 o'clock driving in almost deserted roads through Hull and Holderness. It had rained in the night and it was overcast with a cool breeze. We parked at the Blue Bell car park and walked around the Triangle. The only thing of note at the Borrow Pit was three noisy Little Grebes chasing. It was hard not to step on many snails and slugs on the path. We popped into Canal Scrape hide. A Pied Flycatcher was hunting on the hawthorns opposite. The mudflats on the Humber were much more productive, with many waders on the exposed mud at low tide.
 We had a picnic by the Blue Bell cafe before checking in our accommodation. 
At dusk, I popped next door to Kilnsea Wetlands. A kind birdwatcher pointed to a Wood Sandpiper very close to the path. There were several more waders about.
Common Gull
A perfectly camouflaged Larinioides cornutus on a dry wild carrot seedhead.
A group of Redshank.
Ringed Plover.
The eroding clay cliff.
Merlin (thank you to @Spurnbirdobs and Tim Isherwood for ID) chased by House Martin.
The hoverfly Helophilus pendulus on bristly ox-tongue.
Four Swallow chicks almost ready to fledge in one of the barns at Westmere Farm.
One of the fantastic skies at Spurn.
Kilnsea Wetlands at dusk.
A close view of a Wood Sandpiper.
Young Little Ringed Plover.
Another view of the Wood Sandpiper.