Monday, May 25th, 2020

A light south-westerly backed south-east and strengthened during the afternoon; sunny throughout and temperatures reached 18 degrees C. During the morning’s seawatch, 20 Common Scoter, seven Red-throated Divers, 320 Fulmars, 244 Manx Shearwaters, 32 Sandwich Terns, three Arctic Terns, an Arctic Skua and 244 Puffins all flew north.

Two Pink-footed Geese joined the Greylag flock which still contained the long-staying Egyptian Goose; a Wigeon also remained. Other notable sightings included a single Hobby over the village and subsequently at Thornwick and two Spotted Flycatchers.

Reed Bunting, by Alan Walkington

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

For the third consecutive day, strong westerly winds ensured birding was difficult on a day of sunny intervals, after a largely overcast start. An Eider, four Common Scoter, two Red-throated Divers, seven Manx Shearwaters, two Sandwich Terns and a Common Tern flew past the Fog Station during the morning.

The Egyptian Goose and lone Wigeon remained in residence, whilst wader interest included a Ringed Plover, one Little Ringed Plover and three Dunlin. A Quail called from cliff top fields at Buckton and a Hobby flew west over Wolds Farm. However, better still the same location hosted the year’s first Turtle Dove. A total of 22 Swifts flew south, but passerine interest was confined to a Spotted Flycatcher, two Wheatear, a White Wagtail and the year’s first Crossbills; two flew west over the outer head. 

Wheatear, by Lee Johnson

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

A cloudier day than of late, with periods of sunshine, occasional showers and a strong, blustery south-west wind.

Both the Egyptian Goose and Wigeon remained in residence on pools on the outer head. The recent good run of Hobby records continued, when one flew west over the village early afternoon; two Marsh Harriers flew south during the morning, including one in off the sea during the seawatch. Wader interest included five Lapwing, three Ringed Plovers, a Little Ringed Plover, two Dunlin, a Redshank, one Sanderling and a Bar-tailed Godwit. Understandably given the strong winds, passerine records were scarce, although four Spotted Flycatchers managed to locate shelter on the outer head. 

Basking Shark, Bempton Cliffs, by Alan Johnson (22/5)

Basking Shark, Bempton Cliffs, by Alan Johnson (22/5)

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

A day of strong south-westerly winds and prolonged sunny intervals after light rain early morning. Fifteen Common Scoter, a Red-throated Diver one Manx Shearwater and a Sandwich Tern flew past during the morning seawatch. Seven Bottlenose Dolphins swam north past the Fog Station, but the headline act was undoubtedly a Basking Shark photographed off Bempton Cliffs as it swam south towards the outer head.

Both the single Wigeon and Egyptian Goose lingered on the outer head, whilst two Barnacle Geese were transient. Two Hobbies were recorded: a single south over Flatmere and another near Bempton Cliffs. The Temminck’s Stint re-appeared on Thornwick Pools, a Redshank was also present and four Ringed Plovers were recorded. Single Spotted Flycatcher, Wheatear and Grey Wagtails were all located in difficult conditions.

Corn Bunting, by Craig Thomas

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Government guidance states: ‘To ensure people are social distancing, the government has prohibited by law all public gatherings of more than two people’ (gov.uk website, 13th May 2020). When contemplating visiting Flamborough, please reflect upon this guidance. Consider how necessary your visit is to an area popular with tourists, many of whom will be concentrated on the outer head, North or South Landing and along the cliff top path.

The weather consisted of prolonged sunny intervals, light/moderate south-west winds and temperatures that reached 19 degrees C. During the morning seawatch, five Manx Shearwater flew north, with a Shelduck, four Tufted Ducks, two Red-throated Divers, 26 Sandwich Terns and two Common Terns flying south. Six drake Eider rested on the sea off Beacon Hill.

Two stints provided the day’s highlight: with both Temminck’s Stint and Little Stint stopping off at freshwater sites. Other wetland species included an Egyptian Goose, two Teal, a Wigeon, seven Ringed Plover, a Little Ringed Plover, one Redshank and nine Dunlin. A Red Kite overflew the village, whilst no fewer than three Hobbies were present. Other notable records included a pair of Grasshopper Warblers together, two migrant Reed Warblers (in addition to at least six singing males holding territory), three Spotted Flycatchers, six Wheatear, the Black Redstart, a Grey Wagtail, three Yellow Wagtails, a Siskin and two Corn Buntings.

Wheatear, by Andy Hood

Drinker Moth caterpillar, by Mike Smith

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

Sunny throughout, with a light/moderate south-east wind developing during the afternoon and temperatures reaching 19 degrees C. During the seawatch, 30 Common Scoters, four Manx Shearwaters, two Whimbrel and 26 Sandwich Terns flew past the Fog Station.

The scarce overshoot theme continued when a Bee-eater was heard, but remained unseen, over Old Fall at 0925hrs; two Bee-eaters later flew south through Spurn five hours later. Wildfowl interest included an Egyptian Goose, together with single Pintail and Wigeon. Single Marsh Harrier and Hobby were recorded, whilst wader interest was confined to a Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper; the latter sound-recorded over the village during the night of 19th/20th. Passerine interest included one Garden Warbler, a Whinchat, three Wheatear, two Yellow Wagtails, two Grey Wagtails and a couple of Siskin.

Longhorn Beetle (Agapanthia villosoviridescens), by Andy Hood

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

After an overcast start and spells of light rain, the day ended with prolonged sunny spells; warm, with temperatures reaching 19 degrees C in a light south-west wind. During the morning seawatch, two Red-throated Divers, four Manx Shearwaters, 13 Sandwich Terns and three Common Terns flew past the Fog Station.

The day’s highlight related to a Red-rumped Swallow over Bay Brambles near the lighthouse at 0935hrs that soon departed. Other notable records included a Long-eared Owl, a Spotted Flycatcher, one Black Redstart, six Wheatear and a White Wagtail. In addition, a Quail called from barley fields at Buckton. 

Yellow Wagtail, by Andy Hood

Monday, May 18th, 2020

A relatively overcast day, with a moderate westerly wind and temperatures reaching 14 degrees C. Two Manx Shearwaters and 15 Sandwich Terns flew north during the morning’s seawatch. Notable records from the headland itself included the drake Pintail, one Wigeon, a Little Ringed Plover, a Short-eared Owl, a Cuckoo, the Black Redstart, two Wheatears and a White Wagtail.

Black Redstart, by Alan Walkington

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

Government guidance states: ‘To ensure people are social distancing, the government has prohibited by law all public gatherings of more than two people’ (gov.uk website, 13th May 2020). When contemplating visiting Flamborough, please reflect upon this guidance. Consider how necessary your visit is to an area popular with tourists, many of whom will be concentrated on the outer head, North or South Landing and along the cliff top path.

Overcast for the most part, with a brief shower during the afternoon and a moderate westerly wind; temperatures reached 16 degrees C. The morning’s seawatch was quiet, with two Red-throated Divers flying north and a Manx Shearwater and 11 Sandwich Terns flying south. Notable sightings away from the seawatch included a Gadwall, drake Pintail, two Eider, a Hobby, two Little Ringed Plovers, one Spotted Flycatcher, a Black Redstart, one Whinchat, a Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail. 

Black Redstart, by Brett Richards

Whinchat, by Brett Richards

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

The weather consisted of sunny intervals, a moderate westerly wind that gradually dropped in strength and temperatures that reached 14 degrees C. During the morning’s seawatch, 13 Common Scoter and four Manx Shearwaters headed north, with a Knot and two Sandwich Terns moving south.

Thornwick Pools attracted three Gadwall and a Pintail, nearby fields hosted a pair of Grey Partridge, whilst single Ringed Plover and three Whimbrel flew north. Thirty Swifts hawked insects over the Dykes, but passerine migrants were scarce: a migrant Reed Warbler was additional to five singing males on territory, and other records included one Fieldfare, a single Redstart and three Wheatear.

Puffin, by Alan Walkington

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Government guidance states: ‘To ensure people are social distancing, the government has prohibited by law all public gatherings of more than two people’ (gov.uk website, 13th May 2020). When contemplating visiting Flamborough, please reflect upon this guidance. Consider how necessary your visit is to an area popular with tourists, many of whom will be concentrated on the outer head, North or South Landing and along the cliff top path.

Light winds initially from the north-west veered east in the afternoon; sunny throughout, with temperatures reaching 12 degrees C. During the morning’s seawatch, an Eider, 57 Sandwich Terns and an Arctic Tern flew south, with three Red-throated Divers and three Common Terns moving north. A pod of 15-20 Bottlenose Dolphins also swam north.  

The day’s highlight related to the discovery of two Red-backed Shrikes: an adult male located in the morning was joined by a second bird of indeterminate age/sex (although probable male) in the afternoon. Other sightings included a Gadwall, single Little Ringed Plover and Ringed Plover, two Whimbrel, a Fieldfare, one Redwing, three Wheatear, one Grey Wagtail, a White Wagtail and four territorial Corn Buntings.

Red-backed Shrike, by Rob Little

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Brown Shrike 12th-14th May 2020

During the afternoon of 12th May, a Flamborough Bird Observatory member discovered a shrike whilst walking along the coastal path. Unsure whether the bird was a female Red-backed, he circulated an image on our closed Whatsapp group: it was soon clear the bird was a Brown Shrike.

A few local members visited the location and eventually relocated the bird. The shrike frequented thick scrub between two fairways on a golf course. Due to the lockdown, the course was still shut on 12th so it was easy to maintain social distance to view the bird safely. However, golfing was due to resume the following day, precluding viewing from the fairway edge. Anyone hoping to watch the bird would be restricted to observing from the narrow cliff top path, effectively blocking it for potential users.

The following government advice was consulted which states:  ‘You can exercise outside as often as you wish and you can also sit and rest outside – exercise or recreation can be alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times. You may drive to outdoor publicly accessible open spaces irrespective of distance, but should follow social distancing guidance whilst you are there. You should plan ahead to ensure that, where you are visiting places like National Parks, you have checked that they are open and appropriately prepared for visitors.’ (gov.uk website, 13th May 2020).

In our opinion, even a relatively small crowd would inevitably contravene this guidance given the limited viewing opportunities. The alternative would be for birders to step onto the golf course edge, potentially causing conflict with golfers from the local community. As with all bird observatories, maintaining a positive relationship between the obs and the local community is of paramount importance. We rely on the goodwill of local landowners and the Council for our access and conservation initiatives; jeopardising this relationship was not something we could countenance.

It was with reluctance that we decided to keep the news within the membership and asked them to refrain from propagating the news on social media. The presence of the shrike unfortunately leaked out the following morning. I contacted both national rare bird news providers to request that information be withheld. Both provided very polite and thorough responses; Birdguides very kindly agreed to withhold news. The shrike was last seen on 14th May.

Suffice to say, the last few days have proved to be very trying. Effectively we felt forced to suppress the news of a national rarity, albeit one that is now a more regular visitor. Indeed, this was the third Brown Shrike to have visited Flamborough, with the first in 2008 widely twitched from far and wide. Over the last 20 years, the headland has managed to accommodate several significant twitches including Baikal Teal, Crag Martin, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Brown Flycatcher (twice), Taiga Flycatcher and Black-headed Bunting (twice). We very much look forward to hosting many more, provided we can do so without jeopardising the health of our local community or our relationship with residents, landowners and local businesses.

Brown Shrike, Flamborough, by Craig Thomas

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

Government guidance states: ‘To ensure people are social distancing, the government has prohibited by law all public gatherings of more than two people’ (gov.uk website, 13th May 2020). When contemplating visiting Flamborough, please reflect upon this guidance. Consider how necessary your visit is to an area popular with tourists, many of whom will be concentrated on the outer head, North or South Landing and along the cliff top path.

Sunny throughout, with a light/moderate south-easterly wind developing during the day; temperatures reached 12 degrees C. During the seawatch, a Red-throated Diver, two Manx Shearwaters, nine Sandwich Terns and a Common Tern flew north; a Bonxie headed in the opposite direction.

Although no sign during the morning, the Brown Shrike re-appeared in the evening. Other notable sightings included a Gadwall, two Teal, a Little Ringed Plover, six Whimbrel, 65 House Martins, two Reed Warblers, four Wheatears, a Yellow Wagtail and two Siskin.

Great Spotted Woodpecker, by Alan Walkington

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Government guidance states: ‘To ensure people are social distancing, the government has prohibited by law all public gatherings of more than two people’ (gov.uk website, 13th May 2020). When contemplating visiting Flamborough, please reflect upon this guidance. Consider how necessary your visit is to an area popular with tourists, many of whom will be concentrated on the outer head, North or South Landing and along the cliff top path.

Sunny intervals, occasional showers and temperatures that reached a mere six degrees During the morning; moderate/strong northerly winds gradually moderated during the day. Two Red-throated Divers, a Great Northern Diver, nine Manx Shearwaters, three Whimbrel, 13 Sandwich Terns and 91 Puffins flew north during the morning’s seawatch. The Brown Shrike remained in residence for its second day. Additional sightings included a Gadwall, two Teal and a lone Dunlin.

Brown Shrike, by Rob Little

Brown Shrike, by John Harwood

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

The following summary only includes records from our resident birders’ health walks and garden sightings; consequently, it provides a mere snapshot of the true scale of our spring migration.

The weather consisted of moderate north-west winds veering northerly later, sunny intervals and temperatures that reached ten degrees C. Undoubtedly the year’s first big surprise, a female Brown Shrike was discovered on the Golf Course side of South Dykes mid-afternoon. Subsequently, it gave sporadic views in thick scrub until the evening; this represents Flamborough’s third record following more typical autumn records in 2008 and 2010.

Other notable sightings included an Egyptian Goose, summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver, single Gadwall, a pair of Teal, two Red Kites, two Whimbrel, a Short-eared Owl, one Cuckoo, 40 Swifts and a Ring Ouzel.

Brown Shrike, by Robert McLaughlin

Monday, May 11th, 2020

The following summary only includes records from our resident birders’ health walks and garden sightings; consequently, it provides a mere snapshot of the true scale of our spring migration.

The weather consisted of force seven northerly winds, sunny intervals and temperatures reaching nine degrees C. These conditions resulted in a good spring seabird passage, with four summer-plumaged Great Northern Divers, 408 Fulmars, six Manx Shearwaters, a Bonxie, a spooned adult Pomarine Skua and an Arctic Skua flying north. Notable wader records on the headland included three Ringed Plovers, two Little Ringed Plovers, the Spotted Redshank and three Common Sandpipers.  

Orange Tip, by Andy Hood

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

The following summary only includes records from our resident birders’ health walks and garden sightings; consequently, it provides a mere snapshot of the true scale of our spring migration.

Near gale force north-north-easterly winds ushered in drastically lower temperatures peaking at eight degrees C, relatively overcast skies and very occasional light rain. Two Gadwall, two Great Northern Divers, two Manx Shearwaters and five Sandwich Terns flew past the Fog Station. Sightings on the headland included an Egyptian Goose, one Little Egret, the summer-plumaged Spotted Redshank, six Swifts and two Wheatear.

Razorbill, by Jo Hood

Saturday, May 9th, 2020

The following summary only includes records from our resident birders’ health walks and garden sightings; consequently, it provides a mere snapshot of the true scale of our spring migration.

The weather consisted of light winds from a general northerly direction, sunny intervals after an overcast start and temperatures reaching 17 degrees C. A Great Northern Diver, Manx Shearwater, two Whimbrel, 30 Sandwich Terns and a Common Tern flew past the Fog Station.

The day’s highlight related to a Serin that showed well on the outer head early morning only, before departing. Other sightings included three Gadwall, two Tufted Ducks, a Mute Swan, two Little Ringed Plovers, four Ringed Plovers, the Spotted Redshank, six Whimbrel, two Reed Warblers, a Fieldfare, one Spotted Flycatcher, a Black Redstart, two Whinchat, six Wheatears, a Tree Pipit and four Yellow Wagtails. Three Wheatears, two pairs of Yellow Wagtails and four Corn Buntings were located at Buckton/Bempton.

Serin, by Craig Thomas

Friday, May 8th, 2020

The following summary only includes records from our resident birders’ health walks and garden sightings; consequently, it provides a mere snapshot of the true scale of our spring migration.

A light, variable but generally onshore wind, prolonged sunny intervals and temperatures that reached 17 degrees C. Three Eider, 14 Common Scoter, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Knot, 57 Sandwich Terns and an Artic Tern flew south past the Fog Station.

The day’s highlight related to a Bee-eater late morning; initially heard over the village and similarly as it headed east over the headland, it was then watched to successfully catch a bee near the lighthouse, but then disappeared. Other notable sightings included three Gadwall, the year’s first Hobby and Wood Sandpiper, lingering Spotted Redshank and Ruff, two Whimbrel, 14 Swifts, 45 House Martins, a Hooded Crow, a Fieldfare, one Redwing, a Firecrest, one Garden Warbler, three Reed Warblers, 45 Willow Warblers, eight Spotted Flycatchers, four Whinchat, 12 Wheatears, a Common Redstart, one Black Redstart, one White Wagtail, a Channel Wagtail, 24 Yellow Wagtails, three Siskin and two Corn Buntings. Sightings from Bempton/Buckton included single Garden Warbler, Whinchat and Yellow Wagtail, along with six Corn Buntings. 

Firecrest, by Andy Hood

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

The following summary only includes records from our resident birders’ health walks and garden sightings; consequently, it provides a mere snapshot of the true scale of our spring migration.

Light winds backed from south-west to south-east during a sunny day and temperatures peaked at 14 degrees C. Three Eider, 11 Common Scoter, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Red-throated Diver, three Ringed Plovers and 211 Sandwich Terns flew south past the Fog Station. 

On the headland, notable records included two Gadwall, four Little Egrets flying south, two creamcrown Marsh Harriers, a summer-plumaged Spotted Redshank, a male Ruff, three Ringed Plovers, two Whimbrel and three Dunlin. Additional interest included 11 Swifts, a Cuckoo and a southerly movement of hirundines; 230 Swallows, 75 House Martins, 15 Sand Martins. Additional passerine interest included one Hooded Crow, a reeling Grasshopper Warbler, 26 Willow Warblers, five Garden Warblers, a Reed Warbler, two Spotted Flycatchers, one Pied Flycatcher, a Common Redstart, six Whinchat, 19 Wheatears, a White Wagtail and eight Yellow Wagtails. Sightings at Bempton/Buckton included four Swift, single Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear, along with four Corn Buntings.

Wheatear, by Brett Richards

Natterer’s Bat, by Andy Hood

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

The following summary only includes records from our resident birders’ health walks and garden sightings; consequently, it provides a mere snapshot of the true scale of our spring migration.

A sunny day, with a light south-easterly breeze and temperatures reaching 11 degrees C. A Great Northern Diver flew north past the Fog Station, with three Red-throated Divers and four Sandwich Terns moving in the opposite direction. 

Sightings elsewhere included a pair of Gadwall, a  Tufted Duck, seven Whimbrel, one Common Sandpiper, a Long-eared Owl, 12 Swifts, a Redwing, two Garden Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, two Common Redstarts, two Whinchat, 14 Wheatears, a Tree Pipit and two Yellow Wagtails. Notable records from Buckton/Bempton involved two Grey Partridge, three Swift and ten Corn Buntings. A Natterer’s Bat was an excellent local record at Oceanview.  

Grey Partridge, by Kevin Groocock

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

The following summary only includes records from our resident birders’ health walks and garden sightings; consequently, it provides a mere snapshot of the true scale of our spring migration.

A moderate easterly wind dropped in strength during a sunny day, with temperatures reaching ten degrees C. A Great Northern Diver, two Manx Shearwaters, four Sandwich Terns and two Common Terns flew north, with a Mediterranean Gull and an Arctic Skua moving south. 

Notable sightings on the headland itself included nine Swifts, a Garden Warbler, one Reed Warbler, a Pied Flycatcher, one Whinchat, four Wheatears, a Tree Pipit and three Yellow Wagtails.

Yellow Wagtail, by Andy Hood

Monday, May 4th, 2020

The following summary only includes records from our resident birders’ health walks and garden sightings; consequently, it provides a mere snapshot of the true scale of our spring migration.

Overcast with light rain early morning, clearing to sunny spells later; light/moderate easterly winds and temperatures reached a mere nine degrees. A flock of 14 Scaup, five Red-throated Divers, a summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver and ten Common Terns flew north past the Fog Station, whilst 12 Eider, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 63 Sandwich Terns and an Arctic Skua moved south.

Sightings on the headland itself included three Pink-footed Geese, four Gadwall, a Bar-tailed Godwit, three Whimbrel, two Mediterranean Gulls, a Reed Warbler, two Pied Flycatchers, the year’s first Spotted Flycatcher, three Whinchat, nine Wheatear and seven Yellow Wagtails. Yesterday’s Crane also re-appeared, heading west over Cliff Lane, Bempton early morning. 

Spotted Flycatcher, by John McLoughlin

Sunday, May 3rd, 2020

The following summary only includes records from our resident birders’ health walks and garden sightings; consequently, it provides a mere snapshot of the true scale of our spring migration.

A relatively overcast day, with a light south-easterly wind and temperatures reaching 11 degrees C. During the morning, seven Common Scoter, three Red-throated Divers, a Manx Shearwater, ten Oystercatchers, eight Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 64 Sandwich Terns flew north past the Fog Station.

The day’s highlights consisted of a Crane that flew south over Speeton before eventually resting on fields on the outer head and an Osprey that headed north over the village. Other notable records included two Pink-footed Geese, nine Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Short-eared Owl, one Swift, a Cuckoo, four Wheatears, two Yellow Wagtails and a Siskin. A pair of Grey Partridge also frequented Bempton.

Crane, by Andy Hood

Osprey, by Andy Hood

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

The following summary only includes records from our resident birders’ health walks and garden sightings; consequently, it provides a mere snapshot of the true scale of our spring migration.

The weather consisted of light/moderate north-north-westerly winds, sunny intervals and occasional showers, with temperatures peaking at 12 degrees C. Seven Pink-footed Geese, a Marsh Harrier, nine Whimbrel, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Bonxie flew north past the Fog Station.

Sightings on the headland included two Pink-footed Geese, one Barnacle Goose, single pairs of Gadwall and Shoveler, three Tufted Ducks,  single pairs of Red-legged and Grey Partridges, four Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit and single Short-eared Owl and Long-eared Owls. Passerine interest included a Grasshopper Warbler, two singing Garden Warblers, a Redwing, 12 Wheatear, three White Wagtails and six Yellow Wagtails. In addition, a pair of Grey Partridge and a Fieldfare were recorded at Bempton.

Yellow Wagtail, by Jo Hood

Friday, May 1st, 2020

The following summary only includes records from our resident birders’ health walks and garden sightings; consequently, it provides a mere snapshot of the true scale of our spring migration.

A day of light/moderate north-west winds, generally overcast skies and showers with temperatures reaching ten degrees C by late morning. Single Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, three Manx Shearwaters, two Whimbrel and the year’s first Arctic Skua flew south past the Fog Station. 

Sightings on the headland itself included two Pink-footed Geese, two Gadwall, two Shoveler, a pair of Tufted Ducks, four Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, an Osprey that flew west along the South Cliffs, one Short-eared Owl, a Swift, a Hooded Crow, one Garden Warbler, single Redwing and Fieldfare, two Tree Pipits (including one singing), nine Wheatear, four Yellow Wagtails and five Siskin.

Tree Pipit, by Craig Thomas