Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

After a calm start, a moderate northerly wind established  bringing ashore a sea fret that rendered birding difficult, especially along the northern edge of the headland. 

Thornwick Pools attracted a Little Stint, two Ruff, six Dunlin, a Redshank and two Green Sandpipers; ten Golden Plovers and two Snipe flew south. A Marsh Harrier headed west over the Gorse Field, whilst a juvenile Mediterranean Gull flew along the South Cliffs. The Greenish Warbler was present in Old Fall Hedge adjacent to the plantation early morning only, with the Icterine Warbler also there, but remaining elusive. Red-backed Shrikes lingered at North Landing and on the edge of the Gorse Field by the lighthouse. Other than increased numbers of Willow Warblers (36) and Lesser Whitethroats (19), there were scant signs of newly arrived passerines, with tallies of two ‘migrant’ Reed Warblers, two Garden Warblers, 12 Pied Flycatchers, a Redstart, two Whinchat and four Wheatears.  

Notable sightings at RSPB Bempton Cliffs included two Golden Plover, a Greenshank, 16 Willow Warblers, a Reed Warbler and two Pied Flycatchers.

Little Stint, Thornwick Pools, by Don Hustings

Red-backed Shrike, Gorse Field, by Ian Howard

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

It was a foggy start with blustery northerly winds; conditions improved mid-morning, when sunshine and light easterlies established and temperatures reached 23 degrees C. The Little Stint continued in residence on Thornwick Pools, where there were also two Ruff, six Common Sandpipers, four Redshank and nine Green Sandpipers. Including the birds at Thornwick, a total of 11 Common Sandpipers and 21 Green Sandpipers were located on the headland. In addition, single Wood Sandpiper, Ruff and Grey Plover flew overhead. 

A Greenish Warbler located in the lighthouse bushes was a new arrival and shared the same few bushes with a Red-backed Shrike, also ‘fresh in’. Yesterdays Greenish Warbler (Old Fall) and Red-backed Shrike (North Landing) remained, but an Icterine Warbler at Old Fall was new. Other passerine migrant totals included three Garden Warblers, 14 Pied Flycatchers, five Whinchat, a Redstart, a Lesser Redpoll and two Crossbills.

Three Marsh Harriers frequented fields at Buckton, where there was also single Pied Flycatcher and Tree Pipit. A juvenile Mediterranean Gull and two Pied Flycatchers were recorded at nearby RSPB Bempton Cliffs.

Greenish Warbler, Old Fall, by Andrew Allport

Red-backed Shrike, Gorse Field, by Rob Little

Red-backed Shrike, North Landing, by Andy Hood

Pied Flycatcher, Flamborough village, by Rob Little

Monday, August 10th, 2020

The weather consisted of light winds veering from a northerly in the morning to north-east later, sunny throughout and temperatures peaked at 20 degrees C; classic drift migrant conditions that didn’t disappoint.

The seawatch highlight consisted a Cory’s Shearwater that flew south relatively close inshore – initially past RSPB Bempton Cliffs at 0836hrs and latterly past the Fog Station shortly afterwards. Other sightings included a Sooty Shearwater north, 311 Oystercatchers south, a Grey Plover, 18 Arctic Terns and 106 Common Terns; at least one White-beaked Dolphin was present offshore.

Thornwick Pools hosted two Ringed Plover, a Ruff, a juvenile Little Stint, six Dunlin, six Green Sandpipers, three Common Sandpipers and three Redshank; a flock of 13 Common Sandpipers also frequented the rocky shore near Hartendale. Two Marsh Harriers and a Hobby graced the skies over the outer head. Passerine migrants were headlined by a Greenish Warbler that graced Old Fall from early afternoon, showing best on the sheltered southern side of the wood in the willows. An Icterine Warbler was discovered mid-morning along Lighthouse Road, but proved elusive. Later in the day a Red-backed Shrike commuted from Thornwick to North Landing. Passerine totals included 17 Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, nine Pied Flycatchers, a Redstart, three Whinchat, six Yellow Wagtails and a Grey Wagtail.

In addition to the Cory’s Shearwater, sightings from RSPB Bempton Cliffs included 218 Oystercatchers, ten Golden Plover, seven Whimbrel, a Curlew Sandpiper flying south-east, two Common Sandpipers, four Green Sandpipers, seven Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, two Whinchat, a Wheatear and 22 Yellow Wagtails.

Little Stint, Thornwick Pools, by Andy Hood

Greenish Warbler, Old Fall, by Craig Thomas

Red-backed Shrike, North Landing, by Andy Hood

Sunday, August 9th, 2020

The weather consisted of moderate north-easterly winds throughout, mainly overcast skies during the morning with sunshine in the afternoon; temperatures reached 19 degrees C.

Seawatch highlights included a Great Shearwater flying north past the Fog Station (1905-1910hrs), a Cory’s Shearwater north close inshore at 1545hrs, one Sooty Shearwater, 259 Manx Shearwaters, a Red-throated Diver, 43 Teal and 190 Common Scoter. Southbound wader passage past the Fog Station included an all time record 1358 Oystercatchers, together with three Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 24 Knot, 11 Sanderling, 19 Dunlin, 36 Redshank and a Greenshank. An adult Mediterranean Gull flew north along with 114 Sandwich Terns, 245 Common Terns and 43 Arctic Terns; 11 Arctic Skuas and five Bonxies were also logged.

A Hobby flew east over the village and a Marsh Harrier hunted fields at Buckton. Away from the sea, notable wader records included 17 Golden Plovers, a Grey Plover, one Ringed Plover (Thornwick Pools), 54 Curlew, a Ruff (Thornwick Pools), two Greenshank, two Wood Sandpipers (Thornwick Pools), 12 Green Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper. A juvenile Cuckoo frequented Breil Nook, a Fieldfare at South Landing was an early returning migrant and a Whinchat graced Thornwick. A total of 36 birds trapped during a ringing session at South Landing included a Garden Warbler.  

Sightings from RSPB Bempton Cliffs included 21 Whimbrel, a Green Sandpiper, one Greenshank, 14 Willow Warblers, a Wood Warbler, one Whinchat and 26 Yellow Wagtails. 

Oystercatchers, Fog Station, by Craig Thomas

Wood Warbler, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, by Trevor Charlton

Saturday, August 8th, 2020

A day of strong northerly winds, sunny during the morning, overcast in the afternoon, whilst temperatures only reached 17 degrees C. Seawatch highlights included 57 Teal, 71 Common Scoter, 20 Manx Shearwaters north, 57 Oystercatchers south, ten Arctic Terns north, two Bonxies and five Arctic Skuas. A Merlin that initially flew north over the sea ‘U’-turned and headed south into Bridlington Bay and a Minke Whale swam south then north early evening. Passerine migrants included a Grey Wagtail and four Crossbills.

Eight Bar-tailed Godwits moved south-east over RSPB Bempton Cliffs, where there were also 14 Willow Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher.

Kestrel, Oceanview, by Andy Hood

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Light winds winds were south-easterly in direction for the most part during a sunny day, with temperatures reaching 23 degrees C. Seawatch highlights included a minimum of one juvenile Caspian Gull attending fishing boats  and an impressive count of 196 Whimbrels flying south. Additional records included a Shoveler, 17 Teal, a Goldeneye, 28 Manx Shearwaters and a juvenile Arctic Tern all moving south. 

Wader totals away from seawatching included a Golden Plover, nine Ringed Plover, four Whimbrel, a Knot, a Sanderling, ten Dunlin and three Green Sandpipers. Amongst increased numbers of passerine migrants there were 62 Willow Warblers, two Garden Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, one Wheatear, a Lesser Redpoll and one Crossbill. 

Sightings from RSPB Bempton Cliffs included a Marsh Harrier flying south-east, four Golden Plover south, two Whinchat, two Wheatear, a Wood Warbler, 18 Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler, a Pied Flycatcher and 36 Yellow Wagtails (inc. 32 south-east). At least two Marsh Harriers hunted cliff top fields at Buckton. 

Small Red-eyed Damselfly, by Andrew Allport

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

A light wind from the south-west backed south-east in the afternoon of a day that featured sunny intervals and temperatures that reached 20 degrees C. During the seawatch, 66 Manx Shearwaters flew south, along with two Whimbrel, five Knot, 55 Dunlin and 50 Common Terns; 69 Sandwich Terns and an Arctic Skua flew north, whilst a juvenile Caspian Gull attending a fishing boat off the headland was a highlight. 

A ringing session at South Landing was rewarded with 46 birds being trapped and ringed, with notable records seven Willow Warblers, a Wood Warbler and a Tree Pipit.

Sightings from RSPB Bempton Cliffs included single Red Kite and juvenile Marsh Harrier, 120 Swallows, six Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler and seven Yellow Wagtails; a Minke Whale fed offshore. 

Kittiwake, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, by Don Hustings

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

A relatively overcast day, with a moderate south-westerly wind and temperatures that peaked at 22 degrees C. Seawatching was rewarded with 16 Teal, 42 Manx Shearwaters, ten Whimbrel, 30 Black-tailed Godwits (south), 16 Knot, 44 Dunlin, 55 Redshank, juvenile Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls, 220 Sandwich Terns (north) and single Arctic Skua and Bonxie.

Thornwick Pools attracted 22 Dunlin, three Ringed Plovers and two Redshank, with a Hobby hunting over the Golf Course.

Wall butterfly, Hartendale, by June & Malcolm Fox

White-letter Hairstreak, South Dykes, by Andrew Allport

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

After a bright start, overcast skies dominated a day of increasingly strong south-west winds and temperatures peaking at a mere 17 degrees C. Seawatch highlights included 12 Teal flying south, 80 Common Scoters, a Sooty Shearwater, 41 Manx Shearwaters north, 11 Sanderlings south and a Bonxie north. Two juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls lingered off the headland, often attending small fishing boats. Ten Harbour Porpoises represented an increase on recent days. 

Elsewhere, a second-summer Mediterranean Gull frequented South Landing, a Hobby was observed successfully hunting Swallows over Selwick’s Bay. Passerine migrants included 17 Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler and 26 Crossbills, the latter moving south over South Dykes in small groups. 

Sightings from RSPB Bempton Cliffs included a Hobby and a Short-eared Owl flying north-west, a Bonxie on the sea and nine Willow Warblers amongst a selection of migrant warblers.

Swallow, Thornwick Pools, by Rob Little

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Light winds veered from the north-west to the south-east during a relatively bright day, whilst temperatures peaked at 15 degrees C. A Cory’s Shearwater that flew south past the Fog Station at 1845hrs provided the seawatch highlight. Other notable sightings included 36 Teal, a Blue Fulmar north, 43 Manx Shearwaters, 32 Whimbrel south, an Arctic Tern south and two Arctic Skuas south; a Minke Whale also fed offshore. A ringing session at South Landing was rewarded with 46 birds caught and ringed, including 11 Blackcaps, three Garden Warblers, five Chiffchaffs and three Willow Warblers. 

Sightings from RSPB Bempton Cliffs included a juvenile Marsh Harrier, a Reed Warbler, one Wheatear and ten Yellow Wagtails. 

Common Seals, Flamborough, by Alan Walkington

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

A day of moderate west-south-westerly winds, sunny intervals and occasional light showers, with temperatures reaching 20 degrees C. Eighteen Common Scoters, 19 Sandwich Terns, 16 Common Terns and single Bonxie and Arctic Skuas flew north during the seawatch. 

Raptors were again to the fore, with a Red Kite drifting over the Dykes and latterly heading west over RSPB Bempton Cliffs and five Marsh Harriers flying south: three at Buckton included a male, one over Bempton and another over the Dykes. A Hobby also flew south-east through RSPB Bempton Cliffs, where a juvenile Mediterranean Gull moved north-west: grounded migrants there included four Blackcap and five Willow Warblers. The latter species was apparent at several locations including 25 birds present at Thornwick, whilst six Crossbills were also notable.

A ringing session at Thornwick was rewarded with a total of 75 birds being rung including 22 Willow Warblers, eight Reed Warblers, four Sedge Warblers and four Lesser Whitethroats. 

Reed Warbler, Thornwick, by Jo Hood

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

The weather consisted of light west-south-westerly winds and sunny intervals resulting in temperatures reaching 23 degrees C. During the seawatch, seven Teal, a Tufted Duck, two Velvet Scoters, 214 Common Scoters, 16 Whimbrel and an Arctic Skua flew south; 143 Sandwich Terns and three Common Terns moved north. In addition, a Minke Whale fed offshore, whilst a Little Egret flew past the Fog Station.

Thornwick Pools attracted four Teal, two Ringed Plover, six Dunlin, three Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper and two Snipe. Two Green Sandpipers flew over the outer head, with a Wood Sandpiper heading south-east over RSPB Bempton Cliffs; 22 Whimbrels also flew south-east there. A total of seven Grey Herons flying west over the headland included two birds coming in off during the seawatch. 

It proved to be a fantastic day for raptors: a Honey Buzzard initially seen over RSPB Bempton Cliffs (1105hrs) was relocated circling over South Dykes before it drifted off west (1120hrs). A minimum of seven Red Kites visited the headland, with six over Bempton and another flew west over Flamborough village. At least three Marsh Harriers flew south-east over Bempton, whilst three Hobbies over Flamborough village represented a notable local count. A Short-eared Owl flew south-east over Bempton and latterly Flamborough village early evening.  

An influx of gulls was another feature of the day. The vast majority observed coming in off the sea from due east, then after making landfall, they flew west over the southern half of the headland to pass over Mid-/South Dykes; totals of 1225 Black-headed Gulls and 180 Common Gulls were logged. Interest along the outer head’s coastal path included a juvenile Cuckoo and a Wheatear.

Meadow Pipit, Thornwick, by Don Hustings