Sunday 23 July 2023

Pelagic Pleasure

My first two Yorkshire Coast Nature pelagic trips of the season, yesterday, were a success, with two Minke Whales seen, feeding close in off Runswick Ness. There seemed to be plenty of fish on the inshore, with big flocks of feeding Kittiwakes, Gannets and auks, indicating where to focus our efforts for the whales. The Minkes seem to have arrived a little earlier this year, compared with last and several are in Yorkshire waters. Despite the continuing bird flu tragedy, we saw little sign of it yesterday, with only two dead adult Kittiwakes in the harbour noted. Several fledged Kittiwakes were with the feeding flocks which was a good sign and we saw dozens of Guillemot and Razorbill chicks happily pootling about with their fathers on the sea. Futher out, we found a few Pufflings too, presumably having drifted north from Flamborough Head. There were quite a few adults out there too. 

Other than the breeding seabirds, we had approx 50 Manx and one early Sooty Shearwater, plus several flocks of Common Scoters and quite a few waders heading south. An adult Arctic Tern was a nice find among the feeding frenzy of Kittiwakes and Common Terns, not something we see that often this early. A few Harbour Porpoises, several Grey and one Harbour Seals, and five Sandwich Terns were also noted. 

Despite the early rain, this was a great start to the season, and with Rich having got Minkes on both trips yesterday (first trips of the season), we have kept the 100% Minke Whale record! For more info see here:

Juvenile Kittiwake (top), with Arctic Tern above a Common Tern, with Kittiwakes. 

Gannets. Plenty of adults heading purposefully south, presumably to feed growing chicks at Bempton.

Two Minke Whales - note difference in rear-edge of fin.

Puffin and Puffling
Razorbill and Razorling

Saturday 8 July 2023

Lunar Gold

Some exciting mothing today. Two new species in the garden trap this morning, a Copper Underwing and a Golden Plusia, which was either playing dead or actually dead. The latter is quite scarce in Yorkshire these days, after a major national decline, so not surprising I've not seen one before. 

Next up, I headed down to Bank Island and Wheldrake to see if any waders had dropped in. Two Black-tailed Godwits were roosting with 240 Lapwings, and nearby, three well-grown Redshanks were happily feeding in the shallows, closely watched by their parents. 

Whilst I watched, the pheromone lure I'd hung on a nearby plant did its work, and I was delighted to see several Lunar Hornet Moths buzzing around it. These are such good hornet mimics that they even buzz when they fly. If you didn't know, you'd easily assume they were their namesake. Lunar Hornet Moths are one of the commoner clearwing moths, but without a lure, they are very hard to find. The larvae feed in Willow wood, of which there is a lot along the Derwent here, so it is pleasing that they seem to be common. I popped on to Wheldrake and within ten minutes the lure had attracted another male here too. 


A Lunar Hornet Moth investigating the lure