Sunday 6 August 2023

Three Day Weekend

Friday 4th August

With a northerly blowing, I headed out early to Flamborough for an all-day seawatch. Despite no rares, it didn't disappoint, with good numbers of Manx Shearwaters (200+), 18 Sooty Shearwaters and a big movement of terns, with at least 200 Arctic Terns, 600+ Sandwich and 150+ Common Terns. This was impressive and I scoured the flocks hard for a Roseate or something even rarer, without success, but the spectacle was incredible. Passage picked up in the evening with Manx Shearwater numbers increasing. Two juvenile Caspian Gulls were also floating around and my first Red-throated Diver of the autumn headed south.

 Manx (top) and Sooty Shearwaters.

Saturday 5th August

With heavy rain forecast, I headed down the valley to see if any waders had dropped in. Five Dunlins, 38 Lapwings, a Sniper and 12 Teal were on the flooded turf field at Sutton-on-Derwent, and nearby four Green Sandpipers and a Greenshank were on the flooded Low Grounds.

Mid-afternoon I received a message to say a Cattle Egret had been found by Andrew Schofield at Bolton Percy Ings. After finishing some jobs, I headed the short distance there and after a few minutes of squinting through gaps in hedges and trees, I managed to locate the diminutive heron with several of its slightly larger Little Egret cousins. This is only the second Cattle Egret I've seen in the York area; they are still surprisingly scarce. 


On the way back over Acaster Airfield I stopped to check out a flock of gulls loafing in the stubble. Several Lesser Black-backs were present including some dusky fresh youngsters. A bird sitting down in the stubble looked promising for an adult Yellow-legged, with a blue-grey mantle and no obvious mirrors in the primaries. Zooming up, it had a red eyering which clinched things, although I was pleased when it eventually stood up to show off its yellow legs and feet!


Sunday 6th August

The wind had swung back northerly, so I went east again. Unfortunately, it was quiet, with a lot less movin than on Friday. In six hours, I saw one Sooty Shearwater, 12 Manx, 8 Arctic Skuas, 3 Bonxies, 12 Arctic Terns, 2 Greenshanks, a surprise female Goldeneye, three adult Little Gulls and a single Caspian Gull. Nevertheless, it is always a treat to seawatch! My next seawatch is likely to be off Tenerife, so I will see what that brings!

The definite highlight of the long weekend was seeing flocks of terns passing by, including several gorgeous silvery snakes of Arctic Terns (top). It was a relief to see many juveniles among the flocks too, suggesting they have had a good breeding season in spite of the continuing impact of bird flu. Many of the Arctic Terns stopped to feed among the Kittiwakes and early evening one feeding frenzy held 59 Arctic Terns!