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March 2013 – Bird Sightings Round-up

  • Wed 3rd Apr, 2013

Extraordinary and seemingly permanent conditions of brisk, cold north-easterlies, very low temperatures and wintry showers dominated the month almost from start to finish - and as April beckons, show little sign of changing - meaning all bets were off for early sprinklings of spring migrants. Indeed, barely any made landfall on the Yorkshire coast, which can only be viewed as a good thing, for their sakes.... 

Leaving the Mediterranean for the frozen wastes of the Holderness coast may not have been the wisest of moves, a thought probably not lost on the two Wheatears – at Sammy's Point on 24th and Spurn on 28th – that did exactly that towards the end of the month. Aside from a few exiting Waxwings here and there and a small scattering of Snow and Lapland Buntings, that was it for passerines, but thankfully there was plenty more on land and beyond.

 The pick of the month was undoubtedly the White-billed Diver which flew past Barmston on 5th, evading seawatchers elsewhere along the coast as it headed north. Odd Great Northern Divers were however logged at several sites, including a single on Hornsea Mere for a week or so mid-month.

 A Black Brant roamed the Spurn area with large numbers of Dark-bellied (and a few Pale-bellied) Brent Geese, also being seen on the Humber, at Beacon Ponds and at Kilnsea; a little further up the coast, a single Tundra Bean Goose frequented Skipsea for a few days from 10th.  Apart from a few scattered Long-tailed Ducks and occasional by-passing Velvet Scoters, however, notable wildfowl were otherwise at a premium.

There was plenty of interest for Larophiles this month, the pick of which was a fourth-winter Caspian Gull on 16th and 17th in the fields between Flamborough and Bempton.   Still a real rarity on the Yorkshire coast, there's little doubt that a lack of observer awareness and perhaps application helps to uphold its current status – there must be more out there..... 

Both white-winged gull species put in multiple appearances up and down the coast this month. Iceland Gulls were the most numerous, with the semi-resident Barmston bird sticking to its chosen winter retreat all month, while singles passed Spurn on 14th, Filey on 15th and Flamborough on 17th. Glaucous Gulls likewise by-passed Flamborough on 13th and 16th and Spurn on 16th, 17th and 18th.

Avocets appeared at four sites (Flamborough, Skipsea, Kilnsea and Filey), Little Gulls were logged at at least seven, and a Grey Phalarope was an excellent find in the surf off Bridlington Spa on 26th