Saturday 2 June 2012

Brown-tail Caterpillars on Spurn Point

After all the excitement at Aldbrough we needed to make a decision. Should we journey north to Flamborough and see if the singing Icterine Warbler was still about or should we head south to Spurn and try to find something tasty of our own? Thinking that Flamborough might be heaving with birders we decided upon the latter.

At Spurn Point itself there was nothing feathery to report other than plenty of Common Whitethroats and the odd singing Lesser Whitethroat. There were also one or two Cuckoo amongst the dense clumps of sea-buckthorn no doubt feasting on the thousands of caterpillars that were stripping the vegetation clean. Everywhere you looked there were dozens of caterpillars of the Brown-tail moth, a larvae that are more than capable of causing a whole lot of pain to those that are susceptible to the reaction caused by their irritating hairs. Some unlucky individuals have even needed to seek hospital treatment to ease the pain. In addition there were also good numbers of the larger Garden Tiger moth caterpillar crawling about the place.  Butterfly sightings included a few Small Heath and Common Blue along with the odd Small White and Small Tortoiseshell

Caterpillar of the Brown-tail moth
Spurn Point, East Yorkshire
Photo by Adam Archer

With nothing much happening on the passerine front we then concentrated our efforts on the Humber and the incoming tide. The highlight was a lonely Dark-bellied Brent Goose along with selection of waders in differing seasonal plumage states. These included small numbers of Grey Plover, plenty of Ringed Plover, around 80 Bar-tailed Godwit and numerous Dunlin, Sanderling and Turnstone.

We then headed up to Beacon Ponds where Adam Hutt had found a pair of Pectoral Sandpipers. Both birds were eventually picked up feeding along the seaward end consorting with a single Curlew Sandpiper. Adam advised me that these birds may have been the same pair that departed Westkapelle in the Netherlands at around 10.00am this morning and arriving at Kilnsea at 2.10pm. This means that they would have travelled around 200 miles during this time supported by a moderate south-easterly tail wind.  Other highlights in this area included a Little Egret, a pair of Grey Partridge, around 16 Little Tern and a few Grey Plover including a snazzy summer-plumaged bird.  The newly created wetland area close to the Easington Road looks promising for a rare wader or two in the future but on our visit today the whole complex produced just a single Ringed Plover..... oh and a Red Fox.

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