- 2019 Flamborough Bird Report2019 Flamborough Bird Report now available … a summary of all the birds seen on the headland during the year, including: sightings from RSPB Bempton Cliffs; a 22 page-long colour photo gallery; and a selection of stunning colour artwork from some of the UK’s best wildlife artists. In addition, it includes a detailed breeding bird survey from Bempton Cliffs RSPB – find out what is happening to our Gannets, Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins and Kittiwakes. For invertebrate enthusiasts, the Report summarises 2019’s Butterfly, Moth and Dragonfly records. 2019 Reports are available to non-members for only £15.00 (+ £2.00 p&p). Please contact Tony Hood for further details.
- Brown Shrike 12th-14th May 2020Brown Shrike 12th-14th May 2020 During the afternoon of 12th May, a Flamborough Bird Observatory member discovered a shrike whilst walking along the coastal path. Unsure whether the bird was a female Red-backed, he circulated an image on our closed Whatsapp group: it was soon clear the bird was a Brown Shrike.
A few local members visited the location and eventually relocated the bird. The shrike frequented thick scrub between two fairways on a golf course. Due to the lockdown, the course was still shut on 12th so it was easy to maintain social distance to view the bird safely. However, golfing was due to resume the following day, precluding viewing from the fairway edge. Anyone hoping to watch the bird would be restricted to observing from the narrow cliff top path, effectively blocking it for potential users.
The following government advice was consulted which states: ‘You can exercise outside as often as you wish and you can also sit and rest outside – exercise or recreation can be alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times. You may drive to outdoor publicly accessible open spaces irrespective of distance, but should follow social distancing guidance whilst you are there. You should plan ahead to ensure that, where you are visiting places like National Parks, you have checked that they are open and appropriately prepared for visitors.’ (gov.uk website, 13th May 2020).
In our opinion, even a relatively small crowd would inevitably contravene this guidance given the limited viewing opportunities. The alternative would be for birders to step onto the golf course edge, potentially causing conflict with golfers from the local community. As with all bird observatories, maintaining a positive relationship between the obs and the local community is of paramount importance. We rely on the goodwill of local landowners and the Council for our access and conservation initiatives; jeopardising this relationship was not something we could countenance.
It was with reluctance that we decided to keep the news within the membership and asked them to refrain from propagating the news on social media. The presence of the shrike unfortunately leaked out the following morning. I contacted both national rare bird news providers to request that information be withheld. Both provided very polite and thorough responses; Birdguides very kindly agreed to withhold news. The shrike was last seen on 14th May.
Suffice to say, the last few days have proved to be very trying. Effectively we felt forced to suppress the news of a national rarity, albeit one that is now a more regular visitor. Indeed, this was the third Brown Shrike to have visited Flamborough, with the first in 2008 widely twitched from far and wide. Over the last 20 years, the headland has managed to accommodate several significant twitches including Baikal Teal, Crag Martin, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Brown Flycatcher (twice), Taiga Flycatcher and Black-headed Bunting (twice). We very much look forward to hosting many more, provided we can do so without jeopardising the health of our local community or our relationship with residents, landowners and local businesses.
- Covid-19 updateCovid-19 update Following the government’s announcement on Sunday 10th May 2020, we would like to confirm that our Seawatch Observatory and Thornwick Country Park (including Thornwick Pools and associated hides) remain closed until further notice. In addition, we have regrettably cancelled this year’s Spring Migration weekend. Governmental advice now states “You can exercise outside as often as you wish and you can also sit and rest outside – exercise or recreation can be alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times. You may drive to outdoor publicly accessible open spaces irrespective of distance, but should follow social distancing guidance whilst you are there.” (gov.uk website, 13th May 2020). Please pay careful attention to the wording on the Government’s website here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing#visiting-public-places ”To ensure people are social distancing, the government has prohibited by law all public gatherings of more than two people’’ (gov.uk website, 13th May 2020). Please consider this statement and how necessary it is for you to travel or twitch, bearing in mind that Flamborough’s birding sites are often popular with tourists.
- 2020 New Year work partyFollowing the recent very wet spell of weather, members blew away seasonal excesses by constructing a much-needed all weather access track to Thornwick Pools. The aggregate was kindly supplied by Bourne Leisure.
- 2019 MigweekMigweek 2019 proved our most successful to date. Over 400 people attended ringing events and guided walks at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, the outer head and South Landing. Our experienced ringing team were able to demonstrate the miracles of migration, including showing assembled visitors a few Yellow-browed Warblers. However, a Pallas’s Warbler at RSPB Bempton Cliffs proved to be the star bird. A total of 1012 birds caught & ringed by the Flamborough Observatory Ringing Group, with 282 at RSPB Bempton Cliffs and 730 east of the Dykes. The migration walks were well attended by up to 40 people; even in the rain, over 12 hardy souls were guided around the headland by our experienced members. Each evening talk was fully booked covering ar range of subjects, including Urban gulls, Magic of Spurn, Migration journeys, Flamborough’s Seashore and Marine life, the fascinating story of tracking migrants using BTO technology. Finally, the fantastic Martin Garner talk by Jack Ashton-Booth covered his 20 years experience of studying raptors.
- Partnership working – Spurn Migfest 2019No finer example of the Yorkshire Bird Observatories working together – Spurn kindly accommodating our stall at their fantastic 2019 Migfest event.
- 2018 Flamborough Bird Report2018 Flamborough Bird Report published … a summary of all the birds seen on Flamborough during the year, including all sightings from RSPB Bempton Cliffs; a 24 page-long gallery featuring stunning colour photos of the year’s highlights; and a selection of stunning colour artwork from some of the UK’s best wildlife artists. In addition, it includes a detailed breeding bird survey from Bempton Cliffs RSPB – find out what is happening to our Gannets, Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins and Kittiwakes – and a detailed breeding survey of YWT’s cliff top reserve. 2018 Reports are available to non-members for only £15.00 (+ £2.00 p&p). Please contact Tony Hood for further details; also available at YWT’s Living Seas Centre or RSPB Bempton Cliffs.
- 2019 Yorkshire Puffin Festival2019 Yorkshire Puffin Festival For the second year running, Flamborough Bird Observatory helped Yorkshire Wildlife Trust ensure this weekend event was a great success. Based on the cliff top adjacent to our new Seawatch Observatory, we set up telescopes to show visitors frame-filling views of breeding Puffins sat outside their burrows. Over the course of two three-hour sessions on 15th/16th June, we managed to show 260 visitors their first ever telescope views of the birds. In addition, 12 Grey Seals gave great views loafing on the reefs below the cliffs, whilst myriad breeding seabirds were augmented by passing Sandwich Terns.
- Flamborough Spring Wildlife Weekend 2019Flamborough Spring Wildlife weekend Following the success of our October Migweek, the observatory organised a Spring Wildlife weekend over 4th-6th May. A series of events were designed to engage both the local and visitor community with all things Flamborough wildlife. Despite challenging weather conditions, the events were a collective success: a bat and moth evening complemented ringing demonstrations, an all day seawatch that included bit-sized introductory sessions for the less-experienced, as well as an excellent and inspiring talk by Keith Clarkson on the wonders of visible migration. In addition, Puffin-watching sessions organised adjacent to the new Seawatch Observatory were attended by over 200 visitors.
- 2019 AGM – 16th MarchThe 2019 AGM, held on 16th March at Buckton & Bempton village hall, was attended by 43 members. It was pleasing to report that observatory finances were in robust health. This, despite the recent completion of our most ambitious ever project: the Seawatch Observatory build was completed in November 2018, with an official opening scheduled for summer 2019. The compilation of the 2018 Report had been completed, with publication expected during May. A total of 244 species were recorded at Flamborough during 2018, although there were no additions to the list. Membership continues to grow, with in excess of 200 members (215) for the first time. Increased ringing effort had been rewarded with a record tally of birds (2928 individuals of 61 species), despite both spring and autumn passage periods being relatively quiet for migrants. Particularly thanks are due to Ant Hurd from YWT’s Living Seas Centre who provided an update on the exciting local projects that YWT staff are working. In addition, Saskia Wischnewski from the RSPB gave an excellent presentation on the latest seabird tracking information facilitated by recent technology advances. Following the loss of Fair Isle Bird Observatory to a devastating fire earlier in the month, the membership undertook a raffle to aid their rebuild costs: £615 was raised on the evening, a magnificent effort by all present. Following food and drinks, the evening ended with an excellent and entertaining live acoustic session by John Law and Sharon Garner, who had very kindly travelled from Spurn.