This month saw us heading to Filey on the Yorkshire coast, on an unseasonably warm and sunny day. Filey is a favourite destination for the Society, especially in October when the local bird ringing group are in the cliff-top country park sharing their netted birds and knowledge. But before arriving there we stopped off at Filey Dams, a local well managed nature reserve. It was a pleasure to see that the warm sun on sheltered paths had brought out several species of dragonflies including a very late black tailed skimmer and a comma butterfly. The ducks and waders on the water were plentiful, but we had to move on to the main event , the country park and the sea shore .
By the time we were in the country park we needed lunch before walking across to the ringers. The hilltop weather had changed from earlier in the morning and a strong south westerly wind had forced all but one of the mist nets to be taken down . None the less we enjoyed seeing a coal tit and chiffchaff, in the hand and newly ringed, and their characteristics were pointed out. It was migration time and the ringers can tell the likelihood of further migration by checking for fat deposits under the breast feathers of the birds they catch. Some winter migrants had been seen earlier in the season, but not this day.
Like in the dams area, the sun had brought out butterflies, some struggling to fly up from the sandy cliff-sides. Seven species were observed. Surprisingly for an autumn following a wet summer, we saw very few, if any, fungi. Maybe the group was too busy looking out for sea-side specific plants and animals. One daisy-like plant was identified as sea mayweed. Quite a number of plants were still in full flower including creeping thistle, ox-eye daisy, ragwort and red clover.
Most of the group spent the rest of the afternoon on the shore, some risking the slippy path towards Filey Brigg, which is only uncovered once the tide has fallen. Rock pools contained winkles, mussels limpets sea anemones and the odd crab and small fish. There were several species of seaweed , to be identified later. The remains of large crabs were on the beach, and flocks of oystercatchers were busy at the bottom of the cliffs.
Sea watching from the top of the cliffs and from the shore was particularly rewarding. One lucky member saw a great skua and bottle nosed dolphins. There were five species of gulls, and gannets diving, like the dolphins searching for fish. All in all, and not counting the buzzards and red kite only seen from the coach en route, we saw 53 species of birds.
We’ll be back.