Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park – June 2021

Barn owl in flight (c) Garry Wright

June is a typically quiet month for birds but there is lots of non-avian activity to draw one’s attention.

The high-water levels remained on Anderby Marsh into June and a pair of avocets were confirmed to be breeding. First recorded incubating eggs on 1st June they continued to do so until 22nd June when it was unfortunately predated by a fox only days from hatching. This is the first time that avocet has ever attempted to breed in the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park.

The wet marsh also attracted records of greenshank, lapwing, little ringed plover, redshank, green sandpiper and curlew during the month.

Avocets mating (c) Garry Wright

Avocet – first ever breeding attempt in June 2021 with a pair nesting on Anderby Marsh due to high water levels in May © Garry Wright

At least two marsh harrier territories are still active in the area with regular food passes being recorded. The first young are normally expected to be airborne by mid-late July. Incubation is thought to last between 32-40 days followed by another period of 40 days before the young are able to fly. This means that the young are particularly vulnerable to ground predation during this time.    

A bee-eater flew north over Wolla Bank car park calling on 9th June but was not seen which is typical for this scarce Mediterranean species in the UK.

An adult rose-coloured starling spent most of the day at Huttoft Marsh on 3rd June in the company of starlings. A large invasion of rose-coloured starling occurred during June with record numbers on the near continent. Gibraltar Point also recorded a bird on the 3rd which was the first to be recorded on the reserve in over 30 years.

Rose-coloured starling feeding in a field amongst cattle (c) Garry Wright

Rose-coloured Starling – a rare visitors from Europe part of an influx of records in the UK in spring 2021

Grasshopper warblers were once again vocal from mid-June, this usually indicates that this species is starting a second brood, typically they go quiet while feeding young. Cuckoos seem to be particularly numerous this year with up to four birds seen on a near daily basis in the Anderby Creek area.

A movement of 146 southbound swift was noted on 9th June. Rather than being early departing migrants these swifts are thought to be local breeding birds undertaking a long feeding flight.

One lucky observer witnessed the arrival of an adult male red-footed falcon flying in off the sea at Huttoft Car Terrace on 23rd June. Sea watching during the month produced a summer plumaged red-throated diver on 14th; 270 common scoter, five razorbill and four little tern on 17th; 55 common scoter and 102 gannet on 22nd June.

Although vocal activity has quietened down within the reedbed habitat in recent weeks, good numbers of juvenile birds are now starting to appear, with species such as reed bunting, reed warbler, sedge warbler and Cetti’s warbler emerging in family groups.

A spreadsheet of over 10,000 bird records from the LCCP area (January-June 2021) was sent to the Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership for inclusion in the county database. These records can then be used to provide valuable information on any development or ecological work that may be proposed in the future. 

Non-avian highlights

An orchid survey of the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park area in late June revealed 2,919 common spotted orchid, 20 pyramidal orchid, two southern marsh orchid and two bee orchid. The latter the first recorded for many years.  

 

Bee orchid (c) Richard Doan

Bee Orchid – the first record for the area in several years

Butterflies recorded include green hairstreak, common blue, brown argus, painted lady, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, large skipper, large white, small white, green-veined white and speckled wood.

Butterfly numbers as in other areas of the UK appear to be quite low this year in comparison to previous years. Perhaps the cold weather in early spring had an impact on their early life cycles stages.

Ringlet (c) Richard Doan

Ringlet – a late emerging butterfly, note the abundance of spots on the underwing at rest

Dragonflies recorded include blue-tailed damselflies, azure damselflies, common blue damselfly, large red damselfly, four-spotted chaser, common darter, ruddy darter, broad-bodied chaser, black-tailed skimmer, migrant hawker, emperor and hairy dragonfly.

Hairy dragonflies copulating (c) Garry Wright

Hairy Dragonfly – a pair copulating, indicating that this species is now breeding successfully in the area

A fox cub was seen at Anderby Creek on 24th June. Brown hares continues to show well throughout the area.

Red-banded sandwasp (Ammophila sabulosa) records appear to be on the rise within the sand dunes. This species is particularly dependant on bare sand created by rabbits.

Good numbers of fresh toadlets and froglets now emerging around Chapel Six Marshes and Anderby Creek.

The sea again was very quiet with regard to cetacean sightings with no records of harbour porpoise in June despite having dedicated watchers out on a near daily basis.

Top five species to look for in July

  1. Marsh harrier – look out for the first juvenile marsh harriers which tend to appear in mid-July. Careful scanning of reedbed areas will maximise your chances.
  2. Red-banded sandwasp – if visiting on a hot day look out for this spectacular insect along the Coastal Footpath. Keeping an eye out for any areas with bare sand and lots of rabbit activity.
  3. Wader migration – July is an excellent month for witnessing wader migration. An early morning visit to the beach with a south-west wind will increase your chances. Look for migrating dunlin, sanderling, black-tailed godwit, bar-tailed godwit, knot, redshank, whimbrel and ringed plover flying close in over the sea. Most of these species will have just finished breeding in the arctic and will spend the autumn/winter in The Wash. It is incredible to think the distances some of these birds have travelled. A study a few years ago showed that a bar-tailed godwit made a journey of over 6,500 kilometres without stopping!
  4. Arctic skua – July is a good month to see this species, watch out for them robbing terns of food over the sea and beach.
  5. Painted lady – this species can turn up literally anywhere and 2021 is turning out to be a good year for them. Warm weather and high pressure during July will certainly result in a few more arriving to the UK.