Hurricane Bertha brought in a wealth of seabirds

A Balearic shearwater, which breeds in the western Mediterranean, was spotted off Flamborough and Spurn.
A Balearic shearwater, which breeds in the western Mediterranean, was spotted off Flamborough and Spurn.
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The tail-end of Hurricane Bertha sweeping across the British Isles brought unsettled weather and a boost for seawatching along the Yorkshire coast.

Cory’s and great shearwaters were seen in good numbers off the Cornish and southern Irish coasts last week and some continued into the North Sea with both species seen off Flamborough and Long Nab, Burniston north of Scarborough and Cory’s off Filey.

Sooty shearwaters have also started to be seen off the Yorkshire coast as they reach the northernmost limit of a 10,000-mile journey from the islands in the South Atlantic where they breed.

After leaving nesting burrows there they travel up the south and north American coasts, arriving off Newfoundland in June and July before crossing the northern Atlantic, round the top of Scotland and into the North Sea.

From there they travel through the English Channel, down the coasts of Iberia and Africa before turning west again across the Atlantic and back to nesting burrows in October as the southern summer begins again.

Another rare shearwater, a Balearic, which breeds in the western Mediterranean, was also seen off Flamborough and off Spurn while one was also seen further north off Hartlepool Headland.

One way to see shearwaters at close quarters is from one of the RSPB’s skua and shearwater cruises from Bridlington Harbour on the Yorkshire Belle. This year the dates are: September 6, 3pm; then September 13, September 14, September 20, September 28 and October 4. Tickets cost £20 per adult and £10 per child under 16. For further details and to book, ring 01 262 850959 or e-mail

Other seabirds seen along the coast include four Caspian and a yellow-legged gull at Flamborough while great, Arctic, pomarine and long-tailed skuas were among other sightings with one of the latter seen inland on Wednesday at Swillington Ings, Leeds.

On land there were increasing numbers of willow warblers on the move, also a few, sedge and garden warblers, tree pipits, whinchats, wheatears, a pied flycatcher at Flamborough and the first spotted flycatcher of the autumn at Spurn.

Those reserves able to control water levels have been lowering these exposing areas of new mud to attract passage waders.

As a result more green, common and a wood sandpiper have been seen at the Tophill Low reserve, East Yorkshire along with a spotted crake which has ventured out of the reeds occasionally on the reserve’s South Marsh East.

An adult Temminck’s stint was among a good selection of waders seen at Blacktoft Sands.

A dipper has been seen along Kearseley Brook at Conisbrough, South Yorkshire, the first record for 32 years in the Doncaster area, and follows a clean-up by local volunteers of the brook and Conisbrough Mill Piece pond which began in 2004.