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Spurn Peninsula

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Photo by 666tazView of Spurn looking down the point
Photo by 666taz
View of Spurn looking down the point

England, Yorkshire


[edit] Overview

Surpassing even Flamborough Head to the north and Gibraltar Point to the south, the Spurn Peninsula is owned and managed by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and is the finest migration watchpoint on the English east coast and the site of Britain's first mainland bird observatory

Situated at the entrance to the vast Humber Estuary, this is a long and narrow peninsula made of sand dunes which are unstable and often damaged by the North Sea during winter storms. Much of the promontory is covered with marram grass which stabilises the dunes and Sea Buckthorn which provides berries for many bird species.

At the base of the peninsula there are extensive areas of arable and grazing land with occasional hedges and close to the eastern shore, are Easington Lagoons and Beacon Ponds, both of which attract a variety of waterfowl and waders.

Further south is the "Canal" and the recently dug "Canal Scrape" which is overlooked by a hide and has often has waterfowl and waders of interest. Close to the reserve entrance is a large hawthorn hedgerow which is ideal for passerine migrants. Similarly, the trees and bushes around the observatory headquarters at nearby Warren Cottage attract numbers of birds in season.

On the North Sea side of the peninsula is a continuous sandy beach for mile after mile but on the Humber side is an extensive area of mudflats known as the Kilnsea Clays. Large numbers of waders are attracted to this area as well as Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon and other waterfowl.

Continuing south is the "Narrow Neck" which, as the name suggests, is the narrowest part of the peninsula. This is probably the best site in the entire area to observe migration with huge numbers of a wide variety of birds from Goldcrest to Osprey passing through. At the tip of the peninsula is a disused parade ground at "Point Camp", surrounded by trees and bushes this is another excellent site to search for scarcer passerines.

[edit] Birds

Photo by 666tazA view from the hide overlooking the pools
Photo by 666taz
A view from the hide overlooking the pools

[edit] Notable Species

More than 330 species of bird have been recorded on the Spurn Peninsula and although most of the birds involved are migrants there are also some breeding species of interest. Grey Partridge and a few Red-legged Partridge nest on the farmland and small numbers of Mallard, Moorhen, Little Tern and Ringed Plover breed around Easington Lagoons.

Passerine breeders include Eurasian Skylark and Barn Swallow, Common Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird and Song Thrush. Also nesting on the peninsula are warblers including Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Whitethroat as well as Tree Sparrow, Linnet, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting.

The variety of migrants seen along this peninsula is astounding and as well as landbirds the seawatching can also be spectacular both on the North Sea and Humber Estuary sides. Divers, grebes and Shag are present on passage and in winter and off the eastern side passage European Storm Petrel and Leach's Storm Petrel are possible and Black-browed Albatross has been reported.

Waterfowl include Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal and Northern Pintail, Greater Scaup, Common Eider and Long-tailed Duck, scoters, Common Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser. All the familiar waders of northern Europe can be seen either on passage, in winter or both with smaller numbers of the scarcer species. All four skuas pass by the point on passage as well as many gulls and terns and the commoner gulls are present on the estuary all winter.

Passage raptors include regular Marsh Harrier and Hen Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Osprey, Merlin and Northern Hobby with the occasional European Honey Buzzard or Montagu's Harrier also seen.

Pigeon, Common Cuckoo and Common Swift also occur in numbers but it is passerine migration that is the truly remarkable feature of Spurn.

Eurasian Skylark pass through the area in large numbers as do hirundines, wagtails and pipits including fairly regular Tawny Pipit. Of the smaller members of the thrush family it is Robin that are most abundant but Nightingale and Bluethroat, both redstarts, Whinchat, Stonechat and Wheatear. All the commoner larger thrushes occur as well Ring Ouzel and large numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing can often be seen feeding on the Sea Buckthorn berries.

Many warblers can be seen, most of the commoner species as well as the scarcer Marsh Warbler, Icterine Warbler and Barred Warbler which are regular. Also regular are Yellow-browed Warbler and Pallas's Leaf Warbler and almost annual in recent years have been rarer species such as Subalpine Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Arctic Warbler, Radde's Warbler and Dusky Warbler. Other scarcer birds seen here with regularity include Firecrest, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Red-backed Shrike and Great Grey Shrike.

Various corvids also pass through and a small number of Hooded Crow are present in winter. Finch flocks can be very large and involve a range of species including Brambling, Siskin, Redpolls, Common Crossbill and the occasional Common Rosefinch. Both House Sparrow and Tree Sparrow can be seen and buntings include Lapland Bunting and Snow Bunting, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting. Horned Lark is a rare winter visitor.

[edit] Rarities

Among the rarer species recorded at Spurn are Kentish Plover, White-rumped Sandpiper, White-winged Black Tern and Chimney Swift.

Vagrant passerines have included African Desert Warbler, Melodious Warbler and Booted Warbler and rare buntings have included Little Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting and Rustic Bunting.

[edit] Check-list

Birds you can see here include:

Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Northern Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Leach's Storm-petrel, European Storm-petrel, Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, European Shag, Grey Heron, Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Smew, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, European Honey Buzzard, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Merlin, Northern Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover (rare Su), Eurasian Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Red Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Eurasian Woodcock, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Grey Phalarope, Pomarine Skua, Arctic Skua, Long-tailed Skua, Great Skua, Mediterranean Gull, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Roseate Tern, Arctic Tern, Little Tern, Black Tern, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Atlantic Puffin, Little Auk, Feral Rock Dove, Stock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Common Swift, Eurasian Wryneck, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Horned Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Tawny Pipit, Richard's Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Common Wren, Dunnock, Eurasian Robin, Common Nightingale, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Common Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Barred Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Pallas's Leaf Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Wood Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, (PM), Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Red-breasted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, Common Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Hooded Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, (rare Su), Chaffinch, Brambling, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Eurasian Linnet, Twite, Lesser Redpoll, Common Crossbill, Common Rosefinch, Common Bullfinch, Lapland Bunting, Snow Bunting, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting

[edit] Other Wildlife

To do

[edit] Site Information

Photo by Chris3871)
Photo by Chris3871)

[edit] Areas of Interest

Easington Lagoons can be reached on foot from a clifftop car-park to the east of the village or by walking north from Beacon Lane, just north of the reserve entrance.

[edit] Access and Facilities

The Spurn Peninsula can be reached westwards from Hull on the A1033 to Patrington and from there on the B1445 to Easington. Continue on the minor road to Kilnsea and follow the road through to a caravan park on the left. Turn right here and the road leads to the reserve entrance. The road then used to continue for the entire length of the peninsula to Point Camp but a storm surge in 2016 broke through the peninsula and the descision was taken to let nature take it's course. This means that at high tide the peninsula below what was the narrows is an island and is unreachable on foot.

There is no longer a small caravan cafe at the Point.

All ways worth checking the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust web site to check if the road is accessible or under repair due to wash over.

[edit] External Links

Content and images originally posted by Steve

[edit] Reviews

yorkshire83's review

In the autumn passage, Spurn turns up some fantastic rarities and if your in the area its a must visit. Probably my favourite place to bird in Yorkshire!!


  • Anything can turn up if you time your visit right. Plenty of space to turn up a rarity!


  • If you dont want to pay to drive to the head
  • its a 2 mile walk to the end
  • and a 2 mile walk back!

stu's review

Always lots to see on land as well as on and in the sea.The last visit there I watched dolphins. Also the village of Easington on the way is well worth a stop, again on my last visit in October I saw a Raddes Warbler and a Red Backed Shrike within half an hour Its also great just to get some fresh 'salt' air. Pros

  • Nearly always something rare to be seen

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