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Spurn's Seasonal Highlights

Wildlife at SpurnChiffchaff © Amy Lewis

No two days are ever the same at Spurn, with wildlife ringing in the changes for every season.

For birdwatchers, autumn is the arguably the best time to go - alongside the usual migrant willow warblers, chiffchaffs, whitethroats, lesser whitethroats, reed warblers, goldcrests, stonechats, wheatears and redstarts on route to the winter haunts, there is the ever present chance that a real rarity will be blown off course. Offshore, Manx and sooty shearwaters, arctic and great skuas can be seen migrating along the coast, and the very lucky few may spot a whale on its autumn migration - even a humpback whale has been seen off Spurn!

Spring sees the northbound migration, with the first signs being the movement of black redstarts and meadow pipits, soon followed by the arrival of more familiar springtime migrants of sand martins, swallows, and wheatears.

Spurn is no less impressive in the winter months, with wading birds like knot, dunlin and bar-tailed godwits gathering together in huge swirling flocks numbering in their thousands as they gather to feed on the rich mudflats of the Humber Estuary. These large gatherings in turn attract aerial predators such as peregrines and merlins, with the occasional hen harrier drifting by as they venture out from their winter feeding areas on the salt marshes of the Humber. The bracing walks, unique estuary views and seascapes are among the very best in the region.

Come the summer months, the scratchy song of whitethroats can be heard from the bush tops, whilst pink pyramidal orchids add their colour to the yellow rattle and bird's-foot trefoil that grow in the grasslands, notably along Chalk Bank. These grasslands are cared for by conservation grazing – keep an eye out for the diminutive black Hebridean sheep flock grazing, or even one of the wild roe deer that pick their way carefully through the grass. Butterflies are joined by day-flying moths such as cinnabars, burnet moths and occasionally hummingbird hawk-moths among the dunes and grassland. Dragonflies, including the UK’s largest, the emperor, and the rare red-veined darter can often be seen in the wet scrapes. Look out to sea for the rare little tern flying past on its way to a local breeding site, or even the inquisitive stare of a grey seal as its head bobs above the water.