YWT Spurn


Stretching a three and half mile-long sandy finger into the Humber Estuary, Spurn is a truly unique place.

Why visit?

A rich maritime and military history has given way over the last 50 years to what has now become a renowned and internationally important wildlife haven. One of the UK’s top migration watch points, spring and autumn proves to be an irresistible draw for birdwatchers, with bracing walks and panoramic sea views guaranteed all year round. Winter sees wading birds like knot, dunlin and godwit gather in huge swirling flocks, with plenty of resident and migratory seabirds always offshore.

Where is it?

The Blue Bell, Kilnsea, Easington, Hull (OS Landranger 113 Grid reference TA 41615)

The nature reserve is clearly signposted. Visit the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust website before you go.

What can I expect to see?

Spring: The first signs are the movement of chaffinch and skylarks, soon followed by more familiar migrants: sand martin, swallow, wheatear, and black redstart. Early morning or evening may provide sightings of roe deer and barn owl.

Summer: Whitethroats are common breeders and their scratchy song can be heard from the tops of most bushes. The beaches host ringed plover and the rare little tern amongst the sand and shingle, but summer peaks quickly here with the return of the waders in their full summer plumages soon on the calendar. 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, can often be seen.

Autumn: Surely Spurn’s annual highlight, the site’s exposed and recognisable coastal location means visible migration can be often be seen in action as birds head south along the peninsula. Short-eared owls may arrive for the winter, but the main interest is migrant willow warblers, chiffchaffs, whitethroats, lesser whitethroats, reed warblers, goldcrests, stonechats, wheatears, redstarts and more en route to the winter haunts. Offshore, Manx and sooty shearwaters, Arctic and great skuas can be seen, and humpback whales have even been spotted. Watch for keen throngs of birdwatchers for a chance to encounter a real rarity blown off course.

Winter: Flocks of knot wheel in perfect unison like schools of fish against leaden skies, chased by peregrine falcons and merlin. Hen harrier may drift by as they venture out from their winter feeding areas on the salt marshes of the Humber. Bracing walks, unique estuary views and seascapes are among the best in the region.

Make a day of it and visit these nearby sites

YWT Kilnsea Wetlands

High tide sees roosting waders fill this man made nature reserve just a short walk from YWT Spurn

Photo (c) Jono Leadley

YWT Welwick Saltmarsh

Stop and scan this saltmarsh for great views of aerial predators in winter or the purple haze of sea lavender in summer

Photo (c) Amy Lewis

YWT Paull Holme Strays

On the way back to Hull, stop off and take in the massive winter flocks of knot and dunlin

Photo (c) Matt Thomas