Rocket Pole Field

The Rocket Pole Field is the best place in the area to find a migrant Whinchat (c Mark Pearson)

The Rocket Pole Field is the best place in the area to find a migrant Whinchat (c Mark Pearson)

The Rocket Pole Field (also referred to as the Totem Pole Field) is a plot of some six hectares, situated just north of the Country Park and west of Carr Naze. The field creates an all-important buffer zone between the coast, intensively-farmed arable land and human development, with seasonal grazing and non-intensive management ensuring the habitat is ideal for birds of traditional farmland.

The detail:
Scarborough Borough Council have leased the land to FBOG since 2002. Clay soils and a salty climate have historically restricted the land use to rough grazing, with occasional attempts at cereal planting. Most of the field has reverted to grassland, having been resown in the first year; one hectare is planted with a wild bird cover crop, and parts of the small plot are given over to the Cornfield Flower Project.

Meadow Pipit (c MJP)

Meadow Pipit (c Mark Pearson)

The Rocket Pole Field is one of the only remaining areas locally that provides the traditional farmland habitat so important to Grey Partridges, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, all of which breed successfully here. Two ponds within the field harbour Great Crested Newts (as well as commoner amphibians) and provide much of the fields botanical interest.

Odonata include Broad-bodied Chaser and several damselflies, and Lepidoptera (which are best seen in the ungrazed plot) can be spectacular, featuring Painted Lady, Brown Argus, Common Blue and many others. Arguably the rarest visitor of all was a Death’s Head Hawk Moth which rested in the field one day in 2000. Rare birds include Pechora Pipit, Woodchat Shrike, Radde’s Warbler and Short-toed Lark.

The eponymous Rocket Pole stands in the centre of the field and in Victorian times was used to replicate rocket-line rescues from stricken sailing ships.

Seasonal highlights
Spring (April – May): Grey Partridge, Pipits and Skylarks occupy nest sites; Hirundines gather on wires around the pond, Whinchats and Wheatears stop by on migration and the sound of Kittiwakes drifts across from the rapidly filling cliff ledges.

Summer (June – August): A time for checking the wild flower meadow strips, nettle beds and emergent vegetation in the ponds. Still, sunny days can be buzzing with darters and butterflies and amphibians are at their most active. Small mammals attract Barn Owls from nearby breeding sites, and Brown Hares crouch cryptically in the long grasses.

Autumn (September – November): Migrant birds can appear almost anywhere; buntings and pipits on the ground, chats on the wires and various species in the neighbouring scrub and hedgerows. Misty days can fill the field with tired, noisy thrushes, momentarily disturbed by quartering Short-eared Owls.

Wheatear (c Mark Pearson)

Winter (December – March): The cattle are gone and Common Snipe, Woodcock, finches, pipits and Snow and Lapland Buntings utilise the habitat, particularly during harsh weather. Geese cross the field in large flocks heading south.

Access & Directions:
There is no general access to the field, although good views can be obtained from the fenceline surrounding it in all directions. Parking is available at the small car park in the north-east corner of Filey Country Park, overlooking the bay. Keys and access to the field are available to FBOG members. Please be aware of cattle and breeding birds in the field, and in no circumstances allow dogs into the area.

Toilets are situated on the nearby Country Park, opposite the caravan park and cafe. Refreshments are available at the park cafe, open April – Oct.

Public transport:
Scarborough – Hull buses and trains call at the nearby Filey bus and train stations, a twenty minute walk away. Follow signs for the Country Park and head for the car park nearest the Brigg.

Sue Hull, FBOG secretary – / 01723 515042
Grid Ref: TA 12131 81813
Nearest postcode: YO14 9ES