Saturday, 21 January 2017

Up the River Hull. 3. Sutton Bridge to Kingswood

There was no wind today, the wind turbine at Croda was still, and it was overcast, but relatively mild. Today's stage was quite short, almost a stroll (2 km each way), starting at Sutton Bridge. It is the last stage inside the City of Hull, and the distance to the next bridge is a long walk to Weel. The river bank is mainly clay covered on grass, with some sections supported by wooden beams, some in need of repair. The river was quite high, almost high tide.
 The river natural meandering is preserved and the right bank is fringed by a reedbed almost in all its length, with some long gaps on the left bank. A few willow trees grow on the banks too. This is an area of housing estates with a few playing fields in the floodplain, one of them was being developed today, just north of Ennerdale Sports Centre. Near a small plantation, I watched a great tit almost dive to the brambles from a tree. A Sparrowhawk patrolled over the trees. The reservoir at Bransholme had many gulls, Black-headed, Common and Herring, some Shoveler and Mallard, a few Coots and one Pochard.
 The first Great Woodpecker of the year drummed near Haworth Hall, a stately home build on the right bank on wooded grounds. A rabbit hid on the long grass at the side of the bank. I walked to the blue twin bridge on Kingswood and turned round to walk back to Sutton Bridge. A man was kayaking on the calm river (top).
From Sutton Bridge looking north.
Sutton Bridge.
A Moorhen by the reeds.
Haworth Hall.
The twin bridge carrying the A1033 road.
The view from the twin bridge, looking South.
The riverbank sign with the new signage welcoming to Hull, City of Culture.

For another walk in Mid April in this stage click here.

Bird List
  1. Black-headed Gull 
  2. Blackbird 
  3. Blue Tit 
  4. Bullfinch 
  5. Carrion Crow 
  6. Collared Dove 
  7. Common Gull 
  8. Coot 
  9. Cormorant 
  10. Dunnock 
  11. Gadwall 
  12. Goldfinch 
  13. Great Spotted Woodpecker 
  14. Great Tit 
  15. Greenfinch 
  16. Herring Gull 
  17. House Sparrow 
  18. Magpie 
  19. Mallard 
  20. Moorhen 
  21. Pochard 
  22. Robin 
  23. Feral Pigeon 
  24. Shoveler 
  25. Song Thrush 
  26. Sparrowhawk 
  27. Starling 
  28. Tufted Duck 
  29. Woodpigeon 
  30. Wren

Monday, 16 January 2017

Up the River Hull. 2. Air Street to Sutton Bridge

I walked from home to the river by Wilmington Bridge to start the second stage up the River Hull. It was midday and the rain had stopped, although it was cloudy, dark, and damp, drizzling at times. I wasn't looking forward to the first section of this stage, as it was through industrial states, abandoned buildings and silos on roads with barely a pavement, which are not frequented by pedestrians to say the least.
To cheer me up two Redshank flew up from the river mud by Wilmington Bridge, and kept on calling for a while.
Redshank calling.
I power walked though Bankside and Innovation drive, the river only visible from shop car parks.
'Reckitt's' chimney in the background.
 I somewhat relieved to see the big roundabout and the twin Ferrylane Bridges at the end of Clough Road.
Ferrylane Bridges
 I had planned to walk on the Wilberforce Way, as a section of this path runs by the east bank of the river. But at Ferrylane Bridges I realised there is also footpath on the west bank, which I preferred, as it goes by Oak Road playing fields, and so I descended the steps onto it. The path, although narrow, seemed quite used, which encouraged me to carry on despite it being on slippery grassy banks with the occasional gully to cross.
The path was quite narrow at times, and sandwiched by the muddy banks of the river and more brownfield sites, a scrapyard and industrial estate.
A wall covered in graffiti, some quite beautiful appeared on the opposite bank.
I could see the wind turbine by Oak Road and eventually the path became wider and safer. A nice patch of Sea Aster grew on the bank and the first patch of reedbed appeared.
A Reed Bunting on a fence.
I was surprised to see this cormorant high up on an electricity pylon.
From then on, the river meanders flanked by grassy banks, with the occasional tethered horse.
Oak Road turbine and the first patch of reedbed.
I walked around the familiar Oak Road Lake. Other than a male pheasant, there was little to report.
The fishing lake at Oak Road Playing fields. 
A Blackbird hunting on the soft, wet ground.
Common Gull dancing for worms.
Tethered horse.
Crow by the river.
A view of the playing fields.
Singing Song Thrush.
Sutton Bridge, the end of the stage.  
Today's route, about 4.5 km.

Bird List
  1. Redshank 
  2. Carrion Crow 
  3. Black-headed Gull 
  4. Woodpigeon 
  5. Starling 
  6. Rock Dove 
  7. (Feral Pigeon) 
  8. Robin 
  9. House Sparrow 
  10. Herring Gull 
  11. Common Gull 
  12. Collared Dove 
  13. Blackbird 
  14. Wren 
  15. Reed Bunting 
  16. Moorhen 
  17. Mallard 
  18. Magpie 
  19. Blue Tit 
  20. Tufted Duck 
  21. Song Thrush 
  22. Pheasant 
  23. Jackdaw 
  24. Greenfinch 
  25. Great Tit 
  26. Goldfinch 
  27. Dunnock 
  28. Cormorant 
  29. Coot 
  30. Chaffinch 
  31. Bullfinch 

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Up the River Hull. 1. The Deep to Air Street

This crisp, clear sky afternoon at 2:00 pm I started my 2017 challenge, which is to walk the length of the River Hull in stages. I will of course be focusing on the wildlife but I also hope to learn something about the history and geography of the river.
 The River Hull drains a very flat valley, on the east bank the Holderness peninsula on the West the Wolds. It starts on chalky streams at the base of the Wolds near Driffield and runs for about 26 km and is navigable for much of its length. Today's stage runs through the old town in the city of Hull, where some of the original meandering of the river is preserved, although the river is channeled by concrete walls.
 The stage started at The Deep, with a selfie with the great white shark sculpture, but today I didn't go in. Instead, I walked around the magnificent building to watch the mouth of the river Hull at Sammy's point. I didn't plan it, but I'm glad it was low tide, the fresh water of this tidal river flowing fast into the Humber Estuary. A group of Black-Headed Gulls and a few Herring Gulls washed on the shore of the mudflats.
Sammy's Point at low tide, where the river Hull from the right joins the Humber Estuary. The Humber Bridge and the Lincolnshire coast are visible in the distance.
 I crossed the footbridge by The Deep to have a better look of the Deep and the Tidal Barrier, which was closed yesterday during the storm surge.
The Deep, by the mouth of the River Hull.
The Tidal Barrier.

The muddy banks of the river were peppered with Redshank footprints. A few of these waders were about, hunting for worms in the mud. A Moorhen hid behind a tuft of vegetation.
I follow the path on the west bank of the river, walking under Myton Bridge. The path was busy with people, and I realised I had never been in it, or in the lovely Scale Lane Bridge, so I made the best of it and crossed to the other side and back again.
Scale Lane Bridge.
I was now at the back of the Museums quarter and could see the Arctic Corsair sitting on the mud, a trawler converted in a museum now moored permanently at the back of Hull and East Yorkshire Museum.
Arctic Corsair and Drypool Bridge.
A view of the garden at the back of the Wilberforce Museum.
A cod sculpture by the Wilberforce Museum.
The river here is lined by steep, hard walls and in occasion wooden docks. There are dry, muddy docks and small vegetated ones that were used in the past and are now silting. This section of the river, as it bisects the city of Hull in half, is crossed by many bridges of different types, and flanked by amazing buildings and warehouses, some of them looking quite derelict, like this.
  Trinity House buoy shed. 
Drypool Bridge. 
I crossed Drypool Bridge (a bascule bridge) to follow the footpath on the other side of the river. More Redshank, a Cormorant, a Pied Wagtail and a group of Woodpigeons.
A pair of Mallards feeding on the mud.
North Bridge, and on the right a footbridge over a dry dock.
The view downstream from North Bridge
The footpath ends at North Bridge and then it becomes hard to see the river as there is no footpath by it. I follow the winding Wilcolmlee St. on a run down industrial estate. I peep over the river at Sculcoates Bridge over Chapman Street just in time to see a Cormorant flying by.
View from Sculcoates Bridge.
 Near the lovely Wilmington Bridge, now only open to pedestrians and bicycles the river becomes visible again.
Wilmington Bridge
 I watched a group of gulls loafing on the river shore and a couple of cormorants fishing, I don't know how they manage as the water looks quite muddy.
As I arrived at Air Street I finished my first stage on this trip. This is the route.

Bird list
  1. Black-Headed Gull
  2. Common Gull
  3. Herring Gull
  4. Crow
  5. Feral Pigeon
  6. House Sparrow
  7. Redshank
  8. Moorhen
  9. Mallard
  10. Goldfinch
  11. Great Tit
  12. Pied Wagtail
  13. Woodpigeon
  14. Wren
  15. Blackbird

Monday, 9 January 2017

At last, otters!

A forecast of solid rain all morning decided that I shall go to Tophill Low for some hide and seek. On the way, just before Bridge House Farm, a rabbit crosses the road ahead, closely followed by a stoat.
 D reservoir had hundreds of Coots, and Pochards were also plentiful, together with the usual assortment of ducks, Cormorants, Mute Swans and Great Crested Grebes. After trying and failing to spot the long-tailed duck I moved onto N Marsh, where I sat while the heaviest of the rain fell. After a few minutes, a Kingfisher flew past, but didn't settle. A Buzzard sent woodpigeons flying, and then started hovering over the fields across the river. There was little else other that the occasional alarm of a wren, when, after a long while, an otter! swimming fast and emerging only to breathe, it was hard to get any shots, but it stopped for a few seconds, leaning on a branch and that was my best shot (top). It looked like a young one. After about 20 minutes, another otter, which I could tell was a different individual by a pink spot on its nose and appeared larger.
 The second otter.
It eventually stopped raining and I moved onto Hempholme meadow. The path leading to the hide was peppered by cracked snail shells by little stones, the work of Song Thrushes, but it was a Mistle Thrush which rattled to a tree as I opened the hide flap. A Little Egret was fishing.

 I walked around the sound side of the reserve too. O reservoir was quite wavy, this coot looked out of place, like it was at sea.
Overall 52 species, 8 of them to add to the year list (now at 72).

Misty North Cave Wetlands

A mild, misty morning, with wafts of fog coming and going with the occasional sunny spell. The wetlands looked fantastic, although it was mostly too dark for good photography. In the viewing area, a Rook was hanging from a feeder, and a Green Woodpecker feeding on the ground. The maize field feeders had a flock of Tree Sparrow, two Marsh Tits, which were a first in the reserve for me, and a Brambling that didn't stay long. From Turret hide, four Shelducks were displaying and chasing and a Stoat was also seen. 
At the end of the N path we spotted a Stock dove on the nest box and a kestrel, but we were approached by a very friendly Robin, who posed for a good ten minutes. I managed some very close, macro shots.
 Missed on the Mandarin, which has been a while on the reserve, but had a Marsh Harrier on a post to finish off a lovely morning. Overall, 53 bird species and 23 to the year list.
Marsh Tits.
Tree Sparrows.
Rook rummaging under the feeders.
A Magpie on the elder bush by maize field.
A view of island lake.
Male Kestrel.
An extremely tame and inquisitive Robin loved to have its shot taken, this was on macro setting, on the fence at the end of north path.
Many flocks of gulls returning to roost passed over, these are Black-headed gulls, which were hard to find on the reserve itself.