Sunday, 24 May 2009

Bempton Cliffs

A blue sky and warm weather takes us to the cliffs of the RSPB nature reserve, Bempton Cliffs. The reserve includes not only the high chalk cliffs overlooking Filey Bay and Speeton sands, but also fields next to them, which today were covered with a pink carpet of Red Campions (Silene dioica). Buttercups and Gorse were also flowering. Nettles are very abundant, and we see a few peacock butterflies. The main reason to visit Bempton cliffs are the nesting seabirds and May and June are the top months to see them nesting. There are eight breeding species: Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots, Gannets, Fulmars, Puffins, Herring Gulls and Shags. Today we see them all except for the Shag (the rarest breeder, also tends to nest at the base of the cliff). Kittiwakes make the background noise at the cliffs.
A group of Kittiwakes pulling grass to line their nests.
We have a picnic on a meadow watching a Kestrel hovering over the cliffs.
A Kittiwake, a Razorbill and a Guillemot, the most common breeding seabirds in Bempton Cliffs
Herring gull
A view of the cliffs, at the bottom of the photo a group of nesting Gannets can be seen
The 'What's About' poster at the reserve visitor centre.

RSPB Bempton Cliffs Nature Reserve

Birds of the day
  1. Fulmar flying
  2. Gannets on nests and flying.
  3. Kestrel hovering over the cliffs
  4. Pheasant calling
  5. Herring gull on the cliffs and flying
  6. Kittiwake collecting grass in groups and on the cliffs
  7. Guillemot on cliffs and flying
  8. Razorbill on cliffs and flying
  9. Puffins on flight
  10. Woodpigeon
  11. Collared dove
  12. Rock dove, nesting in the cliffs
  13. Swift
  14. Skylark
  15. Swallow
  16. House martin
  17. Dunnock
  18. Blackbird
  19. Whitethroat singing
  20. Rook
  21. Jackdaw, everywhere, nesting in the cliffs
  22. Crow
  23. Magpie, one in Bempton the other chasing a couple of starlings (one could be a fledgling)
  24. Starling
  25. Tree sparrow
  26. House sparrow
  27. Greenfinch
  28. Goldfinch
  29. Chaffinch
  30. Linnet
  31. Yellowhammer
  32. Pied wagtail

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Saturday, 23 May 2009

Spring at Burton Constable

I can't believe its over a month we went anywhere out of Hull. Today it was a warm day with sunny spells and we went for a walk to the grounds of Burton Constable. We explored the area around the Hall and followed the Waymarker Trail. We found out what a Ha-ha is (intrigued? check here). At one end of it stands an ancient tree, a Sweet Chestnut, with some of its main branches now dead and partially covered by Ivy. It is the most impressive tree I have seen in East Yorkshire, with an enormous girth. As it is near the house and the house was built at the end of the XVI century, it is probably over 400 years old.
A view of the live side of the ancient sweet chestnut
A view of the old chestnut covered on Ivy
The tree trunk
Around the farm houses and stables, House Martins were busy nest building. 
In the North Pond, which used to be part of a moat, Moorhens and Coots were being followed by their hungry chicks. The wooded areas were teeming with insects, although we did not see many butterflies.
A pair of geese flying
Moorhen with chicks
 We manage to spot a Hare.
Tenthredo sawfly
Previously in the large lake I have seen toads mating.
This is today's bird list:
  1. Blackbird
  2. Crow
  3. Woodpigeon
  4. sparrow
  5. Chaffinch
  6. Greylag (pair)
  7. Moorhen, with 2 chicks
  8. Coot with 1 chick
  9. Several mallards with ducklings of different sizes
  10. House Martins making nests
  11. Swallows
  12. Jackdaws on the fields
  13. Rooks. 2 with one chick begging
  14. Great tit
  15. Pheasant
  16. Goldfinches singing

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Note added: I reported the Sweet Chestnut in the Ancient Tree Hunt website, as it wasn't there, and a couple of days later it was verified by Tony Burgoyne and its girth measuret at 7.28 m. Tony said this is the largest tree recorded in East Yorkshire! It now has a record here.