Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sunny Spurn

A wonderful scorching summer day at Spurn. Clear sky and the lightest breeze. We stop by the visitor centre. A compact flock of twitchers have settled on top of the dunes overlooking a sea buckthorn bush. They are stalking a Booted Warbler, a rare accidental that hasn't been seen in many years.
A Small Tortoiseshell lets me a close approximation while it feeds in Cat's Ears.
In the dunes, grasshoppers chirp and hawker and darter dragonflies on the wing. A 7 spot ladybird lands on the sand. We see several others today. The sea bucktorn is covered in the tents of the Brown Tail Moth, the caterpillars we see are quite small, but they have devastated the branches around them. The buckthorn has already got berries.
 A large group of Starlings settle on the wires next to the visitor centre just to fly again in a flock. And every few minutes, little groups of Swallows fly low over the spit heading south. We are well into the autumn migration.
 After a picnic lunch next to the dunes we head for the point. We walk around the head of the Peninsula, a 2 km walk, and have the chance of watching groups of Swallows as they reach the edge. Some seem hesitant to cross the Mouth of the Humber and fly back and forth.
Sea Rocket Cakile maritima
Driftwood at the Point
Marram grass and Sea Buckthorn scrub at the Point
The bendy beach a the Point.

Friday, 11 September 2009

General Cemetery

 Aerial View of the General Cemetery from Google Earth
Lately, I have been visiting the Hull General Cemetery regularly. From the air, it looks like thick woodland. Trees are mostly mature, over 100 year old, planted in Victorian times (the cemetery was created in 1847). Species include Lime, Ash, Oak, Horse Chestnut, Birch, Cherry and Elm. There is lots of undergrowth, ivy and brambles and also some clearings with meadows, but there are clear (although quite bumpy!) footpaths. Wildlflowers abound: Ramsons, Garlic Mustard, Lesser Celandine. This cemetery is no longer in use and Hull City Council has recently implemented a regeneration plan which also intends to improve its value for wildlife, by planting woodland trees and flowers. The improvements include the creation of a nature trail with information on plants and animals which live in the cemetery. There are already lots of birdboxes and owl-nest boxes and bat boxes in place. A relaxing place for a walk in the middle of the city.

Lime tree

Red Admiral sunbathing on a footpath

Freshly emerged Harlequin ladybird

Brown Rat

Grey Squirrel

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Cruckley Farm

Last day before term starts, the kids and I headed to Cruckley Farm. The weather had pleasantly changed from cold and autumnal into end-of-summer, warm and sunny. Cruckley farm is a working farm which can be visited and enjoyed by all ages. This farm has an interesting collection of rare breeds of sheep, cows and pigs as well as most farm animals you can list: goats, donkeys, shire horses, rabbits, geese, ducks, turkeys, peacocks, guineafowl and, of course, hens. The kids enjoyed the incubator and chick nursery today, where they were able to hold fluffy young chicks. A little group of runaway piglets made everyone laugh getting in and out of trouble around the farm and truly appearing to enjoy themselves in their adventures. The highlight of the day was a pig race: at the sound of a bell, the little pigs trotted in their comic style towards a trough full of food and the end of a circuit. The farm is placed in gently rolling countryside, with Frodingham Beck at one end. It contains a variety of habitats: a lake surrounded by woodland, a pond and, a wetland area recently created in partnership with Natural England and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, which is already teeming with wildflowers and dragonflies (I wasn't so impressed by the goldfish though!). There are little wooded areas and plenty of hedgerows, mostly hawthorn. The picnic area next to the farmhouse is shaded by quite old trees, amongst them a large oak. The walk around the public footpaths is around 1.8 km long. Birdwatching and bugwatching can be quite rewarding, in addition to your usual farm animals. Today, there were many Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshells around the farm. Hawker dragonflies, hunted among the farmhouses, a plentiful supply of flies, and we spotted both Common Darters and Hawkers around the newly dug ponds in the wetland area, a few times chasing each other.

Crown of oak

Swan in Frodingham Beck


Speckled Wood

Photo finish

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