Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Birding in Pearson Park

It's been quite grey today, but mild for the time of year. A walk in Pearson Park gave a few nice surprises. Autumn is fully fledged: conkers on the ground, a rich brown carpet of leaves. Although most of the trees are still green, there are many branches with first tint or brown leaves. The Grey Squirrels were calling, chasing and busily burying goodies in the ground. A small flock of Common Gulls are back in the pond after returning from their breeding grounds. The pair of breeding Moorhens now sits together preening each other; the two grown juveniles nowhere to be seen.

Male Mallards are showing off their wonderfully bright new feathers. They are boringly common, but what beautiful birds they are. One male and female were courting, heads quickly bobbing. The female lowered its head and the male mounted her. Everything was over very quickly. The female fluffed its feathers and flapped her wings over the water at the end.

The female sign

Mallards Mating
There was a hybrid Canada-greylag goose with 5 Canada geese, paired to one of them. It looked a bit clumsy, but it had a good session bathing itself. Given the strong imprinting of Ducks and Geese to the adults tending them, hybrids are likely to result of nest parasitism (one species lays egg on another's nest) or brood amalgamation (a pair of one species 'fosters' a brood from a different species and they grow together. The individuals of the fostered brood become imprinted to the 'wrong' species and when adults pair with it producing hybrids. One of the parents of this hybrid -most likely a greylag- was likely to have got imprinted to Canada Geese and paired with one. See this article and this website for fascinating info and photos on hybrid geese.

Hybrid Canada-Greylag goose having a bath
Birds of the Day

  1. Robins singing
  2. Blackbird
  3. Woodpigeon
  4. Dunnock
  5. Goldcrest singing from the cypres
  6. Mallards mating
  7. Moorhen, pair cuddling
  8. Grey wagtail
  9. Common gulls, 20 indivs.
  10. Canada geese, 5 and a canada-greylag hybrid paired with one of them
  11. Great tit
  12. Herring gull, first winter juvenile
  13. Crow
  14. Sparrows

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Nut Wood & Wauldby Scrogs

Woods now cover less than 3% of East Yorkshire. They are tiny specs on a blanket of arable land. A few Woodland Trust woods try to preserve this dwindling resource. Amongst these is Nut Wood, a little ancient semi-natural woodland, parts of which date to the 13th century. I have always visited it in the autumn, but it is known locally as Bluebell Wood and the display of wild flowers in spring is worth a visit. Flora includes Lords & Ladies, Wood Anemones, Wild Garlic and Dog's Mercury. Amongst the trees there is Ash, Sycamore, Oak, Beech, Spruce and coppiced Hazel, and it is surrounded by hedgerows with Hawthorn and Elder. The northern section was planted more recently. There are remarkably big old stumps scattered in the wood, but the size of the living trees is no match for them. Today we went in search of hazel nuts nibbled by rodents. There is a Dormice survey going on at the moment, although, unfortunately, dormice are extinct in East Yorkshire so we knew we were unlikely to find signs of them. There were lots of hazel shells left over by Grey Squirrels, and possibly some by Wood Mouse. We saw a number of fungi as well.
For more info check the Woodland Trust management plan for this site.
A clump of fungi at the base of an Ash
A general view from the access point next to the road
For a 5 mile walk in the area see Walking the Riding.

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