Monday, 26 March 2012

A spring day at Oak Road playing fields

It is hard to believe it is just March. The bare trees remind you that we were deep in winter a month or so ago, with the land covered in snow and blasted by icy winds. Oak Road was glorious today. There was a cacophony of singing birds, and amongst them, the repetitive sound of the Chiffchaff stood out. Two males replied to each other, the first I have heard this year. Crows and Blue tits were collecting lining material for their nests.
 A Great Spotted Woodpecker had found a hollow trunk in the car park and its drumming sound was incredible.
By contrast, in the lake things were much more subdued. There were only a few gulls and no mallards, a pair of Mute Swans and a handful of irascible Coots, getting very territorial. Two of them swirled all puffed up with heads down, in front of each other, presumably marking the limits of their territories.
 I was able to spot a few Reed Buntings on the reedbeds by the lake.
A couple of butterflies flew by, possible Small Tortoiseshells. Many bumblebees were nest searching or feeding on the willows.
 A view of the River Hull. The tide was coming in.
 The pair of Mute Swans
 Reed Bunting on willow
 Swirling Coots
Singing Chiffchaff high up on a plane tree

Bird list
  1. Black-headed Gull 
  2. Blackbird 
  3. Blue Tit 
  4. Carrion Crow 
  5. Chaffinch 
  6. Chiffchaff 
  7. Collared Dove 
  8. Coot 
  9. Dunnock 
  10. Goldfinch 
  11. Great Black-backed Gull 
  12. Great Spotted Woodpecker 
  13. Great Tit 
  14. Greenfinch 
  15. Herring Gull 
  16. House Sparrow 
  17. Lesser Black-backed Gull 
  18. Long-tailed Tit 
  19. Magpie 
  20. Mallard 
  21. Mistle Thrush 
  22. Moorhen 
  23. Mute Swan 
  24. Reed Bunting 
  25. Robin 
  26. Song Thrush 
  27. Starling 
  28. Woodpigeon 
  29. Wren

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Back at Honeysuckle farm

Just a week after they are opened for the season we are back at Honeysuckle farm near Hornsea this morning. A foggy start but as soon as we arrived at the farm the sun was shining. Still in the car park we could hear the trademark "Little bit of bread and no cheeeeese!" of a singing male Yellowhammer. I hadn't hear or seen one for a while so we were down for a lovely surprise when we were virtually surrounded by the amazingly bright yellow birds a few minutes later. They seem to have discovered an easy source of food by the automatic seed release machines next to the poultry pens. A little band of six or so waited on the bushes until people dispersed after each feeding session, and alighted near the feeders to scoop the grain. The one on the photo above landed practically where my camera was pointing! 
 No luck with the Water Voles this time though. The water was murky in the carp ponds and the carp very sluggish. Maybe it is too early in the season and the voles have become unaccustomed to people. I'm sure we will have more opportunities to try again, now that this is the only open farm near us after the closure of Cruckley Farm.
A mining bee Andrena sp. on a bank. There were several active species about on the earth mounds resulting of canal and pond digging
Honeybee on Blackthorn blossom
Male House Sparrow
Bird list
  1. Blackbird
  2. Blue Tit
  3. Chaffinch
  4. Coal Tit 
  5. Dunnock
  6. Goldfinch
  7. Great Tit
  8. Greenfinch
  9. House Sparrow
  10. Jackdaw
  11. Mallard
  12. Robin
  13. Skylark
  14. Woodpigeon
  15. Wren
  16. Yellowhammer

Monday, 19 March 2012

Wildlife Watching at the Pearson Park Wildlife Garden

We spend the aftenoon in the Wildlife garden with the Hull Wildlife Watch group. Sunny, if a bit chilly, the kids planted wheat seeds and hyacinths and played the migration game. There was plenty of wildlife to watch too. A pair of confiding robins were around us all the time, one of them peeping softly to the other regularly as a contact note. The male robin also sung on an off from the hazels. A blackbird joined him at some point too.
 A queen bumblebee (top photo) fed on the blackthorn blossom and a male hairy footed flower bee, Anthophora plumipes on the rosemary.
  There were also plenty of wildflowers, Speedwell,  Lesser Celandine, Daffodils and Red Dead Nettle, with the Snowdrops now gone.
Lesser Celandine
Red Dead Nettle
The pond was busy too. Amongst the carpet of frogspawn, a lone male kept calling. The newts are still in the water and I also saw a pair of mating water boatmen (boatpeople?).
 Calling male frog
Water Boatman
 A dried thistle flowehead
 The prepared bed for the "bake your lawn" wheat
 The fresh leaves of hazel
 Sunbathing ladybirds
 A centipede we found on the leaf litter
 The finishing touches after planting the wheat, a nice willow fence
A duck egg, maybe predated by a fox?

A wonderful afternoon in the wildlife garden enjoyed by everybody!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Calling and fighting male frogs

We visited Pearson Park Wildlife garden to watch the mating frogs. We sat next to a few males which vigorously defended their spot. The one on the top shot, the lovely male closest to us, shows how the male frogs' white throat stands out like a torch while they are calling, which probably helps females locate them. Also in this photo you can see the dark hardened pads next to the thumbs of the male. These are called "nuptial pads" and are thought to aid in the gripping of the female by the male. They might also be used for fighting, as the photo below shows
The male underneath is the "intruder", the resident gripped him hard, he didn't like it and moved away
He carried on calling every 30 seconds or so, a low, "prrrrr". I was very pleased with this shot which shows the ripples that calling causes in the water, and his inflated throat.

 And here is a side view too

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Early spring in Noddle Hill nature reserve

We had a quick trip to Noddle Hill. The weather was beautiful, blue skies and amazingly mild for March. Some of the willows were flowering and these were busy with bees, bumblebee queens, hoverflies and even a Small Tortoishell fed on the bloom. We got superb views of the very tame Reed Buntings, which obviously regularly use the bird feeders scattered around the reserve. Some ponds had been dug out and a little pond covered on reeds was looking fantastic. A great day out, next time must bring a picnic and some bird seed.
 The pond from Reed Bunting view
 Colt's Foot
 Small Tortoiseshell on willow catkins
 Bombus terrestris

Bombus hypnorum
Bombus hypnorum
B. terrestris
B. lapidarius

Bird list
  1. Blackbird
  2. Carrion Crow
  3. Dunnock
  4. Greylag Goose
  5. Magpie, 8
  6. Moorhen
  7. Skylark
  8. Woodpigeon
  9. Blue Tit
  10. Coot, 1
  11. Great Tit
  12. Linnet
  13. Mallard
  14. Reed Bunting
  15. Starling
  16. Wren