Monday, 23 April 2012

Nests, fledglings and migrants at East Park

A second visit to East Park this April. The weather held on and we didn't have rain. Things have moved on fast since my last visit. There were at least 10 occupied coot nests, at least one with chicks. I could see three Great Crested Grebes, one of them was on its nest, and judging by their position of the others in the lake, I think there might be three territories. At least two sets of ducklings were present.  House Sparrows were very visible, as they were busy hunting insects in mid air, flycatcher-style, they probably already have chicks on their nests.
The highlight was the strong passage of House Martins, many individuals chirping, which were joined by many Swallows, which were everywhere feeding low over the lake. A group of Swallows had stopped for a grooming session on a roof. 
 A group of around 20 Crows descended upon us, on realising we had some bread. They were shy and didn't like to get too close, and filled their beak pouches with the bread. Outside roosts, I've never seen so many Carrion Crows together.
 Several Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were singing.
Coot feeding two fledglings beside their nest
 A scene from "The Birds"? no! just East Park on a Monday morning
 This one couldn't possibly tuck any more bread in its beak pouch
 Great Crested Grebe nest tucked next to the bank of one of the islands
Swallows resting on roof
Bird list

  1. Blackbird, S 
  2. Blackcap, S 
  3. Blue Tit, S 
  4. Canada Goose, pair 
  5. Carrion Crow 
  6. Chaffinch, S 
  7. Chiffchaff, S 
  8. Collared Dove 
  9. Coot, FL 
  10. Dunnock, S 
  11. Feral Pigeon 
  12. Goldfinch, S 
  13. Great Crested Grebe, 3, ON 
  14. Great Spotted Woodpecker, pair 
  15. Great Tit, S 
  16. Greenfinch 
  17. Greylag Goose 
  18. Herring Gull, 2 
  19. House Martin, c20 
  20. House Sparrow, FF 
  21. Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 
  22. Magpie 
  23. Mallard, FL 
  24. Mistle Thrush, S 
  25. Moorhen 
  26. Mute Swan, 1 
  27. Pied Wagtail
  28. Robin, S 
  29. Sparrowhawk
  30. Starling, B 
  31. Swallow 
  32. Tufted Duck 
  33. Woodpigeon 
  34. Wren, S

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Showers at North Cave Wetlands

A showery afternoon, we head to North Cave Wetlands. We enjoy a lovely sunny spell on arrival, with a singing Willow Warbler and my first Speckled Wood of the year. The Black-Headed gulls are back on their breeding grounds en masse, and they make such a racket! In the islands in the middle of Village lake there is a large flock of Avocets. Greylag and Mallards have young.
I spend a good 20 minutes in Turret Hide showing my 3 yr old how to see things through the telescope and she finally manages to see rabbits, a shelduck and some Avocets.
While we are there, it starts to pour down with rain. Rabbits rush into their burrows. Most birds carry on about their business, maybe the Black Headed gulls hush down a bit. It is a large cloud, so we stay warm and dry on Turret Hide. We get great views of a Great Crested Grebe. As we are about to leave, once the rain stops, I spot House Martins and Swallows flying over Main Lake.
Willow Warbler
Alder fly
Pair of Gadwalls
Great Crested Grebe
Coot on nest
Bird list
  1. Avocet
  2. Black-headed Gull, some on nests
  3. Blackbird
  4. Blackcap, singing
  5. Blue Tit
  6. Carrion Crow           
  7. Chaffinch, singing
  8. Common Gull           
  9. Coot, on nest
  10. Dunnock           
  11. Feral Pigeon           
  12. Gadwall
  13. Goldfinch, singing           
  14. Great Crested Grebe
  15. Great Tit, singing
  16. Greenfinch
  17. Greylag Goose, goslings
  18. House Martin
  19. House Sparrow
  20. Jackdaw           
  21. Lapwing           
  22. Little Grebe
  23. Magpie           
  24. Mallard, ducklings
  25. Moorhen
  26. Mute Swan, pair
  27. Oystercatcher           
  28. Redshank           
  29. Robin, singing
  30. Rook           
  31. Shelduck           
  32. Starling           
  33. Swallow           
  34. Tufted Duck
  35. Willow Warbler
  36. Woodpigeon

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Bridlington Harbour and Danes Dyke

We spent the morning at Bridlington, around the harbour area. There was a cold northerly breezy and showers. Bridlington harbour is populated by confiding Herring Gulls and Turnstones. On the buildings on the outside wall, two pairs of Great Black Backed Gulls, more Herring Gulls, and on a ridge on the wall, two groups of Kittiwakes, which judging by the state of the place, might even breed there.
A group of Kittiwakes and a Turnstone resting on the outside harbour wall
A group of turnstones, the one on the right is wearing four rings on its legs
Subadult Herring Gull on Bridlington Harbour
After lunch we head to Danes Dyke, a local nature reserve just south of Flamborough village. The dyke is from the Iron Age, and was built as a cutting across the Flamborough headland possibly as a defensive measure. Soil was gathered from the ditch and piled onto the dyke, which may have held a wooden fence. The ditch, now containing woodland, offers protection from the wind and is a good migrant hotspot. There is not much woodland around Bridlington, so this is an unusual habitat, and the woodland floor is carpeted with wildflowers. The walk is lovely towards the end of the dyke, when the sea comes into view and the natural ravine comes onto the beach (top shot). The beach, at the base on the chalk eroded cliffs is very sheltered and warm, and the sea is completely flat. We find several Tiger Beetles scuttling at the base of the cliffs, where Scurvygrass grows. An alarmed Fulmar calls softly, and it takes a while to spot it sitting, motionless on its nest, a loner on this stretch of cliffs. As we leave the beach, a swallow flies north over our heads.
A bank at the base of a tree with Primroses, Lesser Celandine and Bluebells
Red Campion
Wild Garlic flowering
Path through Danes Dike
Green Tiger Beetle, Cicindela campestris
Common Scurvygrass, Cochlearia officinalis
A view of Danes Dyke from the beach
Spot the Fulmar on its nest

Bird list
  1. Herring gull
  2. Great Black Backed gull
  3. Kittiwake
  4. Turnstone
  5. Starling 
  6. Feral pigeon
  7. Sparrow
  8. Shag
Danes Dyke
  1. Chiffchaff
  2. Chaffinch
  3. Robin
  4. Wren
  5. Pied Wagtail
  6. Coal tit
  7. Blue tit
  8. Great tit
  9. Pheasant
  10. Cormorant
  11. Herring gull
  12. Fulmar
  13. Swallow
More Information
Fossils at Danes Dyke.
Website on Danes Dyke
A walk around Danes Dyke reserve. here.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Spring at East Park

There is always something interesting going on at East Park, and yesterday was no exception. A cold northerly breeze and on an off drizzle did not make it a pleasant day, but spring was definitely in the air for birds: Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps singing and my first Swallow of the year, lazily feeding over the lake on a stopover from its migration.
 The locals were not wasting their time, and Carrion Crows, Mallards and Coots were very obviously sitting on their nests. A lone Great Crested Grebe fed near the island, which made me think that its partner was probably sitting on a nest somewhere as this species also breeds in the park.
 The flock of feral flocks suddenly took to the air. Looking up revealed the reason for their fright: a Sparrowhawk was flying overeah, and then joined another one high in the sky.
This blurry shot captures a Wren battle: a fluffy tiny ball of feathers fell literally on our feet, and we saw the ball was actually two Wrens locked onto each other fiercely fighting. They flew away after a few seconds.
The handsome Tufted drake. They seem to be always around, about 20 of them, but I have never seen ducklings.
A record shot of the Great Crested Grebe
In the little zoo, a peacock displaying to a hen delighted children and adults alike. We stopped and gawped at the wonder of its open tail and beautiful eyes, but we also marveled at the shimmering and the rattling noise the feathers made when he shook them to emphasize the effect. The female must be subject to an amazing experience as the cock train forms like a parabolic aerial surrounding a large part of her field of vision. He would turn round to offer her his rump, only to turn toward her again to carry on the show. Truly mesmerizing! 
Peacock show with attendant hen
The peacock
Wallaby and joey
 Bird list


1.     Black-headed Gull

2.     Blackbird

3.     Blackcap

4.     Blue Tit

5.     Canada Goose

6.     Carrion Crow

7.     Chaffinch

8.     Chiffchaff

9.     Collared Dove

10.  Coot

11.  Dunnock

12.  Feral Pigeon

13.  Goldcrest

14.  Goldfinch

15.  Great Crested Grebe
16.  Greenfinch

17.  Greylag Goose
18.  Herring Gull
19.  House Sparrow

20.  Lesser Black-backed Gull
21.  Mallard

22.  Mistle Thrush
23.  Moorhen

24.  Mute Swan
25.  Pied Wagtail
26.  Robin

27.  Sparrowhawk
28.  Swallow
29.  Tufted Duck
30.  Woodpigeon

31.  Wren

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Dawn chorus at Noddle Hill

 We joined a Yorkshire Wildlife trust event early this morning to witness the spring dawn chorus at Noddle Hill. Even as we got in the car, Blackbirds and Blue Tits were already singing in our street. The morning was fine, luckily the drizzle had stopped by the time we got there. The dawn chorus was well underway at Noddle Hill: Blackbird, Robin, Wren and Great Tit singing at 5:30.
More and more birds joined in as we walked through the reserve, including the recently arrived summer migrants Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap.

We had good views of a pair of Roe Deer, which we had previously heard barking.
Our highlight was a Barn Owl, which we saw twice hunting on the reserve at the same time a Kestrel was hovering.
The cute factor was provided by three pairs of geese with goslings, which seems a bit early to me.
Thanks to Helen Holford and Tony Martin from YWT for a wonderful morning!

 My poor record shot of a barn owl
Pair of Roe Deer on the fields
A view of the reserve
Greylag family
The cute goslings

Bird list

  1. Barn Owl
  2. Blackbird
  3. Blackcap
  4. Carrion Crow
  5. Chaffinch
  6. Chiffchaff
  7. Collared Dove
  8. Coot
  9. Dunnock
  10. Great Tit
  11. Greylag Goose
  12. Kestrel
  13. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  14. Linnet
  15. Magpie
  16. Mallard
  17. Meadow Pipit
  18. Moorhen
  19. Pheasant
  20. Red-legged Partridge
  21. Robin
  22. Skylark
  23. Song Thrush
  24. Starling
  25. Tawny Owl
  26. Willow Warbler
  27. Woodpigeon
  28. Wren