Monday, 28 May 2012

Great Crested Grebe Watching at East Park

A scorching sunny day at East Park. Thirsty Swallows and Swifts deftly swoop down to drink on the lake surface. As we arrive by the lake side we watch a young Coot calls its parents (above). Near the first island, we stop to watch a pair of Grebes, each adult in charge of a young one, of surprisingly different sizes. One of them seem intent of teaching the juvenile how to fish, and mostly ignores its calls, encouraging the chick to dive behind him. When the adult surfaces away from the young, they call them with Gannet-like, hoarse barks. One of the adults stops to groom itself, and the young does the same. 
I see the first Rook I've seen in East Park, also trying to get to drink.
In the waterfront side, a flock of 10 or more Lesser Black Backed gulls feed on bread.

Great Crested grebe adult and grown chick
The chick swimming to meet its parent
Grooming time

This coot nest was so full of rubbish, they seem to select the rubbish themselves to 'adorn' the nest
A very confiding squirrel - although it nipped my finger!
Carrion Crow and Rook ready to drink 
Mating Coots, pity about the railings, but I dared not stand up, as I had followed the whole courtship. The female greeted the male by turning her head toward her belly as he approached.

Bird List
  1. Blackbird, carrying feather
  2. Blue Tit, chicks calling from inside a tree stump and parents busy going in and out
  3. Canada Goose
  4. Carrion Crow
  5. Chaffinch S
  6. Collared Dove
  7. Coot, fledglings in different sizes
  8. Dunnock
  9. Feral Pigeon
  10. Goldfinch
  11. Great Crested Grebe 4 fledglings in two families
  12. Great Tit
  13. Greylag Goose
  14. Herring Gull
  15. House Sparrow
  16. Lesser Black-backed Gull c10 
  17. Long-tailed Tit
  18. Magpie
  19. Mallard
  20. Moorhen
  21. Mute Swan 1 
  22. Robin  singing
  23. Rook
  24. Starling fledgling
  25. Swallow
  26. Swift
  27. Tufted Duck
  28. Woodpigeon B 
  29. Wren  singing

Monday, 21 May 2012

A trip to Noddle Hill and a Cuckoo

Still with a dark cover of clouds and a chilly wind today, we go for a long walk to Noddle Hill. The Hawthorn is blooming and there are quite a few wild flowers, although we also notice some patches of invasive Japanese Knotweed. As usual, the area is a riot of bird song: Chiffchaffs, Robin, Willow Warblers and Chaffinches greet us in the car park. I hear a Cuckoo in the distance, but I don't hear it again, and with a Collared dove calling nearby, I think it is just wishful thinking.
 As we walk on the open side of the reserve, dotted with mounds of bramble and lone hawthorns, Whitethroats, and a singing Sedge Warbler (above) become apparent. We see see little flocks of Linnets and watch a singing male Reed Bunting.
 Then the Cuckoo calls again, this time much closer to us and there is no mistaken its clear, musical two note call with the Collared Dove's. We sit on a bench and a few minutes later the Cuckoo flies across the field to its next singing post, with wings sharp like scythes and its long narrow tail. It is our first Cuckoo of the year and it is great to see it too.
In the lake, the two families of Greylag geese rest by the water side. The goslings are quite big and the adults seem to be moulting, with lots of primary feathers lying about. They have 3 and 1 gosling left.
Two Reed Warblers sing away by the reeds fringing parts of the lake, but they are near the water side and we do not get a glimpse of them.
View of Red Admiral alley
Monacha cantiana snails keeping dry atop a stem
A view of the grassy, rolling side of the reserve, with sleeping Magpie
An Amber snail far from water
Singing Reed Bunting
Another view of the edge of the reserve
A gander defending its only surviving gosling
Chaffinch singing by the car park

Bird list

  1. Blackbird
  2. Blackcap
  3. Blue Tit
  4. Carrion Crow
  5. Chaffinch
  6. Chiffchaff
  7. Collared Dove
  8. Coot
  9. Cuckoo
  10. Goldfinch
  11. Greylag Goose
  12. Herring Gull
  13. Jackdaw
  14. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  15. Linnet
  16. Long-tailed Tit
  17. Magpie
  18. Mallard
  19. Pheasant
  20. Reed Bunting
  21. Reed Warbler
  22. Robin
  23. Sedge Warbler
  24. Skylark
  25. Starling
  26. Swallow
  27. Whitethroat
  28. Willow Warbler
  29. Woodpigeon
  30. Wren

Saturday, 19 May 2012

New Shoots at Oak Road Lake

A cold, breezy and cloudy afternoon, we head to Oak Road Playing Fields. The reeds are sprouting fresh shoots, contrasting with the old russet stems. As we walk around the lake, we hear at least four male Reed Warbler singing from deep in the reeds. We manage to see a couple feeding on the reeds and willows fringing the lake.
The Mute Swan pair are now incubating on their large nest amongst the reeds. Access to the nest has been blocked up with willow branches to minimise disturbance by passers by, as it is quite visible from the path. We leave the swan snoozing and carry on. Chiffchaffs, Blackbirds, Robins and a Mistle Thrush sing on the wood by the river Hull.
On the water, the two pairs of Coots are busy feeding their young.

Two young rabbits
Coot with young

Bird List

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

Monday, 14 May 2012

Amphibians and reptiles in Pearson Park

I wasn't expecting to find any reptiles in the park today. We have found the occasional snake skin and the park wardens have told us there have been snakes reported - probably released or escaped exotics -, and we knew there were terrapins a few years back, but we assumed they had been captured when the pond was drained. Not so, apparently. We came across this Red Ear Terrapin (Trachemys scripta elegans) enjoying the morning sun by the pond. This species has been widely introduced in the countryside. Although it appears not to be able to breed in this country, the species has become invasive in many other countries.
In the wildlife garden the tadpoles are now quite big
Speckled Wood in the new wet woodland area
A fairly new Moorhen chick. Brave enough to chase a fully grown mallard out of the island
An occasional visitor to the park, a Lesser Black Backed gull.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Snuff Mill Lane and Priory Fields

In the last few months I have paid a few visits to this site on the outskirts of Cottingham. It is one of the closest area of rural land to where I live in Hull. South of the lane itself are low lying fields prone to flooding, overgrown hedges, ditches and ponds, a small lake, trees and grassland. I have never been in the summer, but it looks like a promising butterfly site as there are extensive meadows. Indeed, it was sunny when I arrived yesterday morning and there were many butterflies on the wing, including a male Orange tip, several whites and a Holly Blue. It is also a great spot for birds, with resident Tree Sparrows and Bullfinches. There were many bird species singing and I heard a Whitethroat (above), the first of the year for me, which showed well atop a Hawthorn and then displayed in a song flight.
Despite being a site of scientific interest I have found very little information online about the site history and wildlife.

Snuff Mill Sign
White Lipped Snail
This Stock Dove was so confiding I thought it was a Woodpigeon fledgling - there was a woodpigeon sitting near it, you can see it on the top right hand corner. 
Maybe the fact it is breeding in a nest box on a garden explains why it is so trusting of people.
Mating flies
Fly and beetles on buttercup
Red Campion
Entrance to the site by Bricknell Avenue
White Dead Nettle
Male Blackcap singing
There is a small parking lot by Bricknell Avenue on the entrance to Snuff Mill Lane. There are quite a number of dog walkers on the site, and a busy train line, with only an uncontrolled pedestrian crossing cuts the site in two.

Location map

View Larger Map

Bird list (yesterday and today)
  1. Blackbird 
  2. Blackcap 
  3. Blue Tit 
  4. Bullfinch 
  5. Carrion Crow 
  6. Chaffinch 
  7. Chiffchaff 
  8. Collared Dove 
  9. Dunnock 
  10. Goldfinch 
  11. Great Spotted Woodpecker 
  12. Great Tit 
  13. Greenfinch 
  14. House Sparrow 
  15. Jackdaw 
  16. Linnet 
  17. Magpie 
  18. Mallard 
  19. Pheasant 
  20. Robin 
  21. Rock Dove 
  22. (Feral Pigeon) 
  23. Starling 
  24. Stock Dove 
  25. Swallow 
  26. Swift 
  27. Tree Sparrow 
  28. Whitethroat 
  29. Woodpigeon 
  30. Wren