Friday, 27 July 2012

Late July in Bempton Cliffs

As we approach the cliffs, the nasal, repetitive calls of the Kittiwakes and the pungent smell of guano drifting onto the path tells us we are back at Bempton. It was over three years we had been here and it was long overdue for a visit. Although we missed the peak of the breeding season, I was still pleasantly surprised by how much there was about today. By the visitor center the usual boisterous pack of Tree Sparrows and a few Jackdaws were accompanied by four Swallows. A nest with three chicks looking ready to fledge was located over the entrance to the visitor center.
 On the cliffs themselves, there were many fledged Kittiwakes, but also many adults with young ones still sitting on nests, a pair of Herring Gulls, Rock Doves, Jackdaws. The stars of the show this late in the season are the Gannets, and there were plenty of them, some on nests by their plump, downy chicks. A group of bold ones were sitting by the path right on top of cliffs, busily preening their feathers and providing great photo opportunities.
As for invertebrates, we saw a few Ringlets and many Burnets. A Striped Millipede was crossing the path to the cliffs and an earwig clothed with red mites went round and round on top of a fence.
Path to the cliffs
Striped Millipede, Ommatoiulus sabulosus 
Pair of Herring Gulls
Gannet City
Young Kittiwakes
Gannet, during a rest in a long session of grooming
Group of Gannets 
Jackdaw looking for morsels in the picnic area
Tree Sparrow
Three Swallow chicks on their nest
Six Spot Burnet

  1. Blackbird, fledgling in Feeding Station
  2. Blue Tit, feeding station
  3. Dunnock, feeding station, singing male and fledgling
  4. Feral Pigeon           
  5. Gannet, many nests with downy young
  6. Goldfinch
  7. Herring Gull, pair on nest           
  8. Jackdaw
  9. Kestrel, female hunting
  10. Kittiwake, many fledglings
  11. Linnet, pair nest building                              
  12. Pied Wagtail           
  13. Puffin, adult inside a crack on the cliff                                   
  14. Robin, fledgling
  15. Sand Martin           
  16. Swallow, nest with young
  17. Tree Sparrow, nest building, one with feather on beak, some with food on beak
  18. Woodpigeon, singing          
  19. Wren, singing            

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Summer at Snuff Mill Lane

It was a couple of months since I visited this site. The fields were spectacular, with a wide diversity of flowering grass species. There were many butterflies on the wing, including a male skipper that never settled. Small Skipper, Comma and Small Copper were first of the year for me. We watched a nervous pair of Whitethroats, the female carrying caterpillars on her bill, on the hawthorns at the end of the field. Snuff Mill lane at this time of year makes a lovely walk.
Small Skipper on Lesser Knapweed, Centaurea nigra
Small Copper
Bombus lapidarius on a patch of Hawkbit
Lesser Marsh Grasshopper, Chorthippus albomarginatus
A view of the meadow
The spectacular Hoverfly Volucella pellucens

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Loglands Nature Reserve

We joined the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust event 'Bug Safari' in the new Loglands Nature Reserve today. It was a glorious, warm and sunny day, perfect for the event, which was very well attended. It was a pleasure to meet Roger Key and learn about all sorts of insects and other animals. It was our first visit to this nature reserve, on the NE edge of the city of Hull. The reserve is bordered on one side by Holderness drain, on the others by playing fields and crops. As it used to be a tree nursery, there are plenty of semi-mature trees and bushes, but also grasslands and recently dug up scrapes and ponds.
Today there were plenty of butterflies around, 7 species. We spotted 6 Small Tortoiseshells, Ringlets were everywhere, one Gatekeeper, one Speckled Wood, one Meadow Brown, 2 Large Skippers, a small White, a Silver Y and another moth.
Speckled Wood
Meadow Brown
Male Large Skipper
 Small Tortoiseshell
The kids did a bit of pond dipping and got many newt larvae, backswimmers and a couple of tiny sticklebacks. By the pond, damselflies were plentiful, especially the Blue-tailed Damsefly, with several pairs mating. There were also many courting Poecilobothrus nobilitatus flies.
Pond dipping
Poecilobothrus nobilitatus males
 Snail-killing Fly Coremacera marginata. Roger identified it for us and explained their unusual life cycle. The flies lay their eggs on snails, and if the larvae finishes eating the snail before it is quite fully develop it emerges and finds another snail.
Helen examines an azure damselfly
Helophilus hoverfly by the pond
Mating Blue-tailed Damseflies
Soldier beetles
Black Clock, possibly Pterostichus niger
Brachipteran female mirid bug Leptoterna dolabrata, thank you to Wildlife Ranger from iSpot for ID.
 With so much bug life about, it was easy not to pay much attention to birds, but we heard plenty of Linnets and Bullfinches flying overhead, had wonderful views of a female Kestrel hunting and were serenaded by several Blackcaps.
Hovering kestrel
Location map
There are two entrances to the reserve, one through Frome Road and the other through East Carr Road. There are car parks by both of them. The reserve can also be reached by bus.

View Larger Map

Monday, 9 July 2012

July at Oak Road Lake

Another cloudy monday, we walk around the fishing lake and watch the swan family. Since our last visit, one of the cygnets has disappeared, only the white cygnet remaining. The adults are moulting, and after feeding they go back to the nest and preen themselves while the cygnet rests besides them. Many Coot juveniles and ducklings around. The Reed Warblers hunt insects in the willows or sing from the reeds. We hear a Whitethroat sing as well. A group of swallows feed over the fields. The highlight is the first Red Admiral of the year, which we flush. She flutters and settles, wings closed on a Creeping Thistle (above).
Common Mallow, Malva sylvestris
The only remaining cygnet watches as daddy feeds
Flowering water plants. Must look up what they are.
Great Willowherb, Epilobium hirsutum

Swan family going back to the nest
  We spot this tiny toadlet, in the same area as the first time we visited the lake a few years back.
Amber snail
Preening swans
Tethered horse at the other side of the river
Bird List
  1. Blackbird
  2. Blackcap
  3. Carrion Crow
  4. Chiffchaff
  5. Collared Dove
  6. Coot
  7. Goldfinch
  8. House Sparrow
  9. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  10. Magpie
  11. Mallard
  12. Moorhen
  13. Mute Swan
  14. Reed Warbler
  15. Swallow
  16. Whitethroat
  17. Woodpigeon
  18. Wren