Saturday, 20 October 2012

A walk in Normanby Hall Country Park

Although autumn is well under way, days are shorter and the sun does not rise high in the sky, it was a pleasant day today for a walk in the country park. We watched the Red Deer, with two stags and a satellite group of young males keeping watch on the hind herd and the alpha stag, who bellowed occasionally.
 We could only feel the warmth of the weak sun in the walled garden, where a few Red Admirals and Commas feeding on Michaelmas Daisies and Ivy. In addition to some droneflies - and a wasp during our picnic - were the only insects we came across.
In the gardens behind Normanby Hall, a pair of Goldfinches fed on lavender seeds, and on the roof of the building, a group of Pied Wagtails squabbled.
 In the pond, male Mallards with freshly moulted plumage whistled and circled the females, while up to ten Moorhens fed on the grassy banks.
 A quick visit to the bird feeding station drew a blank for birds, but three shiny Fly Agaric mushrooms compensated for it.
The alpha male Red Deer bellowing
A young stag
Red Admirals
Comma butterfly
Fly Agaric, Amanita muscaria

Bird list

  1. Black-headed Gull
  2. Blue Tit
  3. Carrion Crow
  4. Chaffinch
  5. Goldfinch 2   
  6. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  7. Great Tit
  8. Greenfinch
  9. Jackdaw    
  10. Long-tailed Tit
  11. Magpie
  12. Mallard    
  13. Mistle Thrush, a loose flock calling over the conifers near the car park    
  14. Moorhen, 10   
  15. Pheasant    
  16. Pied Wagtail (yarrellii)    
  17. Red-legged Partridge, 5   
  18. Robin    
  19. Starling    
  20. Woodpigeon    
  21. Wren    

Monday, 15 October 2012

October at North Cave Wetlands

As I arrived, Robins were singing and a Dunnock joined them quietly, allowing me close approximation. I walked the perimeter of the reserve, it was cloudy and cold, but the rain held on.
Other than the South Hide - next to the parking lot - the reserve was very quiet, people-wise. In contrast, the cacophony of several hundred Greylags and Canada geese from East Hide was incredible, it was hard to make out other birds in the village lake. I had a brief stop on Turret hide and pressed on. As I searched for Golden Plovers unsuccessfully amongst a group of Lapwings, I saw a Green Woodpecker feeding on the grass. So, cryptic I would have easily missed it if I hadn't been looking thorugh the binoculars. Further ahead, flocks of finches: Goldfinches, Siskins and some Lesser Redpolls fed acrobatically on the alder seeds in the north side of the reserve. This wintry scene was topped incongruously by four swallows feeding overhead, despite being so chilly I didn't see many insects at all.
 While I was looking at an information panel by Dryham lane, a Stoat came trotting along a grassy path with a mouse in its mouth. I froze, but the Stoat might had already noticed me, as it promptly dropped the (dead) mouse a couple of meters away from me, turned round, run away and hid in the bushes. I clumsily switched my camera on, focused it on the mouse and hoped that the Stoat would come back. It promptly did, running towards me, fetching the mouse and disappearing from view, but not before I had managed a single shot!
 I was grinning all the way to South Hide, as it is the first time I see a Stoat and the whole experience was exhilarating. I joined a few birders in the hide, which told me I had just missed a Kingfisher. We waited a while hoping it would turn up, though it didn't. We were enternained by the Little Grebes fighting and diving by the hide. The usual mix of Great Crested Grebes, Coots, Black Headed Gulls and Tufted Ducks joined in.
Overall, a lovely morning at North Cave Wetlands.
The view from South Hide
Believe it or not, there is a Green Woodpecker in this shot.
Wigeons and mallard
Singing robin

Bird list
  1. Black Swan
  2. Black-headed Gull 
  3. Blackbird 
  4. Blue Tit 
  5. Canada Goose 
  6. Carrion Crow 
  7. Chaffinch 
  8. Common Gull 
  9. Coot 
  10. Dunnock 
  11. Feral Pigeon 
  12. Gadwall 
  13. Goldfinch 
  14. Great Crested Grebe 
  15. Great Tit 
  16. Green Woodpecker 
  17. Greenfinch 
  18. Greylag Goose (a few hybrid geese CanadaxGreylag, plus a couple of white domestic greylags as well)
  19. House Sparrow 
  20. Jackdaw 
  21. Lapwing 
  22. Lesser Redpoll 
  23. Little Grebe 
  24. Long-tailed Tit 
  25. Magpie 
  26. Mallard 
  27. Moorhen 
  28. Mute Swan 
  29. Pheasant 
  30. Pied Wagtail 
  31. Pochard 
  32. Redshank 
  33. Reed Bunting 
  34. Robin 
  35. Rook 
  36. Shelduck 
  37. Shoveler 
  38. Siskin 
  39. Snipe 
  40. Song Thrush
  41. Starling 
  42. Swallow
  43. Teal 
  44. Tree Sparrow 
  45. Tufted Duck 
  46. Wigeon 
  47. Woodpigeon 
  48. Wren 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

An autumn walk in North Cliffe Wood

It was cloudy when we left Hull, but by the time we got to North Cliffe Wood it was a glorious autumn day, sunny and calm. This Yorkshire Wildlife nature reserve is a birch woodland with an adjacent plot of heathland. The site also has ditches and a reed swamp and pools, and some old oaks and ash.
 Despite the morning frost, there are still a few Common Darters about.
In the heathland area, we find a vole and a dead shrew, and possibly some roe deed hoofprints
There are many species of fungi in the wood today.
As for birds, the highlight were some Marsh Tits, the first I've seen in a very long time, feeding near the lodge together with a Great Tit.
 This wood makes a great short walk in the autumn, and I can't wait to visit it in the spring.
Vole found under a corrugated iron plank. Other than this, we only found ants
Freshly dead Common Shrew, the red-tipped teeth are visible.

View of the heathland patch
More fungi
Male Common Darter

Bird List

  1. Carrion Crow
  2. Jackdaw
  3. Chaffinch
  4. Long tailed tit
  5. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  6. Marsh Tit
  7. Great Tit
  8. Rook
  9. Woodpigeon
  10. Blackbird
  11. Robin
  12. Wren

More information
YWT site. here.

Location map

View Larger Map

Monday, 8 October 2012

Blacktoft Sands

The day started misty and by the time I reached Goole, a thick fog sat over the Humber. Fortunately it was a small patch, and at RSPB Nature Reserve Blacktoft Sands the mist was starting to lift, and the rest of the day was mild and sunny. Tree Sparrows and Blue Tits fed on the feeders by the entrance and a black Pheasant followed by a Moorhen made an odd sight on the grassy slopes. A Great Spotted Woodpecker 'chips' flying away from the car park. The Xerox hide was the most rewarding, with a flock of Shovelers and Teal, and lots of Snipe. Before I left I popped in again and a Grey Heron walking about flushed many birds on the island, and a Cormorant had arrived too.
 From the First hide, I spot a female Marsh Harrier perched on a bush. She leaves and flies over the reed beds giving great views. I get even better views from possibly the same individual from the reception building (above).
 Although I never get to see the Bearded Tits - possible ones squabbling over the reeds in the distance - this is a wonderful reserve for a visit any time of the year.
Pheasant and moorhen
A pair of Woodpigeons on a post
Tame robin by the visitor centre
 All the time I kept flushing Goldfinches feeding on teasel heads. I managed a few shots, the second one clouded by hundreds of midges.
spot the Goldfinch
Midges, teasels and Goldfinch
Redshanks at Townend hide
 Many dragonflies about, Common Darters mostly, with a few Migrant Hawkers. A Small Tortoiseshell and a red Admiral flew by. There were clouds of midges and other flying insects.
Common Darter
Perennial Sowthistle, onle of the few flowers in the reserve. They were being visited by several insects, including some small moths
Bombus hypnorum on sowthistle
Helophilus on sowthistle
Grey Heron
the view from Xerox hide
Male Shovelers from Xerox hide

More information
RSPB Blacktoft Sands

Reserve Leaflet

Bird list

  1. Blackbird
  2. Blue Tit
  3. Carrion Crow
  4. Chaffinch
  5. Cormorant
  6. Dunlin
  7. Goldfinch
  8. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  9. Great Tit
  10. Greenshank
  11. Grey Heron
  12. Kestrel
  13. Lapwing
  14. Linnet
  15. Little Grebe
  16. Magpie
  17. Mallard
  18. Marsh Harrier
  19. Moorhen
  20. Mute Swan
  21. Pheasant
  22. Pink-footed Goose
  23. Redshank
  24. Robin
  25. Rook
  26. Shoveler
  27. Snipe
  28. Starling
  29. Stock Dove
  30. Teal
  31. Tree Sparrow
  32. Wigeon
  33. Woodpigeon
  34. Wren

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A Walk in the Wolds

We decided to have an afternoon walk around Nunburnholme, walking up Bratt Wood following the Wolds Way and returning in a circular way though a linear, but ancient forest patch east of it. A calm sunny afternoon. A flock of seagulls follows a tractor on the fields, and we flush several groups of Pheasant. A few crows mob a Buzzard over the hill, and as we are returning we see a lone Red Kite below us on the valley.
We see a single Dragonfly flying high around the trees, possibly a Migrant Hawker.

A glider flying over
Path signs
Path up Bratt Wood
 Flock of sheep
The shine of gossammer

In the woods, Plaited Door Snails, Cochlodina laminata (above)rest very obviously on beech tree trunks with White Lipped snails. This door snail is a species typical of ancient woodland.

Gossammer covers ploughed fields and a meadow with a surreal white glow. The tiny money spiders cling to the edge of this delicate silk shroud in the hope that the wind will disperse them away (below).

A Red Kite in the middle of the photo

The wild cemetery

 Sunny, mild sunday, I go for a walk to my local cemetery. It is a beautiful, autumnal morning, with the background sound of the Robin and occasional Wren. As soon as I arrive, I scare a couple of Brown Rats feeding on seed and bread left by people for the birds. It is the third time I see rats in the cemetery. I manage a couple of shots, but they run away. I sit on a headstone waiting for them to re-emerge, but although I stay still, they seem to smell me, and after the first coupe of shots, they are reluctant to leave their refuge under the headstones. They have an alternative feeding site and I can see both of them running to the next spot up the path where seed has been left on the ground, and they feed there with a grey squirrel and a blackbird. They are much more timid than Grey Squirrels, and they go back and forth to the food.
A Brown rat deciding if to come out of its hiding place. It was most hilarious to watch how it twitched its whiskers
  I hear the rattling alarm call of the Carrion Crow, I find the crow chasing a Sparrowhawk onto a tree, and then over the houses.
Great Tit landing
Grey Squirrel enjoying the bird food
  A Woodpigeon laying on the ground, sunbathing, in perfect Blackbird style. It is the first time I see a Woodpigeon sunbathing.
To top it all, I manage to spot a Treecreeper, alerted by their 'see, see, see' calls, and watch it as it climbs up a tree.

Bird list
  1. Blackbird 
  2. Blue Tit 
  3. Carrion Crow 
  4. Chaffinch 
  5. Coal Tit 
  6. Dunnock 
  7. Feral Pigeon 
  8. Goldfinch 
  9. Great Tit 
  10. House Sparrow 
  11. Long-tailed Tit 
  12. Magpie 
  13. Robin 
  14. Sparrowhawk 
  15. Stock Dove 
  16. Treecreeper 1 
  17. Woodpigeon
  18. Wren