Friday, 30 November 2012

Flamborough South Landing

I would find it difficult to decide on my favourite place in East Yorkshire, but South Landing would come close to the top. This little corner of Flamborough Head combines a diversity of habitats: a creek with a wooded valley, stony and sandy beach, cliffs and a rocky spit with rock pools. Together with its rare and wonderful south aspect, which shelters the little bay from chilly northerly winds, it is hard to beat as a great place for wildlife, especially at this time of year.
 This is the site where the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has planned its Living Seas Centre (above), which is bound to open in the spring. There are several marked trails, peppered with picnic benches, sculptures and even a 'dinosaur's nest' for the little ones. There is a bird feeding station with a screen, but today it didn't appear to have been stocked.
 The sky was clear and the breeze northerly, so the landing was quite balmy considering the widespread frost. It took me some time to leave the carpark, as it was teeming with birds, Yellowhammers, Tree Sparrows, Song Thrushes and Bullfinches to name a few.
 I descend into the sheltered little bay, accompanied by the bubbling noise of the running creek. It was low tide and a wide beach opened ahead of me, backed by the clay and chalk cliffs. The top of the beach, under the seaweed covered tide like is made of white chalk boulders, but then there is a strip of sand. Instead of the planned walk to Danes Dyke, I walk right and then left and generally hang out with the beach birds, which appear unusually tame.
Pied Wagtail
Rock Pipit
Carrion Crow and Turnstone
Carrion Crow
A pair of Carrion Crows are busy turning the seaweed in search of food with some Turnstones. A Pied Wagtail goes back and forth by the creek pouring into the beach. There are Rock pipits and Turnstones everywhere.
A group of Turnstones climb onto the cliff and proceed to dig the clay out - maybe they should have been called the Cliff-Diggers (above). The Rock pipits seem interested in this activity too.
Later, I see what I initially take by a pair of albino Turnstones amongst normal looking ones, but when I look closer they turn out to be some lovely Sanderlings.

A Robin squabbles with a Stonechat for a favourite perch, possibly attracted by the similarly coloured chest. I see the Stonechat again later by the clay cliff vegetation.
A large flock of unidentified finches flies back and forth by the cliff tops.
Great Black-Backed Gull and Oystercatcher
By the water edge there are Great Black-Backed and Herring gulls, with a couple of Curlew, a Ringed Plover, Oystercatchers and Redshank.
Ringed Plover
  Further still in the water, I distinguish the silhouette of a diver, this one honouring its name, diving repeatedly. The frontal light and lack of a telescope makes it hard to distinguish any features, so I cannot identify it.
Looking towards the headland by a rock pool
  Before leaving, I climb to the cliff top and follow the trail by the ravine. There are several blooming gorse bushes and then the trail becomes more wooded, with some mature trees and younger ones. I spot   a Treecreeper and a Chiffchaff, and later, a bunch of Long Tailed Tits.
The headland is as interesting and fascinating in winter as it is in spring and summer, when the cliffs are busy with breeding seabirds. I can't wait to be back.
The 'dinosaur nest' on the nature trail
More Information
Flamborough Bird Observatory.

Yorkshire Wildlife trust.

Location map

View Larger Map

Bird list

  1. Blackbird   
  2. Bullfinch 4  
  3. Carrion Crow, a recently fledged young begging to its parents in the car park
  4. Chaffinch   
  5. Chiffchaff 1  
  6. Curlew   
  7. Dunnock   
  8. Goldfinch   
  9. Great Black-backed Gull   
  10. Great Tit   
  11. Greenfinch   
  12. Herring Gull   
  13. Long-tailed Tit 6  
  14. Oystercatcher   
  15. Pied Wagtail  
  16. Redshank   
  17. Ringed Plover 1  
  18. Robin 
  19. Rock Pipit 10 C 
  20. Sanderling 2  
  21. Song Thrush 2  
  22. Stonechat
  23. Tree Sparrow   
  24. Treecreeper
  25. Turnstone, about 20
  26. Woodpigeon   
  27. Wren, singing male
  28. Yellowhammer 2  
  29. unidentified diver

Monday, 26 November 2012

Rain on D res

 My plans to go to Flamborough were thwarted by persistent rain today. So, I decided to pop into Tophill Low instead, and wait in a hide to see if the rain stopped by midday. Many fields were flooded and there was lots of water on the road. Water levels were also quite high on the Beverley and Barmston Drain. Flocks of Blackbirds and Redwings flew away from the car from the berry-laden hedgerows, and Pheasants fed on the edges of the large puddles with corvids and seagulls.
 I waited in the car for a while once in the car park, which is often quite productive, and then moved onto the hide overlooking the D reservoir.
 Water birds do not seem to mind the rain and carry on feeding as normal, and on the plus side it was quite calm so wildfowl were quite visible due to the stillness of the water despite the gloomy clouds. A loose group of Great Black Backed gulls, made of separate pairs, decided to take is as a cue to have a thorough wash and they splashed about on the water.
 There were many duck species, both diving and dabbling - a flotilla of Gadwalls above - plus Coots, and Great Crested Grebe. The unique tinge of a lone male Goosander's body, white with a orangey-pink glow being very distinctive despite the distance.
 A few females and a male Goldeneye were also present.
Given the size of the reservoir and how distant some of the birds are, this is a good site to practice identifying duck species by their general colour combination, like useful 'flags' to tell what country a boat is from.
 A soaking wet Grey Squirrel fed by the walls of the reservoir.
By midday, the rain kept coming, if anything, stronger than before. It was obvious the weather wasn't going to change any time soon, so that ended today's trip. Despite the weather, sitting on the hide birdwatching with a nice cup of thermos coffee was great.

Bird list

  1. Blackbird    
  2. Blue Tit    
  3. Carrion Crow    
  4. Chaffinch    
  5. Coal Tit    
  6. Collared Dove    
  7. Coot    
  8. Gadwall    
  9. Goldeneye    
  10. Goldfinch    
  11. Goosander    
  12. Great Black-backed Gull    
  13. Great Crested Grebe    
  14. Great Spotted Woodpecker    
  15. Great Tit
  16. Greylag Goose    
  17. Herring Gull    
  18. Magpie    
  19. Mistle Thrush    
  20. Moorhen    
  21. Pheasant    
  22. Pochard    
  23. Robin    
  24. Shoveler    
  25. Tufted Duck    
  26. Wigeon    
  27. Woodpigeon

Saturday, 24 November 2012

November Wetlands

A circular walk at North Cave Wetlands this morning. Bright blue skies and just a mild breeze - what a contrast to yesterday blustery day. I start to walk around the perimeter path counterclockwise. Despite getting there at 9:30 the place is deserted. In Dryham lane I spot a Fieldfare on the Hawthorns, and just before getting to East Hide I surprise a Stoat crossing the path, but I can't relocate it again.
  The background sound of the day are Teal peeps - I carry on hearing them even when I get home. I wonder if you can tell what month you are in by the background calls of dominant birds. There are large Teal flocks in Village lake and Island lake. Not many Lapwing or Greylag. The water levels are very high and there are not many islands left in Island Lake. From Turret hide, I get great views of preening Shelducks (above).
There are enormous flocks of Woodpigeons on the fields and hedgerows, with blackbirds and redwings.
A mixed flock of Siskins and Lesser Redpolls quietly feeding in alders suddenly takes to the air calling nervously. While I was watching them, I could only spotted a few, but the flock is over 50 strong, it is surprising how discreet they are while they feed. Later I see a male Sparrowhawk having a bath on the shore of the closest lake to the elders, maybe it is what caused the commotion. The Sparrowhawk flies high later, causing more alarm calls by small birds by South Hide.
 As I come out to Dryham Lane, a steam train-like sound makes me look up just in time to watch three Mute Swans flying over. Everybody should experience Mute Swans flying overhead, the sound of their wings is loud and quite unexpected. Awesome.
A shiny male Goldeneye is present in South hide, and thanks to two kind birders I am able to see a Jack Snipe, bobbing gently up and down on the shore. There are also many Common Snipe. Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Coots and a pair of Little Grebes feed about.
 I think this is the first time this year that I see 50 bird species in a day trip. North Cave Wetlands never disappoints.
A curious Starling by the Wild Bird Cafe

Bird list
  1. Black-headed Gull    
  2.  Blackbird    
  3.  Blue Tit    
  4.  Carrion Crow    
  5.  Chaffinch    
  6.  Common Gull
  7.  Coot    
  8.  Dunnock
  9.  Feral Pigeon    
  10.  Fieldfare    
  11.  Gadwall    
  12.  Goldeneye    
  13.  Goldfinch    
  14.  Great Black-backed Gull    
  15.  Great Crested Grebe    
  16.  Great Tit    
  17.  Greylag Goose    
  18.  House Sparrow    
  19.  Jack Snipe    
  20.  Jackdaw    
  21.  Kestrel    
  22.  Lapwing    
  23.  Lesser Redpoll    
  24.  Little Grebe    
  25.  Long-tailed Tit    
  26.  Magpie    
  27.  Mallard    
  28.  Moorhen    
  29.  Mute Swan    
  30.  Pheasant    
  31.  Pochard    
  32.  Redshank    
  33.  Redwing    
  34.  Reed Bunting    
  35.  Robin    
  36.  Rook    
  37.  Shelduck    
  38.  Shoveler    
  39.  Siskin    
  40.  Skylark    
  41.  Snipe    
  42.  Song Thrush    
  43.  Sparrowhawk    
  44.  Starling    
  45.  Teal    
  46.  Tree Sparrow    
  47.  Tufted Duck    
  48.  Wigeon    
  49.  Woodpigeon    
  50.  Wren    

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Noddle Hill on a sunny November day

 We had a walk around this lovely nature reserve this morning. Blue skies, a ground frost and lovely autumn colours. The photo above shows a Spindle (Euonymus europaeus) loaded with berries by the fishing lake.
  We have a peek at Wawne drain and flush a Kingfisher, which perches a while ahead and then flies away before the kids have a chance of watching it.
 On the scrubby middle of the reserve a Redwing feeds on Hawthorn berries, and in the Alders near the  carpark a group of Siskins feeds twittering contentedly.
Guelder rose, Viburnum opulus in berry
Frosty bramble
Spot the Kingfisher!
A party of Siskins feeding on Alder seeds

  1. Black-headed Gull        
  2.  Blackbird        
  3.  Blue Tit        
  4.  Carrion Crow        
  5.  Dunnock        
  6.  Goldfinch        
  7.  Kingfisher        
  8.  Linnet        
  9.  Magpie        
  10.  Mallard        
  11.  Redwing        
  12.  Reed Bunting        
  13.  Robin        
  14.  Rook        
  15.  Siskin        
  16.  Woodpigeon

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Snuff Mill Berries

I walked around Snuff Mill Lane this morning. It is a low lying area prone to flooding, so I should have brought my wellies! It was mild, with lots of cloud and the occasional brief sunny spell, and there were lots of insects in the air, including droneflies hovering. I found this lovely Chrysolina polita leaf beetle on the grass.
The Hawthorns, loaded with berries looked absolutely stunning, only to watch them it is worth visiting this site. A number of bird species were enjoying the berries too: Redwings, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Magpies, Goldfinches and Woodpigeons. I flushed a male Sparrowhawk, which flew into a tree and then was mobbed by a Magpie and a Kestrel in flight being followed by a rattling Carrion Crow. I heard the Bullfinches in a couple of occasions and spotted a Stock Dove sitting on top of a nest box.

Bird list

  1. Black-headed Gull    
  2. Blackbird        
  3.  Blue Tit        
  4.  Bullfinch        
  5.  Carrion Crow        
  6.  Chaffinch        
  7.  Dunnock        
  8.  Feral Pigeon        
  9.  Goldfinch        
  10.  Great Spotted Woodpecker        
  11.  Great Tit        
  12.  Greenfinch        
  13.  House Sparrow        
  14.  Jackdaw        
  15.  Kestrel        
  16.  Magpie        
  17.  Mallard        
  18.  Redwing        
  19.  Robin        
  20.  Song Thrush        
  21.  Sparrowhawk        
  22.  Starling        
  23.  Stock Dove        
  24.  Woodpigeon        
  25.  Wren     

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Ash through the seasons

The ash tree is a tree I have come to know and love. The powerful, yet gracile, majesty of a fine specimen at the end of my street marks the seasons. I pass under it on my way to work every day and I often look up to the canopy and feel like I am in the middle of a wood, when in fact I am in the middle of a city. Crows tried to nest on it this spring. Chaffinches and Mistle thrushes sing from it in the spring. Woodpigeons enjoy their buds and flowers. I have taken many photos of it across the years. The one above was taken a few days back. This year it is clinging to its leaves for longer. I don't want to think what the street would look like without it, and I hope I can photograph it for many years to come.
November 2011
 November 2009
December 2009
January 2010

Monday, 5 November 2012

Paull Holme Strays

Today's was my first visit to this nature reserve. Paull Holme Strays is the result of the first Humber managed realignment scheme. The Humber embankment was breached in September 2003, after a new bank had been created far back, allowing the high tide to flood former fields and pastures. Nowadays, almost 10 years after its creation, the site has new tidal mudflats, growing salt marsh areas and reed patches and is a bird haven. Outside the Humber bank there are extenside mudflats with some shingle/boulder beach by the lighthouses.
The day started sunny and not too breezy, and the tide was high. I walked eastwards over the new bank, surrounding the reserve up to the lighhouses. A large flock of Golden Plover rested in the middle of the reserve. A fighter jet flew low and it sent the whole flock flying, with the background of the Humber Bridge. Many Redshanks, Lapwings and a few Curlews and a Bar Tailed Godwit, together with Teal and Wigeon fed on the mudflats.
 The wind started to pick up a bit and it clouded up as I returned to the car park and then moved onto the western part of the reserve. A Kestrel hovered over the new bank and then alighted on a post on a field. Another raptor, which I initially took for another Kestrel, had a brief skirmish with it, but when the second raptor perched on the lower branch of a tree I realised it was a female Merlin, shorter tailed and dark brown mantle, the side dark head stripe was also visible. It was bothered by a couple of Jackdaws and it stopped on the ground. As I followed the Merlin and Jackdaws, a Jay flew past, and then returned to the grassy side of a field. An unusual sighting for Holderness, although admittedly the area by a farm had large trees including oaks. When driving back I flushed another one by a farm near Thorngumbald.
 A large flock of Fieldfare flew over, and many Woodpigeons fed on the hawthorn berries.
Resting Golden Plovers
and the wandering Golden Plover flock
Bar-Tailed Godwit
Ringed Plovers and Dunlins

More information
Environmental Reports
Paul Holme Strays Birding a Local Patch. A blog dedicated to birds and other fauna in the reserve.
Before visiting, check tides, as the strays fill only on high tide and push the waders closer. If you have one, a telescope will be quite useful for bird identification.

Location map
Approaching Paull, follow the brown signs for nature reserve and Paull Fort. Coming from Paull village, leave Fort Paull on your right. There is a small car park after the gas station.

View Larger Map

Bird list

  1. Bar-tailed Godwit
  2.  Black-headed Gull
  3.  Blackbird
  4.  Carrion Crow
  5.  Cormorant
  6.  Curlew
  7.  Dunlin
  8.  Fieldfare
  9.  Golden Plover
  10.  Goldfinch
  11.  Greenfinch
  12.  Grey Heron
  13.  Grey Plover
  14.  House Sparrow
  15.  Jackdaw
  16.  Jay
  17.  Kestrel
  18.  Lapwing
  19.  Linnet
  20.  Magpie
  21.  Mallard
  22.  Merlin
  23.  Moorhen
  24.  Pheasant
  25.  Pied Wagtail (yarrellii)
  26.  Redshank
  27.  Ringed Plover
  28.  Robin
  29.  Starling
  30.  Teal
  31.  Turnstone
  32.  Wigeon
  33.  Woodpigeon