Monday, 17 December 2012

Winter wetlands

I had a walk around the perimeter of North Cave Wetlands this morning. It was mostly cloudy, with a few brief sunny spells, and much milder than last week, although there was thin ice near the shore of some of the lakes.
 Things were quieter than usual by Village Lake, there were many Teal, some Wigeon and a flock of Lapwings. A Snipe fed on the island and there were also some Coots and a Redshank.
 I move to Turret Hide and I spotted a flock of Greylags in a field at the north of the reserve. An very large flock of what appear to be Woodpigeon flies in the hills over the trees. I watched the Teals displaying.
 I couldn't miss a Mute swan fight going on in Reed Bed for quite some time, there were two immatures and at least three adults involved, and the fight seemed to involve possibly two pairs. There was actually one on one close contact by the reed beds and repeated chases with noisy wing beats and half flying as they run over the water. Likely a resident pair was chasing an intruder pair away. The individuals chasing adopted the typical Mute Swan threatening posture with raised wings and curved neck called 'busking' as it approached the other.
 All this was very interesting, but I was distracted by the call of a water rail from the reeds, and, as I was quite keen to try and spot it, I stopped watching the swans, although I ended up not seeing the rail either.

 No grebes - Little or Great Crested - to be seen at Main Lake. The flock of Greylags had by then moved onto the Main Lake and I counted them there, all more than 200 of them, with a few Gadwalls, Common Pochards and Tufted ducks. On the shore, more Teals and a dozen Redshanks.
 A late reward for a final look by the entrance fence was a male Siskin in an Alder.
Another great winter walk in the wetlands.

By the access path to Turret hide, a small party of Lesser Redpolls fed on some dry seedheads ( I don't know what they are, some sort of sorrel?
Field at the north of the reserve, with a flock of Greylags in the distance
 Very obvious Goldfinches today, feeding on dry seed heads, can you spot one on this sea of Teasel seedheads?
Goldfinch and Teasel
Mute Swan Chase
I disturbed a Green Woodpecker on the north perimeter path, and it called with its 'kia kah!' alarm call as it flew ahead of me. It lated alighted on a tree trunk
Immature Male Tufted Duck

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.  Goldfinch
  13.  Great Tit
  14.  Green Woodpecker
  15.  Greenfinch
  16.  Greylag Goose
  17.  House Sparrow
  18.  Jackdaw
  19.  Kestrel
  20.  Lapwing
  21.  Lesser Redpoll
  22.  Long-tailed Tit
  23.  Magpie
  24.  Mallard
  25.  Moorhen
  26.  Mute Swan
  27.  Pheasant
  28.  Pochard
  29.  Redshank
  30.  Redwing
  31.  Reed Bunting
  32.  Robin
  33.  Rook
  34.  Shoveler
  35.  Siskin
  36.  Snipe
  37.  Song Thrush
  38.  Starling
  39.  Teal
  40.  Tree Sparrow
  41.  Tufted Duck
  42.  Water Rail
  43.  Wigeon
  44.  Woodpigeon
  45.  Wren

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Old trees in the cemetery

The trees are now bare and the ground vegetation much reduced. A background carpet of shrivelled leaves and the soft winter light makes it is easier to admire the size of trees in my local cemetery. Although some are ornamental varieties, such as flowering cherries and horse chestnuts, several of the larges trees are native species. Beech, Lime, Oak and Ash, Yew, Alder and Holly: many likely to have been planted, or self seeded over 150 years ago.
One of the reasons behind the abundance of woodland birds in the cemetery is the age of these trees and the reduced management. There are hollows in trunks, broken branches, fallen trunks. It is not a tidy garden, instead, it looks like wildlife is taking over. The following are just a few of the ones that took my eye in my walk today.
 I have been submitting individual trees of the cemetery to the Woodland Trust's Ancient Tree Hunt for verification. This project allows members of the public to find and catalogue ancient and notable trees throughout the British Isles. Worth having a look, as it is surprising how many ancient trees might be found near where you live.
A pair of Alders
Lime tree

Monday, 10 December 2012

Wintry Hornsea Mere

Despite the forecast of northerly wind and showers, I decided to try Hornsea Mere this morning. On the way near Tickton, the river Hull loomed high, contained by its banks, over the low lying fields.
The water level in the Mere was the highest I have ever seen. The boathouse was partially flooded, and the jetties mostly submerged. First, I watched the assorted wildfowl from the car. A large group of Coots fed on the grass, some of them from a sitting position. There were just a handful of Greylags, mostly of hybrid and semi-domestic ancestry, but no Canada Geese. Mallards, Mute Swans, Black headed gulls and Jackdaws were also present.
 On the little bay north of Kirkholme, I had great views of a few Goldeneyes - including a female that seemed to have survived a predator attack - with a Great Crested Grebe, Gadwalls, Tufted ducks and Pochards, including a couple of females all feeding in the deep water.
 As I went for a walk around the point, I came across the remains of a Swan's chest and wing, with little meat left on the bone.
 A Great Spotted Woodpecker called loudly from a large willow, while pecking at the trunk, and in the hedges House Sparrows, and a Tree Sparrow chirped.
 I stopped by the promenade in Hornsea before heading back home. The sea was rough and I enjoyed a sunny spell before a large stormy cloud rapidly approached and the rain started.
Somebody had Swan for dinner
Great Crested Grebe
The semiflooded boathouse
A view of the jetty, with a flock of Black Headed Gulls
This Goldeneye looked injured, it had many feathers missing from its head and dragged a wing
Male Goldeneye
A threatening cloud coming from the north toward Hornsea Beach
Bird list

  1. Black-headed Gull
  2.  Blackbird
  3.  Blue Tit
  4.  Carrion Crow
  5.  Chaffinch
  6.  Common Gull
  7.  Coot
  8.  Dunnock
  9.  Gadwall
  10.  Goldeneye
  11.  Great Black-backed Gull
  12.  Great Crested Grebe
  13.  Great Spotted Woodpecker
  14.  Greylag Goose
  15.  Herring Gull
  16.  House Sparrow
  17.  Jackdaw
  18.  Long-tailed Tit
  19.  Mallard
  20.  Moorhen
  21.  Mute Swan
  22.  Pochard
  23.  Robin
  24.  Tree Sparrow
  25.  Tufted Duck
  26.  Wigeon
  27.  Woodpigeon