Monday, 28 April 2014

Warbler jazz jam and ratty at Noddle Hill

The reserve was quite empty on arrival, just one car in the car park, probably a fisherman's, and I didn't see anybody until the very end when I walked around the lake. I went anticlockwise using mainly the perimeter path, and a bit of crisscrossing. On the woodland area both Blackcap and Chiffchaff were singing, and then I heard a faintly familiar song on the woodland edge. Clear from branches, almost atop a hawthorn, a Lesser Whitethroat sung, it threw me as they usually hide when singing. On the scrub there was a band of Whitethroats and a sprinkle of Sedge Warblers, all singing to the top of their voices and performing aerial acrobatics while singing. A Dunnock also sung replying to Whitethroats and a male Reed Bunting joined in. Ahead in the path I noticed a strange reeling, cicada-style noise emanating from a large clump of brambles, it was just audible and as I got as close as I could I realised it was a Grasshopper Warbler. Unfortunately I couldn't get very close as the brambles were quite inaccessible. I returned before leaving the reserve and it was still singing in the same spot.
 A Skylark was singing too and later a Willow Warbler.
Suddenly a flock of starlings took off from the fields opposite the entrance of the reserve, and the crows too. Then I heard the rattling call of crows and I saw two mobbing what it appeared to be a kestrel flying straight through, however, its tail and wings were very pointy and the forewing appeared curved, a cuckoo?! I heard no calls though and the crows let it go and it disappeared into the distance.
 I finished of with a walk around the lake. There were several greylag families and a few mallards. As I passed by a cleared out area in the shore, a dark, round thing plopped into the water just by me. I stayed still, and a few seconds later a water vole emerged taking little notice of me. It cut leaves of the marginal vegetation and took them away, presumably to eat. As I was taking the water vole photos, I heard a Reed Warbler singing, my first of the year, and later, I even managed to capture a shot. A total of 33 birds species (not counting the possible cuckoo).
Lesser Whitethroat, singing exposed
Sedge Warbler
Reed Bunting
And another whitethroat
Greylag family
Water vole, taking away some leaf fragments.
Reed Warbler

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Hull River bank by Bransholme

A sunny, warm and pleasant day, I went for a walk by the river bank between the A1033 Twin bridge and Sutton Road Bridge. Although the river is still tidal there, the banks especially the west one, is well vegetated with an almost continuous reed belt and occasional willows. On the East bank, there are still some fields, wooded patches and the reservoir of the Bransholme Water treatment works, which currently pumps surface water from Bransholme to the River Hull. This reservoir is an interesting birdwatching site. Today there were Lesser Black-backed and Herring gulls, a few Tufted ducks, Coots, Mallards a Mute Swan and three Gadwalls. Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were singing.
 The views were beautiful, with the new reeds starting to show at the base of the golden, old stems. Coots, Moorhens and Mallards fed on the river itself. I heard a Magpie singing from a tree, first time I hear it singing, most curious.
 As I arrived by the Sutton Road Bridge, three Swallows were flying and singing by it and under it.
Long-Tailed tit on Willow
The start of the walk on the twin bridge over the river Hull on the A1033.
A Magpie collected material to line its nest from the grassy banks.
River bank view
There were many butterflies on the wing, most Small Tortoiseshells feeding on dandelions, but also Peacocks and a few Small Whites
Feeding mallards
A bend of the river with reed beds and horses
Many Yellow Dung Flies, Scathophaga stercoraria on horse manure
Male blackbird
One of three Swallows flying by the Sutton Road Bridge
Sutton Road Bridge
Another view of the river
An unlikely pair: Coot and Woodpigeon
tethered Horse
Spider, Larinioides sp.
A view of the lagoon of the water treatment plant.
Location map

Bird list
  1. Black-headed Gull
  2. Blackbird
  3. Blackcap
  4. Blue Tit
  5. Carrion Crow
  6. Chaffinch
  7. Chiffchaff
  8. Coot
  9. Cormorant
  10. Dunnock
  11. Gadwall
  12. Great Tit
  13. Greenfinch
  14. Herring Gull
  15. House Sparrow
  16. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  17. Long-tailed Tit
  18. Magpie
  19. Mallard
  20. Moorhen
  21. Mute Swan
  22. Robin
  23. Feral Pigeon
  24. Swallow
  25. Tufted Duck
  26. Woodpigeon
  27. Wren

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Cold spring day at Honeysuckle farm

I eagerly await the opening of Honeysuckle farm each spring. It is a lovely place to spend a day, not only for the kids, who can spend hours jumping on the hay bales, but for adults alike, especially if you enjoy that rural feel associated to farms. Today it started sunny, but it clouded up and we had only brief sunny spells, with a persistent cool breeze.
 The Woodpigeon at the top shot was sitting atop a hen house, having a rest. It looked most relaxed, closing her eyes every now and then, but also keeping a keen ear, as became alert and stretched her head at a disturbance by the chickens.
One thing I look forward specially is to watch the Yellowhammers, but today they were absent, I didn't hear their song and they weren't around in their usual place. Unusual as well it was that there was no chiffchaff song. We also drew a blank with the water voles.
 There were several butterflies about, a Green-Veined white, a Peacock and a pair of Commas.
A male sparrow chirping from a gutter
This female Greenfinch collected moss for her nest.
Jackdaws like to feed by the cows, they also often perch on the cows back and remove some of the winter coat hair for nest lining.
Lesser Celandine.
Mute Swan
Cuckoo flower, Cardamine pratensis, the first flowers of the year.
A Rook feeding on a field, probably a young from last year judging by the brown tinge of its primaries and lack of shine on its back.

A record shot of a Swallow, who fed on this field with horses and Common Gulls
One of a small flock of Common Gulls
Female House Sparrow
Linnet singing
Green-veined white, 1st of the year.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

All aflutter at Snuff Mill Lane

It had been over a year I hadn't visited The morning was mixed, warm sunny spells interrupted by light showers. Many birds were in full song, As I arrived in the car park I heard the song of a Blackcap, my first of the year. Chiffchaffs sung as well. Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks, slightly more of the former around. 
 A 30 strong flock of Redwing atop a popar surprised me. I thought them already returned to their winter quarters.
 Flower wise the Blackthorn was in full bloom and there were Lesser Celandines, Violets and Butterbur on bloom too.
 A beautiful spring walk on this jewel of a site.
Male Blackcap singing on a sprouting Hawthorn
Male Chiffchaff singing
Small Woodpigeon flock feeding on the grass
I might have been too close to his nest for comfort as this Chaffinch scolded me with his screeching call
Long-tailed tit
Stock dove singing from nest box
Small tortoiseshell feeding on blackthorn flowers
Spot the feeding butterflies on the top shot on this blackthorn
Flowering butterbur
side view of the flower
A brain-like fungus
singing Great tit
A large flock of redwing on poplar. Migrating back?
Blackbird singing
Greenfinch singing