Friday, 20 March 2015

Far Ings and Water's Edge

The weather forecast of showers resulted in a trip to a reserve with hides. Far Ings ticked the box. In the event, the rain didn't materialised, but it was cold and a bit breezy anyway, so access to a visitor centre with hot beverages was much welcome. Highlights included a singing willow tit in Far Ings and a water rail calling and grunting, tantalisingly close but out of sight in the reeds.
A large patch on the reed bed had been burnt.
Two of the cormorants on the tern raft.
This marsh harrier landed on the cut reeds and stayed there for quite some time
Until another one turned up...
And a chase ensued.
Marsh harrier
Dog violet, one of the few flowers about.
Male reed bunting
Tufted duck display
View from the new draughty hide.
Redshank by the estuary
Female Goldeneye
Singing Willow Tit
Little Grebe
Two woodpigeons sitting on their nest.
Yellowhammers, Dunnock and Blackbird.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Spring in the farm

A family outing to Honeysuckle Farm. There were sunny spells when we arrived and it was mild enough in the sun for a picnic. The pond by the barn was teeming with frogs. Most appeared to be males bumping into each other and croaking, but there was a female about with attendant male. No frogspawn yet though. 
A buzzard flew over, the first one I've seen in this location, I was very pleased to hear my son later (who was somewhere else at the time) say he had spotted a buzzard too.  The nicest find was a Lesser Redpoll feeding with a Coal Tit in a group of larches.
 We walked around the young woodland. Trees are growing fast, most already outgrowing their guards! Other than primroses and gorse little else was in bloom.
 In the cow field there was a male yellowhammer, but I didn't hear any singing while we were there. A flock of chaffinch, jackdaws, a pied wagtail and a few rooks fed around the cows.
It clouded over and the breeze gave a strong wind chill factor. After icecreams we were more than ready to get back in the car and head home.
Calling Dunnock
A nicely spotted Frog
A pair in amplexus dives as another male jumps on them
More croaking.
Coal Tit feeding on larch seeds.
And a Lesser Redpoll doing the same.
Lesser Redpoll
Cows and Jackdaws
Two male House Sparrows with different bib size
Bird list
  1. Blackbird
  2. Blue Tit
  3. Buzzard
  4. Chaffinch
  5. Coal Tit
  6. Common Gull
  7. Dunnock
  8. Feral Pigeon
  9. Goldfinch
  10. Great Tit
  11. Greenfinch
  12. House Sparrow
  13. Jackdaw
  14. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  15. Lesser Redpoll
  16. Long-tailed Tit
  17. Pied Wagtail
  18. Robin
  19. Rook
  20. Starling
  21. Woodpigeon
  22. Wren
  23. Yellowhammer

Monday, 9 March 2015

Hollym Carrs Nature Reserve

My first visit today to this nature reserve (10 hectares) owned by the South Holderness Countryside Society. We parked at the village of Hollym, just south of Withernsea, and walked on the bridleway for about a mile to the entrance of the reserve. The bridleway is lined by hedgerows, trees and a little pond and a stream amongst a couple of farms and arable fields. A Skylark sung and a pair of Greylags called nervously. I found an old barn owl pellet on the path (later found to contain a bank vole and a field vole).
 A large panel showing some flagship species and a map welcomed us by the reserve entrance. Shortly after I spotted the first of three hares we saw speeding away. The reserve was crisscrossed by narrow tracks on the grass. After some wondering of what could be doing them the hoofprints of roe deer revealed the path-maker mystery. A crow rattled and a buzzard flew off. Despite the reserve being surrounded by agricultural land, there are some woods nearby (Weldon's plantation on the background of the top shot), and old hedgerows with the odd lone tree, and it is great to see that Buzzards have colonised much of the Holderness peninsula.
 We reached a pond area surrounded by reeds and bullrushes and starting to be overgrown with willow. A Reed Bunting flew to a large willow and we flushed a hare from its form on the grass.
 Many trees were planted in the reserve, mainly oak and ash, also with hawthorn, which are now starting to outgrow their tree guards. In due time this will make for a welcome woodland in an area dominated by arable farmland.
 A reservoir near the reserve held some Mallard, Teal and Shoveler. A pair of Greylags called noisily, undecided if to flee or not. A small Golden Plover flock flew over the farms.
A young oak with many knopper galls
briddleway to Hollym Carrs
Map of the reserve on the information panel 
Flowering gorse
Roe deer path
Spiders (likely Clubiona sp.) in their cells under tree guards.

Bird list
  1. Blackbird
  2. Bullfinch
  3. Buzzard
  4. Carrion Crow
  5. Chaffinch
  6. Golden Plover
  7. Goldfinch
  8. Great Tit
  9. Greylag Goose
  10. Magpie
  11. Mallard
  12. Reed Bunting
  13. Robin
  14. Shoveler
  15. Skylark
  16. Song Thrush
  17. Teal
  18. Woodpigeon
  19. Wren

More information
Reserve website.

Location map

Monday, 2 March 2015

Wintry Blacktoft Sands

A very wintry day, snow storms, sleet, and rain driven horizontally by relentless wind at Blacktoft Sands today. As we had been aware of the weather forecast we chose this RSPB nature reserve well stocked with hides. A Greylag flock fed by the reserve entrance and a pair of Robins close to each other fed on the car park. The feeders were busy with Tree Sparrows, Pheasants, Magpies and Woodpigeon. We quickly moved into Xerox hide to avoid an upcoming storm. Dunlin fed amongst the slumbering Wigeon. A drake Pintail, Redshank, Shelduck. At some point a Grey Heron landed on one of the Islands.
 The pond by Marshland hide was almost devoid of birds. It was better at Ousefleet hide, where, the four Konik ponies were napping next to each other, their backs to the driving snow. There were plenty of Shoveler, some Greylag geese and Teal. The ponies woke up from their slumber and browsed a bit, while flocks of birds flew in the distance (top shot).
 A sunny spell! time to move quickly to the eastern side of the reserve. We saw a hare running on the bank from First hide. Shovelers fed in a frenzied whirlwind of a dance, some times including bottoms up. Two female Goldeneye and a Tufted duck move about in the lake. A pair of Little Grebes at the far end.
From Singleton hide we watched a flock of Wigeon feeding close up, with a few Snipe amongst them. We had the best views of a male and a female/immature Marsh Harrier, at some point with a rainbow in the distance.
Dunlin and Wigeon
A view from Ousefleet hide with snowstorm
Drake Pintail

A few shots of the Konik ponies below.

Hare footprints?
Rainbow and distant Marsh Harrier
Wigeon feeding
Drake wigeon
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier (with no pylons in the background!)
Bird list
  1. Blackbird
  2. Blue Tit
  3. Carrion Crow
  4. Chaffinch
  5. Coot
  6. Curlew
  7. Dunlin
  8. Dunnock
  9. Gadwall
  10. Goldeneye
  11. Great Tit
  12. Grey Heron
  13. Greylag Goose
  14. House Sparrow
  15. Little Grebe
  16. Magpie
  17. Mallard
  18. Marsh Harrier
  19. Moorhen
  20. Mute Swan
  21. Pheasant
  22. Pintail
  23. Pochard
  24. Redshank
  25. Reed Bunting
  26. Robin
  27. Shelduck
  28. Shoveler
  29. Skylark
  30. Snipe
  31. Starling
  32. Stock Dove
  33. Teal
  34. Tree Sparrow
  35. Tufted Duck
  36. Wigeon
  37. Woodpigeon
  38. Wren