Monday, 31 October 2016

Bempton Cliffs: Jubilee Point to Dykes End

A thick blanket of fog greeted me as I arrived at Bempton Cliffs. It eventually lifted aided by the mild southerly breeze and when the hazy sun shone it was a lovely day, beautiful autumn day. I first walked around the bird feeding station and the nature trail. There were many Blackbirds about, but not much else. The cliffs were spookily silent, with no Kittiwakes about, which provide the leading soundtrack in the spring and summer. Through the haze, I spotted two birds on the sea. After several tries I managed to get a few poor shots. As I checked later at the visitor centre a birded confirmed that the one on the right was a drake Scaup, with its Shag companion.
 This Wren stood still long enough for a shot on a fence post.
 A few Reed Buntings were about.
 At the viewing areas, especially on the west of the reserve there were dense swarms of small flies and midges. As I was returning from Jubilee point a Goldcrest called. It was feeding on dry stems by the cliff edge.
A Rock Pipit was also feeding on the cliff edge, surely hunting for midges too.
 And then I noticed the Jackdaws. First I though they were tumbling on the breeze as they often do, but no, they were actually hawking for the midges.
This video gives an idea of what was going on (at least they didn't bite!):

This Aphodius sp. beetle and another green beetle landed on me.
Back at the visitor centre a few Tree Sparrows basked on the bushes.
Female Stonechat
Staple Newk looks ghostly without Gannets. 
Not empty though, as there were many Feral Pigeons on it.
The pieces of colourful net rope makes the empty Gannet colony look a bit like a rubbish tip. A young male Blackbird sat on it for a while. Jackdaws played going round and round it.
After the trip to the south end of Danes Dyke on Friday, I decided to walking to the north end, called 'Dykes End'. Here, the dyke is not covered on trees, and its massive size can be fully appreciated. 
The bulge of Danes Dyke in the distance.
Looking south from the top of the dyke. Flamborough peninsula on the left, the ditch can be seen on the right.
View from the top of Danes Dyke. An impressive human construction!
This puffin sculpture stays on the cliffs year round by Dykes End, unlike the real puffins, which will be gone until next spring.
Skylarks were plentiful and very vocal. These chased for quite a while, chirruping non stop.
A few Shags at the base of Staple Newk.
Probably the same female Stonechat on the way back.
A very confiding Fieldfare fed on a path.
This lone Pink-footed goose seemed a bit lost on a field, with just Herring Gulls and Pheasants for company. Hopefully it will join a flock passing by.
A trip to the reserve is worth any time of the year, with 34 birds seen today, many  of them migrating.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Danes Dyke

A half term day trip with the kids to the beach. The weather was promising, dry, still and mild.
As we get out of the car, the calls of pinkfoot fill the air and a flock in V formation of around 100 fly high on their south migration.
 We walk through the woodland path, at the bottom of the ancient ditch that cuts across the Flamborough Headland, at its southern end towards the beach.

It's full low tide as we arrive, which exposes a wide and golden sandy beach. We camp at the bottom of the cliff and while the kids run around on the beach chasing a football and Pokemons, I do a spot of seawatching.

There is a group of about 20 Common Scoters not too far offshore, feeding in the calm water. They do the sequential diving as Tufted ducks do, one after the other. The whole flock disappearing for a few seconds and then appearing one after the other.

A large, dark and powerful bird flies fast across the sea. It's a Peregrine! It eventually disappears from sight towards South Landing before I can take a photo.
 We upturn a few boulders revealing seething masses of jumping beach hoppers. One of them has just moulted and not quite ready for jumping yet!
There are plenty of Robins and Wrens on the cliffs. 
At the bottom, they are joined by a Redshank, keen to feed on the tideline.
 There are also Rock Pipits, hard to count, but about five of them. They are a bit of a photographic challenge, as they like to feed on the very dark kelp, which contrasts massively with the very white chalk boulders.

As I go for a little walk up the beach, I meet a group of very hurried sanderlings, running their usual race by the waves. They are very entertaining to watch.

The Yorkshire Belle passing by.
After lunch, we head back through the path in the woods. The woodland has large beech, ash and sycamore, with a few garden ornamentals around the car park such as an Araucaria.

A view of the wooded ravine.
The woodland floor was very dry, even under logs. We only found five large White-legged Snake Millipede, Tachypodoiulus niger, on a decomposing log.
Back to the other side of the ravine across the bridge.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Sunny autumn day at North Cliff Wood

Although the lure of the coast and its migration wonders was there, I decided to head inland, to the small jewel that is North Cliffe Wood. There seem to always be something interesting going on there and I wanted to take advantage of the sunny weather forecast to try and see some late insects. Although it was quite windy, the shelter of the trees made for a pleasant walk around. 
 A few Parasol Mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera) were open in all their magnificence at the start of the heath. Its is hard to show in a photo how large they are!
 Many Common Darters were about and they became more active as the morning progressed. No Migrant Hawkers though.
Female Common Darter
Male Common Darter.
There were also plenty of droneflies, here a male Eristalis tenax.
I saw a hornet in flight with the corner of my eye. It was on a sunny spot by the path, with an almost dry pond covered on reeds on the side. I waited a bit and then saw another. They appeared to be patrolling over the reeds. I thought that they might come and rest on the path or on the trees, as it was still a bit cold. One did. It was still quite high, so no macro shots, but I was pleased with them, my best hornet shots yet!

As I restarted my walk, Redwings called their alarm calls. I noticed a rowan ahead and watched. The Redwings left, but there was a flock of Bramblings feeding on the berry seeds, discarding the pulp (which I suspect thrushes will eat from the forest floor later). I moved slowly to a better position and sat on a mossy cushion. Watched and photograph the Bramblings from there. A Fieldfare joined them for a short while.
Male brambling

A group of Long-tailed tits made their appearance later as I was having my lunch on the clearing where the hornets were. They were in the company of a Great tit, a Coal Tit and a Marsh tit. Common Darters sat on the sunny spot and hunted from the path. A Common Carder bee queen also came down to bask. Over my head a gliding butterfly, a Red Admiral, which settled on a tree.
Common Carden Bee, Bombus pascuorum.

A Field Digger Wasp, Mellinus arvensis.
A robberfly, likely Machinus atricapillus

I had checked many logs today, not finding much of interest, until this:
A Crab spider, Ozyptila sp. unfortunately, just after taking this shot, it rolled onto dry leaves and I couldn't find it again.
A pair of Buzzards called, soaring over the heathland. When I looked up, a kestrel was hovering practically over my head, with the Buzzards higher up. A passing crow decided he had to bother the Buzzards and climbed up to their level and started mobbing one.