Monday, 18 December 2017

A calm low tide at South Landing

A very calm, sunny and mild day at South Landing. The tide was completely out on arrival. The usual Pied Wagtails and Rock Pipits fed by the stream and on the tide line. At the other end of the beach, where the tiny waves were lapping the beach, a curlew and some Oystercatchers searched for food.
Pied Wagtail on the stream.
Curlew with ragworm.
Robin on the beach.
South Landing low tide.
Carrion Crows mobbing something atop the cliff.
A cacophony of harsh crow calls called my attention. Over 40 crows were circling and calling low over the cliffs. I kept looking in their direction hoping for a raptor to appear, but I had no luck. The crows settled a bit and then I noticed they were breaking shells at the top of the beach (something I have watched previously at Sewerby beach, nearby, see this blog post). They were collecting periwinkles at the bottom of the exposed beach, then flying to the top, where there are large exposed flat rocks and dropping them, the impact audible, immediately flying down to reap their reward: an exposed, cracked periwinkle. I know that's what they were eating as I collected lots of freshly broken common periwinkle (Littorina littorea) shells, their shards very sharp plus a clam and a mussel. 
The moment the crow drops the shell.
Crow eating periwinkle.
An intact periwinkle and lot's of broken fragments collected at the top of the beach.
Freshly Broken mussel shells.
Broken periwinkle shells on flat rock.

It was almost an hour later, when the crows started gathering and cawing insistently again, I looked up, and the profile of a fox showed at the top of the cliff. The crows would fly low and pester him. The fox moved across the cliff giving me a chance to record a video of it before it walked out of sight.
My first sighting of the fox.
Fox. Video here:

It went quiet again, but not for long. As I walked on the beach in the direction of Danes Dyke I heard the cackling calls of fulmars. I would have completely missed them if I hadn't heard them, sitting on the cliffs. There were nine of them, some in pairs, which called and billed and gently nipped each other. Two of them kept circling, landing occasionally, and then leaving again to circle the cliffs.
Fulmar pair.
Fulmar pair.
Four Fulmars on the cliffs and two came from circling.

After lunch with the fulmars, I headed back to the landing. A Turnstone was digging the soil between the cracks in the rock. A clear element in coastal erosion, turnstones!
Turnstone on the cliff.
There was a Common Seal perched on a rock near the landing. The tide was starting to come in, and the rock where the seal was was quickly becoming submerged.
Common Seal.
Trying to keep flippers dry.
Barely any rock left!
On the sand, six sanderlings stopped for a few minutes to rest from their constant races.
As I was leaving I noticed a bird washing on the stream. It was a Stonechat.
Stonechat bathing.
Here it is again, now mostly dry

A wonderful day out, plenty of mild sunshine and a great assortment of birds and mammals on South Landing today.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Frosty Alkborough Flats with a Fox

A very frosty, but still morning with sunny spells. Given the high tide and lack of wind I decided to go to Alkborough Flats. The flats were indeed very frosty, and the area in front of the hide also covered on ice. The only birds visible were Marsh Harriers, at some point four flew together. 
A couple of Stonechats hunted on the frosty plains.
Song Thrush with Snail.
Four Marsh Harriers.
 I decided to walk around the reserve and as I was leaving the hide I noticed a Fox ahead of me. It was mostly preoccupied with hunting and it didn't notice me. It stood tensely listening and did it's foxy jump a couple of times. These were the most prolonged views I've had of a Fox ever!
Typical fox jump.
About to jump.
On the wet grassy fields, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank were resting or feeding while some Fieldfares and Greenfinches were on the hedges. A Mink ran across the path and didn't appear again.
Lapwings and Black-tailed Godwits.

Kestrel, with the Wolds in the background.
Barnacle Geese.
Whooper Swans.
Black-tailed Godwits.
One of two Little Stints on the frosty grass. One managed to catch a large earthworm.
The iced out wet grassland where the Little Stint were feeding.
The river Trent.
A flock of Shoveler and some Wigeon on the river.

Carrion Crow mobbing a Buzzard
The remains of a Song Thrush meal, broken snail shells.
 The snow and hail showers seemed to veer towards the Wolds and Alkborough stayed dry, and in the afternoon, the sun made an appearance.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Filey Brigg and bay with Hull Nats

The last Hull Nats trip of the year, we meet in the car park of the Filey Country Park. Very frosty along the way and a very cold breeze atop the cliffs. We go down the gully to the landing and it is much nicer, sheltered with the and the sun warming us nicely while we watch the amazing breakers at the Brigg, the tide high starting to ebb. Someone calls a Stonechat, and a male flies past, settling for a brief moment on some bushes, before moving on. We split into two groups, I join Harry (@polychloros) and Andrew for a walk along the beach to the Brigg. We wait at the top of the beach for the tide to ebb a bit more and we spend it watching three Purple Sandpipers, a Ringed Plover, Redshank Turnstones and Oystercatchers frantically feeding on the freshly exposed shore.
Breakers at the Brigg.
A Stonechat record shot.
Filey Bay and the Brigg.
Harry and Andrew walking towards the Brigg.
Redshank flying past.
Ringed Plover.
Purple Sandpiper and Turnstones.
A group of Cormorants dry their wings on the lee side of the Brigg, while the breakers explode against the rocks on the other. A Wren sits on a rock incongruously, while the waves roar behind it. 
Limpets and barnacles.
Young Cormorant.
A Carrion Crow eats a mussel periwinkle it just dropped onto the rocks.
The Brigg.
Oystercatcher with mussel.
Ringed Y-818, will report.
After a short while at the Brigg we head back to join the rest of the group for a well deserved fish and chips. 
The Christmas tree at Filey.
Rock Pipit in town.

Surfer and Great Crested Grebe.
The very tame Purple Sandpiper that Harry spotted.