Monday, 27 February 2017

Wykeham Raptor Viewpoint

We took advantage of a brief window in the weather to head to Wykeham Forest Viewpoint. This is located in a Forestry Commission plantation, on a ridge with great views over Troutdale, and favoured by raptors displaying and passing during migration.
Shortly after arrival a Goshawk gave a brief view as it was mobbed by a crow and two Buzzards soared on the ridge opposite. But a few minutes later, a Goshawk displayed along the ridge in their territorial rollercoaster-like display, climbing up and stooping down repeatedly (the spot on the top shot is a goshawk). Although I've seen Sparrowhawks displaying like this over my street, the setting here was fantastic. A few Crossbills called from the spruce trees and one of them crossed between them. After a short while, the rain started to fall softly, but the dark clouds looked very ominous, so it was time to call it a day. I will definitely be back here, in the summer, where Honey Buzzards can be seen from the viewpoint.
 The viewpoint is 5 min walk from a small car park and there are a couple of benches that double as screens and come very handy to support your arms when using binoculars.
The woodland on arrival. 
View of Troutdale.

An information panel on raptors and other birds you can see. 

More information
Forestry Commission Website. Here. Includes location map and further information on Wykeham Forest.

Bird list

  1. Carrion Crow
  2. Buzzard
  3. Woodpigeon
  4. Common Crossbill
  5. Stock Dove
  6. Brambling
  7. Goshawk
  8. Robin
  9. Pheasant
  10. Coal Tit

New Ings Revisited

An early morning visit to New Ings, a site in the outskirts of Hull where there's been a few sightings of Short Eared Owls. After the rainy, windy day yesterday I was hoping for some hunting owls, and shortly after arrival we weren't disappointed as two Barn Owls were hunting by the tree line. The ditches were quite full. Skylarks and the occasional Reed Bunting were singing. It was nice to see three stonechats, one an adult male, during the walk.
 Under an ash in the middle of the area we find plenty of Barn Owl pellets, and some more under a pylon. 
We then moved to a wetter field with reed patches and shortly after we flush a Short-eared Owl! It flies ahead and settles not far. We end up flushing it again before we can see it on the ground, and this time it flies further, and gets mobbed by a Carrion Crow and Skylarks, so it was forced to fly in a circle around the area until it lost them. 
 We watch a curious phenomenon I keep seeing in the last couple of weeks. A large gull flock circling like they are rising with thermals. These are Common and Black-headed gulls.
A distant shot of a Barn Owl hunting with the Humber Bridge in the background.
Two buck Roe Deer.
Short-eared owl with the background of greenhouses.
Circling gulls. 
Carrion Crow mobbing Short-eared owl. 

The Barn Owl pellet collection.
Results of the dissection:

Pellet 1. 1 common shrew, 2 field voles
Pellet 2. 2 field voles.
Pellet 3. 3 field voles.
Pellet 4. 2 house mice, 1 field vole.
Pellet 5. 3 field voles.
Pellet 6. half field vole.
Pellet 7. 3 field voles.
Pellet 8. 2 field voles.
Pellet 9. 3 field voles.
Pellet 10. half field vole.
Pellet 11. A few incissors and leg bones.
Pellet 12. no skulls, just leg bones, some undigested stuff.
Pellet 13. 1 field vole.
Pellet 14. 1 field voles.
Pellet 15. no bones or skulls.
Pellet 16. 1 field vole.
Pellet 17. fragments of a skull of 1 field voles.
Pellet 18. 1 field vole.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Flooded Snuff Mill Lane

I had a walk at Snuff Mill Lane in the morning. I am glad I took my wellies, as the site was quite wet, the ditches full, paths muddy and scrapes flooded, but it was a very mild, sunny day. As I entered the site, I flushed a Kestrel, which settled again not far away on a hawthorn. The Kestrel watched the meadow intently from a hawthorn. It eventually went to the ground, but disappeared from sight, and then I noticed that a doe Roe Deer was resting on the meadow. She spotted me and stood up, watching me with curiosity (top shot).
 I carried on. Chaffinches were in full song, and Bullfinches called their mournful notes from the Hawthorns. I heard the calls of distant geese flying, Pinkfeet! a neat skein, 50 strong passed overhead. Spring is definitely on its way!
Female Kestrel. 
Flooded meadows. 
Pink-footed geese. 
A flooded ditch. 
A view of a meadow. 
A pair of Mallards feeding on a flooded meadow.
A pair of Pied Wagtails. 
Carrion Crow mobbing Sparrowhawk.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Flooded Wheldrake Ings

Sunday trip was to Wheldrake Ings with Hull Nats. There were reports the reserve was flooded, but water had receded enough that a walk was doable - with wellies - around the reserve. Paths were very muddy and flooded at times, but overall it was a mild day with little wind, although it remained overcast for most of it. Wheldrake Ings, owned by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, is part of a large National Nature Reserve, the Lower Derwent Valley, which is also a RAMSAR site by its wintering wildfowl.
 A pair of Bullfinches greeted us in the car park by the bridge over the Derwent while Great Spotted Woodpeckers drummed in the distance. We watched the large expanse of flooded meadows from the wooden bridge. A large flock of Lapwings and a larger one of Golden Plovers kept being flushed. A Peregrine was soon spotted as the culprit. The Peregrine flew up into the flock, then down and away, at some point it was being followed by the Lapwings. What a fantastic spectacle!
 On the water, lots of Pintail. I'm used to see these ducks in single figures, they were great to watch.
 We also caught up with some Willow Tits and a small flock of Lesser Redpolls. 
The site is quite expansive and links to other small reserves and the Pocklington Canal (which I am still to visit, possibly later in the year). Despite the mud we had a great day, ticking 60 birds species overall.
Female Bullfinch.

Male Bullfinch.
Panel with map of the reserve.
Flood plains of the River Derwent.
More flooded meadows.
Teal on the alert.
Male Roe Deer.
Rover Derwent from the bridge.
A distant Peregrine. 
Lesser Redpoll.  
Barnacle Geese.
A stonefly, Nemoura sp.
lapwing and golden plover.
Flooded path.
One of several Grey Herons coming to roost in the trees by the river.

More information
Wheldrake Ings NR website. Here.
Lower Derwent Valley NNR leaflet. Here.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Fierce seas at Filey

A cold, and mostly cloudy day with strong easterly wind at Filey. We walked the exposed beach and rocky shores to the Brigg with leaky wellies, rock-pooling and birdwatching along the way. It was low tide and a group of Herring Gulls, a Curlew a couple of Redshank and a few Turnstones fed on the sandy beach.
The waves were breaking on the Brigg, squadrons of Gannets steadily passing south, low over the water with the occasional Fulmar and Guillemot. A few Shags were fishing very close to the rocks, where a mixed flock of Knot, Purple Sandpipers and Oystercatchers had to rush from the breaking waves every now and then.
This Redshank looked particularly handsome.
Common cockle, Cerastoderma edule.
Common Hermit Crab, Pagurus bernhardus
This Turnstone was checking underside seaweed. 
Common periwinkle, Littorina littorea
Beadlet Anemone, Actinia equina
Rough periwinkle, Littorina saxatilis.

Sea Foam at the Brigg. 
Flat periwinkle, Littorina obtusata 
Blue-rayed limpet, Helcion pellucidum on kelp.
Breaking waves on a sunny spell. 
Rock Pipit. 
Fulmar calling.