Saturday, 25 March 2017

Up the River Hull. 6. Figham Common

I walked another section of the River Hull this mild, sunny afternoon. I started in Woodmansey, where a public footpath joining the southern end of Figham Common. The river bends west, hugging the old common land laying on the SE of Beverley. Historically, the common has been very low laying, waterlogged ground despite repeated draining attempts since medieval times. Today three large drains cross it, but only the western side of the common, which is drier, is suitable as pasture land, while the eastern side by the river is marshy, with rushes and temporary pools or boggy terrain all year round. There are quite a few scattered trees, old willows, hawthorns and just a patch of reed bed by the river near the lock at Beverley Beck.
 As I reach the river I watch a tractor tilling a field on the other bank followed by a retinue of birds: Carrion Crows, Jackdaws, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Common gulls, Woodpigeons, Stock Doves, a few Lapwing and two Oystercatchers. A Skylark sings above.
In the middle of a field further ahead, two Grey Herons sit still like scarecrows, and two Hares further away feed on the grass. A pair of Greylag dozes on the bank opposite.
I make the walk into a circular route, returning by the Beverley and Barmston Drain towards Woodmansey after reaching the lock at Beverley Beck. You can see the route in the Wild at Hull map on the right.
Entrance to the common from Woodmansey.
As I enter the common a Small Tortoiseshell flutters and settles on the grass. Later, a peacock flies by.
Two Little Egrets fly over the river. 
Female Kestrel. 
Beverley and Barmston Drain, from Figham Bridge. 
Tractor followed by birds. 
View of the river, looking downstream from the S end of Figham. 
Waterlogged ground and trees. Blackthorn in bloom.

Old elder (a bit redundant wording!)
View of the common from the river bank.
River, bank and common. 
Arriving at the lock of Beverley Beck. 
Beverley Beck lock.
A pair of swans on the drain.

More Information
Archaeological Survey of Figham common. here.
Information on the birds of Figham Common. here.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Red Kite Roost

A calm, sunny Sunday evening, I decide it's a good opportunity for add Red Kite to my year list and try and catch some pre-roost activity. The area between Warter and Nunburnholme on the Yorkshire Wolds is known for holding a Red Kite roost, a fantastic spectacle. In a short stroll from Warter, on a flooded field, there are Teal, Gadwall, Mallard and a pair of Greylags. A Jay flies across the valley to a small wood. A Mistle Thrush sings from a lone tree by the road, and a Marsh Tit from the woods. 
 From a high vantage point on a lay by on the road, there are raptors all round, at least 8 Red Kites, 4 Buzzards and a pair of Kestrels. This is a great spot, overlooking the rolling wolds, unusually wooded for East Yorkshire.
Cock Pheasant on tree. There was an incredibly high density of Pheasants in the area. 
This is one of the most beautifully marked Buzzards I've ever seen. Pity the photo is a bit distant.
Kestrel joins in the soaring of the thermal. 
Red Kite. 
Red Kite and Jackdaw 
Flooded field. 
Drake Gadwall.
Buzzards soaring. 
One of the Red Kites settled on a tree. 
And several Buzzards were also getting ready to roost. 

Two of the Red Kites soar together. 
On the way back, we spot at least two Little Owls getting ready to start hunting at dusk. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Up the River Hull. 5. Thearne

A quick stage today, up and down the right river margin between Ferry Lane at Thearne and the southern entrance to Figham Common. Woodpigeons, Pheasants, a Stock Dove and four Fieldfares feed on a field by the Ferry crossing. The river runs very high. It's cloudy, but mild and calm. The river, lined by grassy banks is occasionally fringed with reeds and a few willows, meanders by farmland with the occasional copse.
 By Kenley Reach Farm a group of Lapwings takes flight with their squeaky calls. I spot a black rabbit, which are not that unusual in the area. Cormorants, Coots and a few Mallards and Moorhens can be seen from the bank on the fishing pond. I hear the first Yellowhammer song of the year by the entrance to Figham Common, which will be the next stage.
The Ferry Crossing on Thearne side, looking south.
Male Lapwing.
These cows objected to me walking on the riverbank.
Carr Plantation.
The bend in the river by the fishing lake. Two Moorhens crossing.
Cormorants resting on the fishing lake.

Entrance to Figham Common. 
Cormorant flying over the river.
Stage 5 aerial view. 1.8 km each way.

Bird List
  1. Black-headed Gull
  2. Blackbird
  3. Blue Tit
  4. Carrion Crow
  5. Chaffinch
  6. Collared Dove
  7. Common Gull
  8. Coot
  9. Cormorant
  10. Dunnock
  11. Fieldfare
  12. Goldfinch
  13. Great Tit
  14. Greenfinch
  15. Greylag Goose
  16. House Sparrow
  17. Jackdaw
  18. Lapwing
  19. Magpie
  20. Mallard
  21. Mistle Thrush
  22. Moorhen
  23. Pheasant
  24. Robin
  25. Feral Pigeon
  26. Rook
  27. Skylark
  28. Song Thrush
  29. Starling
  30. Stock Dove
  31. Tree Sparrow
  32. Woodpigeon
  33. Wren
  34. Yellowhammer

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Up the River Hull. 4. Kingswood to Wawne

The weather forecast for today was of no rain and sunny spells, so I drove to Kingswood by the bridge over the River Hull to walk to Wawne. This stage goes through the last of the farmland in the Hull city council area, which is disappearing fast to development, entering East Riding of Yorkshire. The twin bridge carrying the A1033 road is the last in a long stretch, as there are no bridges until Grovehill Bridge, north of Weel. There used to be a ferry at Wawne, which stopped by 1946, and Ferry Lane at Wawne was the end of the stage.
 I join the bank after going through the underpass under the bridge. The grassy bank is not as muddy as I was expecting. As soon as I start, over the noise of the busy road and building construction, I notice the song of Skylarks. Them, and the occasional Reed Bunting song, accompany me through the stage. A few Linnets fly over, they are the first of the year for me. A roe deer feeds on the other side of the river. Overall, a relatively long stage, given the return by the meandering river, but quite pleasant yielding 39 bird species.
Cormorants, posing, all sculptural atop pylons. Every pylon by the river had a few resting. There are few large trees by the river and the pylons seem to suit them. 
Floodlights are used in the same way by a Kestrel. 
A Greylag sitting on the other side of the river. 
Roe Deer. 
A bend in the river looking north. 
A wetland created a few years ago by the river bank, possibly to compensate for the development, could find no name for it, is now fringed by reed beds. 
A pair of mute swans, coot, moorhen and mallard were in residence in the wetlands.
Another cormorant on a pylon, this one in breeding plumage.
There are occasional willows, almost in bloom, ash and patches of reedbed by the river side.
Male Reed Bunting.
On a set aside field a large flock of Linnets move about. I notice a couple of Yellowhammers like flaming suns on the ground. When they fly, another one joins them. 
A male Meadow pipit after carrying out its parachute display flight singing away.
A pony tethered to the bank. 
Google Earth view of the 4th stage. 4.16 km.