Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Early spring at Bempton

A foggy day spent at Bempton, the sun only started to peek behind the clouds at about one o'clock. Despite this, and the fact that is early in the breeding season, I was surprised at the number of birds on the cliffs and the sense of hectic activity. It is worth to see how the breeding season starts, and the comings and goings of the birds at the cliffs, dependent of the weather. Specially the Kittiwakes, which one moment were sitting on nests, calling and displaying to their partners, and the next, the started to drop from the cliffs in large clouds and circle towards the sea. The auks were still quite scarce, a pair of Puffins alighted on the cliffs for a few minutes. Drafts of Razorbills were on the water, but I saw only one on the cliffs, and only three Guillemots. The Gannets were in full swing, with muck cackle, displays, and some bringing nest material.
 Shortly after reaching Bartlet's nab, a large immature pale-winged gull with a pinkish tinge flew at eye level along the cliff. It was my first Glaucous gull. I took some poor record shots before it disappeared from view.
Herring Gulls. 
Pill Millipede crossing the path. 
A record shot of Glaucous gull.
I spent some time watching this Gannet on a ledge by Staple Newk, which was displaying enthusiastically, maybe trying to attract a pair? 

I never knew Gannets could twist their necks so much, it almost went full circle! 

It finally got some interest and was joined by another, much billing ensued. 

The ledge Gannet and others. Nesting behaviour was in evidence. 
A mating pair billing, and an angry neighbour.  
A couple of Shags were sitting under Staple Newk on their breeding plumage.
 Many Fulmars were also circling the cliffs, with some on nests. I tried to get some flight shots. These are my best.

 Gannets were attracted by some fishing boats that were lowering lobster pots onto the sea.

Kittiwakes on nest.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Up the River Hull. 6. Figham Common

A mild, sunny afternoon, I started today's stage in Woodmansey, where a public footpath joins 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.