Monday, 22 January 2018

Walking the Humber. Stage 2. Broomfleet Island to Brough Haven

I take the 7:40 am train to Broomfleet and get there about 8:00. There is frost on the ground, but it is still and bright as I walk towards the village. The lack of wind and sun on my face means it doesn't feel too cold. Flocks of gulls in formation fly over from their roost in the Humber. A Sparrowhawk flushes Starlings, Greenfinches and Fieldfares from a field. I see my first distant Marsh Harrier, mobbed by a crow.
Today's route joins the Trans Pennine Trail at Crabley Farm and I use not very well trodden Public Rights of Way by field edges skirting Broomfleet island (land reclaimed in 1706) until Crabley Creek so I don't need to cross the railway line. Eight roe deer in two groups feed on the fields.
 The path by the drain is quite featureless, but the backdrop of the Wolds, with a dusting of snow from yesterday and the beautiful day makes for enjoyable walking.
 I get to Crabley Farm, where the Rights of Way are not very well signed to say the least, and it takes me a while to find the path to the floodbank. Crabley Creek meanders to the Humber estuary. In this area there are wide reedbeds with fenced grazing marsh on the side and hawthorn hedges. A small flock of Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings feed on the floodbank.
 On a paddock with a pond fringed with bullrush Fieldfares, blackbirds and a Mistle Thrush feed. While I watch them, I spot a Green Woodpecker. The side of the field has many ants nests and the woodpecker visits them in sequence, occasionally perching on the posts.
 I scan the skyline for raptors. Two Buzzards fly in from the Wolds onto the reedbeds. A little later I am lucky: a pair of Marsh Harriers, the male following the female and diving to her. She carries on hunting over the reeds, occasionally turning and stalling as she sees something between the reeds.
I arrive to Brough Haven. Teals peep from the exposed mud. There are also Mallard, Redshank, Common and Black-headed Gulls. I walk to the train station to get my train back.

Featured bird: Marsh Harrier.
Now a common sight all around the Humber, one of its strongholds in the UK, where it winters and breedsLarge numbers in the surroundings of Blacktoft Sands, where there is a roost of over two dozen individuals, a true nature spectacle to behold. It is an Amber species due to recovery from near extinction in the 60s. A raptor of reedbeds and marshes. Although a large and heavy harrier, it has an easy flight, suspended with wings angled in a shallow V flying low over the reeds, or circling in groups as they leave roost. The female is chocolate brown with cream head and shoulder patches, the smaller male has dark wing tips, silver grey middle wings and tail and brown shoulder and back patches. More Information here.
Roe Deer.
Roe deer. Wind turbines and the Humber Bridge on the distance.
The public right of way to Crabley Creek.
Trains crossing.
Pond near Crabley Farm.
Crabley Creek.
Sheep at Crabley Farm.
Yellowhammer.
A dusting of snow on the Wolds.
Fieldfares.
Green woodpecker feeding on ants nest.
The green woodpecker field.
Green Woodpecker.
Pair of Marsh Harriers, the male on the top left corner.
Female Marsh Harrier over reeds. Weighton Lock in the background. 
The female Marsh harrier turns sharply and dives down.
Drake teal on Brough Haven.
Brough Haven.
Male Kestrel by Brough Haven.
Today's stage. About 9 km.
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