Friday, 30 November 2018

Northern thrushes arrive, autumn colours, Merlin on the beach, Barred Warbler, Golden Plover and more

Been 'heads down' working on a website which I will be launching in the New Year. Primarily a directory of all of Yorkshire's wildlife sites plus topical articles on what's happening in the county, the site will also contain lots of links to all of the wildlife organisations, interest groups, photo galleries, blogs etc ... its proving to be a bigger task than I first imagined but I'm determined to launch in some form or fashion next January.

This blog has taken a hit of course but I'll continue with it  - its become kinda personal! Once the new site is up and running I'll be linking it up along with other selected blogs and posting much more frequently. Not sure yet how I'm going to tackle and separate out my out of county & overseas trips but I'll find a way!

Ok my last post was back in October when we were all enjoying the last embers of the long hot summer that was 2018 (long gone mow!). I spent a few days on the Lincolnshire coast 3rd week of Oct, a few trips out to the Yorkshire coast and then a trip out to RSPB Blacktoft Sands. Otherwise the following photographs are all from my local patches in the Yorkshire Wolds and around York.

Lincs Coast trip (with birding pals Rob & Mark)

Merlin, Saltfleet beach, 18/10/18

Merlin, Saltfleet beach, 18/10/18

Merlin, Saltfleet beach, 18/10/18

Merlin, Saltfleet beach, 18/10/18

Merlin, Saltfleet beach, 18/10/18
Still not sure on the age / sex of this splendid bird but we were thinking immature male.

Brent Geese, Donna Nook, 19/10/18

Brent Geese, Donna Nook, 19/10/18
Stonechat, Theddlethorpe, 18/10/18

Common Starlings, Donna Nook, 19/10/18
Sea Buckthorne, Theddlethorpe, 18/10/18
Little Egret, Tetney Marshes, 17/10/18

Bar Tailed Godwit, Saltfleet, 18/10/18
Other good birds for the trip  - Great White Egret, Whooper Swan, 1000's of Pink Footed Geese, 6ish Chiff Chaff, Lesser Whitethroat (Theddlethorpe 18/10) and a late Barn Swallow the same day.

Yorkshire Coast

 A very poor Autumn rarities for me and everyone on the Yorkshire coast this year, this Barred Warbler being my only decent spot!
Barred Warbler, Bempton, 29/10/18
Always plenty of regular birds to see on the coast though .... this is the regular pair of Peregrines that haunt the cliffs around Buckton / Bempton area and they were hunting together.
Male Peregrine Falcon, Buckton, 29/10/18
Female Peregrine Falcon, Buckton, 29/10/18

Redwing, Bempton, 29/10/18
Barnacle Geese, Hornsea Mere, 05/11/18

Northern Lapwing, Hornsea Mere, 05/11/18
Washed up ordnance, Cowden beach, 05/11/18
 2 Marsh Harriers also present at Hornsea Mere plus a good selection of winter ducks - Wigeon, Goldeneye and a probable female Scaup. I was with one of my daughters that day and earlier we were on the beach near Cowden, the site of recently decommissioned bombing range and found this on the beach .. Harry, my daughters dog nearly picked it up!

Cowden beach, 05/11/18
Fieldfares, Blacktoft Sands, 24/10/18
RSPB Blacktoft Sands

I went hoping for a Hen Harrier or at least some Bearded Tits, saw neither, but it was a good weather day and plenty about. Fieldfares were passing through the reserve, looked like they were coming straight up the Humber in small groups, a few even hit the deck and rested a while on the one of the scrapes ..

Greylag Geese, Blacktoft Sands, 24/10/18

Tons of Greylags and a couple of Whooper Swans in with one of the field bound flocks. In with this little bunch (pic left) a domestic goose that many would try and make into a Snow Goose (they're not that disimilar!)

Still a smattering of waders knocking about with Black Tailed Godwit being the most obvious but nothing photographable. Nice pair of Stonechats right outside one of the hides made for some good captures though.

Greylag Geese, Blacktoft Sands, 24/10/18

Whooper Swans, Blacktoft Sands, 24/10/18
Male Stonechat, Blacktoft Sands, 24/11/18

Male Stonechat, Blacktoft Sands, 24/11/18
Local Patches

Fieldfares (and a single Redwing if you look closely enough!), Fangfoss Park, 26/10/18

Always a thrill to see the first Redwings and Fieldfares arrive on my campsite and every year I reel off 100s of shots and end up deleting 95% of 'em! What I'm really after is good flight shots and I rarely succeed but every now and then something half decent comes out of the can ok.

Fieldfare, Fangfoss Park, 26/10/18

Fieldfare, Fangfoss Park, 23/10/18

Fieldfares and Redwings, Fangfoss Park, 26/10/18
This is the usual view I get of my local northern thrushes .. pesky things to get close to!

Little Egrets, Fangfoss Park, 30/10/11
Little Egrets are spreading all over the UK and I've had a couple of records around here near the Spittalk Beck but to see 3 together a few weeks ago was a great patch record for me. They didn't stick around!

I took part in a Golden Plover survey for the York area recording group and in common with many others drew a blank. They are present here though - a flock of about 600 a few days after the survey (typical!). They are decreasing in numbers though - typically flocks in the hundreds now whereas 10 years ago flocks were in the 1000s in the York area.

Golden Plover, Yearsley Moor, 15/11/18

Golden Plover, Fangfoss Park, 30/10/18

Jay, Moorlands, 31/10/18
A few random pics to finish then including some of what has been one of the most colourful autumnal leaf displays I can remember for years!

Clouded Agaric, Askham Bog, 17/11/18

Long Tailed Tit, Fangfoss Park, 26/10/18

Awesome Autumn Colour!
Askham Bog leaves, 11/11/18

Askham Bog leaves, 11/11/18

Silver Birch, Pikehills golf course, 11/11/18
Ampleforth from Yearsley Moor, 15/11/18
Moorlands leaves, 31/10/18

Moorlands leaves, 31/10/18

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Late summer into autumn, migrating birds, lakes landscapes and late butterflies.

I'm secretly glad to see the departure of that steamy hot humid Summer we've just had, one of the warmest on record and even now we're having record breaking temperatures into October .. where will it end! Surely there can't be anyone bar Donald Trump that can be any doubt that global warming is becoming more and more noticeable.

I'm off to the Linconshire coast next week on a camping trip so thought I'd post a few of my more memorable pictures of the last few weeks ...late summer turning to early autumn before I get another shed load of pics to sort and post. No particular order to these and nothing mind boggling but as ever, a story attached to each and every one.

These Southern Hawker Dragonflies get easier and easier to photograph later on in the day when they're less active and erm preoccupied!

Coupling Southern Hawkers, Askham Bog, 1/09/18

Small Copper butterfly, saw several of these round and about my local area late summer but this rather ragged looking individual was my first record for Askham Bog.
Small Copper, Askham Bog, 29/09/18

Closer to home (quite literally), I spent 3 weeks of September looking after my father whilst my mum had a well deserved break and during much gardening I spotted 2 good butterflies on the trusty old Budlea ...
Painted Lady and Comma on Budlea, York garden, 03/09/18

Common Swift in with migrating House Martins, Wheldrake Ings, 07/09/18
There's still a few Barn Swallows and House Martins knocking about on the coast and I hope to see a late one next week but my last Swift was on the 7th Sept at Wheldrake Ings. Rubbish pic but always try and get a record shot of my last and first birds!

A few days later I was in the company of good friend Mikey who had pointed me in the direction of some late Hobbies in the York area. We saw just the one but were treated to some fantastic aeriel dispalys of this juvenile bird hawking insects.
Juv Hobby, Brockfield Hall, York, 12/09/18

Juv Hobby, Brockfield Hall, York, 12/09/18
Another notable bird for me in the York area recently was this nice female / juv Whinchat in with several juv Stonechats on Strensall Common.

Fem / juv Whinchat, Strensall Common, 05/09/18

Juv Stonechat, Strensall Common, 05/09/18

A week in the Lake District with my children and was a superbly relaxing and enjoyable break. I've posted all the family pics elsewhere so with a couple of exceptions here are a few wildlife / landscape pics from a hugely memorable family holiday in one of the most picturesque places in the country.

Lakeland fields and walls, Nr Winston, Cumbria, 23/09/18
Wast Water, 24/09/18

Wast Water, 24/09/18

South Walney nature reserve & Piel Castle, 27/09/18

Common Seal, South Walney, 27/09/18

Slow Worm, roadside, nr Winston, Cumbria, 24/09/18

Me, a bit knackered after a climb! 24/09/18
My son, same climb, less knackered!

A couple of trips out so far to the Yorkshire coast for autumn bird migration and with slim pickings so far there'll be more to come! This early morning Short Eared Owl at Sammy's Point, Spurn being the highlight so far. 2 on the peninsular that day and great to get good and regular views of them. Bit gutted I never got a decent flight shot though😢

Short Eared Owl, Sammy's Point, Spurn, 11/10/18

Short Eared Owl, Sammy's Point, Spurn, 11/10/18

Day I was there I couldn't stay long but I saw plenty of common migrants flying in over the north sea, 100s of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Redwings could be seen making landfall and whilst I ducked out on Yellow Browed Warbler, Ring Ouzel and an Olive Backed Pipit, I did bag a probable Richard's Pipit and a handful of migrant goodies including Bramblings, Whinchat, a late Swallow and several Common Redstarts.

Common Redstart (juv male?), Spurn, 11/10/18

Like many migrating song birds seen in autumn, a pale shadow of the the brightly coloured thing you might see in a quiet wooded glade somewhere in late spring. This Redstart looks like a juv to me but adult birds can look remarkably similar in their 'drab and worn' post breeding plumages.

Smashing early morning light for one of many Curlews on the Humber estuary.
Curlew, Sammy's Point, Spurn, 11/10/18

The long staying Rose Colured Starling once again evaded me but the big influx of Common Starlings into the country are already impressing their presence on our autumn landscapes .. I've never been a huge fan of wind turbines, mainly because of their 'blot on the landscape' effect but from a photographic viewpoint this works!

Flocking Starlings, Spurn, 11/10/18
Pink Footed Geese, Flamborough headland, 04/10/18

Talking about flocks there have been some impressive skeins of Pink Footed Geese over from the north as they head for their wintering grounds around our northern estuaries and veg fields, so many more I think than in years gone by. They've been flying over the York area since the middle of September and hearing that chattering honking call, looking up and seeing a massed v formation overhead always reminds me of my time in France and the annual migration of Common Cranes ....happy days!😄 This small group went over Flamborough early Oct during an overnighter there in dismal weather and precious few good birds!

Danes Dyke looked good the next morning though, through a shaft of sunshine before the clouds really started to gather ....
Danes Dyke, 04/10/18
 ....and I'm never too proud to snap a common bird if the light is good!
Herring Gull, Flamborough Headland, 04/11/18

Back around my own patch at Fangfoss Park I'm witnessing the arrival of the first Redwings and Fieldfares in the hedges, all typically skittish, and the first big flocks of Lapwing over the fields.

Northern Lapwing, Fangfoss Pk, 02/10/18

Northern Lapwing, Fangfoss Pk, 02/10/18

These magnificent Sloes and the many other berries on the hedges around me are a magnet for winter thrushes. They'll all get eaten within a month or two and once again I'll probably not get around to picking a jug full for that Sloe gin I keep promising myself .. so much else to do!😝

Comma butterfly, Fangfoss Pk, 03/10/18

I thought his would be my last Comma butterfly but I spotted another at Askham Bog a few days later and a happy looking Brimstone the week after at Moorlands nature reserve!

Red Kite, Bishop Wilton, 10/10/18

On the 10th of October I was laid flat on my back on top of the Yorkshire Wolds near Bishop Wilton. Down to a T shirt and snoozing beneath the sun in 22C of heat, this Red Kite was one of 4 that suddenly appeared circling over my head!

I love a good ariel battle and these last pics from my local patch are from the ageless 'Corvid v Raptor' series, in this case one of my local Kestrels getting the runaround by a Carrion Crow.

Carrion Crow v Kestrel, Fangfoss Pk, 01/10/18

Carrion Crow v Kestrel, Fangfoss Pk, 01/10/18

Carrion Crow v Kestrel, Fangfoss Pk, 01/10/18