Sunday, 24 January 2016

Yorkshire floods, early singers and bloomers, uplifting landscapes and aerial manouvers over the LDV

Up until this last w/e, as far as I can recall, up here in the north, we've had precisely 5 decent weather days since early November - someone might be bothered to check that and hey my memory ain't great, but suffice to say its bin reet gloomy up ere!

Gloomy and wet! This flood alert map for the UK was a typical scenario for any given day in the 2nd half of December and just about says it all!

A few choice flood pics later but with a stack of images around re the chaos and havoc reeked in some of our northern towns and cities, including around my home city of York, there's not a lot more I want to add.

So here we are well in January and at last a few bright days and opportunities to get out and about.
The planets are aligned (worth checking out by the way) and so too the off duties of a couple of my good mates and a day tramping around the Lower Derwent Valley brought some pleasing results ...

We met at the old Church Bridge at Melbourne to be greeted by a singing Song Thrush giving it plenty. Its been so mild of late that many birds have been tricked into thinking that it's nearly spring. I've been hearing Great Tits singing for a while now and there's many reports of Daffodils in full bloom. Skip to my footnote for an even earlier bloomer!

Anyway, back to Winter and the LDV. First off were 3 White Fronted Geese in amongst Greylags at Thornton Ings. We never get many of these relatively scarce geese around here but a few turn up every year so always good to track down.

White Fronted Geese, Thornton Ings, 23/01/16

Several Pintails flying around (prob 30ish) in amongst several hundred Wigeon  but you've gotta like Pintails! So graceful and different looking.
Pintails (male and female), Thornton Ings, 23/01/16

Pintails (2 males and female), Thornton Ings, 23/01/16

and check this out ... not the best of pics and I wouldn't normally include this one, but here's the same small flock of Pintail plus attendant Lapwings apparently stopped in their tracks by an approaching Sparrowhawk that none of us spotted at the time.

Pintail spooked by a Sparrowhawk (top left), Thornton Ings, 23/01/16
I guess that's the value of taking lots and lots of pics of flocks of birds - you never know what you might later pick out! Here's another - mainly Lapwings but if you look closer, several other smaller waders in amongst. In this case we reckoned Dunlin and all told maybe 60 in total. You can never rule out the odd Ruff or even Knot in amongst such flocks but I've scoured this pic and pretty sure they're all Dunlin.

Dunlin in with Lapwings, Ellerton, 23/01/16
A few Golden Plover flocks around too, no pics but maybe 150 or so.

Peregrine Falcon (male), Ellerton, 23/01/16

Here's a very distant pic of the culprit in the above mass take off of waders around Ellerton church, a male Peregrine Falcon that had earlier had a go at a careless but on this occasion lucky Lapwing.

At the same location there were many many Wigeon (1000+) but not as many as on previous occasions I've been down here, but with so much flood water, Peregrines around and Saturday morning boy shooters taking pot shots at tame Pheasants (come on guys, that's such poor sport!) everything gets so dispersed. These Whooper Swans for instance had been pushed right up to the edge of the churchyard by all the shooting (they're usually way over on the far bank).

Whooper Swans (2 adults & 3 juvs), Ellerton, 23/01/16

At North Duffield we had a single male Scaup in with about 100 Pochard and 20 or so Tufted Ducks - too distant for a pic but its my first Scaup of the Winter and good to get a nice male.

Yet another great day out around the LDV!

Ok, as promised a pic or 2 of the recent floods. My home city of York plus nearby Selby and Tadcaster were all drenched with much havoc, media coverage and ...well .. wetness.! All gone now and most Yorkshire folk I speak to just don't talk about it anymore.. "Aye, its 'appened a fore, n reet as rain it'll 'appen again!"

Floods in York, Dec 2015
Askham Bog flooded, 27/12/15
Askham Bog flooded, 27/12/15

Cawood (nr Selby), 28/12/15

..and to round  things off, a few pics from the odd occasions that the sun shone over the New Year period and I managed to get out. Here's a couple of great Redwing images - I've decided that they're far easier to photograph in flight than on the ground or perched when they're sooo skittish!

Redwing, Fangfoss, 24/12/15

Redwing, Fangfoss, 24/12/15

Cot Nabb and nearby Givendale in the Yorkshire Wolds is one of my favourite places to visit and walk around when I want to just get away from it all and clear out my head, you barely see a soul out there and on this particular morning earlier this month all my relatively minor issues in the grand world scale of things were put firmly into perspective!

Cot Nab, Yorkshire Wolds, 11/01/16

Cot Nab, Yorkshire Wolds, 11/01/16

Cot Nab, Yorkshire Wolds, 11/01/16

Red Kite, Givendale, Yorkshire Wolds, 11/01/16
I know they're becoming a little ubiquitous in some parts of Yorkshire (they're all over Harrogate / Leeds area), and I know some folk (well, just gamekeepers really) have little time for them, but there's a reason why they're one of the most photographed of British birds .....

Red Kite, Givendale, Yorkshire Wolds, 11/01/16

Just as uplifting, here's the Mausoleum at Castle Howard viewed from the back way into the estate

The Mausoleum, Castle Howard, 20/01/16


I was out on YWT duty today at Askham Bog, really mild it was and on my way out at sunset I spotted a flowering Lesser Celandine. Yes its an early flowering plant but traditionally it appears late Feb/ early March - this January 24th!
Lesser Celandine, Askham Bog, 24/01/2016