Sunday, 20 March 2016

Pre Spring mish mash ... various Yorkshire trips out and about in Feb / March

At long last I've decided to move back into the property market, nothing too grand (beggars can't be choosers!) but my oh my its taken over the first 2 and a half months of this year. Maybe its my age but all of the deliberations, decisions and 'u turns' involved in what should be a relatively straightforward process has distracted me massively and left me frazzled!

Almost Spring now - so enough is enough, its time to take the plunge! No worries, this post will not  in any way resemble an episode of 'location location' but it is a bit of mish mash of late winter / early spring around my way.

I spent a much needed break with gud fellah No1, Mr Mark around his patch on Hatfield Moor last month and got some great landscapes on a still and clear day....

Hatfield Moor, 24/02/16
Hatfield Moor, 24/02/16

Hatfield Moor, 24/02/16

Hatfield Moor, 24/02/16
Stonechat (female), Hatfield Moor, 24/02/16
as well as a rather nice pair of Stonechats that were flitting about and looking to set up a territory .. more and more of these birds are being recorded on Hatfield as the habitat develops and matures.

Stonechat (male), Hatfield Moor, 24/02/16

Its been the Duck season of course and I've popped out to the Lower Derwent Valley a few times and seen lots, and I mean 1000's .. Teal, Wigeon, Pochard, Tufties and the like but there's nothing more appealing I think, than a few of these mainly overwintering wildfowl pairing up and getting into breeding mode!

Shoveller pair, North Cave Wetlands, 16/02/16
This pair of Shoveller for instance look as if they're going places! Not in the Derwent as it happens but during a visit to North Cave Wetlands.
 .... and here's some Gadwall action...of all our ducks these seem to me act the craziest at this time of year with little groupings of boys chasing boys chasing girls (there might be a song in there somewhere?!)
Gadwall action, North Cave, 16/02/16
At the same location I spotted my first ever Green Winged Teal (it had been there a while) but it never came close enough to photograph. Interesting though and though at first glance this American version of our own Common Teal looks almost the same, that vertical chest stripe really is quite distinctive!

Green Winged Teal (pic courtesy of Ian Davies)
So, what else have I had recently? Well as the winter tails off without much of cold blast this year, I've seen many of our northern birdies depart of late ... Fieldfares and Redwings gathering in the tops of trees have been a common sight and many flocks have passed over north along with small flocks of Starlings. I had a couple of big flocks of Pink Footed Geese heading in the same direction over Fangfoss late Feb, one of which flew over early morning as I was heading out for a shower and prompted one of my mates to 'tut tut' me for not having my camera to hand! Best of all though was a big flock of calling Whooper Swans (I estimated c140) heading north over the Wolds last week (10/03) too distant and misty to get a shot but great to see and hear .. another flock passed over my caravan earlier in the morning (heard them but couldn't see 'em) so I guess there must have been a major passage that day.

Barn Owl, nr Sutton Forest, 5/03/16
Seen a fair few day flying Barn Owls of late too with regular sightings in the Lower Derwent Valley, the Wolds and around Fangfoss. This individual I came across nr Sutton on Forest after a good day's recruiting at Moorlands ... both reasonable captures but rather marred by interfering twigs and telegraph wires!

Barn Owl, nr Sutton Forest, 5/03/16

Redpoll, fangfoss, 02/03/16
On my local patch at Fangfoss  I'm still getting the odd Redpoll in with bigger flocks of Yellowhammer, Chaffinch & Tree Sparrow. Thought at first this one looked a bit pale and maybe a 'Meally' race but on closer inspection turned out to be just a Lesser.

Redpoll, fangfoss, 02/03/16

A few weeks ago in mid Feb during a mild spell everyone was marvelling at early Daffodils and the birds were showing breeding intent like this impressive looking cock Yellowhammer and a nest prospecting little Wren at Askham Bog.

Yellowhammer, Fangfoss, 11/02/16

Wren, Askham Bog, 14/02/16

Snow on the Wolds, 02/03/16
As is often the case though, a remarkably early promise of Spring was halted in its tracks by a cold spell, the daffodils retreated and there was snow covering the ground for a few days up on the Yorkshire Wolds.
Starkness and a bitter chill for the first couple of weeks of March put pay to any hopes of an early singing Chiff Chaff and here we are in the middle of said month with hardly any early migrants to speak of, the fields are bare though not without some degree of photographic appeal ...
Bare corn field, Fangfoss, Feb '16

Goldeneye, Tophill Low, 14/03/16
...and even a tramp around Tophill Low, a regular spot for early Sand Martins produced little other than winter ducks. This nice male Goldeneye was displaying but the female of the species looked like they were saying 'no'! 

baggins on the loose, ducks, winter
Goldeneye, Tophill Low, 14/03/16

A house hunting trip to Hull combined with a couple of hours at Spurn Point produced a Long Eared Owl flushed from the roadside (nr Sammy's Point) and a nice Merlin fly by nr the Blue Bell cafe, but no spring migrants. Jolly nice skeins of Brent Geese though and here are just a few of appx 1100 on the reserve ....
Brent Geese, Spurn, 18/03/16

Brent Geese, Spurn, 18/03/16
 ...and some reassuring numbers of our old calling friends the Curlew with upwards of 500 on and around the estuary .. here's a nice one that flew past quite close

Curlew, Spurn, 18/03/16

 Chiff Chaffs, Blackcaps and Sand Martins have now been spotted in Yorkshire at various locations over the past week or so of course, but not by me! There's always next week!