Sunday, 7 February 2021

Askham Bog Lake

Everywhere seems to be underwater in the York area, Askham Bog included. I had a ride up there yesterday, to have a look for Woodcock, that peculiar wading bird that roosts by day in the shelter of the woods, before heading out to feed by night, on nearby farm fields. A Siberian blast from the east had caused an exodus of Woodcocks from the continent, many of which had reportedly made landfall at Flamborough Head, although sadly the remains of many that didn't quite make it, were found washed up on the strandline.

The Bog is usually a reliable place for Woodcocks in winter although the extensive flooding wasn't going to help me find any. The usual places I look for them was about a metre underwater and their legs are not that long! Unfortunately, neither were mine and in places the water overtopped my wellies, which was less than pleasant! I waded across Near Wood to a few areas I knew were slightly higher and perhaps less waterlogged. Sure enough, this was where they were hiding and after a while I located  five birds. I found three roosting among bramble patches and flushed two more at close quarters. Woodcock don't seem to flush unless you pause every so often. If you walk straight past, they will sit tight, but if you stop, they seem to lose their nerve after a few moments and erupt out of their unseen roosting places, and fly off through the trees.  After a pretty soggy tramp around, the heavy rain, blustery wind and cold wet feet dampened by enthusiasm and I headed back home for lunch.

One of the fen meadows, looking more like a lake today.

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