Thursday, 21 June 2012
The fen meadows are looking stunning at the moment and a fantastic tribute to the hard work of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust staff and volunteer group 'The Boardwalkers' over many years and supported by grazing animals in recently. The Northern Marsh Orchids, Common Spotted Orchids, Ragged Robin and Yellow Flag look phenomenal. Also 'showing well' are the magnificient Royal Ferns which tonight (Mid Summer's Day) will be producing their invisible flowers, so legend has it, and in the ditches the pale pink blooms of Water Violets, an incrediby rare flower, which is also flourishing at the Bog (photo below).
In the brief spell of hot weather yesterday, dragonflies appeared in droves and the air over the pond resounded to the titanic rattling clashes between territorial Four-spotted Chasers, one of which even saw off a young male Emperor furiously. On the edge of the battle ground, Common Blue and Large Red Damselflies fought their own more delicate battles, many successful males cavorting around with their mates in tandem.
Exciting news from the Bog is that despite appearances of the vegetation (no neatly grazed lawns on the pond edge) Water Voles have been seen. A big ol' Mink was photographed earlier in the year and we are fearful that this remnant vole population would have been clobbered.
We had a quick look at the Bee Orchid colony in the car park - looking strange in immense circles of flattened grass, deliberately caused by photographers looking for that perfect shot - let's hope they don't do this in the Bog - and then headed west to Fairburn Ings.
A short drive later and we were watching a splendid adult White-winged Black Tern, my seventh in the UK, but a Yorkshire tick no less and the first adult I have seen for a few years. What a cracker this bird was. Sadly it spent much time perched very distantly, but at 8.30pm it got up to hawk for insects with the throng of Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls. A very distinctive bird as usual, wih noticeably long red legs even at long range. Structurally quite different looking to Black Tern, with much shorter bill and more rounded, broad wings, resulting in a less graceful aspect to its flight. Obviously features not really needed for such a striking bird, but very useful for picking out a juvenile in bad light. A very beautiful bird to watch. I managed a bit of pretty shoddy video and took a couple of grabs from it:
Sunday, 17 June 2012
Friday, 8 June 2012
After enjoying a rainy day at The Deep in Hull- where I was pleased to find some YWT volunteers asking people to support the campaign for Marine Conservation Zones - we headed over to Aldbrough where the Roller from Spurn had taken up temporary residence. After a short drive, I was soon enjoying prolonged views of this visual feast as it flapped about after ground beetles and earthworms in a tilled field near Bewick Hall. Madly, another Roller has been reported recently near Hornsea. Now wouldn't it be good if these guys hooked up. First breeding record anyone? What a cracker. If you've not been to see this bird, do so, it is awesome. Video on my Youtube channel
Even bumped into Paz from York- Happy Belated Birthday mate!
Had a couple of meetings today at Spurn, one of which, a walk round the new YWT site of Kilnsea Wetlands was something I had been looking forward to. I packed my scope and bins as I planned to do some birding before heading home. A text from Andy Gibson said "bring your bins..."- yes, already on it, mate, I thought, but then when I downloaded the second half, I was stunned to read "...Roller on the Point!" Yikes! Not a British tick but a much wanted Yorkie tick and one of those birds that I just can't see enough of.
A painstaking drive ensued with a few messages from birding mates, with updates on what was going on. Sadly, as I approached Easington I got a message saying it hadn't been seen for over half an hour after it flew north over the Warren. Doh! Anyway, I pressed on. Arriving at Long Bank I pulled up thinking it would be as good a place as any to look for the Roller if it was moving north.
I immediately noticed a bird poking out of the top of a hawthorne along Long Bank, my pulse quickened. Getting my scope on it I was surprised to find I was looking at a Golden Oriole! Mad. Only at Spurn! A Yorkshire tick, a stunner to boot but I couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed, hoping that I had relocated the Big R. I watched this cracker for a few minutes then thought I would head over to Sammy's Point, after Steve Exley told me he doubted anybody had looked there. No sooner had I arrived than Steve rang to say it was now back at the Blue Bell. Panic! Back along the road - slow past the horse riders - on to the Blue Bell. Gone. Bugger. Time was ticking by. Fortunately, my first meeting was with Adam Stoyle who had already seen the bird and didn't mind me delaying for a few minutes.
I headed over to the Warren a bit disappointed but hoping the bird would turn up. We got into our meeting and then suddenly the radio crackled to life to say the bird was by the Borrow Pits. Excuse me a moment! I shot out of the centre and into the field with a sprightly Barry Spence and Sue who had a radio. As we made our way along the path the radio informed us the bird had now flown over towards Canal Scrape. Blimey, this bird was flighty! We headed over there. Barry and Sue headed down the road towards the Blue Bell, I decided to walk along the bank towards the Crown. I carefully made my way, checking all bushes, fences etc and keeping one eye on Barry and Sue. After they got passed the car park I could see them looking seriously into the field. I assumed the bird must be on the back of he hedge alongside the Canal Scrape where I knew there was a fence line and a pile of concrete. It must be on there. I crept along so that I could view round the back. But still I couldn't see the bird - where was it? This was crazy. How could I not see a turquoise bird the size of a Jackdaw?!
I edged further and rechecked where the other guys were looking. Could they be looking on the fenceline along the foot of the bank? Most of this was obscured by the hawthorns. Perhaps more to the left. Oh sh*t - there it was - a stunning bright blue and orange bird sitting on a fencepost against vivid green vegetation no more than 15 metres away! I got my scope on it -an optical orgasm - then my phone rang - Steve Exley - telling me not to go any further as I was going to flush it! I explained that I had not been able to see it and without a radio didn't know where it was sitting. As I watched the bird scanned around apparently quite settled. Suddenly it took flight and headed straight across the field and away over the Blue Bell.
I headed back to the Warren, elated but feeling a bit bad that I had probably flushed the bird. Fortunately, everybody present had had great views- mine were possibly some of the closest, but also maybe the briefest! I just prayed it would be refound and that I hadn't inadvertently prevented anybody else seeing it.
I got a bit of stick back at the Warren, but I think it was all in good humour as people realised my predicament and they had all seen the bird earlier anyway. A great bird and a brilliant find by Martin Garner.
Later on, I had a walk around Kilnsea Wetlands - a fantastic new site built by the Environment Agency as compensatory habitat for Beacon Lagoons which are threatened by sea level rise. They will shortly be handed to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to manage as a nature reserve. Not many birds here though a smart Cuckoo showed well and a Hobby glided overhead. After this, I headed over to Sammy's with Andy to have a look around. Right at the end, a bird flew out of the bushes and landed along the hedge- another Golden Oriole, this one a first summer male. Smart. A quick look at the Point revealed very few birds, just plenty of woolly bear caterpillars. Spurn. What a place!