Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Nature Spotting as an Art Form

Spotted Flycatcher
Tawny Owl
Tawny Owl chick
Little Owl (c) 2009 Richard Hampshire
Today I had the great privilege of being shown around an area of the Yorkshire Wolds, which is relatively unknown to me - a sort of recce for next spring, as a possible venue to take my classes. The song of the Yellowhammer and Linnet provided the soundtrack for the morning in beautiful sunshine. My guide has been living in the valley for just over a decade, and his knowledge of the wildlife of the area is second to none. He has some amazing apparatus for taking his brilliant photographs, and I was shown round his studio, where several of his pics were simply jaw-droppingly good. He was able to regale me with stories of all 5 UK species of Owl, which are regularly seen in the area. He thinks the Tawny may even have predated some of his Little Owl chicks this year, which in turn had probably decimated a Redstart brood! The local Barn Owl has retreated after several skirmishes with the more aggressive Tawny. It is a great area for raptors in general with plenty of Kestrels and Buzzards - whilst Red Kites occasionally fly over and several other species of birds of prey are seen from time-to-time. It wasn't the best time of year to see the passerines, but I was shown some ideal places to see them in the spring, and what species to expect. I was lucky enough to spot a Spotted Flycatcher, a bird which my guide hadn't seen in the area this summer. There were plenty of gamebirds, mainly Red-legged Partridge, and Pheasants, but Quail have been heard singing recently. Curlews breed in the area, and Woodcock flood in during the winter. Even Water Rails can be fairly plentiful in wayside pools in both summer and winter. In addition to all the wildlife the scenery was simply stunning - definitely an area to explore further and certainly an area the 'students' will find very impressive and rewarding. I left my camera at home today, so all the above pics are dredged from the archive.

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