Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Climaxing with Lulu

Record shot of Woodlark

Yellowhammer (female)

Today for the final Wednesday session of the summer term we went a little further field to an area on the outskirts of York. Both sessions were rewarded by an impromptu concert by Lulu. For the uninitiated 'Lulu' is what the French call our Woodlark. This is because one part of their repetoire seems to contain the repeated "lulululu". This aspect of the song is also commemorated in their scientific name, Lullula arborea. The song broke out unexpectedly right over our heads and new class members looked on in awe as the perfromance went on for over half-an-hour. When the afternoon group returned to the same area after lunch the bird was already in mid-performance. As well as witnessing the bird singing during its bat-like flight just over tree-level, the song was also given from favourite perches at the top of a couple of conifers. Although we didn't get terribly close, everyone had views of the bird. Some experts reckon the bird is second only to the Nightingale as a songster, and it is true it contains a great variety of phrases, and it doesn't have any of the harsh notes of its popular, and much more numerous cousin, the Skylark, but the Golden Oriole is probably also a serious rival to the Woodlark for its quality of song - but even less frequently to be heard in the UK.
Another highlight were the number of young Green Woodpeckers on site, plus another seen later in the morning, which had left the nest so recently it failed 3 times to cling on to a tree before falling unceremoniously into the bracken! The afternoon session lacked the Woodpeckers, but saw a Jay instead. The Treecreeper performed at the end of the morning class, whilst both sessions enjoyed good views of Marsh & Coal Tit fledglings. Garden Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Whitethroats and in the afternoon Blackcap songs punctuated the sessions with their song, as other species become quieter. Among resident species Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, Robin and Coal Tit were the most noticeable singers.
There were many dragonflies on the wetland areas, especially during the afternoon, but we were only able to obtain decent views of the Four-Spotted chasers, although other species could be glimpsed. There was a nice sprinkling of several species of Butterfly, especially at least 4 fresh Brimstone specimens, and there were plenty of Common Spotted Orchids, whilst the Marsh Cinquefoil was a little bit more unusual. Almost everyone on the Wednesday classes has signed up for next term, so we'll meet up again in September - enjoy your summer break from wildlife watching!

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