Today was our first visit to a brand new venue. Unfortunately, some participants found it quite a difficult location to find. In the car park as soon as I arrived a Wren, Linnet, and Greenfinch were all perched in a bare young tree. When the others arrived there were also House Martins & Swifts flying on the field around us. In the afternoon most of these birds had gone, but a pair of House Sparrows had moved in instead – not sure if this was an adequate compensation! We set off trying to to avoid the frequent dumpings of dog mess – although it still wasn’t quite as bad as Allerthorpe Woods.
Maureen correctly identified a Whitebeam, while it was Ellen who did the same in the afternoon. As we climbed the incline Anthony discerned a distant Skylark singing over the fields. As we walked along the Poplar Avenue Miles spotted a pair of bullfinches. The male cleaned himself in the centre of a Willow bush long enough for everyone, even Maxine to observe him. While we observed him a Great Spotted Woodpecker made its ‘pic, pic’ sounds, and a Chiffchaff sang nearby. We couldn’t find the bullfinches in the afternoon, but there was a family of Long-tailed Tits here instead. Behind us on the playing field there were plenty of corvids, including many Rooks, several Carrion Crows, a pair of Magpies and a single Jackdaw. Unfortunately, we couldn’t spot a Jay and there was no sign of a Raven or Chough – otherwise every member of the Crow family was represented.
We approached an area which has been scraped for a pond and here we had a Whitethroat, and a Chiffchaff, whilst a small, almost black vole was running through the grass. There were various Linnets flying over which became more numerous as we approached the area which had previously held greenhouses. Our first Willow Warbler was in this area too. A Sparrowhawk plunged through a row of trees, and later another was seen chasing a small passerine, which managed to escape. We examined a map near the entrance to work out which route we had actually taken & what wildlife we were likely to see. There were several Linnets and a Greenfinch on some wires.
We left the reserve & watched the wildlife which could be seen from a bridge over Holderness Drain. Here we saw Whitethroat, a Song Thrush and perched Goldfinches. 2 Mistle Thrushes flew into a single tree & then set off across a field towards the drain. However, the best bird here was a Great Spotted Woodpecker which fluttered down towards the bottom of the drain bank. It flew off a few minutes later with its beak stuffed with food. In the afternoon there were fewer birds seen in this area, but Barbara spotted something swimming across the drain, which by colour & the way it swam seemed to be a Water Vole.
While walking along the drain a Sparrowhawk carrying prey flew towards us, and passed relatively near to where we were standing. Only a few minutes later Anthony & Miles saw a bird leave the golf course. It flew over the drain and into cover right in front of us, although it failed to utter a sound of any sort. It was probably a female Cuckoo – this was a first for Maxine, but I think she’d have preferred it to have been a calling male. All these birds were absent in the afternoon, but were replaced with a Chiffchaff and a panicky Coot on the drain. On the return journey there were fewer Rooks on the playing field, but one allowed its picture to be taken.
Sparrowhawk carrying Blackbird/Starling?
The afternoon was a lot quieter from the bird point of view, although the sunshine brought out the butterflies in profusion. There were several Brimstones, a couple of Speckled Woods, a Small Tortoiseshell, and plenty of Orange-tips, Peacocks, & both Green-veined and Small Whites. We had good views of a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, and the silhouette of a Willow Warbler, but I could sense a growing sense of unrest. The unrest was dispelled by a pair of Stock Doves, which flew out of a Sycamore on Poplar Avenue. The simmering mutiny was only finally vanquished in the dying moments when I managed to track down a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Male Bullfinch.
Bullfinch (with something on its bill?)