Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Snake in the Grass

Today was a rerun of last Tuesday & Thursday.  On the way to the start point we had a Tree Sparrow & Yellow Wagtail, whilst the pm group had a pair of Red-legged Partridge and a White Wagtail.  As we began the walk we were serenaded by a Blackcap first thing, but in the afternoon this had been transformed into a Song Thrush.   A pair of Song Thrushes left the area of the new hide and flew into the trees on the left, where they continued to scold for some time.  There was no equivalent in the afternoon.  Both visits had a pair of Lapwing displaying over the River Hull, and a Whitethroat dancing in the air in front of the Pumping Station.  There were quite a few white butterflies around, and an Orange Tip.  There were no Owls apparent during either session, but a Brown Hare was running through the field during the morning.
Yellow Wagtail
 White Wagtail
 New Hide
 Tufted Duck
Birds flying over at this stage included a Shelduck and a Gadwall plus a pair of growling Tufted Ducks, whilst closer to us were Swallows, Swifts, and a couple of Sand Martins.  At the pumping station were Goldfinches, Chaffinches, whilst we saw a pair of Wagtails on the return journey and a single Linnet.  We crossed the rickety-looking bridge and immediately a Sedge Warbler could be heard, and we hadn’t gone far before we saw a female Grass Snake basking.  She remained stationary the whole time we were there, and everyone was able to get good views and many people took photographs.
 Grass Snake [female]
During the circular walk we first heard and then saw a Cuckoo – it spent its time commuting between a poplar plantation and a single Ash tree on scurf Dyke.  We found several eggs which may have been predated including Mallard, Coot and Pheasant.  There were a lot of Crows in the area and these were probably the main culprits.  The pm group heard a male Tawny Owl and 6 Tree Sparrows flew out of a Hawthorn bush.  Birds singing within the shooting estate included Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, and a Reed Bunting.  Unfortunately last week’s Grasshopper Warbler was neither heard nor seen.
 Mallard Egg? [predated]
 Moorhen Egg? [predated]
There weren’t as many Skylarks as last week, but a few did punctuate the morning with their popular song.  Other aerial sightings included a Kestrel seen very early in the morning & then at about the same time as the Skylarks a distant Buzzard was seen soaring.  A few minutes later, but 180 degrees from the Buzzard a very distant Cormorant was seen following the River Hull south.  It was in this area that both am & pm sessions saw a Stock Dove.  Songbirds numbers began to pickup along ‘Dandruff’ Dyke with a Blackcap, at least 3 Sedge Warblers, another Willow Warbler, and in dense cover a Garden Warbler.  A dabbling Mute Swan was seen with a ring, which could be read only when the Swan almost completely up-ended - No Y267 
Mute Swan Ring - Y267
 Sedge Warbler 
 Green-Veined White (c) 2012 Aileen Urquhart
 Azure? Damselfly (c) 2012 Tony Robinson
It wasn’t long after this that everyone in the afternoon saw a flash of blue and then a Kingfisher perched on an old plant stem before it carried on south down Barmston Drain.  Shortly after this we almost tripped over a pile of large fish scales, which may have been the leftovers from an Otter feast!  The pm session had great views of a singing and displaying Sedge Warbler.  Although we had seen several Pochard last week, it was only at this point that the am group saw their first one today.  Meanwhile in the afternoon an apparently aimless Lesser Black-Backed Gull went over in a northerly direction.  A walking couple along the main way back ensured that there were no birds on the reservoir walls.  However, there were plenty of birds on the remainder of the reserve, so hopefully, some of the ‘students' stayed behind to catch up on those.


Caroline Gill said...

A stunning post!

Patent Solicitor said...

A fascinating array of wildlife, although I have to say that the snakes really do scare me.

Michael Flowers said...

You have nothing to fear from Grass Snakes!