Wednesday, 9 May 2012

White Triangle Bird

The weather forecast last night indicated that rain would move slowly up the  country.  In an attempt to avoid the rain the venue was changed to as far north as we could go & still be in East Yorkshire – we may have actually just strayed into North Yorkshire.  
A Yellowhammer and Linnets were first heard & then seen from the car park.  We walked down a valley, which had been cleared of many of its scrubby bushes, so the Willow Warblers have vacated this area.  However, the am group did watch a male Whitethroat dancing around a female - a performance I hadn't witnessed before.
We plunged further down to the valley’s bottom, and despite the lack of conifers we heard and then saw a couple of Goldcrests.  Next we passed through a gate towards a scheduled ancient monument and searched the old ash trees and bushes for the Redstart Tony Robinson saw at the weekend.  A female had turned up since then, so the birds were a while before they showed, and they weren’t as confiding for us, as Tony's male had been briefly for him on Saturday.  Everyone was able to obtain a view, but they were much harder to see in the afternoon.  Despite Doug’s best efforts at finding the male Redstart it disappeared again before everyone had seen it.
25 years ago shortly after passing my driving test I took my mum to today’s location.  While I was recording some birdsong my mum spotted something she hadn’t seen before.  “A strange bird just flew past, with a white triangle on its head!”  A few questions later & it seemed she’d seen a Redstart in an area where they weren’t generally supposed to be.  However, further searching has revealed that there is a small but stable population on the Yorkshire Wolds.  They seem to arrive a little earlier in the valleys with streams, pools and other running water, but they are also present a few days later in the completely dry valleys.  I’m not sure if any survey work has been undertaken to determine just how many Redstarts breed on the Yorkshire Wolds.  This population is much further East than is generally acknowledged in references to the distribution of this species in the UK.
We went back to an old railway line and saw Marsh Tits attacking the buds of an Ash tree, but there weren’t as many hedgerow birds as usual.  This could be because the summer migrants still haven’t all arrived, but could be because their favourite hedge had been severely hacked back.  We reached the village and saw a soaring Kestrel, which a couple of ‘stringers’ tried to boost into a Sparrowhawk, but they hadn’t noticed the dark border to the tail.  Of course when it flew off normally it resumed its standard Kestrel shape.  As we approached the village sightings of Swallows, Pied Wagtails and Greenfinches increased, and in the village itself House Martins and Tree Sparrows proliferated.  We also saw a male Bullfinch here and heard the beautiful song of a Garden Warbler, which was glimpsed briefly by the am group.
We returned the way we had come, but the killer hill proved rather unpopular with some participants, so 2 set back up there early, so they could take their own time, whilst an am participant waited in the village for someone to collect her by car.  The wild flowers weren't bad today & a couple of Orange Tip butterflies were seen.
During the morning session a formation of 20 planes flew North-West with another plane leading them.  We have no idea what these planes were doing in this remote area.

**STOP PRESS** It now seems we were witnessing a training exercise of the planes for the Queen's Jubilee, which were actually flying in a formation which mirrored the digits 60!
The afternoon group jumped in their vehicles, and then the first spots of rain started.  The move north had worked out to perfection.

The first 6 photos are (c) 2012 Tony Robinson & were taken on Saturday.  The rest are from today
Redstart - the White Triangle Bird!
 Marsh Tit
 Red-legged Partridge
 Garden Warbler
 Garden Warbler
 Pied Wagtail [female]
 Water Avens

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