Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Magical Mystery Workout

The only event this week was our first visit to a far-flung woodland.  Unfortunately, we’d been warned that because of major roadworks in Malton there were massive delays, so several people either set off early to cope with these, or set off early to go round by a much longer route.  Today because of the school holidays there were no delays in Malton!  When I arrived after almost a 2 hour journey everyone had been waiting in the car park for what seemed like hours.  Immediately, there were Siskins flying over the car park, and these were probably visiting the feeders at the visitor centre.  
 Yellowhammer (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
 Tree Pipit (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
We eventually found a new gravel path which meandered its way to the reserve through a pleasant heathland habitat studded with young conifers and birches.  We travelled in a cloud which was hanging over the crag we were walking on, but there was plenty of birdsong, including: Willow Warbler, Yellowhammer, Whitethroat & a Song Thrush.  However, the definite highlight here was a Tree Pipit.  Its pleasant canary-like notes drifted towards us, and it could be seen perched on the top of a young conifer.  On the way back, Sally saw it parachuting down.  There was a Kestrel hovering in the mist and we flushed a couple of Linnets up from the ground at our feet.  Other birds around here included plenty of Chaffinches and a single carrion Crow.  
Hoof Fungus
We turned right when we reached a broader path and found ourselves at the same height  as the trees full of Blue Tit fledglings.  We then arrived at a steep narrow path plunging down to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve.   It had rained heavily overnight and we made our way carefully down the muddy and slippery terrain.  Unfortunately, we are used to even paths on the flat here in East Yorkshire and several people didn’t fancy the climb down to the lake at the bottom and turned back.  We could hear our first Chiffchaffs, Swallows were twittering above us but couldn’t be seen because of the tree cover.  A Willow Tit sang out, plus Coal Tits and a little later a whole family of Long-tailed Tits.  On a fallen log last Autumn’s ear fungus was still intact, but had gone past the edible stage.  Sally correctly identified the song of a Blackcap – it seems it is possible to identify song birds after repeated exposure to the same species! 
Froghopper (bit of Cuckoo Spit visible under the leaf)
 Cardinal Beetle
As we made our way down to the lake we could hear the ‘pic pic’ calls of a distant Great Spotted Woodpecker, and an even further off Cuckoo.  However, as we descended into the abyss the Cuckoo became easier to hear & Eileen could pick it out – gone are the days when she lived on Thorne Moors & she was the 1st to hear one every year!  On the lake there was a pair of Tufted Ducks and several Mute Swans, but little else.  We did a circuit of the lake where we encountered a Treecreeper, Blue Tit fledglings, another singing Tree Pipit and Sparrowhawks calling from deep within the wood.
The way back up the hill wasn’t as bad as everyone feared & the only new creatures encountered were the Froghopper (manufacturers of Cuckoo Spit).  They were out in force & it was clear that their manufacturing had only just began, so they were about to get very busy – they are very late this year – delayed by the cold or the relatively dry spring?  Although the trek up the hill wasn't too bad, many of the attendees were red in the face & either dripping with sweat, or soaked with rain.  Some attendees went on to the visitor centre where Siskins and Coal Tits could be seen on the feeders.  

 Siskin (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
 Coal Tit [& Siskin] (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
 Siskin [female] & Collared Dove (c) 2012 Richard Whateley

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