Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Countdown to Autumn Classes

There's less than 2 weeks to go before my East Yorkshire Wildlife classes resume, so there's not a lot of time left to book, if you intend to do so.  The Thursday classes are full, but there are still a couple of vacancies on a few of the other sessions on Tuesday am, Tuesday pm, Wednesday pm & Friday pm.  

We will be looking for birds on migration, so we will be hoping to catch up on migrants on the coast - with visits to Spurn Point & Flamborough.  We will also be visiting some estuary sites at high tide, so we can see waders at close quarters.  Many beginners experience difficulties with distinguishing waders, but hopefully I will be able to assist at identifying these tricky birds.  

The Autumn can also be the best time of year to see such stunning little birds as Bearded Tits, so we will be visiting at least 2 locations where we have a good chance of seeing these absolute crackers.  

Bearded Tit

In the last decade our chances of watching Hobbies has improved immeasurably, so we will also be going to a couple of venues where we have a good chance of watching these dashing little falcons catching & eating dragonflies in mid-air.

Hobby with Dragonfly  Photo (c) 2012 Mike Day
The Kingfisher is a popular bird with almost everyone (apart from some twitchers).  It has suffered badly in the past 3 winters, but I will try & ensure every participant has the best possible views of this stunning bird, which seems too colourful to be British!

Barn Owls were also badly hit in recent winters, but seem to be doing well along the coast and estuary, so we'll also be catching up with this charismatic giant moth of a bird.  We'll be going on a special Barn Owl Safari in exactly the same spot where this individual was perched, as well as observing them hunt along drainage ditches in the wilds of Holderness.
 Barn Owl
 As the end of the term approaches, we'll also be travelling to an area which has roosting Red Kites, so you can marvel at these masters of aerial manoeuvrability!  
Red Kite near its Roost

Other birds we should catch up with are featured on this blogpost , but we will probably identify over 100 species in the whole 10 weeks.  We will also identify any mammals, butterflies, and dragonflies we encounter, and make a stab at fungi and moths.  You'll find your session an all-round wildlife encounter in both beautiful or bleak locations - certainly places with plenty of character.  The course is extremely competitively priced, so you will find that you have spent a minimum of cash for a very worthwhile experience, and some scenes will be seared on your memory for years to come.  To book a place, just contact me on the email address listed on the top right of this blog.  

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

The forecast last night was for easterlies, so I thought I'd see if any migrants had been blown in to Spurn.  There was one Wheatear along the point, and another on my return to the point car park but otherwise there was very little to see.  

At Canal Scrape I could hear a Yellow Wagtail, but couldn't see it.  There were a few Meadow Pipits and a Reed Warbler, but the best bird was a distant Green Sandpiper.  I waited quite a long time & eventually it flew quite close to the hide, but only remained a minute or so before flying off again, and headed off towards the canal
Green Sandpiper
 Goldfinch adult (right) with 'grey pates'

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


Yesterday I had another look at the Spurn high-tide.  It was very different from the previous visit.  My nephew and I arrived well before the high tide was due, but there were relatively few waders present. A Common Scoter and a Grey Seal were a little out of the ordinary.  We waited until half an hour after the high tide and the situation hadn't altered much.  We went to the other almost derelict hide, where we saw a Whimbrel on the beach & then had a close encounter with a flock of Sanderlings.  We were about to try another bit of the peninsula when suddenly thousands and thousands of Knot could be seen arriving, presumably having been spooked from another roosting site - Beacon Ponds?
 A Finger of Knot
 Knot over the Humber
 Mainly Grey Plover over the Humber
 Record Shot of Common Scoter
 Grey Seal
 Willow Warbler
We then had a look at Kilnsea Wetland where we saw 3 immature Avocets & one parent, 2 immature Shelduck and an Oystercatcher.  A Marsh Harrier was hunting over Beacon Ponds & sent up the largest number of Terns Ben had ever seen.  Later, a Greenshank dropped in, but was too distant to photograph. 
We then decided to walk along Beacon Lane where a male Wall Brown played hide-and-seek before eventually posing nicely.  There weren't as many butterflies as in other years, and the bird life had quietened down.  At Beacon Ponds there were many Sandwich and Common Terns roosting on a peninsula, but they remained out of range of the camera lens.  
Male Wall [Brown] 
 Underside of Male Wall
 Brown-tail Moth
 Black-tailed Skimmer

Monday, 6 August 2012

Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright

Today I took my nephew on his annual pilgrimage to try & see Garden Tiger Moths at Spurn.  Some years there are literally hundreds lying under the VTS Radar Tower.  They were definitely in smaller numbers this morning, but then August is quite late in the season.  Despite it being August we did manage to find a few which seemed to be almost pristine, but the majority were well-worn, and were probably nearing the end of their all too short lives.  This time it was even possible to see that some of the circular dark spots on the red underwings actually appear to be very dark blue rather than brown or black.  
A bright individual resting by the side of the Humber Pilots Tower
 At rest in more natural surroundings
 The blue on the spots on the underwing can best be seen in this photo
 On this worn individual with its wings more widely-spread, you can see that the body is also red
 A 'Woolly Bear' - the caterpillar of the Garden Tiger  - taken a few weeks ago - there were still some of these around today