Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Red & Yellow

Red Kite (c) 2013 MJF
Yesterday we met at a local linear nature reserve and walked for a longer period than normal. It was foggy during most of the car journey to the reserve, so I had sinking feelings about the sessions, but on arrival the fog cleared to leave just milky-white deposits in a few of the deeply-cloven valleys. At first there were fewer small birds than usual, but we soon found several Yellowhammers, which are always popular with classes - and these were the firs decent views Maggie had ever had. The Green Woodpeckers were absent, as was last time's Peregrine, but we did eventually find a Red Kite. Three hares were chasing each other before one lost interest and snuggled down into its form. There are usually plenty of Red-legged Partridges in the area, but again these were absent and the influx of Common Gulls wasn't really an adequate compensation.

Yellowhammer (c) 2013 Maggie Bruce
Another disappointment were the Bullfinches which flew past us from time to time, including one flock of 6, but apart from a brief view in the pm, almost but not quite completely obscured by twigs, they didn't perch for the group to view them.
A distant Sparrowhawk was seen by one student, and later I saw another near a group of soaring Buzzards, and a Kestrel was another raptor species that everyone managed to see. A Marsh Tit was heard singing in the am, but it remained concealed, and the Long-tailed Tits weren't as obvious as normal. One bird that was everywhere was the Chaffinch, which was probably benefitting from food left out for the Pheasants.

Last Year's Umbellifer Covered in Hoar Frost
(c) 2013 Maggie Bruce
The View back to the car park (c) 2012 Claude Hargreaves
The Misty Gap in the Hedge (c) 2013 Maggie Bruce

Hedge Top Covered in Hoar Frost (c) 2013 Maggie Bruce

In the afternoon the small birds were even quieter, but we had better views of soaring Buzzards, but the wind dropped and the Red Kites failed to show. 
On Wednesday we tried a different location in the Yorkshire Wolds. However, it was very bleak in a biting wind, and the lack of sun didn't help to maximise the birds seen. Despite this we did have early good views of a Red Kite, which was soon followed by 5 Buzzards, the most we've seen of this species in that particular location. A Jay was heard and then spotted briefly as it flew through a patch of woodland. However, on the return journey it came out into the open for a few minutes, and even settled on a post by the road, and allowed everyone to see it. There were even fewer small birds around than yesterday, but this was probably because a fairly large chunk of Bullfinch habitat had been destroyed since last year's visits. We'd almost got back to our cars before we saw our first Great Spotted Woodpecker of the day - a female. Nearby I spotted 3 Redwings in an Ash tree, but Brian scanned around to see another 16, but when they eventually took to the wing, there must have been nearly 30 of them. 

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