As we are still in the middle of a cold plunge we didn't go to Bempton on Thursday, but went to North Cave Wetlands again. The highlight in the avian line was a Redhead Smew, and we probably got a little closer today, as she was confined in her attempts to evade us by the ice covering Far Lake. We had only just left this area when I spotted a Stoat running towards us with a small dark mammal in its mouth. Someone suggested a mole, which would have been unusual, as they are unpleasant to eat. However it did appear to have mole-like feet when the photo was examined outdoors. Later, when this was checked in a hide, it was clear that the feet seen were the white ones of the Stoat itself behind the prey item. The dead creature seemed to have short, dark hair, and the most likely victim appeared to be a baby Rabbit. The Stoat had continued to run towards us for a while before crossing the path running down the bank, crossing the ditch, and up the other side before disappearing in what looked like another Rabbit hole.
Stoat Pictures (c) 2013 MJF
In the afternoon only 4 people turned out, and we'd got to the Stoat point when there was a terrific clamour behind us. Looking back the 2 large Ash trees were swarming with Rooks and other corvids. We turned round and went back to the fence to try for a better view. Eventually we were able to make out that a female Sparrowhawk had taken a Rook and was trying to kill it while being dive-bombed by all the others crows in the area. She seemed to be struggling and the last view we had was the Sparrowhawk carrying the crow she she appeared to attempt to drown in the bottom of the water-filled ditch.
All remaining pics (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
Great Crested Grebes
There was a selection of gulls from Turret Hide. The vast majority were Back-headed Gulls, but I heard Chris correctly explaining why others were young Herring Gulls rather than Common Gulls. There were Common Gulls on a different part of Island Lake with some more immature Herring Gulls, as well as 2 adults, and a single immature Great Black-backed Gull. In the afternoon an adult Great Black Backed Gull was on an island in front of the new Crosslands Hide. There were nearly a dozen alba Wagtails from the southern windows, though Eric wasn't able to zero in on a bona fide White Wagtail. Then I spotted a Red Kite flying high away from us towards Cliffe Road. It went even higher and then another 2 could be discerned flying even higher up.
There was a lot of noise from chittering Little Grebes and when we reached the 1st hide, we were able to see 4 individuals. Most areas of water also had a pair of Great Crested Grebes. These were a lot quieter than their tiny cousins, but they did indulge in a tiny part of their head shaking courtship display.
Unfortunately, Green Woodpeckers, which are often the star larkers at this location were completely absent again.