Monday, 11 November 2013

The Shorts are Out in the Afternoons Again

The forecast for Friday was excellent, although it was due to cloud over in the afternoon and rain was predicted for later in the day, so we were able to visit one of the bleakest locations in East Yorkshire. Sure enough it was a lovely sunny morning with only a light breeze. There wasn't a great deal to see at first with just a few Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Reed Buntings calling as we walked along the drain. Then we reached the floodbank, and climbed it to see that the tide was extremely high and had inundated most of the designated area. Because of the depth of the water there weren't many waders here, but the Shelduck were still dabbling in the water. Great flocks of Golden Plovers swept over our heads, and looked especially fine in the sun - their flapping wings seemed to make them wink in the sunlight. In the afternoon the water had drained away, and some Redshanks had dropped in. Also in the afternoon we looked 90 degrees towards the west, where we spotted a bird flying around the rough grass near a telegraph post. It was a Short-eared Owl. It continued hunting for several minutes, but there was an opportunistic Kestrel a little nearer to us in the hedge, so the final outcome was unknown.
Short-eared Owl

 Golden Plover
 Mainly Knot
 Mute Swan
 We carried on towards the pumping station and here there were literally hundreds of birds on the small portion of available mud, but many more swirling around in the air. There were Oystercatchers, Curlew, Dunlin, Knot, Ringed Plover, Wigeon, and Friday Unmentionables. The air was rent with the very distinctive 'Cooo-eee' of Grey Plovers, and we eventually saw some of those too. As we stood on the floodbank a couple of Little Egrets were noticed flying from one area to another.
Reed Bunting
 Record Shot of Short-eared Owl
Looking towards the Saltmarsh there were Roe Deer and Carrion Crows, but no raptors of interest. This changed after lunch when a Short-eared Owl was observed hunting up and down for virtually the whole of our visit. It was later joined by a second bird, which may have been the one we had seen earlier. It was so mild in the afternoon we were able to return along the top of the floodbank - it is usually far too windy and cold to even attempt this is in the winter months. As we walked back the shrill cry of a Kingfisher came from the drain. It appeared to be flying towards the pumping station, but it was obscured from our sight by the vegetation along the bank. The first drops of the approaching weather system could be felt on our faces, but we managed to get back dry shod and just before the rain began in earnest. The gamble had paid off. 

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