Thursday, 27 February 2014

It Makes me Want to Shout!

On Tuesday we travelled for the 1st time to a conifer forest near York. We had a long walk before we reached the central section, where the wildlife resided. Throughout our whole sojourn there, we were laughed at by various Green Woodpeckers, but none of them were seen. We also looked for sunbathing Adders, in the strong sun but didn't spot any, but a regular told us that he'd seen one on February 20th.

We clambered over a stile & made our way to the pool.  We stool there for a while taking care not to rest our hands on the posts, which 2 years later were still being used by a bird of prey to wipe its last meal on - this time it may have been the developing spawn of a frog.   We'd be standing there for a few minutes, when Lynn pointed out a buffish bird at the top of a Silver Birch right next to us. It was a Woodlark - what the French call Lulu! It soon flew away and as it disappeared we noticed a second bird flying with it.

Goodness Knows
There were a few lone Silver Birches on the heath and many of these contained the cheery songs of Linnets. Later, a pair of Buzzards rose above the conifers, and then flew south. A few minutes later a Sparrowhawk was seen over the same area of trees. After leaving the reserve we travelled to the southern edge of the trees and here we had a pair of Long-tailed Tits & Yellowhammers. We retraced our steps and heard the hooting of a male Tawny Owl, and then went on to see many more Yellowhammers near the picnic table - the vast majority of these appeared to be males. While we were watching them I kept hearing the very faint tell-tale lulu song of a Woodlark, and sure enough it was performing some aerial circles above a large stand of conifers. 
We travelled towards the sound, and then were able to see and hear it better. This bat-like flight was actually taking place above a field to the north of the trees, and it seemed there was another singing above another field to the north. As we tried to find this tiny bird in the massive sky first one silent Jay, and then another went over our heads and landed in the thin line of trees bordering the Woodlark's field. In the afternoon this area was completely silent, but we spotted a sniper with a telescopic attachment to his gun squatting in the hedgerow. He may have been planning to cull deer, but he didn't fire any shots off while we were present. 
We carried on west, back towards the car park when I noticed dozens of Redwing leaving the conifers for the small copse of Silver Birches. Meanwhile we had closer views of some passerines, including Marsh Tits and Goldcrests. I had a brief view of something, which may have been a Chiffchaff, but it soon disappeared. We were almost back at the car park when we came across a pair of Treecreepers and more Marsh Tits. In the afternoon there were 2 more Marsh Tits using the little bird table near the site entrance.
 Record Shot of Reed Bunting
The afternoon started ominously with thick grey clouds and then 4 large logging lorries arrived, and trundled down the central path. We tried to avoid them by walking south east along the circuit of the wood. The wood had become silent since the morning, but we did hear Siskins, and saw another Treecreeper and a Marsh Tit. We reached a stubble field which was swarming with Fieldfares and Redwings, and while we were watching them the afternoon's single Yellowhammer was spotted in the top of a hedge.

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