Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Wooed by a Woodlark

On Tuesday we travelled all the way to the outskirts of York for the final time in 2014.  There was a Woodlark heard singing from the car park again, but the bird couldn't be located.

Treecreeper (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
There was no sign of any wildlife in in the new glade, so we trudged on.  The Chiffchaff was heard singing in flight, before landing in last week's Silver Birch, and began singing properly.  It wasn't easy to see many details in the bad light.  As we neared the recently-ploughed field we heard and then saw a singing Willow Tit.  This was the first definite sighting of this species we've had at this venue this spring.
Record Shot of Singing Willow Tit
Record Shot of Yellowhammer
The Chiffchaff was in the same Silver Birch as last week, and when we reached the corner we had a Treecreeper and our first definite sighting of a male Willow Tit at this location this year.  Where we saw the Woodlark pair 10 days ago we struggled, but did find a few Yellowhammers and more Linnets.  Eventually we did see a pair fluttering above the main path & then they came nearer.  The female disappeared into thick vegetation, but the male twittered at us from the telegraph wire for several minutes.  The students watched in awe, and gasped in pleasure when they could hear the delightful notes emanating from the Woodlark's throat.  It was a little private concert, seemingly for our own pleasure. The supercilium could be seen, and the flecks on the bird's breast, but not much else.  After several minutes he flew down into a recently-ploughed field, and all the wonderful markings on his upperparts could be enjoyed.  The supercilium meeting at the back of his neck could be seen, as could the enormous hind claws and his relatively short tail. 
Woodlark - note protruding supercilium & enormous rear claws
Woodlark - note supercilium meeting at back of neck
Singing Woodlark
Ditto (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
Woodlark 9c) 2014 Tony Robinson
Yaffle Torpedo - just after we left the Woodlark
There wasn't much to see on the reserve, and the journey back to the car park was quite uneventful.  The afternoon session started well with a very confiding Marsh Tit, but there was a sharp decline after that delightful sighting with not much seen of note.  We were right on the edge of a weather system with rain in York and bright sunshine to the east, and the activity was all shutdown after 11am.  The sun peeped out for 10 minutes at 2.30, but it wasn't enough to bring the birds out.
Crossbills (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
Tree Full of Crossbills (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
Scruffy Marsh Tit - been nest-building?
Last week some Wednesday morning stalwarts came to this location, and as well as the Woodlarks they found a large flock of Crossbills, sadly there was absolutely no sign of them today.

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