Sunday, 6 July 2014

Robert Fuller Exhibition Wildlife Walks 2

On Saturday the final two Robert Fuller Summer Exhibition walking events took place.  The first was a walk around Allerthorpe Woods.  Luckily, when we arrived the constant overnight rain had just stopped. The early birds began by checking a path directly behind the car park.  Here, was a Great Spotted Woodpecker before the session began and later we saw a Treecreeper family, and then we heard and eventually saw a sweetly singing Blackcap.  Back in the car park were a pair of Marsh Tits, and just beyond a male Bullfinch.  We crossed the road to the entrance and looked across a Meadow and spotted a female Roe Deer among the emerging Rosebay Willowherb.  Later we saw her being closely followed by a buck, which had earlier crossed our path.
Redstart at the same location [from 2009]

 Treecreepers [note shorter bill of younger bird (above)]
 Roe Deer
Common Spotted Orchid

The main walk along the conifer track was very quiet at first, the most noticeable feature being that many Common Spotted Orchids were in bloom here, whereas in more open locations they have already bloomed and disappeared.  We did locate a group of Long-tailed Tits among a family of Blue Tits, and a calling Coal Tit was also in the same area.  The first open swathe produced a singing Willow Warbler, which we failed to see until we were on our way back. 
As we reached a more substantial open area we could hear our first distant Yellowhammer, and an even harder to hear Whitethroat could just be discerned.  It was here we encountered the exhibitionist female in lycra who bestrode the middle of the path, and indulged in her public stretchings, genuflecting and kick boxing.  I wondered how we were to get past her after our last encounter, but this time she moved off, before we caught up with her and she reconvened near the crossroads were people could get past her more easily.   
 4-Spotted Chaser
 Green Woodpecker in same location [March]
At the crossroads we turned right and headed for the reserve.  Unfortunately, the sun hadn't really begun to shine yet, and consequently we were unable to locate any Adders.  It was at this point we were joined by some late- comers.  The best sightings here were several Green Woodpeckers which originally were calling from deep within the conifers, but later flew around the open area of the heath.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker was also here.  Bizarrely a flock of Sand Martins flew north, and Swifts were also seen.  The pond was buzzing with large Dragonflies, which included Emperor Dragonflies and Four-Spotted Chasers.  There were also damselflies, and some other species we were unable to identify from the distance we were away from them.  
We made put back to the central path, and here we saw a Yellowhammer, and an open area was swarming with House Martins and Swallows.  It was at this juncture I had a brief view of a bird of prey, before it disappeared behind some Silver Birches.  I was able to alert the group to its possible trajectory, and when it emerged from the vegetation we were able to see from another brief view it was a Hobby with a dragonfly in its talons.  Shortly afterwards we saw a Kestrel alight on a pylon, but it perched out of our sight.  
Small Skipper
On the way back to the car park we saw a sunbathing Comma butterfly and my nephew heard a singing Garden Warbler. 
Comma [with 'comma' harder to see]
Wharram Percy & Wharram Quarry
A visit a fortnight ago may be viewed here:
A substantial gathering plunged down the long slope, and admired Castle Howard in the improving light, as we were accompanied by many Ringlet Butterflies in the long grass.  We went through the gate, and here we actually saw our first Marbled White butterflies, much earlier than normal, plus a few Skippers, and a Red Admiral.
We waited for the Redstart and after a brief glimpse of a male we had a much longer wait before it was spotted again.  Eventually we realised it was feeding a new brood.  This must have been a different family to the one we saw a fortnight ago.  Eventually, the male posed in a dead elder bush long enough for everyone to observe all its plumage details, and we were able to head for the quarry. 
Male Redstart
 Male Redstart feeding juvenile (c) 2014 Lucy Hobkinson
The long walk along the old railway line resulted in a family of Chiffchaffs, some House Martins near the railway cottages.  In this area were also Goldfinches, a family of Swallows on the wires, and a Pied Wagtail carrying insects to its nest.  We also briefly spotted a Willow Warbler disappearing in the undergrowth in some old brick sheds.  A whole family of Kestrels were spotted on the hillside, and later at least two of these also visited the quarry. 
  Spotted Flycatcher - obeying the rules
We arrived at the nature reserve, and almost immediately Ben spotted a bird perched on one of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's notices.  It was a Spotted Flycatcher and was obviously preying on the myriad of butterflies which abound here.  The butterfly and moth species seen here included: Common Blues, Small Heaths, Marbled Whites, Burnet Moths, some Skippers, and more Ringlets and Meadow Browns.  The butterflies and flora looked absolutely glorious in the summer sunshine and were an eye-opener for the attendees. 
Marbled White
 Marbled White (c) 2014 Chris Goldsmith
 Marbled White (c) 2014 Chris Goldsmith
 Marbled White (c) 2014 Lucy Hobkinson
 Common Blue
 Common Blue (c) 2014 Lucy Hobkinson
 Common Blue (c) 2014 Chris Goldsmith
 Bee Orchid (c) 2014 Chris Goldsmith
 Burnet Moth (c) 2014 Chris Goldsmith
 Burnet Moth (c) 2014 Lucy Hobkinson
 Clustered Bellflower (c) 2014 Chris Goldsmith
 Small Skipper on Scabious (c) 2014 Lucy Hobkinson
 Marbled White & Meadow Brown (c) 2014 Chris Goldsmith

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