Friday, 30 April 2021

Still Some Signs of Winter

On Tuesday we visited a York heathland.  The weather wasn’t too bad, but it was less sunny than the previous week.  There was no chance of seeing an Adder that day. The most memorable moment came when one of the long-horned cattle burst over a fence by which it had been recently confined.  We encountered a Cuckoo at the furthest extent of our walk, which continued to call for the remainder of the morning.  Another highlight was hearing a singing Woodlark, which we found at the top of a tree, where it was joined by a Chaffinch.  Later, we saw the bat-like Woodlark flying over our heads.
Male Cuckoo

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A Stoat ran across the path not too far from the car park, and shortly before we saw a Treecreeper enter its nest-hole.  Unfortunately, it was in what seemed such a precarious position, it would very likely succumb to the investigations of the Stoat.
Treecreeper
Wren
Long-tailed Tit - still nest-building
Linnet
Woodlark [right] & Chaffinch
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Woodlark
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Song Thrush
Tiger Beetle
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Toad
Bluebell
Wood Sorrel
Moth species
Longhorn
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Bull
On Wednesday we walked along the River Hull in very icy 16 mph winds.  We did hear Reed Warblers, and see Sedge Warblers, but numbers were down.  Perhaps, the cool weather was holding some migrants back.  However, some summer visitors were present in rather good numbers.  The south-western edge of the site was swarming with Swallows, Sand Martins peppered with a few stray House Martins.  However, the highlight for some, who had never seen one before, was a pair of Whimbrel, reduced to one by the afternoon.  At least the species was still represented, even it was a singular example.  
Whimbrel
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Whimbrel (c) 2021 Symon Fraser
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Tony Robinson located the surprise of the day, a few Fieldfare among the hawthorns on the west side of Barmston Drain.
Fieldfare
Greenfinch
Greenfinch (c) 2021 Symon Fraser
Linnet
Pied Wagtail
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Sedge Warbler
Unmentionables
Recently Deceased Orange-Tip
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Dung Flies
During the lunch hour I travelled north to check on a local Bluebell wood.  It was at its glorious peak.
Bluebells at Bracken
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On Thursday we visited a different York lowland Heath.  The weather was very overcast at times, and during the showers there was an extremely chilly breeze.  Things started quietly, but while still in the wood the exquisite lilting notes of the Woodlark could just be discerned.  When we reached the edge of the wood the bat-like form circled above our heads, approximately twice the height of the treetops.  After lunch the Woodlark was perched at the top a tree, which hadn’t yet come into leaf.  Nearby a pair of Yellow Wagtails were on a dung heap searching the one location where the insects may have been more plentiful.
Blackcap
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In the morning Elaine heard an unfamiliar birdsong which turned out to be our first Garden Warbler of the year.  We couldn’t see this one, but did locate another near a major crossroads.  
Garden Warbler
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Marsh Tit
Woodlark
Yellow Wagtail
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Linnet
Hares
Hares
Hares
Hares
Alkanet
On Friday we returned  to Tuesday’s location.  The weather seemed a little nicer at first.  However, we had heavy rain at lunchtime, which strayed into the beginning of the afternoon session.  We saw similar birds, but we witnessed the terrestrial courtship dance of Woodlark for the first time in 15 years of classes.  The amazing thing was that this took place next to and then on the public footpath we were walking on.  After lunch we had a good view of a Cuckoo, a Garden Warbler and a male Linnet.
Garden Warbler
Female Great Spotted Woodpecker
Woodlark Display
Woodlark Courtship (c) 2021 Jane Robinson
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Woodlark
Note eye stripe meet at rear of head
Cuckoo (c) 2021 Mike Woods
Blackcap (c) 2021 Mike Woods
Garden Warbler (c) 2021 Mike Woods
Linnet (c) 2021 Mike Woods
Treecreeper (c) 2021 Mike Woods
Exmoor Pony
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