Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sutton Bank Willow Warblers

Another long-distance migrant encountered on my Sutton Bank surveys, in stark contrast to Turtle Doves of the recent post, Willow Warblers are abundant and widespread throughout - especially in regenerating clearings, but pretty much anywhere suitable habitat exists. I had the pleasure of finding a nest on a recent survey, but rather than disturbing the young, though better to sit close by and watch the parents bringing in a wide variety of insects at an incredible rate.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Nidderdale Pied Flycatchers

After disappearing from a recent post about our Nidderdale surveys, it seems only fair to give them their own.... a pair of next-box occupying Pied Flys were one of the highlights of another productive day a week or so ago, which I found not deep in an off-limits woodland, but by a front door on a public footpath. Class.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

North Yorkshire Turtle Doves

More surveying early on this morning, this time a return to Sutton Bank on the very western edge of the North York Moors National Park - and very happy to pin down three purring Turtle Doves competing (/chorusing) with each other before they slipped stealthily out of the spotlight again as the rest of the world woke up.

More from Nidderdale

Our ornithological surveys for the Nidderdale AONB way out west in the Yorkshire Dales continue, and while the 0330hrs starts may be a little unsociable (special thanks to The Clash for keeping me awake on the A64 many times of late), the variety of (ridiculously picturesque) habitats in close proximity and the range of species involved makes those early starts more than worthwhile.

One morning last week was particularly productive, with both transects coming up with the goods. The first was around a marshy, partially grazed field up on the moor on the edge of heather moorland, which fantastically contained no fewer than six species of breeding wader - Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Snipe, Curlew, Redshank and Woodcock - with chicks galore and mobbing parents doing their job admirably...

The second involved a route I'd surveyed last year with decent results, but this time it was even better. Starting off with a Ring Ouzel in full, melodic song and continuing along a ridge occupied by multiple, curious Wheatear families (the young of this species being particularly fearless and entertaining) and more breeding waders, a descent into a wooded river valley produced a suite of target breeding species including Redstarts and, most pleasingly, Pied Flycatchers. Of the latter, I found one breeding pair not in a secluded section of the woodland, but in a nest box right outside the front door of a farmhouse on a public footpath... so after we'd finished, we returned with cameras and a bit more time, and let the home owners know about their iconic tenants, which they were as stoked about as we were.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Local mammals

After the recent close encounter with the Hare, a few more land mammals from recently - Fox cub, Roe Deer, Bank Vole and Rabbit.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Nidderdale Wheatears

A million miles away from their sun-kissed desert brethren of the last post, these Northern Wheatears were a pleasure to be surrounded (and buzzed) by on a cold, windswept hillside in the Yorkshire Dales yesterday morning while we were continued our surveying in the Nidderdale area. There are lots of noisy, unruly young on the slopes, and their curiosity often gets the better of them before being shepherded away by their parents...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Israel 2017 - Wheatears

Wheatears are effectively unbeatable in any situation, but in the desert, they're something else. I spent more time enjoying them than trying to photograph them, but here's a few from the (ever-dustier) memory card (Top to bottom: adult male Hooded, first-year male White-crowned Black, adult male Black-eared, adult male White-crowned Black, adult male Mourning).

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Nidderdale Lapwings

The sun is shining and I'm trapped inside with just a couple of days left to finish my final BSc dissertation (don't ask), so here's an excuse to procrastinate for a few minutes. Surveying in the picturesque landscape of Nidderdale last week included an area of open farmland happily filled with the sight and sound of breeding Lapwings, and I was lucky enough to find them simultaneously in the three stages of their life cycle....