Wednesday, June 28, 2017
All's well that ends well. It's been around my neck (I'll let you work that one out, along with the above title) for some time now, but finally - in a howling northerly, with horizontal rain more akin to big sea-watching day in November - the weight was emphatically lifted. Where before I can easily claim some seriously bad fortune, this time, quite the opposite, although it was perilously close....
With the bird heading out to sea seconds before I arrived, I was already grinding my teeth and spitting obscenities as I huffed and puffed up to the viewpoint, but miraculously, it swung back around, drifted slowly and stylishly beneath us and through the auk assemblages, and disappeared - without apparently returning.
Despite the crappy conditions and poor light (ISO 3 million or so) my non-fancy camera worked hard and did the job pretty well considering.
With further thanks to the birding gods for once again rewarding my much less unhealthily insular, much more rich and varied credo this year - long may it continue.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Well, it would've been silly not to. After finishing up our surveys nearby (see next posts), Rich and I nipped into the (very impressive) wetland reserve of Nosterfield, barely a fifteen minute diversion on our eastbound journey back home. Any Sabine's is class, but an inland Sabine's in an unfamiliar plumage (first summer) is even more of a pull; indeed, it's the first one I've seen outside of the sifting-through-lines-of-Kitts-on-a-lengthy-seawatch routine here on the Yorkshire coast, and despite the relentless rain, we were treated to excellent views with barely another soul around.
Monday, June 26, 2017
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
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
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
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.
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
Thursday, June 8, 2017
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...