Ah, February - always a joy, eh..... not to complain, of course, and even in this often bleakest of months and scenerios, the local patch continually provides. It's a month that is usually comparitively low-key here in Filey but for the promise of cold-weather movements, and a period of the latter (inspired by plunging temperatures, the full range of precipitation and bone-chilling easterlies) stole the show earlier in the month.
Black Redstart - still pluckily sticking it out in the bay corner
Billed as The Beast From The East 2, it was more of half-hour TV spin-off than a genuine sequel (for a reminder of the sheer scale of the original, see here), but it forced an exodus of landbirds from an increasingly inhospitable mainland Europe to take their chances over the raging North Sea, with predictably mixed results.
Argentatus Herring Gull in the bay corner
Thrushes, Snipe and other species were involved, but by far the most notable and abundant was Woodcock. Sadly many didn't make it (as evidenced by the many casualties along the shoreline), but many others did, and there must've been hundreds in the local area on several of the most productive days; in one small area of local coastal cover (the main part of Top Scrub), I counted a minimum of 31 on 5th, with double figure counts the norm for a good week thereafter.
Local wetlands were mostly iced over, with influxes of waterbirds including Wigeon and Coot (both above) indicative of more extreme conditions inland, and wildfowl were on the move in modest numbers - including pale-bellied Brents and Pink-feet. The bay has been reasonably quiet, however, but for the pleasingly predictable Great Northern Divers and a notable build-up of Great Crested Grebes (below), with 25 in one small area on our wind-battered beach walk yesterday and double figures all week...
Great Northern Divers fishing in the surf
Sharing the beach with Sanderlings (above) is a regular perk of winter walks, but sharing it with a Fox (below), enjoying the extensive seafood buffet of the strandline before slipping away pursued by corvids (below), was a rarer treat.
Woodcock (above), Dunlin, Snipe and another Woodcock (all below) - cold weather movers and shakers
Gloomy, cold and with a biting, strong SE wind in the bay corner here in Filey today, but plenty to enjoy - the pick of the bunch being this beautiful second calendar year Little Gull, which materialised right in front of me and daintily dip-fed and walked on the water often within just a few metres of where I stood ankle-deep in the rising tide. Well worth the numbed extremeties.....
From yesterday - which, as the sleet whips against the window here in Filey, seems like a long time ago - on the Humber: a confiding Grey Wagtail feeding around my feet at my vantage point and along the seawall of the docks, and a beautiful blue sky supplying a very welcome shot of Vitamin D.
Cold, wet and dark here in Filey today, but dragged myself over to the Dams for half an hour (thanks to eBird, or more specifically, to avoiding a break in daily checklists); glad I did, with a male Goosander looking regal on the area of unfrozen water before heading east, and then a spine-tingling fly-by from one of the local Barn Owls - straight towards me and very close past me, despite being fully aware of my presence and staring me down....