Champions of the Flyway!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Flamborough & Yorkshire, 21st - 25th June 2010

Five uncharacteristically warm and sunny days back in the motherland, for time with the folks and friends, walks along the cliffs and plenty of fresh air and midsummer nature. Dictated by workload as opposed to migration this time, the timing of the trip was almost the better for it in some ways.

male Yellowhammer in song

With little or no hope of kicking up an odd pipit, sifting through Goldcrests for an interesting Phyllosc or staring at the waves for lines of Shearwaters to appear, the pressure was off and the shoulders dropped - all the better to renew an intimate acquaintance with the wealth of species easily overlooked during passage periods.

Off the cape and a drive up into the North Yorkshire forests and valleys with the old man on the 22nd, taking in Dalby, Troutsdale and Forge Valley. Wonderfully picturesque, lush and beautiful, the area is the classic postcard image of Yorkshire at its absolute finest on such a day. Plenty of stops en route, with Willow Warblers and Coal Tits providing a constant chorus in the sunshine.

thankfully everywhere and always a joy - Swallows (with both lighthouses and a view of the 13th)

With the weather ideal for large raptors soaring above the valleys and woodland, we got especially lucky - as well as a couple of Common Buzzards, Kestrel and a close-to Hobby panicking hirundines as we ate lunch, we barely had to try for the two locally-specialist but hard-to-come-by rare breeders - both Goshawk and Honey-buzzard decided to entertain us overhead; either would've been a great result, both was being spoiled.

Pied Wagtail playing with fire at the foot of a tourist

Lesser Whitethroat, juvenile Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat

Driving the hour or so home back into East Yorks and approaching Buckton Hall along the road to Flamborough, a distant but obviously huge bird with a labouring flight and an elongated body shape headed south up ahead of us. Calmly requesting we might like to stop at the next opportunity (we've a learned system perfected on many foreign trips, which rarely involves crashing these days), I jumped out of the car, grabbed the cameras from the boot and we watched the bird slowly make its way into the heat haze - a fine Common Crane.

cracking shots of the Crane

An absurdly successful and entertaining day, with barely any effort providing a full house in the forest and an unexpected scarcity on the way home.

Plenty of time over the next few days was spent walking the clifftops from Bempton to Danes Dyke South and everywhere in between; every step a joy, with the wildflowers, butterflies and moths in full force, happily numerous Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Tree Sparrows (as well as all three local Bunting spp) lining the path, and the greatest show on earth below.

Biased? Naturally; being lucky enough to grow up alongside the seabird colony here (not to mention the recovering auks, Gannets, gulls etc. which were a constant feature of our cramped household), I get withdrawal symptoms if I can't connect with the swirling masses every summertime; there's nothing like it, and nothing as mind-clearing as kicking back on the clifftop grass and watching such a complex, intricate and manic avian metropolis in full flow.

(seabird photos to follow).

Skylark at nest, House Sparrows, and Goldfinch