Tuesday, 19 May 2009

May 'fly

I forgot to note butterflys from the weekend, though there's really not a lot to say what with all that rain. Lots of unidentified 'whites' were probably mostly Green-veined. The verges along Station Road have had the most butterflys this spring.

Green-veined White - various (several)
Small Tortoiseshell - Kelk Beck (1)

Large White - Lowthorpe (2+)
Wall - Little Kelk (2), Kelk Beck (1)
Holly Blue - Little Kelk (1)
Speckled Wood - Kelk Beck (1)
Orange Tip - Lowthorpe (1 male, 3+ total)

I think, from memory, that Walls are quite common, Holly Blue and Orange Tip locally so. Speckled Wood may be a fairly recent arrival - I don't recall seeing them in the 90s, but definitely saw one or two last year. Hmm, if only I'd been keeping records.

Right then - 5 new species for the year, giving a total of 8.

Through the wind and rain

May visit done and dusted. The weather was pretty poor for birdwatching with a strong breeze (varying between E and S) and plenty of rain. Even so I managed to get around most of the area and picked up a few goodies - in particular the first Hobby of the year, a couple of Cuckoos, a Garden Warbler.

Saturday 16th May

As usual the Kelk Lake - Harpham - Lowthorpe circuit was first up. Rather quiet at Kelk Lake, just 3 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, an adult Cormorant swimming about, 1 Buzzard over the wood, 6 Coot (no young visible yet), 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, quite a few hurundines, 1 Blackcap and 2 Reed Warbler singing.

Moving across to Harpham continued the 'quiet' theme with just a male Kestrel hovering over the railway, 8 Lapwing, 2 Mistle Thrush, 4+ Long-tailed Tit and a Goldcrest. The activity picked up by New Road but also the first serious shower of the day. Birds here included 2 Greylag Goose, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Kestrel, 1 Cuckoo calling somewhere toward Lowthorpe, lots of hirundines: 20 Sand Martin, 60 Swallow, 30 House Martin. A pair of Grey Wagtail seen together follows the three last month and is encouraging signs of possible breeding - more so than last year, certainly. Two Sedge Warblers were furiously singing from the scrub.

Best of all was a Stoat that ran along the length of the track toward the bridge, almost running over my foot as it went! It stopped several times and raised its body to look around giving amazing views. A real corker, and totally made my morning.

Around Lowthorpe were 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker calling, 3 Blackcap, 3 Long-tailed Tit, 70+ Rook on a re-sown grass field. And that was about it for the morning. Constant rain for the last 20 minutes meant literally nothing seen between the railway and Little Kelk.

By mid afternoon there was sunshine so we trekked around Green Lane and Barf Hill. The pools on the grass fields are practically gone now so no birds there. A female Sparrowhawk flew out of a Little Kelk garden and off toward Kelk Lake. The paddock had a singing Lesser Whitethroat, which I don't recall in any previous year. Also a male Yellow Wagtail overhead.

Probably the best bird of the weekend - a Hobby - was hawking insects over Linholmes wood. This is the earliest record for me locally, most are from July-Sep. Such an early bird could be a migrant but such has been their expansion that nearby breeding must be a possibility now. A juvenile was seen at Lingholmes last autumn, just to add to that little fire.

Moving on; 4 Buzzards were soaring together over Kelk Lake, an Oystercatcher was heard calling overheard but somehow remained invisible, 8 Lapwing included several chicks and 1 Whitethroat along Green Lane was a year tick. A Water Vole was seen swimming along Gransmoor Drain - goddam they are such cuties!

Around Barf Hill; 9 Greylag Goose, 2 Canada Goose, 3 Teal (a surprise!), 4 Grey Partridge, 1 Kestrel, 25 House Martin, a pair of Yellow Wagtail, 2 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Whitethroat and 4 Long-tailed Tit. Not a bad haul for the afternoon. On the way back a Bullfinch was heard calling near North End Farm.

Sunday 17th May

Kelk Beck and Cattleholmes in the morning was fairly productive, the first bird of the day was a Cuckoo heard calling from the house. A pair of Canada Goose had at least two goslings at Cattleholmes where there was also 1 Gadwall, 8 Tufted Duck (plus 2 on the beck), 2 Little Grebe, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Kestrel, 2 Coot, 1 Meadow Pipit, 4 Sedge Warbler and 4 Reed Bunting. Along the beck 16 Lapwing, 2 Curlew flew south and then about an hour later north again, a pair of Yellow Wagtail, 8 Sedge Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat. 14 Hares were counted in the adjacent fields.

The pair of Mute Swans were tending to 8 very young cygnets - success at last. Hopefully they can fledge several of those and it will be fun to see them progress through the summer.

On the return I took a detour from the usual route and headed for Gembling where there were 2 Red-legged partridge, 6 Lapwing, 2 Mistle Thrush south of Great Kelk, 1 Lesser Whitethroat also Great Kelk, 3 Whitethroat, and 5+ Long-tailed Tit. Then more rain and soggy clothes closed play.

A shorter version of the Harpham walk in the afternoon produced 3 Gadwall at New Road, 1 female Pochard at Kelk Lake, the Cormorant again at the lake, another Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, and a brief glimpse of what might have been the Hobby again near Harpham Church. 50+ Swift at New Road, where there were also 5 Sedge Warbler in song, and several Long-tailed Tit. A Whitethroat was near the Turkey Farm.

As expected gulls were few and far between all weekend, the only ones noted totalled 15 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 9 Herring Gull all flying SW, mostly adults. No smaller gulls were seen.

The final throw of the dice was to pass Brigham Quarry on the way out until next month; 2 Gadwall, 3 Pochard, 4 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe and 6 Coot.

My year list is now 99 and with the addition of Turtle Dove the recorded total is 101. This is just one down on May 2008 so I'm thinking 110 is going to be easily within reach. Bring it on!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Swiftly does it

Speak and ye shall receive. After bemoaning the lack of Swift activity, my brother rang up to let me know he'd seen about 10 flying around over the houses in Harpham yesterday evening.

Told you so :)

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Turtle Dove 1 - Cuckoo 0

A single Turtle Dove was seen in Kelk (Monday 11th) at the same spot one was seen for a week in May 2007. That one was the only bird seen that year (and I missed it!). A brief flyover at Cattleholmes was the sole record for 2008.

Without further evidence it must be considered extinct locally, the last breeding probably took place toward the end of the 90s. A very sad situation indeed though consistent with the dramatic national decline - they're quite scarce across Holderness though just about hanging on as a breeder.

No sight / sound of any Cuckoos yet, apparently, which is worrying given the poor show in the last couple of years.

Oh and no Swifts either, but they'll be in, finding better feeding away from the houses.