Monday, 26 October 2009

Two for one offer

Autumn is progressing at a frightening rate. Only a month ago there were lingering signs of summer while this weekend showed just how far toward winter we really are. All day dampness underfoot is the order of the day and the nights drawing in way too early. Summer migrant birds feel long gone though we're still awaiting the downpour of thrushes that leave hedgerows dripping with Blackbirds, Fieldfares and Redwings.

Highlights: 2 Shoveler, 290 Golden Plover, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Stonechat, 1 Jay, 19 Siskin, 26 Tree Sparrow.

Saturday 24th October

Awful start to the weekend - low visibility and the heavy threat of rain all morning. Heading to Harpham the birds weren't having any sympathy with us either - just a Common Buzzard, a big female Sparrowhawk, 42 Lapwing, 400+ Woodpigeon, 2 Goldcrest and 31 Linnet.

New Road as ever the hotspot was the highlight of the morning - 22 Teal, 65 Mallard, 1 Sparrowhwak, 80+ Pheasant, 1 Cormorant off the beck, 1 Grey Wagtail, and a female Bullfinch. Best of the lot was the pair of Stonechat feeding along the fence bordering the cattle field and the rough ground.

Stonechat is still a very scarce bird locally - these are only the fourth and fifth ones and the first instance of two together. All have been in autumn and none have hung around. Maybe this pair will show more confidence in this beautiful spot! Here's a rubbish record shot of the male...

Lowthorpe was about as quiet as I can remember - my only note was 3 Moorhens together on the roadside pool in Church Wood. Around Station Road were 1 Little Grebe, 1 Goldcrest, 2 parties of Long-tailed Tit, and a Jay - as the second of the autumn represents a mini-influx.

The remaining journey was a case of rain stopped play, just a Common Buzzard over Kelk Lake and a Grey Heron off Kelk Beck.

In the afternoon with just an hour or so of daylight left the sun came out so a dash round the Gransmoor Lane area seemed appropriate - alas all we found was 11 Red-legged Partridge, 11 Collared Dove (Little Kelk), a party of Long-tailed Tit, 330 Starling, 4 Yellowhammer. In the fields on either side of Green Lane we counted a whopping 34 Hares - quite probably the most I've ever seen in such a small area. Noticeably I saw very few elsewhere all weekend.

Sunday 25th October

Early signs on Sunday weren't good (pah - who listens to the forecast anymore?!) but the rain stayed away only to be replaced by a strong wind to keep the birds in hiding. Saying that it was a pretty good day, but so it should be in late October!

Kelk Beck in the morning: 6 Mute Swan, 6 Greylags flying east, 4 different Cormorants, 1 imm Grey Heron, 2 Common Buzzards (1 each over Lingholmes and Kelk Lake), 1 Kestrel was the only one all weekend, 6 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Herring Gull, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 1 Kingfisher, 20+ Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipit, 1 Grey Wagtail (scarce in this part of the area), 1 Fieldfare (the only one all weekend), 2 Mistle Thrush, a party of Long-tailed Tit, 160 Starling, 26 Tree Sparrow and 25 Linnet. Further along at Cattleholmes were 2 Wigeon (year tick!), 60+ Teal, 75+ Mallard, a pair of Shoveler, 19 Siskin flew west (first site record) and 2 Reed Bunting. A pretty good morning when all considered.

In the afternoon I had a quick look around Gembling and Brigham Quarry. Very quiet at Gembling with just 2 Meadow Pipit, 3 Redwing (the only ones of the weekend), a party of Long-tailed Tit, a flock of Tree Sparrows hiding in some bushes, and 1 Bullfinch. A Mute Swan and a party of Long-tailed Tits were near Foston Mill.

Brigham Quarry seemed quiet but there were 9 Wigeon, 5 Teal, 1 pochard, 1 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Grey Heron, 3 Coot, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Kingfisher. A couple of fields away toward Wansford were 80 Lapwing and 290 Golden Plover. Final word goes to one of the few non-bird sightings of the weekend - a Migrant Hawker dragonfly whizzing up and down the hedgerow of the quarry, a late individual.

Yearlist update: 112 recorded, 110 seen by myself.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Badger Badger Mushroom!

In all the excitement I forgot to put these Badger pics up. Doh!

This was the anxious first shot - if it scuttled away at least I'd have one ropy shot. Not too bad considering. Spot the Woodpigeon.

Several minutes later...

And now some at full zoom, featuring Woodpigeon... again.

Hardly any of the shots show the head, since it was snuffling along the ground the whole time.

One more just for good measure :-)

News just in: c250 Pink-feet over Kelk on Monday in two skeins plus a few Swallows still about. Oh, if you're wondering what mushrooms have to do with anything then you need this (don't ask!)

Friday, 2 October 2009

Random stuff that doesn't fly

Autumn is a such great time for colours in the countryside so I'm not surprised I got a bit carried away on my last visit. Wel at least plants stay still.

Hawthorn is the most common hedgerow trees in the area - this one along Lynesykes Lane is typical of this time of year. In another month Blackbirds will be all over them!

Here are some Sloe berries, from another locally common hedgerow tree. These aren't so popular with the birds but everything has its value.

Not many Grey Squirrels are resident in the area and they can be devilishly hard to locate but the woods around Harpham and Lowthorpe do hold a few.

Ha! Not even plants or animals now... a massive piece of cheese instead!

Ok, we've had the moon, how about some landscapes. This was the view west from Harpham Moor on Saturday evening about half an hour before sunset. The whole sky went a weird pinky-orange, not the greatest conditions for birdwatching but a pretty picture no less.

And this was the last gasp of the sunset over Harpham village and the Wolds in the distance. Behold the orangey goodness.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Yet. More. Butterflies.

Comma feeding on Ivy flowers in a hedgerow in Little Kelk - there were four of these along the same hedge, the only site where this species was located during the September visit.

Painted Lady in the same hedge as the Comma. Not a very bright individual but still in quite good condition. It's been an incredible year for this species following the influx in May.

Red Admiral underwing - while the upperwings are more orange the little flash of proper red on the underwing justifies the name. Guess which hedge this was in? Correct.

Red Admiral again, same hedge - there were 12 in total. The little iridescent blue spots at the tail end of the wings are easy to miss but really complete the look for me.

Speckled Wood. Not in the ivy hedge. This fairly worn individual was along Station Road, Harpham which has been one of the better spots for butterflies in the area this year.

Photos... of birds this time

The Mute Swan family on Kelk Beck - all eight first seen as small cygnets in summer are still going strong.

Half of a skein of Pink-footed Geese which flew south on Saturday morning. Presumably these ones were enroute from Scotland to Norfolk.

Part of a flock of 31 Tree Sparrows at Gembling. An excellent count of a species that can be quite tricky to study in the area.

This Common Buzzard landed about 30 feet below me at Brigham Quarry and allowed one photo before whizzing off. But oh what a shot!

Cormorant flying overhead. Not everyone's cuppa but no doubting they look kinda kooky. Although more than three in a day is unusual they appear to be more regular than during the 1990s.