Saturday, 11 June 2011


A quick roundup from last weekend.

I already mentioned the three Quail on Friday night. Also noted on my travels that evening were 1 Mute Swan, 2 Mallard, 3 Grey Partridge, 1 Tawny Owl and 1 Reed Warbler. A Roe Deer was feeding along a farm track and there were quite a few bats feeding - no idea what species though.

Saturday 4th June

Harpham and Lowthorpe in the morning: 2 Red-legged Partridge, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Buzzard, 4 Kestrel (3 together battling with one of the Buzzards!), 6 Lapwing, 1 Herring Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, plenty of Swifts, 11 Skylark, several House Martin, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, several Blackcap and Chiffchaff still singing but only 3 Willow Warbler all morning, and 1 Goldcrest. A squirrel was at Lowthorpe Church.

The sunshine departed in the afternoon and by evening it was cold. However the afternoon around Gembling and Foston produced: 2 Mute Swan, 6 Mallard, male Tufted Duck, 1 female Pochard with 3 young, 1 Grey Partridge, 5 Little Grebe, 1 Cormorant (year tick!!) over Brigham Quarry, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Buzzard, 5 pairs of Coot at Brigham Quarry, 1 Oystercatcher, 6 Lapwing, 8 Black-headed Gull, 20+ Common Gulls, 23 Herring Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 8 Stock Dove, 1 Cuckoo, 2 Yellow Wagtail and several small flocks of Starlings with juveniles.

I tried for the Quails again in the evening without luck but did also encounter 2 Oystercatcher, 32 Lapwing - looking like a post-breeding flock of presumably failed breeding adults, 5 Mallard, 14 Greylags, 2 Red-legged Partridge, 2 Cuckoo - including a female responding to the male's calling. Sweet.

Sunday 5th June

I had other commitments in the morning but after lunch we headed down Kelk Beck and around Great Kelk: 2 Gadwall, 23 Mallard, 3 Tufted Duck, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Kestrel, 4 Buzzard, 8 Lapwing, 2 herring Gull, 200+ hirundines feeding in the lee of Turtle Hill Wood, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 8 Whitethroat, 1 Bullfinch, 2 Reed Bunting.

The only other chance to get out was an hour from 6-7pm around Harpham. Nothing much to add except 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker (at 3 locations).

Some photos...

A baby Blackbird that had still to grow a tail and most of its wing feathers. Bobbing around on the grass verge is a risky strategy when you can't fly - let's hope he didn't become a trophy kill for a bored cat!

Collared Dove on nest. Not quite well enough hidden if you ask me! 

The second year I have found breeding Pochard at this site, though not last year. These are quite a scarce breeding bird in UK so it feels an honour to be able to watch them as a young family.

Beautiful male Greenfinch at Harpham. They're common enough, especially near gardens but still well worth a close look.

Leaving the comedy photo until last. I've never tried to snap a swift before so I'm just delighted that one made it into shot. There were several blank blue sky photos accompanying this one. Must try harder.

Butterfly totals for the weekend as follows:

'Whites' - 7
Large Skipper - 5
Small Tortoiseshell - 4
Speckled Wood - 4
Common Blue - 3
Peacock - 1
Wall - 1

With the addition of Quail and Cormorant the year list is now 103.

102 Quail
103 Cormorant

Monday, 6 June 2011

Quail of a time

For once my timing was perfect. A warm day and still air in summer is precisely the cue to go out listening for Quail. And so that's what I did last Friday evening. And I located three different calling birds in a couple of hours or so cycling around the lanes. Excellent!!

The first was near Kelk Lake, calling from a field of spring corn along with a couple of Grey Partridge. I spent a while listening to it calling every minute or two, hoping that it would stray into the tramlines for a quick view. It didn't. The second bird was close to Great Kelk coming from somewhere in one of two wheat fields. This one was much closer (louder) but their voice carries so well it's difficult to know how close. Third and final bird was at Lowthorpe, also in wheat. It was 10.30pm by this time and I'd had enough. I tried again on Saturday, visiting two of the three sites again, this time it was much colder and rather breezy and there was not a squeak to be heard. Draw your own conclusions about when is best to hear Quail!

While it is clear there are a number of birds in the area to call this an 'influx' might be a bit over-egging it. I think it's luck and we get some every year. Quail are widely reported in Holderness each year with occasional 'influxes'. However, you need to get lucky and the evening weather conditions help greatly, not something I've had in my summer visits over recent years. My last record was in 2009 when I flushed a male at Harpham in August - blogged here.

Apart from this excitement the weekend was as you'd expect, summer in full swing, lots of baby birds and general family activity. A Hobby was seen hunting on Sunday lunchtime and after my grumbles about missing species in the previous blog post I managed to see a Cormorant briefly. More write up later.

Some photos first.

Female Common Blue butterfly. Aren't they fantastic? Early June seems rather early for them but maybe the long dry spring has moved the timing forward - will that mean a better or worse summer for them?

Large Skipper at Kelk Beck. I've not seen any of these in the last two years so it was very pleasing to see several this weekend. Their shape and flight is more like a moth but they're lovely little critters when you see them close up. 

Male Azure Damselfly along Kelk Beck. I've never paid much attention to damselflys before and this is remarkably the first one I've properly idenfied in the area. Apparently they're very common. I've no reason to doubt that.
Female Common Blue Damselfly at Harpham. The greyer colour would be replaced by bright blue in a male. The tail pattern differentiates it from the Azure Damselfly. 
Enough for now. Be back with a few birdy pictures.