Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Blacktoft Sands' Barn Owls


On a trip out to
Blacktoft Sands RSPB Nature Reserve near Goole on Sunday afternoon we stayed until dusk in hope of catching sight of Barn Owls. We'd enjoyed sightings during a previous visit to Blacktoft's Roostwatch event at the end of February and once again we weren't disappointed, spotting a total of four Barn Owls hunting over the reed beds. As the light began to fade, we were joined in the hide by a friendly reserve volunteer who helped us identify a couple of owls at a distance and offered helpful information about the reserve.





The Barn Owl settled in the reeds with its bounty for a good 15 minutes, here you can just about make out a Roe Deer to the left of the Barn Owl.


One of the last pics before the light faded away.



I notice that Blacktoft Sands have two Barn Owl evenings on the 20th & 21st May for anyone interested in seeing more of these beatiful birds. I'll follow up with the remaining sightings from earlier in the day once Ive gone through the pics.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Weardley Red Kites and Eccup

A short trip to Weardley saw the Red Kites in fine display. The afternoon light was murky and with the ISO cranked up our pics came out a little grainy but salvageable. Lovely to see the Red Kites energetically swooping and diving against the patchwork of fields, hedgerows and bare Oak trees. This field is a favourite with the Kites, full of sheep and mangelwurzel which presumably attracts plenty of small mammals too.




We watched a number of Kites engage in acrobatic aerial tussles where one or the other would roll upside down, drop and right itself with the greatest of ease time and time again.






The Red Kites regularly settled in a field occupied by sheep and a plentiful amount of mangelwurzel. Also present were a number of Pied Wagtail, over 30 in this field, busily bobbing around and unlike the Kites attracting the occasional interest of the resident sheep. We also spotted a couple of Twite in the field but too far away for a pic.




A little further up the road towards Eccup a fallow field held Lapwing 15, Curlew 5, Starling 40, Wood Pigeon 25, and three hares. Here's a pair of hares spotted at a distance. The Lapwing were keen to see off any crows that flew over the area so maybe they're marking this as potential breeding ground, it'll be interesting to keep an eye on it.



Thursday, 25 March 2010

Teeside sightings

On a recent trip up to Teeside we popped in to Saltholme RSPB Nature Reserve and caugt sight of the Hooded Merganser following a report of the bird on the Teesmouth Bird Club website. As I understand its most likely an escapee but nonetheless a lovely looking bird. We were lucky that it swam right by the hide & plonked itself down for a rest.

Also on the water were Goldeneye, Teal, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Shelduck, Mallard, Mute Swan and Redshank on the margins.


Walking back from the hide to the visitors centre we spotted this Kestrel sat on top of a Hawthorn.


Reed Buntings, and Goldfinch busied themselves amongst the hawthorn hedgerows & Skylarks filled the air with their song.



Elsewhere on Greenabella Marsh we managed to spot 10 Avocets, too far away for a decent pic but happy enough with the sighting. Curlew galore on Seaton Common and an Egret on the Common too.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Potteric Carr

This weekend we visited Potteric Carr for the first time. One of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Big 5 its an extensive reserve of with a range of wetland and woodland habitats, we'd gone with the hope of seeing the Bittern, yet despite a Bittern-less visit we really enjoyed our visit. From the hide we enjoyed close sightings of Gadwall, a Kingfisher, a pair of Little Grebe, Grey Heron and a number of Shelduck.

From the hide nearest the Field Centre the feeding station attracted a large number of Reed Bunting as well as Chaffinch, Robin, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Pheasant, Blackbird.




There are some lovely patches of Birch throughout the reserve, a tree suited to the poor soils associated with reclaimed mining areas. I love the way they catch the afternoon light in a woodland, the horizontal lenticels of its papery bark becoming more fissured with age.


Plenty of Alder too, like the Birch its a pioneer species and actually belongs to the Birch family. Here the yellow elongated male catkins in the centre and the more rounded darker female catkins. The catkins appear before the leaves.

A great attraction of these kinds of wetland areas especially on a sunny afternoon is the abundance and variety of waterscapes. The reflections of marginal vegetation in the ponds, streams and marshes provide glorious abstract views.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Beckett Park Woodland Birds

This week's crisp and clear mornings have filled Beckett Park woodland margins with sparkling dew drops and golden beech leaf colour. Pausing for a moment I spotted this Long Tailed Tit flitting from branch to branch and a Treecreeper feasting from the fissured bark of an established Oak. The splashes of light and colour made for some interesting abstract surroundings.





Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Beckett Park Beech leaves

Following on from last week's pics of near translucent Beech leaves in wintery afternoon light, this week Ive enjoyed contrasting views of the foliage as sunshine streams through the woodland margin, bathing the Beech leaves in a glorious golden glow. What an incredible difference a little light makes to the look and feel of a woodland.

The new shoots are visible alongside last year's leaves.

Here's the area of woodland that they're from, the Beech saplings flank the path extending an autumnal feel to the woodland way into the early days of March.

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