Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Nesting Swans and the first Ducklings

A quick trip to the local canal revealed that nature is certainly getting on with things.

We were pleased to see the first Mallard ducklings. These delightful creatures dart about like some sort of battery powered bath toy oblivious (probably for the best) to the dangers above and below the water.

A male Mallard seemed to be keeping a close eye on me as I photographed the ducklings but I suspect he was more interested in food than protecting the young ones.

Further down we saw a swan nesting with a male close by.

A friendly walker told us he had seen a deer lower down but I thought his dogs would have disturbed them and did not hurry. A grey wagtail appeared for a few seconds but I did not get a sharp photo. We then saw the deer. They had not been disturbed after all and we were able to observe them for a short while.

We moved on and saw this Peacock butterfly. One of the first I have seen this year.

Our last discovery of the walk was a clump of Yellow Archangel - sometimes called Yellow dead-nettle.

We then made our return. It had been a very interesting walk.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

If You Build It, They Will Come

Seeing a pair of Goldfinch in the area I decided to attract them into the garden. I had seen them on the neighbour's TV aerial but not in our trees. Everybody said nyjer seed was the secret so I made a trip to our local bird food suppliers and bought a large bag of nyjer and a special feeder. They had some very fancy stainless steel feeders but I opted for a simple one to start with hoping that the birds would be more interested in the contents rather than the attractiveness of the feeder.

I filled the feeder and hung it in what I though would be a suitable spot and after a couple of days was just popping in the kitchen to put the kettle on when I was delighted to see two Goldfinches using the feeder.

I got a couple of shots through the open kitchen door but I did not want to disturb them on their first visit.

After a short while they were disturbed by a Collared dove that had totally ignored the feeder on previous visits but today must have thought it was missing out on something.

For a moment as the feeder swung from one side to the other I thought it was going to give way but it held and the dove decided that either it did not like nyjer seed or it was too much like hard work and flew off.

Hopefully the Goldfinches will return on a regular basis and I will be able to get some better photos. 

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Afternoon Walk

We had a couple of hours spare so made the short journey to a local canal. This is a great spot for wildlife and usually reveals something different every time we go.

As we parked the car we noticed Butterbur flowering

In various places Field horsetail was starting to appear

There were a few tractors working the fields and one disturbed a Roe deer. It seemed to have difficulty running through the field due to the thick mud. Eventually it reached the cover of some trees.

On the side of the canal there were clumps of Marsh Marigold flowering.

According to Wild Flowers of Yorkshire this used to be hung over farm doorways to ward off witchcraft and as a protection against lightning strikes.

Apart from a few Reed bunting and the some Lapwing and Curlew there was not much activity from the bird life but still the sight of the Roe deer added a little excitement to the day and it was encouraging to see various plants starting to flower. The canal has lots of Yellow water-lily and the leaves of these could be seen making their way to the surface.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Out and About- Episode 2 (thanks to Jem's Stout!)

With my back well on the way to recovery I felt more able to venture further afield. Mrs Wolds-End returned from a local trip to buy provisions with a gift for me in the form of a fine bottle of "Jem's Stout" from the Great Newsome Brewery . Shortly after enjoying this I noticed that the last remnants of back pain had gone - coincidence perhaps but I was reminded of the time a few years ago that I twisted my ankle while walking in Dentdale. It was quite painful for the rest of the day but in the evening I managed to hobble to the pub and on sampling a pint of the Dent Brewery's "T'Owd Tup" my bad ankle felt very warm and the pain subsided!

Anyway whatever the reason I was anxious to get out and we made our first visit of the year to Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit and the nearby Rifle Butts Quarry.

As we arrived at Kiplingcotes the blue sky clouded over and there was a very chilly breeze. A buzzard took off from a nearby field and there were a few rabbits about. In weeks to come there will be plenty of wild flowers and butterflies but today all we saw was a solitary Red tailed bumblebee.

We walked down the track to Rifle Butts Quarry and on the way saw a pair of Marsh Tits (well I think they were Marsh and not Willow tits going by the a pale spot on the proximal part of the upper mandible that according to internet sources is a pretty reliable way of telling them apart).

The light was not good at this point but we could see blue sky approaching. A Buzzard was flying nearby and a few Rooks were trying to make it leave the area. They were against the light with grey sky behind and I decided that as there was no way of showing any detail of the birds I would expose for the grey sky and quite liked the result with the Rooks having their beaks open.


There was little happening at Rifle Butts Quarry and we made our way back, seeing a Chaffinch and Robin. As we got back to the car the sun came out and the first Sand martin I have seen this year flew past.

A couple of days later we went into York. I only had my camera phone with me but could not resist taking a photo of the Greylag goslings. What good parents geese are - keeping a close eye on their offspring as tourists approach and take photos. They proved very popular on the day and I think add to the attractions of York but then as far as wildlife goes I admit to being biased.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Out and About - Episode 1

Due to pulled muscle in my back I have only had short local trips out for a while. I have had to resort to carrying fewer lenses and using my lighter Nikon dslr body which is normally kept in my bag as a back-up. Long drives were out of the question so we popped to Allerthorpe Wood where this male Chaffinch "posed" for us. I would have liked a better background to the shot but blurred it as much as I could with an f5.6 lens.

Moving on a Long-tailed tit played hide and seek with us.

Deeper in the wood there were two Great spotted woodpeckers - one quickly flew away but the other stayed for a minute or so.

The next day we walked to a local wood. There were some lambs in a field on the way.This one was in the company of two Jackdaws.

On reaching the wood we saw this Bee-fly

We could hear a Woodpecker drumming in the distance and there were quiet a few Chiffchaffs about. On the way back home we spotted a Mistle thrush.

These couple of days enjoying short walks did my back complaint wonders and I was eager to get out again.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Bempton - It Begins

Our first visit of the year to Bempton.

As it was Easter Sunday there were quite a few people already there when we arrived. There is however plenty of space with five viewing points.

Few of the birds were flying above cliff top height but a look from the viewing areas revealed lots of activity down below. 

Plenty of birds have now arrived for the breeding season with Gannets, Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Herring gulls and Puffins to be seen.

Puffins attract much attention and there were quite a few of them.
We walked along the cliff path away from the viewing points listening to the Skylarks singing and saw a group of Gannets collecting nesting material. They seemed to favour one particular spot.

The weather did not follow the forecast I had seen and a grey cloud meant bumping up the ISO on the camera. There were some brief sunny spells and looking up and down the coast towards Scarborough and Flamborough Head and  we could see that the day was better in other places. A chilly breeze at one viewing point  left my fingers quiet cold at one stage and after walking up to get a good view of Filey Bay we turned back and headed to the mobile ECO Cafe that was parked next to the RSPB visitor centre for a warming drink ( they do a very nice Cappuccino ). This coincided with a light shower but we could see much heavier rain up the coast. Following the shower a brief sunny spell made us risk a walk down towards Flamborough as there is a good view of the Gannet nesting sites from this part. As we reached the viewing point at Staple Newk heavy rain arrived and we decided to call it a day. 

The breeding season has begun at Bempton and over the next few months there will be plenty of activity. Hopefully we will manage a return visit when there is better light for photography.