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Friday, February 1, 2013

Wild birds on a university campus near you!!


Heslington East has loomed large in many a recent bird report from the York area and something I've been meaning to do for a while is find out precisely where this place is and explore! In truth, it didn't take much exploring and as good a spot as it undoubtedly is, unless I'm missing a trick somewhere, I have to conclude that recent reports of this place ranking alongside the Lower Derwent Valley as one of the York areas 'premier' birding sites are in my opinion somewhat exaggerated.

Yes I had a few good birds and yes it's quite unique to get such birds within a stone's throw of the city but when all is said and done it's a university campus site still under development with students milling about and construction vehicles in just about every field of view .... for me it's just not nearly wild enough!

Ok, it serves no good purpose to rant on ( it's really just the comparison with the the wonderful LDV that gets me going!) ..... on to the birds.

There's been at least one and maybe 2 overwintering Green Sandpipers seen here recently and after a short walk into the campus I came upon one casually feeding away in a lagoon as students thundered past on bikes .... God knows what they must have thought of a dun clad clown with binocs and camera gear crouching and stalking something as academically alien to them as their 'plugged in' existence appeared to me .... ah, as an academic in a previous life I much prefer this life!

Here's the Green Sand ......



And one in flight .... they're normally so quick to fly off a decent 'in flight' shot is a first for me and I was very pleasantly surprised when this came out as something more than the usual blur!


Another unusual bird to occur in such a suburban setting is this Knot, which has been around for a good couple of weeks now and seems to have taken a liking to university life .... easy pickings!!




Have to say I never imagined such a bird within a couple of miles of where I live on the outskirts of suburban York ... rock on tommy!

Elsewhere on the site I had a Buzzard over, 2 Goldeneye, 1 Pochard, a few Lapwings, many Greylags and Mute Swans of which many are feral to the site, a small flock of Yellowhammers and Goldfinches and a more than decent Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a Crow as I was photographing the Knot, so......quick age defying change of position and hey presto ......



Here's a quick Yellowhammer on a fence whilst I was having a sandwich .....

















After my university education I graduated on to the somewhat rougher and wilder environs of Tilmire.... further out from the city and a place where few students wander.

Light was problematical so not much in the way of photographs but this Redwing, one of about 40, was passable ..............



















.......... and this capture of a flock that numbered maybe 60 or so Redpolls feeding in nearby fields was ok too.


Not able to photograph but worthy of a mention was at least 14 Common Snipes flushed from this location, I also had another Sparrowhawk, 2 Fieldfares, 3 Mistle Thruhes and a Great Spotted Woodpecker here today














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