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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Shaking off my post Spain blues and hanging with a couple of good guys in Goshawk territory!

Hasn't it been dismal with all this wet weather of late! I guess up here in North Yorks we're just getting our share of what the West country has had to cope with for weeks now, so fair do's. Judging by the footage I've seen of the flooding on the Somerset Levels we're getting off lightly ... for now!

None of this squally weather and dismal skies has helped my post Spain trip state of near hibernation of course and work has been nr impossible out on the reserves I cover so a planned trip out with a couple of friends of mine was very welcome. So I met up with a couple of top guys and fellow nature nuts Mikey and Robin, and despite the predictably dodgy weather forecast, we were after spotting the elusive Goshawk. We had a cracking good day ... saw the Gos (well 2 of us did ... never mind Rob, come again in Spring!), had a few other good birds but most of all it was just good fun, easy going, like minded, blokey type fun.

Now at this point I'd like to be basking in dubious glory over you drooling over a fab Goshawk pic like this one perhaps

Northern Goshawk
..... but of course both you and I know that's just an image of this magnificent hunter lifted from Google images (shot in Korea of all places) not Wykham Forest, nr Scarborough on a misty murky Monday morning! Nae worries, I'm confident of a decent pic soon enough -  now that I've got the lie of the land; the one we saw briefly as it flapped lazily down the valley wasn't dissimilar to the above and judging by the paucity of footage of wild Goshawks, they're tricky to capture - good job we like a challenge!

This bird is steeped in folklore - North American Indians called it the 'Grey Ghost' and of the few 'non falconry' clips of this highly evolved predator go here's a couple of the best
Rabbit v Goshawk - slightly gruesome but hey that's nature

Aerial skills of the big Gos! - a Chris Packham special, minus Michaeala Strachan (big shame)

In a sense that was 'mission accomplished', yes we'd have liked another view of the Goshawk or the other target bird Crossbill, but we decided to cut our losses and head over to Scarborough to see the long staying juvenile Great Northern Diver in the harbour there. Pity the bird was half asleep and way off from the harbour but here's a decent enough record pic
Great Northern Diver, Scarborough.

Just as well Rob was on hand to take some close ups ... even if the subjects were most definitely not beautiful birds!
Clocking the Great Northern Diver in Scarborough

Who knows what we were laughing at, maybe it was the surfer?

Scarborough Surf he mad?!

..... have to say that's a nice beard Rob .... living where you do though, best shave it off before spring in case a Meadow Pipit decides to snuggle in and nest in it!

Goodbeard Rob!
Walking around the harbour looking for Purple Sandpipers we encountered a very inquisitive Turnstone and all took pics .... hardy wader the humble Turnstone, cocky and adaptive, they're the master seashore scavengers.
Turnstone, Scarborough harbour

Turnstone, Scarborough harbour

The Redshanks weren't as brave, sheltering under the harbour wall ...  very nearly lost my footing trying to get the right angle to capture this one. Looking good though, very resplendently red legs on this 'spring ready' male
Common Redshank, Scarborough harbour

I was rooting for a Purple Sandpiper here but hey we got Goshawk and Great Northern Diver on a squally day with little sunshine, so who am I to complain ... bonus birds included a Common Snipe flushed from Scalby Mills that with hindsight did seem quite small (mmhh!) and a nice Kingfisher on the mere as we were searching for a reported Firecrest there (no joy), and decent flock of 200 or so Wigeon in the bay at Scalby Mills ....
Wigeon, Scarborough bay.
  .....and one of my favourite pelagic birds, Fulmars - getting it on and acting decidedly matey on the cliffs. Yes Spring is but a February breath away and many birds, beasts n flora are gearing up for Spring .... Daffodil, Crocus and Snowdrop shoots already coming up for a look see and can't wait for Spring!

Fulmars getting it on, Scarborough

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cracking finch flocks, a confiding woodpecker and some crisp winter sunshine eases the post Spain blues

After my travels in Spain I have to admit I'm struggling a wee bit with my 'get up and go' as far as local nature trekking is concerned and quite frankly feel a bit 'birded out', but with a trip up to Wykeham Forest in the offing soon and hopefully a chance of Crossbills (a bird I've never photographed before) and maybe even a lucky Goshawk or 2 if my guide is up to the challenge .... (no pressure there then Mikey!), I'm slowly getting back to grips with a Yorkshire winter and easing my way back into work. Already champing at the bit for another trip away somewhere!

Common Buzzard mob, Elvington 2nd Jan 2014

Meanwhile, I've done my best to make the most of the few good weather days up here in Yorkshire and a recent trip to Elvington Woods, nr Wheldrake Ings, produced a few good finch flocks, Fieldfares and, Mistle Thrushes in the fields, Skylarks overhead and the daily mobbing routine of the local Buzzards by Carrion Crows ...

Stacks of Bullfinches about too but not enough males posing for my camera and great to see my first Whooper Swans of the year at Wheldrake too ...  too distant for my lens alas.

My home from home at Askham Bog though has once again come up with the goods with all the common winter visitors ... Redwing, Fieldfare, Goldcrest, Siskin, Redpoll, Marsh & Willow Tit all showing well plus a relatively confiding Great Spotted Woodpecker .....
Great Spotted Woodpecker, Askham Bog

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Askham Bog

There's a Kingfisher here too at the moment offering fleeting views as it darts along the drains and dykes... sneaking up on it and getting a decent pic will be a challenge (especially as I'm likely to be working!)

Siskins have been relatively abundant on the Bog recently and although they race through the Alders, a few tarry and provide the odd good shot ....
Siskin, Askham Bog, Jan 2014

Siskin, Askham Bog, Jan 2014
Common Redpoll, (male) Strensall Common
Not as crisp as either the weather over the last couple of days or those lovely Siskins at Askham, these pictures of Redpolls are just typical of the ones I've seen recently ..... half hidden, top of the trees, but always entertaining! These were on Strensall Common today and part of a flock of 60 or so.

Again plenty of Bullfinches with at least 10 seen along with a big flock of about 200 Chaffinches and a similar number of Fieldfares... all a bit quiet apart from that though.

Common Redpoll, (female) Strensall Common

Common Redpoll, Strensall