Search This Blog

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bird surveying in North Yorks produces rocking horse shit around these parts .... breeding Redstarts!

Blogging my stuff has had to take a back seat for the past few weeks ... as even the less observant of you may have noticed but life has been hectic recently to say the least. In short I've sold my old camper, acquired a bigger and better one and have decided to sell my house and live in the new van  over the summer, probably winter in Spain again and then look to buy a smaller house next year. That's the plan anyway and if my house sells soon and I can negotiate a 9 month contract with Yorkshire Wildlife all the better!

So .... busy busy busy, tarting up the house, buying, selling, dealing with unhappy lodgers, not to mention a host of family issues to manage has created the most stress I've experienced in years and to cap it all my best mate Mark has just been involved in serious motorbike accident and has a badly broken leg. We were due to set off on a road trip to the Somerset Levels this week and any feelings of disappointment I have are totally dwarfed by his total abject misery at having to call the trip off .. in all the years we've been hanging out together I've never known him so enthusiastic and 'up' for the cause. He's so pissed off right now.

My thoughts are with him and hope as he does that the orthopaedic surgeons are cooking on gas when they go to work in the next day or so and that he'll be up and running for some mega trip in the Autumn.

So, its been an ok Spring so far, weather's been reasonable and although I've had this constant feeling of missing lots of stuff I have had a few trips out. One of the highlights was being asked to participate in an early breeding bird survey over 2 days back in April on YWT land in the Vale of Pickering at Low Carr farm and Appleton le Moors. My good friend Robin Marrs organised this and jolly good time we had ... still collating all the results but here's a few photos from the gig starting with the undoubted highlight, probable breeding Redstarts at Low Carr.

Didn't manage a decent pic of the female and both seemed very wary so I didn't push it ... need to pop back there soon to confirm breeding but this is a good record for the area.

Little Owl, Low Carr fm
Always good to catch one of these cheeky chappies too ... Little Owls are not as common as they once were and we had a definite pair.

Stacks of common warblers recorded - Willow Warbler, Chiff Chaff and Blackap but sadly no Whitethroats on this occasion. A handful of Sand Martins and Swallows were about and a Kingfisher plus a  pair of Bullfinches on what is essentially arable land was a bonus.

Other notable breeding species including good numbers of Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, at least 2 pairs of Song Thrushes, Common Buzzard of course but also Kestrel.

Several pairs of Curlew and Lapwing and a distant flock of Golden Plover which we couldn't really count, but sadly no Snipe in some good looking wet fields on the site, but Rob has some on moorland behind his house and still being a bit of a novice birdwatcher we had a laugh about him being freaked out by hearing their strange 'drumming' mating call - he thought aliens had landed in his back garden!

Breeding Curlew at Low Carr fm

Male Brambling, Appleton
Bit of a busman's holiday for me this and although my job was to just shout out all the birds it was strenuous enough ... up at the crack of dawn both days and walking all day. No complaints from me though and day 2 at Appleton le Moor was just as enjoyable. No real surprises here but some wonderful woodland habitat with the forest floor covered in Anemones, Bluebells and Wild Garlic. Nuthatches everywhere (we reckoned on 20 plus pairs), more warblers, all the common tits plus a probable Willow Tit amongst at least 3 pairs of Marsh Tit. Several pairs of Great Spotted Woodpecker (now this is a bird that's doing well!) and a single Green Woodpecker. On the river we had Goosander with chicks and a Grey Wagtail, Treecreepers in abundance, Goldcrest, Siskin, more Bullfinches and although just passing through a small flock of Bramblings were the star birds .... one very resplendent male in near full on breeding plumage was particularly photogenic, albeit through a mass of twigs and branches .... not bad for April 19th in North Yorks!
Male Brambling, Appleton
Female Goosander with chicks on the River Severn, Appleton
Marsh Tit, Appleton

?Willow Tit, Appleton
All in all a splendid couple of days, good weather, great company and something that needs to be repeated soon so we can get a better picture, many of the breeding birds of both area were yet to arrive ... cuckoo, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, swift, etc and I could have sworn I heard a Wood Warbler at Appleton and those Redstarts need checking out again before everything goes quiet in mid June.

I'll leave you with a few snaps of YWT staff hard at work (our survey coincided with lambing time at Low Carr!) plus a couple of Rob's very nice wild flower pics ....
Rob with his hands full!
Surveying at Appleton

Surveying at Low Carr
Hard work this lambing .... but I suspect they were up all night!!
Forget me Not

Sloeberry flowers

No comments:

Post a Comment