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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Welcome to Fangfoss! Buzzard county, Owls a plenty and the natives friendly.

All sorted, house sold and me and the van have landed at a treasure of a site called Fangfoss Park.. just outside of York. The site lies adjacent to the old York - Hull railway line and the owners house and site office is the old station masters house. Really nice, easy going and friendly owners they are too, the showers are hot and the local wildlife seems promising. Seriously doubt I'll find anywhere better so this will be my home until December and possibly when I get back from Spain next year.

Here's a pic I've copied courtesy of Robert Ore because it shows the exact location of my current pitch on the site, right next to the old disused railway line and that fab old telephone box!

My current pitch on the site

There's a couple of good bridle paths just off the site (one of which is the disused railway line) with some impressive looking hedges and the fields around and about are not too intensively farmed either. As a local patch its shaping up and already I've had 58 bird species plus a fox, stoat, several deer, lots of rabbits and hares and evidence of badger activity.

Most obvious I guess are the local Buzzards, at least 3 pairs and they're always getting mobbed by Rooks. No sooner do they land and they're set upon by marauders from above!

Like most birds of prey, its an occupational hazard being mobbed in this way. Although it's very rare for Common Buzzards to predate other birds, their main prey being rabbits and other small mammals, but they will take chicks out of nests and most rookeries are accessible so hence the aggro!

With the UK population of Common Buzzards now approaching 70,000 pairs (BTO, 2009) we're all getting used to seeing them glide around the countryside like these, my local ones  ....

Nice overhead shot ... looks almost unreal!

.... and I'm sure they're much happier drifting about the skies unfettered, but before long the Rooks are on the case and this same individual was soon surrounded by winged shapes, like a squadron of black mobsters!

With what appears to be an unusually high but very welcome number of traditional farmland birds such as Yellowhammers, Tree Sparrows and Skylarks in the area at the moment I'm not surprised to be seeing a rather well fed Sparrowhawk which I see nearly everyday but not yet managed to capture. There's also a pair of Kestrels that hunt across the local fields.

Common Kestrel
Little Owl

There's both Tawny and Barn Owls around here (I've heard both) but anywhere you see a Little Owl is reflective of traditionally managed farmland, and I've found one here. Not sure if its one of a pair or just a  youngster seeking a territory but here he (or she) is, typically posed amid a tangle of twigs .. took me ages to relocate after flushing it from raggle taggle field full of rusty old farm machinery ... just the place for one!

Here's a few random shots of my new patch!

Fangfoss Beck... with the Yorkshire Wolds in the background

Green lane out of the campsite

Spittal Beck again

Apple tree .... one of several 'non' crab apple types
Crab Apples

I had one of those apples and it was bloomin good! Here's the commoner and altogether less tasty Crab Apples that seem bountiful this year.

.... and with Autumn already upon us and fungi beginning to emerge, I'm eagerly awaiting the first falls of Redwings and Fieldfares, both of which will soon be feasting upon all this fruit.

Pleated Inkcap

Willow Warbler
Nice 'shroom that, and as often happens, on the morning I took that pic (October 3rd it was) and feeling the seasons collide as leaves were falling in unseasonally warm sunshine, I had 2 Swallows race over my head due south and then this slender green warbler flitting about in a bush right next to me.

Sure there'll be a few more Chiff Chaffs about into October but this will be last Willow Warbler I see for a while.

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