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Sunday, November 23, 2014

No Movember for me but once again flocks of birds settle on the upper lip of the UK ....Starlings galore, posing finches and massing thrushes!

I should never be surprised of course but wow are these nights drawing in now, and with cool winds whipping around my legs en route to the shower block of a morning and murky skies overhead from 2.00pm onwards, my thoughts are rapidly turning to my next big road trip! Same general direction as last year - South and some winter Spanish sun, but a full 3 months this time Jan - March so less frenetic and probably centred around the Ebro Delta and Costa Blanca for most of the time. I simply cannot wait!

Having said that I'll kinda miss my temporary little patch of East Yorkshire here at Fangfoss Station but unless I find somewhere better next year I'll be back in April to see what this most perfect of green lanes produces in the Spring. I'm unlikely to turn up a rarity here (though there's always a chance) but for traditional UK countryside birds I think it's exceptional, and with resident birds such as Skylark, Yellowhammer, Grey Partridge, Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Tree Sparrow, Song Thrush and Green Woodpecker to name but a few, and all in good numbers, within spitting distance of my motorhome there's never a dull day; oh and then there's the owls that I hear every single night.... Tawny, Barn and Little Owls - just fab! So good in fact that apart from a brief trips to Tophill Low & Hatfield Moor, I haven't strayed much recently.
Fangfoss Station Lane ... centrepiece of my patch

Male Bullfinch, Fangfoss

A bird I didn't mention above was our very own Bullfinch. Now I love these sizeable finches but boy are they shy and a nightmare to photograph ... never had a full frame decent pic and still haven't but there are up to half a dozen around here feeding on the mast heads of last season's Rosebay Willowherb and with a steady hand and not a little bit of stalking I've managed some very reasonable distance shots over the last couple of days when the morning light has been at its best.... here's a selection of pics

Female of the species
finch, showy, bright, northern, perched, seed eater
Male Bullfinch

.......... and this male seemed particularly showy!


Not the sharpest by any means but the only half decent of both Mr and Mrs Bullfinch at lunch together .... typically showy male!

The early morning light was almost too bright lending more of an 'orangey' tinge to the male's normal rosy red breast.

Absolute corkers some of those male Bullfinches and its great to see little flocks of them around here. No less colourful are the many Yellowhammers around here (flocks of 50+ are not uncommon down this one lane), and this little chappie was nicely framed by the Hawthorne bush he was perched in.



passage,migration, Yorkshire Wolds, winter visitor
Fieldfare en route overhead!

The Fieldfares and Redwings that were initially slow to arrive on our shores this Autumn are now well and truly here on our bushes and consuming our berries! This one is a Fieldfare and one of many I took a week or so ago when big flocks were making landfall on the coast and then streaming in over the Yorkshire Wolds along with Northern Song Thrushes and Blackbirds that swell our UK resident populations in Winter.

Song Thrush, one of many new arrivals in the lane

November is not only the best time of year to grow a moustache (I've declined again), it's also one of the best months of the year to catch up with and see big numbers of a variety of common birds. Why? Because in flocks they can work together to find food and gain safety from predators by being part of a big crowd!

Tits, finches and thrushes do this all the time in Winter as a survival mechanism and many other small bird species will often join in the crowd to take advantage of this mass foraging behaviour. This is why you will often see the odd Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Nuthatch or if you're very lucky a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in amongst a 'Tit band' of Long Tailed, Blue and Great Tits .... there's a Lesser Pecker doing just this at Adel Dam, nr Leeds at the moment!

Moving away from my patch but sticking with the 'common bird' theme here's some atmospheric Starlings nr Hatfield Moor the other evening as they were coming into roost ... me n Mark had close on 5000 massing birds around telegraph wires and although the light was abysmal the results were ok.

Massing Common Starlings, nr Hatfield Moor

Arty Starlings

............ magical and always a thrill to witness, hear and feel such events.

Maybe only a mini 'murmuration' by national standards but awesome all the same and with a bit of tampering in photoshop, the artistic possibilities are endless!

tophill low, male, flight, yorkshire
Male Marsh Harrier, Tophill Low
......and to round things off, an impromptu visit to Tophill Low nature reserve, nr Beverley whilst I was en route to Hull with Rob for a musical chill sesh, brought a nice male Marsh Harrier shot and in the briefest of good light some splendid Shoveller ducks ... just a shame that none of the 70 or so Goldeneye that were also about didn't come into a similar range!
Male Shoveller, Tophill Low
Shovellers, Tophill Low

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Great Givendale morning walk, Fieldfares coming in and yet more Fungi

One of the more diverse and scenery rich areas of the Yorkshire Wolds, Great Givendale is now on my doorstep and with the weather set fine (for the morning at least) and some favourable winds for perhaps a bit of long overdue winter thrush passage I decided this morning to heave myself out at the crack of dawn for a tramp around.
Great Givendale
Ridings Beck
Some fantastic late Autumn colours on show as you can clearly see; less than clear were the numerous natural springs that feed the becks around here which in turn feed into the Rivers Foss and Ouse. I was hoping to locate at least one of these 'bubbling puddles' I'd pinpointed on the map but to no avail so had to make do with a couple of pics of the Ridings Beck, one of the many chalk streams that are such a unique a unique feature of this landscape.

Ridings Beck
A glorious morning and a lovely walk, not much happening in the bird world apart from some pleasing numbers of Skylarks in the air, the odd finch flock and a few Common Buzzards,but these days I'm not just a birdwatcher and my Autumn fascination for fungi continues and as I scanned these chalky slopes these big beauties almost dazzled me ..... Common Puffballs

Common Puffballs
Slippery Jack

and these are common too but freshly emerged Slippery Jacks looks as good as anything pushing up from the earth

Slippery Jack
 Finally, as the skies darkened and I was retracing my steps back to the car and looking forward to coffee and a bite to eat I caught something out of the corner of my eye, looked up and bingo - a flock of about 70 birds heading in from the Northeast and my biggest flock of Fieldfares this Autumn
Fieldfares coming in over the Yorkshire Wolds
...... mission accomplished!