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Monday, May 18, 2015

A good wood found, wild flowers in profusion at last, Snipe a drumming, a wet Moors day and a successful Heron watch event

Its been a tricky old merry month of May for me. Just like the UK spring this year - stumbling and stuttering into some kind of recognisable swing, I've struggled a bit to get into the rhythms of the season. Some kind of 'hangover' effect maybe from so many unfettered, uncluttered days in Spain maybe, who knows .. I'll not dwell, its not very interesting!

Water Avens, Pocklington Wood, 15/05/15

I found a new wood just outside Pocklington the other day and these lovely Water Avens growing in profusion certainly were of interest as they're relatively uncommon in East Yorks.

Also known as 'drooping' or 'nodding' avens this native wild flower often finds it way into garden borders because of its attractive pinky red blooms and distinctive shape and I must say it photographs really well!

Its got history, like most wild flowers, ...said to be an excellent natural remedy for diarrhoea this one!

Water Avens, Pocklington Wood, 15/05/15

Water Avens, Pocklington Wood, 15/05/15

No need to look up the medicinal and culinary properties of this next wild flower that is currently scenting many of our woodland glades at the moment ... Wild Garlic!

Wild Garlic, Pocklington Wood, 15/05/15
It grows well in the right conditions .. dampish woodland and there were massive carpets of the stuff here, competing for space with equally impressive stands of Bluebells, and in many ways more attractive to my mind ... certainly photographs better!

Wild Garlic, Pocklington Wood, 15/05/15

For the record here's some of the Bluebells, kind of 'de rigueur' to post a pic of the old 'Calverkeys' at this time of year and catch them while you can.... for they'll be gone in a week or so.
Bluebells, Pocklington Wood, 15/05/15

We're coming up the best time of year for the vast majority of wild flowers and shrubs now and I'm looking forward to the various Orchid species that should be in flower next month. For now though here's another couple of common but attractive flowers currently in bloom ...

Common Bugle, Pocklington Wood, 15/05/15

Herb Robert, Pocklington Wood, 15/05/15

  Pretty sure I heard a Spotted Flycatcher here and possibly a distant Stonechat perched in the middle of a rape seed field but nothing conclusive either way. Another nice Common Whitethroat pic managed though and there were maybe 4 pairs in the general vicinity.

Common Whitethroat, Pocklington Wood, 15/05/15

Earlier in the month during a brief visit to Strensall Common, just outside York I came across a couple of Northern Wheatears on passage. A good record for the site. and always a treat to see these chaps on their way through. Here's a nice pic of the male perched on top of the firing range there.

Northern Wheatear, Strensall Common, 01/05/15

Apologies by the way for the uniform 'centering' of text and pics in this post. Another bug in the  BlogSpot site or maybe my limited html skills? Nothing I seem to be able to do about it except stick to the centre ground ... with hindsight something maybe Ed Milliband might have considered? Oooh er -  a bit of politics on timbobagginsabroad! A definite non starter.
 A planned trip up to the North Yorks Moors last weekend in the great company of messrs Robin Marrs and Mark Paine was blighted somewhat by the weather but hey we chilled well and explored many moorland nooks, valleys and car parks. Although the light was dismal nearly all day, 2 Fulmars gliding inland over Gorse bushes at Ravenscar, briefly illuminated as they were by watery late afternoon sunshine, has my vote as the best picture I never took this month award. Live long in the memory though!
A few nice captures of Sand Martins, maybe 60 or so, feeding across a nearby cliff top pond partially made up for that however. This is the best of the crop

 with this one a distant 2nd ....such a shame the weather gods didn't shine on us that day.
 ..... a cheeky Nuthatch at Forge Valley that has probably been photographed thousands of times and from a thousand better angles was my only other half decent pic of the day.

A flock of Crossbills at Ellerburn Bank were my first in years and rumours of  Hen Harriers speculating and making the odd appearance again over the heather all added to a memorable Moors experience.
A few more random pictures from my May so far. The Spring courtship flight and sound of displaying Common Snipe is as unique as it gets in the bird world... the strange, eerie and sometimes nocturnal 'drumming' sound and whirring flight of these game birds has even led some folk to believe that it is the sound of alien spacecraft about to land!
Broad daylight on Thornton Ings in the Lower Derwent Valley and here is proof that these noises are earthbound birds with vibrating tails! Not a particularly clear shot but you can clearly see the detached outer tail feathers that act like wind vanes and produce that totally weird sound as they career up, down and around in the skies above their breeding sites.
Snipe a drumming, Thornton Ings, 13/05/15
Even more random .... here's a rare bird. Me working! This was at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (Bretton Lakes) and the annual Heron Watch event where more than 600 passers by had the opportunity to watch nesting Grey Herons. All pics courtesy of Carole Tidball. Great event, lots of interest (surprising how many people didn't even realise that herons nest in trees!), and 11 sign ups for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust by yours truly - some effort in just 5 hrs!