I have been quite busy out birding but punctuated by days in the garden or when it was too hot to leave the house. Watering the vegetable garden and picking fruit, tomatoes and courgettes seemed a full-time job at times! Moreover I didn't enjoy the mega-heatwave.
June 20th: Airedale and Calder Navigation
Kingfishers regularly seen on this stretch of the River Aire but not the day I went. It was very warm. Little bird life seen.
Giant hogweed taking over the old oil storage depot near Astley Lake
June 28th: Seaton Carew & Saltholme
Seaton Carew beach is well fenced this year to protect the little terns who appear to be doing well.
I then went to Phil Stead hide at Saltholme. The scrape was awash with birds: wood sandpipers, green sandpipers, godwits, glossy ibises, great white egrets to name a few. You'll easily know which are which!
June 29th: Bempton
A Turkestan shrike got many birders heading to Bempton. I never got the wonderful close views people had later but I was well pleased to see the bird.
Nice to see the yellowhammers too.
Couldn't miss out on a wander down to the cliffs at Bempton.
June 30th: North Cave
Report of a red-crested pochard at North Cave. I had a lot on that day so it was a quick call at the reserve.
A pale bird in eclipse
July 14th: Saltholme
From the main road I eventually managed distant views of one of two caspian terns. I managed a rather poor photo but it is a bird with a big orange carrot on its face! Honest! [centre of photo]
I called at Phil Stead hide. Just one birder eating his sandwiches. 'It's busy in here!' I joked.
'Yes, everyone's dashed down to the fire station screen for the cattle egret.'
This was news to me so I set off down the path.
It's that time of year. Birders turn their eyes to orchids and butterflies while they remain alert ready to react to any unforeseen rarity that turns up in their neck of the woods. On that matter, what is a neck of the woods? Anyone know?
Well I've certainly been a bit quiet myself. Diesel at sky high price, Covid going full tonto and Boris refusing to fall on his sword. As usual.
June 9th: North Cave
Probable southern marsh orchids
A very worn painted lady!
Aggressive, ruthless but very smart looking birds - lesser black-backed gulls.
June 10th: My cat, Jeti
Three years old, Jeti died June 10th after being hit by a car during the night. We live down a very quiet road and her death was hard to understand or believe. A phone call from a veterinary practice told me she'd been identified from her chip. Picked up about thirty yards from our house. I'd spent the morning in the garden calling her.
I know all cats are special to their cat-loving owners [and we've had a good few over the last 49 years] but Jeti was different in that she considered herself to be my cat and she had little to do with my wife. If I was in the garden, Jeti was. She loved to climb - walls, fences, trees - anything! She would follow me like a dog, talking incessantly and if I sat down on the bench in the vegetable garden she would come and sit next to me or roll around on the ground at my feet.
I miss her every morning as she would wait on the extension roof to be let in through the window.
June 15th: Blacktoft
June 16th: Jay in our garden
From a trail camera video clip
May 26th: Blacktoft
A pleasant afternoon watching the marsh harriers. Taken by surprise when a bittern did a long flight past Townend and still visible as it disappeared in the direction of Marshland. I was a bit late getting a fix on it but a good year tick for me - number 176.
A few of the afternoon's photos.
June 3rd: A brief visit to Saltholme. Very quiet everywhere. Just snapped a couple of pictures at Phil Stead hide. Can't remember what I was hoping to see - but clearly I didn't see it!
June 5th: a slightly more purposeful trip to Scaling Dam to find a woodchat shrike along the Roxby road. Flighty and always distant but a nice bird to see. Followed up with a visit to Lockwood Beck. Couldn't find the spotted flycatchers although I know they're there.
June 7th: All the photos in this final section were taken during a 2 hour period whilst I sat in my car with the driver's window down and camera and bins in my lap. I think it went rather well! Photos from Harwood Dale.
May 21st: Potteric Carr YWT
It's always quite a long walk to anywhere at Potteric and Piper Marsh was no exception but it was worth it. The hide was quiet and the chicken of the woods just outside kept quiet too.
Chicken of the Wood
Inside the hide I immediately saw a pair of black-winged stilts. A lapwing and a particularly clumsy Canada goose were making life difficult at times.
Can't help feeling those long legs can be a nuisance at times!
May 22nd: Holme Fleet near Saltholme
Now we're in far away land. From the little off-road parking area at Holme Fleet a young little gull was showing. A long way off!
May 24th: Old Moor
A lesser yellowlegs at Wath Ings was also about as far away as it could be. Still, I tried! Walking back a footless black-headed gull and a rather ragged robin showed well!
13th & 14th May
For those of us who are getting on a little or for whom health reasons may curtail one's energies, Wheldrake Ings would be ideally suited to a miniature narrow gauge all-electric self-drive little railway to take birders to stations at Tower Bend, Pool Junction and Swantail Terminus - stopping of course here and there to see things like a singing gropper! If it turns out to be a big money earner ambitions could later focus on an extension to Bank Island with stations below the current English Nature centre and at Cheesecake turntable!
Excuse me a moment. Some men in white coats have just arrived. I think they're carrying a straitjacket...
Ok. They've gone now. I write this having walked three times recently - once from Bank Island to Cheesecake and then all the way to Swantail and twice more from the Wheldrake Ings car park all the way to the far end. Once to see if there was anything around and twice to see the glossy ibis. The third of these visits did result in a distant view of one ibis on the Refuge seen from near Pool hide and flight views of cuckoo.
[The first visit and walk from Bank Island feature in the previous post]
A few photos from these visits on 13th-14th May.
Female banded demoiselle. Rather splendid!
Common terns from Pool Hide
May 15th - a quick drive [about 1.5 miles] to Newlands Lane, Poppleton to watch a dung heap! Yellowhammers, pied wagtail and this female wheatear. I had a report of a yellow wagtail but I never saw it.
May 17th: Staveley and Nosterfield. I drove to Staveley and parked in the village at the roadside outside the Royal Oak inn. From there it's a quick walk down the footpath at the side of the pub to the Western Lagoon. Saves a lot of time!
Eventually the pectoral sandpiper appeared. Red kite overhead, garganey, common terns and avocets present too. Here's the pec.
On then to Nosterfield for a black tern that had, in fact, departed overnight. Not to worry, I headed for Flask Lake and parked in the village lay-by.
May 18th: a trip to Harwood Dale via Troutsdale. Missed my target species of turtle dove but just a few minutes spent at 'Dipper Bridge,' Hilla Green proved worthwhile. I simply watched from the bridge.
Didn't know they have metal legs!