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!
Of which more later. First of all it's a look back to:-
April 26th: Saltholme roadside gave a very distant view of two sleeping Egyptian geese. It's a good year for photos of birds that are too far away!
Dorman's Pool had something a bit more recognizable.
April 30th: a long walk at Acaster Malbis. I don't think I went far enough or perhaps I went the wrong way and I saw few birds. Yellowhammers were very nice...
Eventually I reached a magical woodland with robins, tits and thousands of bluebells.
May 3rd: Fairburn Ings, Burlands Lane, Poppleton and North Duffield.
Cattle egret at Fairburn New Flash.
Wood sandpiper, Poppleton
From Geoff Smith hide at North Duffield: mute swan on nest and a male whinchat.
May 4th: Blacktoft Sands
Marsh harriers, shelducks
May 6th: Seaton Carew beach for the little terns.
May 9th: Bank Island and Wheldrake Ings.
First of all I walked in the direction of Cheesecake Hide. At one point I turned round and looked behind me. I don't know what made me do that but this is what I saw.
In case you were wondering, it's a stoat.
From the hide I spotted a drake garganey.
Walking back I froze when a hare vanished just in front of me in long grass. Camera ready. It soon popped up really close and stared at me as I took these photos.
I said: 'Hello there!' and it ran for its life!
I decided to take the path to Wheldrake Ings - something I'd not done before. Several good views of the river. A whitethroat on a dead branch and lots of orange tip butterflies.
I never saw the cuckoo which teased me all morning - sometimes very close by, sometimes quite distant. At Wheldrake Ings car park a pied wagtail was looking for food.
As for the opening title of this particular post: Swifts finally appeared over the garden this morning, 11th May - one day later than last year. They always make me feel happy as they screech across the sky.
I forgot to photograph the tractors and diggers but here are the nine cranes I saw in a field east of Swinefleet!
I called briefly at Blacktoft and saw my first house martins, a single swallow and a greenshank. The weather seemed rather bleak and wintry.
25th April - a trip up to Saltholme and surrounding area. Sedge warbler briefly at Dorman's Pool in a cold wind. I headed to the tip at Seaton Carew as 2 wood sandpipers had been reported on a pool opposite the tip entrance. Along with a couple of wheatears everything was too far away for a decent photograph. But I tried!!
One woodsand centre image!
One wheatear centre image!
Blackhall Rocks: reed bunting and stonechat. No sign of gropper. my deafness is probably a major problem in terms of spotting a gropper!!
kittiwake by the lifeboat station...
Doing its own version of gymnastics!
Eider were busy displaying and the males were chasing each other whilst females looked on disinterestedly. [6 syllable word! I don't use many of those...]
Hope you like these from our garden this week
April 26th - an early morning start at Wheldrake Ings. Willow warbler eventually spotted in a willow tree! Doing what willow warblers do - with what I always think is ''that dying fall'' described by Count Orsino in Twelfth Night. [Do they still have Pseuds Corner in Private Eye?]
Then I spotted my first whitethroat of the year.
A garganey from Pool Hide:
Near there sedge warblers were busy singing and performing display flights.
A swallow perched on an information board outside Tower Hide...
...with blackcaps close by.
I was thrilled to see snakeshead fritillaries growing in the wild - something I grow at home but never seen before in their natural surroundings...
...and here's a view of my own fritillary patch this year.
I wandered slowly back towards the car park passing the old wind pump which suddenly began to creak as it began to turn in the wind.
April 14th took me up to Hartlepool. Zinc Works Road and a wheatear running in the long grass. Got the camera but couldn't refind the bird. So I went to Dorman's Pool looking for sedge warbler. No sign: I kept finding wrens!
Then a quick stop at Phil Stead's where things were pretty low key: a shelduck and a few blackwits present. Oh, and a moorhen!
Lifeboat station kittiwakes - just a few birds present.
In the grass nearby a green-veined white butterfly.
Next stop Greatham Creek. Avocets easily spotted, also quite a few redshanks. One avocet was clearly different...red and yellow flag.
I spotted a spotted!
Headland birds were confined to the only remaining bit of rock between the piers - cormorant and shag and some silent big gulls. [Big gulls don't cry!]
Back later to Dorman's Pool for another look. Peter Garbutt took me to where we might see a gropper. But we failed to find it. A crow sat on a post by the car. It liked this post and didn't want to fly off so it let me get out of the car and take a few close-ups. Crows are usually much more wary than this one!
The piece of dead grass was annoying so I walked round the car for a better angle [expecting the crow to fly] but it clearly liked being the centre of my attention!
Black and white version
April 17th: Rufforth tip. I'd never been before so I planned a walk along Manor Lane from the Wetherby road lay-by [B1224]. It was early and blackcaps were everywhere [I saw at least 10 including 3 males chasing each other]; also saw treecreeper and chiffchaffs. No willow warbler unfortunately although whitethroat and willow warbler had been reported.
After a few hundred yards I went left and found three large pools I never knew existed. Complete with tufted ducks, very nervous mallards, a grey heron and a green sandpiper.
Orange tip. Good name for the location!
Nearly back at the car...
The lay-by is close to Rufforth Flying Club.
April 17th: a tour of Poppleton's lanes produced nothing really exciting but I did add red-legged partridge, yellowhammer, shelduck and reed bunting to my list of birds seen this year within the York boundary.
Friday 8th April: Trip to Swillington Ings. Saw Cetti's warbler and a blackcap within minutes of my arrival. Blackcap stayed for a photo.
Great crested grebe and soon after the black-necked grebes.
Back home I spotted a report of a ring ouzel about a mile from home on the Pool of Destiny at Poppleton P&R. Seemed unlikely although the time of year was right...I waited a good twenty minutes until it popped into view just as I was about to give up!
Sunday 10th April: first of all I drove up the A1 to Nosterfield. Group of 22 pink-feet far side of the nature reserve. Surprise bonus included!
A wren seemed unconcerned by my presence.
Oystercatchers buzzing about.
A young rabbit from the viewscreen.
Black-tailed godwits in their summer gear.
I moved on to the quarry reserve. Little to record. Nice drive across country to Scaling Dam and Lockwood Beck. Smart male brambling at Lockwood Beck