Little Ringed Plover

On a visit to Bempton Cliffs I picked up a brochure extolling the delights of the Yorkshire Nature triangle and one of the places it recommended was just round the corner from the B+B I was staying in. It said Thornwick Pool was a good place to spot Yellow wagtails a bird I’d not seen before so off I went.

The pool is quite small but has two hides (only one was open) and although very quiet when I arrived there was some shelducks and mallards on the water with an impressive display of flying from some sand martins. In the middle of the pool I spotted a small bird which I recognised as a plover but wasn’t sure which one. I’ve only ever seen them at a great distance so was very happy when it flew over and landed right in front of the hide allowing me to get some good photo’s and also see a Little Ringed Plover up close.

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These little dumpy birds whizz up and down like a wind up toy and are generally seen on the shoreline or like here around small gravel pits. They are a summer migrant which first bred in the UK in 1938 and are fairly widespread now although they are more common the further south you go. It’s distinctive golden eye ring makes it easy to recognise when you spot one.

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No sign of the wagtails but this little chap made the visit well worthwhile.

Many Mouths to Feed

At this time of year many birds will be starting on their second broods after having been busy raising and feeding their first family. As soon as they hatch the parents begin an endless round of food collection and feeding. When I was watching the woodpeckers raise their young I counted them flying in with food 31 times in an hour!

I sat on the river Wharfe recently and photographed some busy parents collecting a variety of insects for their offspring. This dipper was nesting under a tuft of grass halfway up the span of a bridge.

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Close by a grey wagtail was also busy hoovering up the insects to feed the family.

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And this pied wagtail was obviously trying to set a new record for the number of bugs it could fit in its beak!

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All three were totally focussed on their job, as soon as they had enough they were away to the nest but were back almost straight away to begin the hunt again.

Flycatchers

There are two flycatchers which are regular visitors to Yorkshire in Spring and Summer, and a good place to spot them is the woods around Bolton Abbey.

On a recent visit I managed to spot both types but found it difficult to get any decent shots….so I went back and tried again with slightly better results.

The Spotted Flycatcher is a bit of a misnomer as its not really that spotty and has more of what I’d describe as flecks than spots. They are rather undistinguished but their aerial antics catching flies are mesmerising to watch as they dart out from a perch to grab an insect before returning. When feeding young they will collect a huge beak full before returning to the nest. They are a late arrival when it comes to migrants, turning up in mid May before returning in September.There are plenty of nesting sites in the oak trees and also plenty of nest boxes put up especially for these and the pied flycatchers.

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The Pied flycatcher is a more distinctive bird and the black and white male particularly stands out. These birds winter in Africa before returning here to breed. Again like their spotted cousin they are brilliant at catching insects on the wing.

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Coot Update

I recently had a stroll around the local boating lake to check out what had happened to the surviving coot chick and I’m glad to report it seems to be thriving.  Looks like he has three new siblings to keep him company.

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Kingfishers Courting

Well it looks like I missed the first brood fledge as the kingfishers were getting friendly again on the river this morning.

The female was sat on her usual perch when the male arrived with a freshly caught fish.1She ignored him for a short time before finally starting to show some interest.

1cHe carefully presented the fish to her which she took , smacked on the branch to ensure it was dead and then maneuvered for swallowing.

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Hopefully his attentions paid off and the second brood will be underway soon. Fabulous to witness and great to think that if everything goes well there’ll soon be more kingfishers to enjoy watching.

 

That Time You Wish You’d Got There Earlier!

I’ve met some interesting people while out with my camera and a couple of these have become friends.

One of these is Roy, who I first met at the local nature reserve and over the years we’ve developed an easy friendship. We meet up every now again for a trip out and we constantly let each other know of good spots to visit or wildlife we’ve seen. We take the mickey out of each other and generally enjoy each others company. Roy is well known for his field craft and his ability to sneak up on not only a plastic owl but also a plastic heron!

Roy also has a fascination with kingfishers and we often sit for hours waiting to snap them. A couple of weeks ago he rang me to say they were showing well on the river so I popped down to join him. When I got there he told me I should have been a bit earlier as a deer had just come down to have a drink. He showed me a couple of the pictures on his camera which looked great. It was only later when he got home and reviewed the pics that he spotted the real surprise. She was giving birth!!!

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Roy told me she didn’t seem in any distress and calmy had a drink before wandering off.  It looks like a breech delivery with the back legs coming first but as both legs are clearly out it didn’t look like she’d have any problem delivering the fawn. Hopefully everything went well and they’re both doing well. Amazing pictures which Roy has let me share here.

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Oystercatchers

As the name suggests these are generally coastal wading birds however there is a good breeding population on the Yorkshire moors and in the Dales. These were spotted close to Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire and included at least one pair with two chicks.

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They are a striking black and white bird with the most distinctive orange red beak and bright scarlet eyes. They are about the size of a magpie or jackdaw and at the coast will feed on a diet of molluscs such as cockles and mussels (I’m not sure if they actually eat oysters). However inland they will feed mainly on earthworms or insects.

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They are a monogamous bird and have been recorded using the same nesting site for up to 20 years. They lay 2-4 eggs in a shallow scrape and are very vocal in defending their young from potential predators.

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They are present in the UK all year round but in Winter may move to more Southerly coasts where they can congregate in large flocks. They are always a pleasure to see wherever you might come across them.