Something A Bit Different

As I always seem to have my big lens when I’m out and about and although I do notice the smaller members of our wildlife I’m rarely in a position to photograph them. I managed this shot of a broad bodied chaser dragonfly whilst out recently and am now wishing I had lens more suited to these beautiful creatures. When does Santa come again?

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Little Owl

I didn’t realise the until I did a bit of reading that the Little Owl isn’t a native species but was introduced into the UK in the 19th century. They are now widespread across the country and with good eyesight and patience can be spotted almost anywhere. There are a couple of pairs I know of locally and have seen the young in past years. They feed during the day making them slightly easier to spot but when sat on a drystone wall their colouring blends them in making them almost invisible.

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They swoop down from elevated perches to feed on insects and worms as well as small mammals and fledglings and will stash extra food in caches for later use. Carefully scour the walls around fields and you may be lucky enough to spot one although their population has fallen over recent years. I think one of my local pairs has a nest so hopefully there’ll be a few more popping out soon.

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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.