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.

 

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.

How Much Poo?

Great morning sat watching the local kingfishers. Both parents were to and fro to the nest with fish (please note the nest is a long way from where I sit up a tributary to the river, so no danger of disturbing them) and I don’t think it will be long till the offspring fledge. Hopefully I’ll be sat near by when the do finally emerge.

However for a small bird though they don’t half have big poos!! The female certainly let rip!

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More Drama than the BBC

An early morning start to hopefully watch the woodpeckers fledge ended up being an emotional roller coaster!

As I arrived I noticed one young woodpecker clinging to the tree near the nest hole and the other squawking from the hole at the top of his lungs. The parents flew in and fed both before I was distracted by a real commotion further down the path with numerous birds mobbing a tawny owl. As I’d never photographed one before I seized the opportunity.

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 When the owl had finally had enough of the attention it was getting and flew away I returned to the woodpeckers and noticed the one that had been out of the nest had disappeared. After scouting around the tree I realised it had fallen and was on the ground by the path. As the wood is a popular dog walking area I couldn’t leave it where it was so picked it up and let it grab back onto the trunk hoping it would make its way back up. However it fell off again and after contacting a friend for advice placed it in a tree close by, hopefully to be soon spotted by its parents.

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I decided it was probably best to leave them alone and went off to see if the nuthatches were still in residence. The parents were busy flying in to feed but it was obvious the chicks would soon be on their way as they constantly popped their heads out to look around. One decided it was time to venture out but quickly changed its mind either deterred by the chilly wind or the sight of me!

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The bluetits were busy feeding and had a lucky escape when the male woodpecker had a go at grabbing a chick, but the location of the nest down in the knot of the tree seemed to be enough to stop it.

Close by a great tit was busy collecting material for a nest probably for its second brood of the year.

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As I set off to leave I thought I’d check on the woodpecker chick to see if it was OK and my heart sank as I approached and saw it grabbed by a crow!!

A morning of drama, emotion, joy and heartbreak. Who needs Game of Thrones!

A Punk Pirate

It hasn’t taken long at all for the woodpecker chick(s) to start peering out at the world. The parents have been in and out constantly with 35 visits with beaks full of food in just an hour. Imagine preparing a meal every two minutes for your kids!!

The male seemed keen to lure this youngster out with what looked like a dead chick stolen from another birds nest.

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The chick wasn’t too keen and was firmly staying put however tempting the offering. The female however was still pushing into the nest to clear up the faecal sacks which suggests there’s more than one in the nest hole.

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I don’t think they’ll be around much longer so I hope the forecast rain stays away as it would be nice to see them fledge in the sunlight.

Return of the Dipper

One casualty of the Boxing Day floods was the actual river who’s Geography was changed in many ways by the sheer force of water which surged down the channel. One area of rapids was a great spot for sitting and watching the dippers but the flood scoured them away so the dippers moved on.

I’ve seen them flying up and down but not found where they like to dip however I did notice them this weekend flying from the main river and into a small brook which flows in close by. It’s quite near to some locks on the canal so I could stand on a bridge over the brook and watch where they went.

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It soon became clear they had a nest nearby as both parents were in and out with mouthfuls of treats for the young, ranging from small fish to grubs and crustaceans. Unfortunately the site wasn’t great for photography but brilliant for watching their feeding antics. Hopefully I’ll keep an eye on the area and see the young soon.

 

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