Thursday, 19 August 2010

2011 Wildlife Calendar Ready!

Now available for £7.50 (incl p & p) UK only
[£7 if no postage involved!]
Below - June picure
photos (c) 2010 Mick Sharpe & Vince Cowell
Discover where & when to see specific species
27 colour photographs
Nearly 300 lines of information & suggestions
Now revamped to include sites from all over Yorkshire
[Below pictures from July page (c) 2010 Marcus Conway & Michael Flowers]

[Below pictures from the January page (c) 2010 Michael Flowers & Jim Welford]
To order, please either post next to this message or email me on:

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Spurn's Autumn Migration

Kestrel (juv)
Kestrel (Juv) White-winged Black Tern
White-winged Black Tern (bathing) with Black-headed Gull (foreground) & Little Gulls (right)
White-winged Black Tern & Little Gulls
Little Egrets
Little Egret
Grey (or, as I prefer Silver) Plovers
Pied Flycatchers
Roe Deer (doe)
Mute Swan
Common Frog
Painted Lady
Wall Brown

Silver-Y Moth
Common Blue
Common Blue
It may seem depressing to say it but the Autumn migration at Spurn is in full swing. On Saturday 17 Pied Flycatchers were seen, as well as a much scarcer Citringe Wagtail and others. This blog post contains phots taken on Saturday, Monday & today. On Monday most of the exciting birds of the weekend had either cleared off, or were hunkered down in the strong westerly winds. We (Vince & I) did see some Willow Warblers and Whitethroats, and this was the case today. However, one of the biggest surprises today was a Treecreeper half-way down the point. Those of you who know Spurn will understand why this is so unusual. It is the first of this species I've seen there in the 3 decades I've been visiting, but they are occasionally seen in small numbers at this time of year and in October. There were about 60+ Grey Plovers at Chalk Bank at high tide, plus breeding plumaged Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot & Dunlin. There were also 2 Peregrines around, and we found a large female in a field in Sammy's Point keeping her beady eye on 30+ Golden Plovers. We (Jim, Graham & I) also saw a juvenile Cuckoo, but the best bird in the area was the long-staying White-winged Black Tern at Hornsea Mere. Unfortunately, the very confiding Whimbrel at the top of this blog post has a broken leg. It can fly OK, but its right leg was facing backwards instead of forwards! All we need it are a few north-easterly winds in the next few weeks and there should be lots of interesting species seen at Spurn.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Worcestershire Wildlife

Long-tailed Tit
Long-tailed Tit Long-tailed Tit
Juvenile Heron
Confiding Moorhen - taken with an ordinary lens!
Beautiful Demoiselle
Red Underwing (moth)

Monday, 16 August 2010

Scottish Wildlife Holiday

All pics on this post (c) 2010 David Ware
Red Squirrel
Red Deer
Black Guillemot
White-tailed Eagle
White-tailed Eagle
White-tailed Eagle
Lesser-Black Backed Gull
Hooded Crow
David Ware, one of my students, has just returned from a wildlife holiday to Scotland. The best photographic results are given above, whilst what follows below is a report of the trip in his own words: I had a really good trip to Scotland with 12 lifers seen - Raven, Red-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Manx Shearwater, Black Guillemot, Crested Tit, Hooded Crow, Osprey, Twite, and Hen Harrier! Overall, I saw 103 species in the 2 weeks - first week in and around Inverness, and the second week on Mull.
The weather was quite gloomy at times, which made some of the photography difficult, and other attempts all but impossible.
Photographing the eagles was brilliant. We came across a local skipper who had worked out that they would take mackerel from the sea loch surface if they came across them. The chap has an agreement with the RSPB that he should catch no more than 4 fish per trip, and only if the eagles are in the area, which they aren't very often. On the day we were there they were teaching their youngster how to "fish", so we had a visit from all three. The youngster didn't actually attempt a pass, but both mum and dad did. There is quite a size difference between them!
The Osprey was taken at Loch Garten with just a digital camera held up to one of the RSPB scopes. Not quite digiscoping, but on the same lines.
The fritillary was shot in Strathconan. Other butterflies included the Scotch Argus.
Mammals included: Red Squirrel, Red Deer (Stag, hind & fawn), Bottle-nosed Dolphins and Harbour Porpoise (both at Chananory Point near Inverness), and Otters. The latter were always a bit distant, but on one occasion we saw a dog Otter hunting, and then in 2 other locations we saw a mum with a single kit.
I didn't thnink I would get to see a Hen Harrier because the vole population had crashed. Apparently, they had 19 inches of ice on the freshwater lochs on Mull, but hardly any snow cover. Hence, there had only been one Short-eared Owl seen on the whole island, and the Hen Harriers were also in lower numbers than normal. It was not until our final evening that I eventually saw one.
I can't wait to go back!
If you like David's pictures, and would like to take pictures of your own in the area, I can heartily recommend the photography workshops run in the same area by Marcus Conway. You can read more about his Mull workshop here:

Friday, 6 August 2010

12 Lifers

Marsh Harrier (male) - archive picture
Marsh Harrier - female - archive
Ruff - adult male
Ruff with Redshank (left)
Ruff (juvenile)
Wood Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Spotted Redshank - left how we saw them today - archive picture
Black-tailed Godwit - archive picture
Snipe - archive picture
Little Egret - archive
Little Egret - archive
Stock Dove squab
Today I met up with 2 new young clients from Sheffield for their first ever visit to RSPB Blacktoft Sands. Our journeys didn't take as long as any of us had anticipated, so we were able to start 15 mins before the actual opening time. Our first port of call was Marshland, which is often the best hide for waders at this time of year. High tide is best for higher numbers of most species, and we arrived at low tide, so we weren't overly optimistic, but we were rewarded with good sightings of Snipe, Ruff (juvenile), Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Lapwing, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank and bog-standard Redshank. There were also a few Teal in eclipse. Daniel hadn't brought his binoculars so he was able to look through some state-of-the-art Leicas. He kindly agreed to carry the scope, so we got better views of many of the waders and the feet & thighs of 2 Barn Owls in the next box opposite to us, than we would have had if he hadn't offered to carry it. A female Marsh Harrier flew past us just above the reeds a lifer for David & Daniel. The most frustrating things here (apart from the shy Barn Owls) were the calls of the Bearded Tits, all around the reeds here, but they refused to come into the open, although we did manage to see a Reed Warbler.
We went on to Ousefllet hide, but this had dried out, and we didn't add many new species here, although a Yellow Wagtail and a Linnet flew over. Outside the hide David dissected a Barn Owl pellet to reveal the skull, bones and fur of a vole or mouse. The ID of this is to be checked!
On the return journey to Xerox David spotted a Marsh Harrier flying low over the fields, and this time it was a stunning male.
Xerox was fairly quiet with a few waders, plenty of Teal and an elusive passerine feeding among the Lapwings. First Hide seemed deserted, but we did see our first Green Sandpiper here. At Townend we saw a pair of Shoveler (in eclipse), and a much better view of a Greenshank. 2 young Magpies were outside the window and a young Marsh Harrier flew very close to the hide, which flushed all the Lapwings and Black-tailed Godwits, but a white adult Ruff had flown off earlier. The best thing here though, was a beautifully dappled and elegant Wood Sandpiper, which eventually walked right in front of the hide, but it's only possible to take record shots at this location, as the hides are set too far back from the water!
At Singleton, the final hide, we identified at least 5 Little Egrets, and plenty of Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits and single Green Sandpipers & Greenshanks. We had to watch our footing as many of the paths had tiny frogs hopping around. On a sad note David spotted what seemed to be an injured Stock Dove in the car park. Overall it was a very fruitful visit with David observing 12 lifers today, taking his year list to 83, which is close to a personal best. David & Daniel were pleased with their visit to the reserve, and intend to revisit it at different times of the year to appreciate the full range of species which utilise Blacktoft throughout the seasons.