Posted by: mynaturaldiary | October 8, 2017

Greylag geese have returned in skeins at the RSPB reserve at Saltholme .

They flew past the Transporter Bridge, the local landmark.

Then onto the grassland by Holme Fleet.


Once on the ground, they were feeding on the grasslands close to Saltholme Hide.

Greylag Goose (Anser anser)

This pair showed a wonderful duet of drinking.


More soon

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | October 7, 2017

Conkers 2017

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | September 17, 2017

Migrant Hawker

Migrant Hawkers were at the RSPB reserve at Saltholme . They fought for a few minutes along the path

before settling on separate stems.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)

The second one looked more battered.

There is an amazing level of detail in the dragonfly’s eye.

What goes on in that mind?

There is a definite feel to a turn in the season. Farewell summer visitors, and see you again in 2018 Common Terns and Sand Martins. Hello to the returning Wigeons, who winter with us.

Wigeon (Anas penelope)

Notice they do not yet have the yellow stripe along the top of the males head which is so prominent later on in the year.

This last video shows a mixture of Wigeon and Coot and Saltholme West.

Coot (Fulica atra)

The Coots are the black birds, with white markings on their heads (hence as bald as a Coot, a phrase first coined in the 15thC).

You may also notice in the video above a Little Grebe serenely floating by. They are small diving birds, which catch amongst other things small fish.


Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Other waterfowl on the reserve were Gadwall

Gadwall (Anas strepera)

Shoveler (with their large bills)

Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

Pintail were on Saltholme West pool.

Pintail (Anas acuta)

Lapwings are returning to our reserve in numbers.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

In this video, we see a Lapwing harassing a Black tailed Godwit, and a Redshank.

The Black tailed Godwits eventually found a quieter place to feed and rest.

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

The Redshank also found space to search for food.

Redshank (Tringa totanus)

Little Egrets are a common large bird on the reserve.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

In the far distance a Black Swan was seen.

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)

And on the water, a young Great Crested Grebe.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

They were very small in May. Now look at them.

On the feeders were a pair of Paridae.

Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) (at the front and) Great Tit (Parus major) (at the back).

Also a young

and mature Goldfinch.

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

And a mob of Starlings.

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Let’s leave the reserve with a tiny snail making its way into the undergrowth.


Posted by: mynaturaldiary | September 10, 2017

Commondale Buzzard

A Buzzard seen hunting low over Commondale Moor.

Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

The heather is brown again, past its purple prime.


Posted by: mynaturaldiary | September 6, 2017

Churchill Colours

Signs of Autumnal colour change seen on the walls of Churchill College, Cambridge during a fleeting visit.


Posted by: mynaturaldiary | September 1, 2017

54.718 N, -0.675 W & the wonders in the deep

Some of the Sunday crew RSPB Saltholme hide guides went to sea with the help of Yorkshire Coast Nature, thanks to Richard, and the Skipper, Sean, of ‘All my Sons‘.

On the inshore North Sea this time of year, you can expect to find seabirds, including passage Skuas and Petrels (if you are lucky). If you are even luckier, you will see Minke Whales.

Out at sea, some 10 miles off the coast of Staithes

the sheer cliffs of the Yorkshire Coast seem distant.

A close watch of the seas surface reveals a wonder surfacing from below – an adult Minke Whale.

Northern Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

These are some 6-7m long, and surface for a few seconds to breathe before returning deep to hunt for the shoals of Mackerel and Sand Eels.

Patience is needed when looking for whales – they can submerge for 15 mins or so between breaths. Patience, also a sharp lookout, and a fast boat. After a while, another whale surfaced.

and yet another..

and again…

and even more….

One can only be at the right place and the right time for the next experience –  a whale circled and passed under the boat.

You can see its white flukes

showing clearly as it swum underneath the boat in the video above. And then, even rarer, it broke its head out of the water to take a good look at us all.

Shades of the 107th Psalm.

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.

Wonderful! A totally unexpected treat, and a very rare occurrence

Of course, on the day many seabirds were also seen. Leaving harbour, Cormorants flew past and rested on the sea.

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Their white throat helps identify them from their darker cousins, Shags. Also seen were Puffins

Puffin (Fratercula arctica)

and a passing Common Tern, searching for Sand Eels.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

These birds were all close to the shore, less than a mile out. Heading deeper into the North Sea lies the realm of true seabirds, who only come onshore to breed on the Cliffs of Britain.

Gannets are our largest seabirds, with a wingspan up to 1.8m.

Gannet (Morus bassanus)

They are very impressive when they fly overhead.

The wingspan is very large, about 1.8m , enabling it to glide, or to flap powerfully. Their dagger like beak reveals their ‘trade’ of diving for fish; they are streamlined for the twin fluid mediums of the air and the sea. Bills are one of a bird’s giveaway identifiers, being adapted to their ‘trade’ of feeding themselves.

The other true seabird this far out were Fulmars – they are the North Atlantic’s ‘albatross’ to which they are distantly related.

Notice in the video the combination of wingbeats and gliding close to the sea’s surface, which is typical for them. The stiff wing is formed for gliding

Their eyes are deep set, so it is difficult to catch sunlight glinting on their eyes in flight.

Notice the complex bill structure, split into plates.

They rest on the sea when feeding or tired.

Again with a glint in its eye.

Notice in these photos the tube nose (called naricorns) which they breath through.

They run over the water when they get enough lift to start flying.

We’ll see some more Fulmars later in this post.

Great Black-backed Gulls also share the sea around the boat.

These are powerful birds – our largest seagulls, with a wingspan of about 1.6m.

Great Black-Blacked Gull (Larus marinus)

This one is an immature gull – the bright yellow bill hasn’t emerged yet, which is a sign of maturity.

They devour what they can, bullying other birds into dropping their catches. They are noted for ‘their air of glorious villainy’. Watching it eat ‘rubby dubby’, the local name for ‘chum’, it is hard to disagree.

Out at sea, the canopy of the sky changes with the weather. The day went from bright cloudless skies, to overcast, and then to soaring Cumulonimbus

which duly formed, brought rain and claps of thunder, clearly visible from a safe distance.

Returning home back to port, Staithes offered fine views.

How nice to see it at sea. So he bringeth them unto their desired location indeed.

Thanks Sean for getting us back.

On land, a quick detour to Cowbar, on the northern side of Staithes allowed good views of the cliffs and Cowbar Nab. Nesting Fulmars still feed their young.

And on Cowbar Nab, Oystercatchers feed.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

This post ends with some ‘slow TV’; the horizon at sea

and onshore, looking out to the sea from Cowbar Nab.

The sea that is always counting.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | August 28, 2017

Staithes and the Yorkshire Coast

Staithes harbour nestles between the cliffs of Cowbar Nab and Penny Steel.

The boats are ready to put to sea in a working harbour.

(note the red one moored to the harbour wall, which takes visitors out to sea for whale watching – more of which in the next post!).

A walk out of the village along the Yorkshire coastline gives fine views.

This wheat is ready to be harvested from the fields on the cliff tops.

Old Nab juts out into the sea.

And on the shoreline of Brackenberry Wyke, home to Jurassic fossils and seabirds, Oystercatchers are feeding.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

Thorndale shaft marks the end of this stretch of bay before the next one.

The Jurassic geology is well exposed here, with sandstone atop mudstones. Beneath lies the ancient Triassic seas, now mined at Boulby for their rich seams of potash and halite.

Crossing past Port Mulgrave, the harvest is again evident.

On the loop back to Staithes lies Oakrigg Wood, home to 65 varieties of oak.

Finally back to Staithes, here’s a view overlooking Cowbar Farm with Boulby Cliffs in the distance.


Posted by: mynaturaldiary | August 28, 2017

Autumn Harvest

Hay bales like cotton reels beneath Roseberry Topping


Posted by: mynaturaldiary | August 27, 2017

Mewing, circling…

A buzzard circles and mews over Newton Moor.

Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

The heather on the moor is beginning to fade, although it is still striking enough.

Highcliffe farm carries on, perched in the lee of Highcliff Nab.

There is a wall dividing the moor from the farmland.

The shooting butts march off into the heather on the moor.

Purples, yellows and greens are the dominant colours here.

The farm’s cattle carry on grazing.

In the woods, the elderberries are ripening.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | August 14, 2017

Moorland Magic

Commondale and the adjoining Gisborough Moor has a carpet of purple heather

this time of year.

The skies are filled with Red Grouse.

Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus)

In the middle of the heather

is a war memorial to two Grenadier Guardsmen who fell in the First World War. They were Robbie Leggott, killed in action 1916 & Alf Cockerill, died of wounds sustained in combat shortly after the war.

A river seems to run through the purple.

A passing Kestrel

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

seems to have something in its claws.

It’s not this Meadow Pipit.

Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis)

Even the sheep seem to get lost in the vastness of the landscape.

Sleddale, a small farmed valley stands out, with its green island in the purple, offset by passing clouds.

The view to Captain Cook’s Monument is also dominated by heather.

Such quietude.

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