Posted by: mynaturaldiary | April 13, 2017

Farndale valley

The entrance to the valley of Farndale from Blakey Ridge shows the vast space of the North York Moors (click on photos for full scale).

On the valley floor, the Blackthorne is in full bloom, making the hedges turn white.

Blakey Ridge looks down on all of this.

But the great glory of Farndale this time of year are the daffodils.

These line the side of the riverbanks.

(see video here).

A great walk, some 3 1/2 miles long runs down the dale, with a river flanked by the daffodils.

In the distance the hills rise

along with this years lambs, close to their mothers.

In the hills, farm houses nestle too.

The valley is very quiet and peaceful.

Depending on where you start, the Daffy Cafe either is close to the start and end, or at the apogee. Among the tea and cakes, Blackbirds look on for scraps.

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | April 10, 2017

Passover Moon

Tonight’s sky belongs to the Passover Moon, and to Jupiter (bottom right).

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | April 5, 2017

Hanami at Highcliff Nab

Hanami (花見) is the tradition of enjoying the transient beauty of the cherry blossom flowers on the tree.

A trick of perspective allows the pink and white blooms on the trees to be seen against the seeming impermanence of distant Highcliff Nab.

The blooms are wonderful to see in bright light.

A walk to the top of the Moor shows that the leaves on the trees in the forest are growing once again.

At the top of the path, a Wren sings, making a very loud noise for the size of the bird.

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

and Highcliff Nab stands out well.

A Meadow Pipit rests at the edge of the wood.

Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis)

On the Moor, Sleddale stands out; a oasis of green in a sea of dormant heather.

The heather provides food and shelter to Red Grouse.

The birds fly when approached, using out their distinctive chiding call.

Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus)

On the descent back down, the rock face of Highcliff Nab can be seen, together with some daffodils nestling away.

A Peacock butterfly rests on the ground.

Peacock (Aglais io)

At the bottom of the woods, a Song Thrush sings out.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Let’s leave this day of sunlight and bloom with a few more shots of blossom.

And a special shot of agelessness and modernity, a transient moment.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | March 20, 2017

Vernal Equinox

We welcome back equal night and equal day, before heading into the light half of the year.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | March 12, 2017

Avocets at Saltholme

Avocets are back at the RSPB reserve at Saltholme.

They constantly sift the waters for invertebrates. This pair were swimming in the scrape before Saltholme hide, overlooking Saltholme West pool. Their action is ceaseless (see video here and here).

You can notice how one is beneath the water whilst the other is above, keeping a careful watch.

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

On the waters of Saltholme  West pool were some Goldeneye ducks, including this male, displaying.

He has a very distinctive white patch on his head between his eye and bill.

Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Red Breasted Mergansers made a fine sight.

Red breasted merganser (Mergus serrator)

(see video here).

Wigeon are still on the reserve (see video here).

Wigeon (Anas penelope)

Gadwall

Gadwall (Anas strepera)

Pochard

Pochard (Aythya ferina)

Mallard

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Tufted Ducks (see video here)

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

and Teal were also on the reserve (see video here and here).

Teal (Anas crecca)

Pintail put on a fine display.

Their name comes from the tail feathers, seen as an upended male searches for food.

(see videos here, here, here and here).

Pintail (Anas acuta)

Notice in the background of the picture above, an Oystercatcher, with its beak folded under its wing, resting.

Another wader seen were Redshanks (see video here).

Redshank (Tringa totanus)

Black tailed Godwits were searching for food.

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

(see video here and here).

And tucked away, a small Dunlin was seen from Saltholme hide.

Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

(see video here)

Our standard members of the rail family were seen. First a coot (one of many!)

 

Coot (Fulica atra)

and Moorhen (see video here)

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

across the reserve were Black headed Gulls. They are getting their brown heads back, ready for the summer.

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

A gulls life is a squabbly one (see video here); and these birds were displaying.

In the air were a pair of Greylag Geese.

Greylag Goose (Anser anser)

On the feeders at Wildlife Watchpoint (undergoing a refurbishment) were

Blue tits

Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Goldfinches

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

and Reed Buntings (see video here).

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Finally, a spectacular sighting of a female Kestrel – first, in the air, hovering.

She then moved to a fence post to rest, allowing fine views.

(see video here)

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

She eventually flew away, hovering, searching for the next meal.

Finally, the Blackthorn blossom has returned.

 

 

 

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | March 1, 2017

St David’s Day

We welcome back this year’s daffodils

And, at Lake Wilton, the blossom on the trees.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | February 19, 2017

Welcome visitors

A return of welcome visitors to the RSPB reserve at Saltholme – four fine looking birds appeared in the trees before the Phil Stead Hide.

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Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)

(see video here).

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Their feathers have a very smooth appearance.

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so much so that a blemish stands out (in this case a seed located by its cheek).

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(see video here and here).

These pictures show off the striking plumage on their tail feathers and wings.

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(see video here and here).

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Their propensity to flock together (in a museum of Waxwings!) means they will often be seen in the same tree.

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They strip the food off a tree with great aplomb.

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They are most elegant birds.

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Stonechat were on the path to the Saltholme hide.

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Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)

Sitting on a fence post some distance from the Paddy’s pool hide was a female Kestrel, being harassed by a crow.

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It saw off the threat, before taking off itself (see video here) to resume the hunt.

In the air these falcons become masters of being able to hover over one spot (all the better to pounce).

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Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

The waders are beginning to thin out in numbers. The golden Plover have mostly left, and the Lapwing numbers are also down from their peak around December.

(see video here and here).

They take to the air at the first sign of danger (see video here). Once there, they form a cloud of birds, to help deceive predators, such as the Kestrel above.

(see video here).

They are one of my favourite birds, and I love their cry in the breeding season, which gives their common name (Pee-wit).

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

You can see in this picture some Redshank in addition to the Lapwing.

Redshank (Tringa totanus)

Curlew were also still on the reserve.

Curlew (Numenius arquata)

Their cry is also haunting, and is the sound of spring and early summer on the Moors.

(see video here).

This delightful bird preened itself.

(see video here).

In the field with the Curlews were Wigeon.

Wigeon (Anas penelope)

(see videos here and here).

They have a plaintive cry.

They cluster on the waters for safety (see video here), and struggle to get out onto the grassy bank (see video here). They too will soon depart for Scandinavia for the summer. We’ll see them again in the Autumn.

Other ducks included

Teal

Teal (Anas crecca)

Gadwall

Gadwall (Anas strepera)

Pintail

Pintail (Anas acuta)

Mallard

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

(see video here)

and Shelduck

Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

A pair of Mute Swans flew past Paddy’s Pool hide.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

They always make a strong sound in the air.

The Black Swan was also on the waters before Phil Stead Hide.

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)

Coots are ever present on the reserve.

Coot (Fulica atra)

And finally, a Cormorant, drying its wings.

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

 

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | February 4, 2017

Seals and Seal Sand

At Greatham Creek, in the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve, Harbour Seals lie on the mud awaiting the turn of the tide.

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Harbour (Common) Seal (Phoca vitulina)

You can see the younger seal

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trying to make its way over the mud (see video here and here). I love the way in the last video it simply slides over the mud.

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In this video the youngster stretches his flippers. In the water, the seals are a different animal.

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They move with grace, as this video shows here.

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Also on the mudflats of Greatham Creek were Redshank

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(see video here). We’ll see more of them later in this post on Seal Sands. In the TNNR carpark, overlooking Cowpen Marsh were Wigeon.

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Wigeon (Anas penelope)

They have blue eyes, and this male shows a faint herringbone pattern on the grey feathers along its flank.

On Cowpen Marsh, Lapwings and Golden Plover hunkered down.

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Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

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Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

They sat at the waters edge, ready to spring into the air at the first sign of danger (see video here and here). These birds will soon depart the marshes of Teesmouth for the upland North Yorkshire Moors and for Tees-dale. But not yet!

In the distance on the water behind these waders, a male Shoveler could be seen.

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Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

(see video here).

Leaving the Cowpen Marsh area for Greenabella Marsh in the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve , a real treat was found. A group of Twites were on a tree.

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Twite (Carduelis flavirostris)

(see video here).

Also seen was a Great Tit.

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Great Tit (Parus major)

There was a solitary male Teal on the water.

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Teal (Anas crecca)

 

The vast expanse of the mudflats at Seal Sands at low tide is a feeding point for many birds.

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Greatham Creek winds its way through this to reach the River Tees, which in turn empties out into Teesmouth, and the North Sea.

On the mudflats were Curlew. They were probing the mud for invertebrates, which you can see them eating.

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Curlew (Numenius arquata)

(see video here).

Another wader seen in numbers were Redshank, which I mentioned earlier in this post.

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Redshank (Tringa totanus)

(see video here)

A cloud of waders could be seen flying over the mudflats – too far away to identify.

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Redshank – Sanderling – Knot? Still beautiful to see, whatever they were.

Shelduck were also on the mudflats in numbers.

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Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

(see video here).

These birds are the symbol for the Teesmouth Bird Club.

In this picture you can see a Shelduck (top right), an Oystercatcher (top left) and a Cormorant drying its wings (bottom).

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Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

The Cormorant makes a splendid primeval image, as he tries to dry his wings off (see video here).

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Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Finally, the Black Headed Gulls appear to be making the transition from their winter plumage

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back to their summer plumage

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Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

In the summer, their head will be a most attractive chocolate brown. Summer is a coming, even if it still feels cold!

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 31, 2017

Snowdrops 2017

This years Snowdrops have returned.

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These were seen at Great Ayton, along the banks of the River Leven.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 28, 2017

Café Twitch’s big garden watch 2017

Once a year, the RSPB organises a Big Garden Watch, where we dutifully record all the birds that fly into our gardens in an hour over the weekend towards the end of January. Last years results are here.

So armed with a camera, feeding table freshly stocked with seed, Café Twitch yielded the following.

First, a Dunnock. It sat cautiously on a branch, looking out for danger, before heading to the ground to feed.

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(see video here and here).

Finally satisfied the coast was clear, it flew down to the seeds on the ground.

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Notice how well camouflaged the grey body is against the earth.

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Notice though it remained cautious, always on the look-out.

(see video here)

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Dunnock (Prunella modularis)

Secondly, a messy blackbird (some birds accidentally put seeds on the ground for the Dunnocks).

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Blackbird (Turdus merula)

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(see video here).

Finally, a Starling, up in the branches of the tree.

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Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

 

 

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