Posted by: mynaturaldiary | February 12, 2018

Snow and Snowdrops

From the 6th fall of snow this winter

to the return of this years Snowdrops.

Welcome back. You’re a sure sign spring is on its way, even if the thrushes aren’t singing yet.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 31, 2018

Super Blue Moon

A “super blue blood Moon” tonight as it passes the closest point to us in its elliptical orbit (perigee syzygy). This coincided with a lunar eclipse, but not visible in the UK (hence no blood for us).

The videos show the sidereal motion of the moon as the camera is fixed on one point in the sky.

 

 

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 21, 2018

Nithered

Nithered: (verb) to shiver with cold. (Old Norse)

This fine Yorkshire word describes perfectly the conditions at the RSPB reserve at Saltholme.

Walking down to the Saltholme Pools hide was a female Stonechat.

Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)

Also a Wren, which are normally hidden in the undergrowth.

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

On Paddy’s Pool field were hundreds of Golden Plover, trying to get food from the frozen soil.

Notice how they move across the field, constantly searching.

Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

On this visit to the reserve, they didn’t fly (which implies an absence of predators).

At Saltholme hide, the waters surrounding it were mostly frozen. When I got to the hide, the Wigeon were resting on the ice to begin with, sliding over it, making their way to the grasslands.

When they reached the edge, they jumped up onto the grass.

There are thousands of these birds on the reserve right now. They feed on grass and roots, constantly moving over the grasslands.

Wigeon (Anas penelope)

Out on the grass something eventually will disturb them (a predator or the imaged threat of one), and then the company of Wigeon will take to the air in search of security on water, or today, ice.

Once there, they huddle, with safety in numbers. All those pairs of eyes are more likely to see a threat than just one pair.

Eventually, a sense of calm returns and the birds begin to either walk to the grass, or fly to it in small groups.

And the cycle begins again…

They weren’t the only ducks there. Shovelers were in the distant Saltholme West pool.

Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

As were Mallard.

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Notice them making their way through the snow on ice in this video.

 

Another bird struggling with the ice were Mute Swans. this bird struggles to get to its feet and fails.

Another made it.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

Canadian Geese were also hunkered down in the snows.

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)

The weather closed down so much, this one

bundled up under its wing and winked at the world.

Coots were sliding over the ice

to get into the waters.

They were also grazing on the grass.

Coot (Fulica atra)

Curlew were also there, flying by solo

Curlew (Numenius arquata)

Or in a herd.

Their concaved curved bill is very visible on the ground.

Lapwing were also out in the grasslands.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

The Black headed Gulls were still in winter markings.

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Although this one hows signs of a darkening head, a precursor of spring?

Also on the grasslands were Meadow Pipit.

Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis)

And hunting in the distance, a Grey Heron.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Around the feeders were Goldfinch.

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

And Greenfinch, squabbling for the right to perch and feed; their flight frozen by the camera.

Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

And also Long tailed Tits in the trees.

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)

On the field were Fieldfare –  a sure sign it was very cold.

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

Finally tucked away in the woods by a frozen flooded field

Our resident roosting Long Eared owl, hunkered down in the snows.

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

 

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 20, 2018

5th Snow

We have had our fifth snowfall this winter.

Sleddale  looks magnificent as ever.

The Red Grouse stand out against the white.

Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus)

The path to the Moors

passes Highcliff Nab

Then past Highcliffe Farm.

before the gate that leads onto the Moor.

The horizon looks wonderful in the light.

Captain Cook’s monument stands out as the obelisk on the distant Easby Moor.

All around is the whiteness of the snow.

Guisborough Town nestles in the snow.

And out at sea is the Redcar windfarm.

Roseberry Topping, our local landmark looks like a shark fin breaking from the snowy land.

From Claybank, it looks more menacing.

Ingleby Greenhow and Battersby Moor look fine too.

In the woods is a solitary Robin.

Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 6, 2018

Midwinter crepuscular rays

On the Moors at 10am overlooking Sleddale.

and the same day in the middle of the town of Middlesbrough at 3pm.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 2, 2018

Sanderling at South Gare

South Gare at high tide presents a different shoreline to the birds. What was once beach

is now flooded. The Sanderling make their way along it, searching for food.

 

Sanderling (Calidris alba)

You can see from the following video that they can walk very fast if they want to.

They flock together, and flew off down the coast.

You can also see Black headed Gulls in their winter plumage behind the Sanderling.

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Turnstone are often seen with Sanderling.

Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

Greater Black backed Gulls chase the lobster boat coming into Teesmouth.

Great Black-Blacked Gull (Larus marinus)

And in the sky, a solitary Cormorant flies past in the dimming light.

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

On the ground Starlings feed.

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

On the beach, the tide is still coming in.

Deep in the sands are Lugworms, which leave their casts on the surface. These are hunted by the birds, especially longer billed ones such as Redshank.

Redshank (Tringa totanus)

As the sea comes in, trapped air in sand which isn’t fully saturated is expelled forming a stream of bubbles.

The water ripples.

Out at sea the windfarm is being checked for structural integrity by a survey vessel.

The light fades along the coast towards the distant cliffs to the south.

And the vista used by Sky Artist of the Year  of fishermen’s huts and moribund steelworks looks different in the light.

Teesport and the distant Seal Sands refinery stand out as night begins to fall.

 

More Soon!

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 1, 2018

Happy New Year

From the first full moon of 2018.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | December 28, 2017

Beacon Hill

A return to Staithes,

and to Beacon Hill.

to catch the sights of the sea

in the low midwinter setting sun along the Cleveland Way.

Old Nab juts out to sea.

Staithes looks magnificent in the light.

As does the harbour.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | December 26, 2017

Boxing Day Stroll

Sleddale, a small farmed valley in the middle of Gisborough Moor, in midwinter shorn of its snow, looks quite different to the pictures taken earlier this month.

Red Grouse are nearby.

Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus)

They hunker down

until disturbed, then fly slow and low

calling as they go

 

until they land, far away. The moor is full of these birds.

This next picture is a close up of the bird flying over the Moor.

When looked at full scale, you get a sense of the vastness of Guisborough Moor.

On the distant horizon lies Captain Cook’s Monument and Greenhow Moor.

 

 

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | December 10, 2017

A company of Wigeons

A deep midwinter freeze has gripped the RSPB reserve at Saltholme . Most of the lakes are now partially frozen, and the ducks, particularly Wigeon crowd what remains of the open waters when a predator appears.

See how the birds sweep in; a company of Wigeon.

Wigeon (Anas penelope)

When the threat has passed, the birds slowly climb out of the water, onto the ice and make their way back towards the grasslands where they feed.

The Wigeon fly around the reserve to find a suitable place to feed.

Curlew flew into the Wigeon as the light dimmed.

Curlew (Numenius arquata)

They passed out onto the grasslands, where they were joined by Lapwings.

In the air the Lapwings flock together for safety.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

as do the Golden Plover.

Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

You can see a few Golden Plover moving in amongst the Barnacle Geese in this video.

Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis)

There were also Canada Geese amongst the smaller Barnacle Geese.

And they were also out on the waters.

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)

Gadwall were also dabbling around the ice.

Gadwall (Anas strepera)

As were Shoveler.

Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

On the ice were Moorhen

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

And making a swift dash across the ice, a Water Rail.

Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)

Snipe were in the distant reeds.

Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

In the hedges were Reed Bunting.

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Mute Swans were on the ice, then taking off

before landing on the waters by the visitors centre.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

And then a passing Mute Swan gave the ‘cold shoulder’ to our resident Black Swan.

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)

Finally, one of the birds of prey that the ducks and waders are keen to avoid – a Kestrel seen hovering in the twilight.

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

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