Sunday, August 29, 2010

Birding in Yorkshire - Saturday

Plan A was to do a pelagic trip - we'd heard the P&O Santander Ferry is finishing this year, and therefore this would be an ideal opportunity. The publicity that brought this to our attention also meant it was fully booked. Humbug. We therefore had to look closer to home for the Bank Holiday weekend and decided on visiting Yorkshire, a county where thus far we've only birded a few points on the coast.

Helen planned out the itinerary with the first stop on Saturday morning at RSPB Blacktoft Sands, as high tide was due at 10am.

It's a very pleasant reserve and readily accessible, essentially a series of hides strung along a few pools. There were good numbers of waders present including these Redshank:



Lapwing and (foreground) Ruff:

as well as Yellow Wagtail, Green Sandpiper, Water Rail, Greenshank, Dunlin and Spotted Redshank. We enjoyed our visit to Blacktoft. We were going to head into the Lower Derwent Valley, however a local birder at Blacktoft pointed out this was more a winter site and suggested we'd be wasting our time, so we changed plans there and then and drove instead to Spurn Point. Here I got to see some visible migration, with Wheatears, Yellow Wagtails and Whinchats moving through. We walked from the car park to the ponds, though these were substantially dried out and absent of birds, and back again. On our return we dipped out on a Pectoral Sandpiper by less than three minutes, and enjoying tea in the cafe during a heavy rain shower, we didn't go running after the Monatgu's Harrier either...
You can see the weather closing in on the point:

For our third stop we headed to a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve at North Cave. This one doesn't appear on any maps or in any guidebooks yet. The birds have found it though. Rather like Paxton Pits the reserve is a former (and expanding) gravel quarry where local residents preferred a nature reserve to a landfill and have done an excellent job in creating a large area of wetlands (soon to be bigger, we understand).
We saw Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows together with a number of common ducks and geese and again waders featured with Dunlin, Green Sandpipers, Greenshank and Redshsank. The wind had picked-up though, you can see this rabbit had found a good spot to shelter:

On the water a Tufted Duck was nursing a brood of fifteen ducklings - this Lesser Black-backed Gull kept buzzing them, but they were safe on the water from this predator at least:



We finished off by doing a bit of shopping at the outlet village next to the Premier Inn we were staying in at Castleford, before retiring early in anticipation of Sunday.

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