Tag Archives: house sparrow

Bempton Part III – or Scarborough as it is better known…

Well, you can’t go to Bempton without having fish and chips can you?

We did have an Eccles cake with a cup of tea before leaving Bempton though, that walking stuff can be quite demanding when you don’t have all the right gear. It also gave us time to look at the Tree Sparrows. House Sparrows are in decline, but the Tree Sparrow is doing even worse – you rarely see them these days unless you are at an RSPB feeding station.

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Tree Sparrows at Bempton

Once in Scarborough I took some pictures of the castle. That reminded me of the last time it saw action – 16th December 1914. Not bad for a place that was originally built as a signal station by the Romans in the fourth or fifth century.  It was, according the write-up, a favourite place for King John to stay. Richard III was the last King to stay there and it held out for Henry VIII during the Pilgrimage of Grace. Finally, it was reduced to wreckage by a Parliamentary siege in 1645. The Royalists produced siege coins.

I didn’t need to mention siege coins, but I find them quite interesting, and if I can’t ramble in my own blog where can I ramble?

I expereimented with the camera settings. Some are quite subtle. One isn’t.

After that it sort of pottered around crumbling and, by 1914, hosting a Coastguard Station.

That day in 1914 two German Battleships emerged from the early morning mist and opened fire. Five hundred shells were fired, eighteen people killed. It could have been a lot worse, though not for the eighteen and their families.

There is a list here, if you are interested.

A U-Boat shelled the town in September 1917, but that is hardly ever mentioned. Three people were killed and five injured. Compared to some of the air raids happening at the time, killing 836 and wounding 1,982 in a 12 month period, the submarine raid was almost inconsequential. These were aeroplane raids, the Zeppelins having sustained too many losses to continue, but not before killing 557 and injuring another 1,358.

Sorry about all the stats and death, but after reading John Knifton’s posts on aircraft crashes and Clare Pooley’s mention of wartime damage to Bungay church, I’ve started thinking how violent history has been in some parts of the country.

Here are a few other photographs – a police box, a sea mine and a ship that went to Dunkirk. Violence, always violence…

(Near the lighthouse there’s a Vickers 13 pounder Naval Gun, the Naval version of the field gun the Royal Horse Artillery uses for firing salutes at state occassions. This one was raised from the wreck of the Hornsund in 1982, 65 years after it was torpedoed. I admit, I didn’t want to walk the extra distance to the far end of the harbour.)

It was a hard life in the Merchant Navy.

And that, apart from buying some cheap reading glasses and photographing a gull, was the end of the day.

Birds at Screveton

So, from birds at Rufford to Birds at Screveton. It may lack variety but once you have a good formula for a a title why change?

It started off with pied wagtails at the top of the lane, followed by a heron on the small meadow. Unlike last week I did manage to get a photo of it stalking the field margin. though they aren’t the best of shots.

I saw a Yellowhammer when we arrived at the centre but it flew off in a flash of yellow and wasn’t seen again.Most notable birds of the day were a House Sparrow and a female Reed Bunting. Apart from that we had Blue Tits, Great Tits, a Long Tailed Tit, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Pheasants, Red Legged Partridges, Chaffinches, Dunnocks, a Robin, Blackbirds, a pair of Buzzards, a Herring Gull and a small flock of Jackdaws.

The frustration of the day was that I just couldn’t get any decent photos. Dog walkers, members of the group asking “What are you watching?”, sudden noises from inside the building, shooting next door, camera batteries that ran flat – you name it, they all conspired against a successful day of photography.

The short day and long shadows didn’t help either.

 

 

 

 

 

Nature Notes

I say nature notes, but it’s mainly birds and butterflies. I’m trying to learn more about plants and insects but I don’t learn things as quickly as I used to.

We had two Swallows fly by last Thursday and another one yesterday. Working on the basis that one Swallow doesn’t make a summer it looks like we are well on the way. We also saw two House Martins at the weekend.

We have seen more Brimstones in the last week than we saw in the whole of last year. Well, to be accurate, I suppose it is more accurate to say we have had more Brimstone sightings – it could well just be one very active butterfly. The only time I spotted one land…yes, you guessed it…no camera.

The struggle with Jackdaws continues. They have started on the one at the back of the centre now, though it is quite obvious so this isn’t a surprise. The one concealed in the hedge has attracted some good birds, but the Jackdaws have spotted that one too. They don’t bother with it too much, so it might be OK. On the main feeder I’ve replaced the fat balls with peanuts so fat ball consumption is down and the smaller birds are able to eat without disturbance. I’m considering ordering some squirrel-proof fat ball feeders as the next step.

It’s quite strange at the moment. We have a pair of Greenfinches coming to one feeder, and a pair of House Sparrows on another. They used to be so common I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning them, but they have both suffered massive declines since those days and it’s good to think we have a few around.

Meanwhile, we have regular Buzzards over the farm and plenty of Red Kites nearby, as I may have mentioned. In the days of my youth (as I say more and more often these days) I can remember when we had to travel to Wales, Cornwall or the Lake District to see Buzzards, and when there were only 20 pairs of Red Kites in the UK (all in Wales).

The strangest sighting of the week has been a Heron that circled overhead for about ten minutes like a massive bird of prey. I managed to get a few distant shots but as it came closer and gave me a good view my batteries failed and the camera locked. I was not impressed. It perched in a tree for a while (hidden by foliage) before starting to circle and making a raucous cry. I don’t know what it was all about, as we don’t have any significant water about. Later that day it came back for a couple more circuits. It may be some sort of breeding behaviour but who can tell?

Birds can be very strange.