Tag Archives: RSPB

Another trip to Bempton Cliffs

We went to Bempton Cliffs today. It was a testing drive after months of being virtually housebound but it has, we thought, the best paths and least walking of all the places we visit.

We only saw a couple of Puffins which flew directly into burrows, so they were probably males on the way back with food.

I cheated on the Featured Image, as the second picture shows.

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Puffin Poster – Bempton Cliffs

More to follow tomorrow but here’s a video of Gannets…

Bempton Cliffs again

We saw these beak fencing Gannets at Bempton Cliffs today. It’s part of their mating ritual. He later went fishing and came back with a gift of fish. It seemed to work, as I had to delete the ensuing video rather than become known as an avian pornographer. I reminded Julia that I bought her favourite – smoked mackerel – earlier in the week. According to her answer it seems that gifts of fish don’t have the same significance in the human world.

Some of the birds are on the cliffs, but most of the auks (including around a dozen puffins) are content to sit on the sea for the moment.

Have to be quick, as I need to post this before midnight. Here are a few other pictures.

It was a good day and the telescope came in useful for looking out to sea. Those Puffins were miles away!

A Day of Dabchicks

We went to Old Moor, an RSPB reserve in the Dearne Valley between Barnsley and Rotherham.I’ve never thought of this area in relation to birds before, but there are 250 acres of wetland with a variety of hides, toilets, shop, cafe and bird garden. With our new RSPB membership cards it was too good to miss.

Things got off to a shaky start when we left the cards in the car and had to walk back to the far end of the car park to get them.  After that things were pretty good and although we missed the bullfinches that are supposedly common here, we still built up a list of over 40 species from just half of the reserve.

We started with the Bird Garden, which is a piece of lawn between the back of the Visitors’ Centre and an area of woodland. It is well provided with feeding stations and natural-looking perches (including a fork handle for the traditional Robin shot). Only one bird selected the handle while we were there – a Great Tit. So much for tradition.

From there we moved on to look at the display garden and the Tree Sparrow Farm, an area of grassland and hedges with a large number of nestboxes. They claim to have a colony of 250 Tree Sparrows but only two popped by to visit, and neither of them posed for us.

I also had trouble getting a good shot of a Stock Dove as the Wood Pigeons kept chasing them.

I will show a selection of photographs rather than list everything we saw.

 

There were plenty of ducks about, and a selection of waders. The light started deteriorating as the afternoon drew on so I don’t have as many shots as I would like. I was lucky in getting a couple of good shots of Dabchicks (or Little Grebes if you prefer formality) that came close to the hides. One, as you can see, managed to catch a comparatively large fish (which looks like a Perch in some of the photos). The size (and spines) meant it took a long time to swallow. The video clip shows the bird after eating; I think it’s trying to clean the fish slime off.

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Dabchick with fish

 

Birds at Frampton Marsh

As you can see from the title we went to Frampton Marsh on the Lincolnshire coast today. Unlike some of our previous visits to reserves, it was an excellent day.

Apart from the massive flock of Brent Geese that arrived as we were walking to one of the hides, we say Golden Plover by the thousand and so many Dunlin that the air actually hummed with the movement of their wings. At one time the sky was so full, with half a dozen flocks criss-crossing, I almost got a decent photo. Of course, with my normal level of skill, all I could produce is a view of a sky that looks like I have specks of dirt on my computer screen.

The day in general, was pretty good. The weather, after the troubles of Storm Doris, was mainly sunny and quite warm at times. We saw a good variety of birds, including a Merlin chasing a flock of Lapwing, a lone Barnacle Goose, three Ringed Plovers, a Curlew, two Black-tailed Godwits and a Snipe.

The telescope is working well after someone with a similar model of tripod showed me how to cure the wobble problem, and it helped find some of the better birds. With the day being so sunny it also gave us some great views of distant birds. I am, however, going to have to get a harness to carry it, as it’s a lot heavier than you’d think by the end of the day.

The Visitor Centre is a bit spartan, but it had a machine for tea and coffee, toilets and a cheery volunteer looking after it so what more do you want?

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Good Day at Blacktoft Sands

I was tempted by the alliteration of “Bad Day at Blacktoft Sands” as I like alliteration and it sounds like a black and white cowboy film, which I also like. However, we had a good day, so that plan was doomed from the start.

It shows how things have changed over the years if I say that we saw a Marsh Harrier and a Little Egret, but didn’t see anything special. Marsh Harriers were down to a single breeding pair in 1971 but there are up to 380 pairs now and seem quite common if you go to the right place. Little Egrets have had a population explosion since the 1980s – from being a rarity we now have a population of around 700 breeding pairs and 4,500 overwintering. Give them a few more years and we’ll be complaining about them crowding other birds out.

The Marsh Harrier expansion is down to preserving habitat, changing habits and stopping people persecuting them, though they still have problems. The Little Egret, I’m afraid to say, might be due to global warming though a general expansion of range and protection of habitat may be helping.

The first notable birds we say were Tree Sparrows. They have declined by 96% since 1970, and we only seem to see them on the bird feeders at Nature Reserves!

We did see a group of Pochard, which was nice because numbers have been decreasing, plus a couple of Little Grebes, Widgeon, Teal, Greylag Geese and a few other things. I won’t list them all because lists aren’t that interesting, except to the people making the list.

As usual, the distance was too far for the camera, but fortunately some of the birds helped out by coming close. Buildings, being bigger and slower than birds, were more obliging, so I took a few shots of the buildings.

It’s a very watery place. The Ouse runs to the north of the reserve (connecting Goole docks to the sea). The Trent runs down the east side and where the two rivers meet they form the Humber, which is an estuary rather than a river. I didn’t know that until last week, I always thought it was a short river.

The white building is part of Associated British Ports and overlooks a wharf whilst the lighthouse at Whitgift is still in service and is a waymark for Goole docks.

 

To end the day we went to the Dolphin at Sutton on Sea for haddock and chips. I had a syrup sponge and custard. Julia had a banana fritter. Well, it was Valentine’s Day, and I thought she deserved a treat.