Tag Archives: tree 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

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.

An auksome day out

We had a day off today; it’s getting to be a habit. We decided on Scarborough again (well, Julia did, I just drove), but started off sooner and dropped in at Bempton Cliffs on the way. They seem to have spent a lot of money since we last came, with nice flat paths making it easy to walk round, even for a fat man with arthritic feet.

Unfortunately this also allowed all sorts of undesirables to access the reserve and get in my way. There was one particular woman who seemed to make it a point of honour to get in front of me and block the best view. When I got fed up and walked on she seemed to immediately give up and slip in front of me at the next good spot.

If it had been an episode of something by Agatha Christie the third occasion would have seen a body spiralling into the sea, hundreds of feet below. I can see the shot now…

However, that’s more of a comment on my favoured reading matter rather than the Bempton Cliffs experience.

We only saw one species of butterfly on the cliff top – ringlets! Would be wouldn’t it? They flew low, sheltering in the tops of the grass from the stiffish breeze so I couldn’t get a decent photo. The breeze was quite handy, as it was blowing out to sea, and taking the stench of fishy bird excrement with it. On a hot windless day, this can be a memorable part of the visit.

Here are some pictures – I’ll let them speak for themselves. Puffins are looking a bit dull after rearing a family – next year we will visit sooner.