On Tuesday we spent an hour or two at Hambleton Park. A picnic lunch with four of our grandchildren went down a treat by way of that time honoured British menu of sausage rolls, egg sandwiches, Golden Wonder crisps and blackening bananas.
Birders never switch off do they? I couldn’t help but notice that as the sun warmed the sky a Buzzard flew from nearby trees and then upwards in search of thermals. Very quickly four other Buzzards arrived and joined in the midday fun. How these Buzzards find one another is remarkable but probably accounted for by their simply phenomenal eyesight, 6 to 8 times better than that of a human. After a little mewing and circling around the raptors went their separate ways across local farmland as I returned to the sausage rolls before the kids nicked the lot.
Swallows were much in evidence too. After a slow start to the season, and apart from the now obligatory joined-up days of unwelcome wind and rain, the summer has been reasonably productive for Swallows. The mostly warmer and dryer weather of late has allowed something of a catch up to the Swallows’ intensive but necessary season of breeding. About twenty Swallows were feeding over the fields that adjoin the playground and then resting up on the overhead wires of the adjacent farm.
A change of note in the Swallows’ twittering conversations suggested something was wrong. Cue the appearance of an ever opportunist Sparrowhawk which appeared on the scene but partly hidden by a low hedgerow. As usual the Swallows had seen the Sparrowhawk first and sounded a warning before they scattered in all directions. I caught a glimpse of the Sparrowhawk’s brown head, white supercilium and fierce eye as it tried to hide along the hedgerow. It was a juvenile male of the year, proven when ten minutes later I saw it over the trees chasing Swallows but failing miserably to catch one. A young Sparrowhawk will soon learn that stealth rather than a chase will catch the next meal, especially where Swallows are concerned.
Thursday. Free from family fortune I set off for Cockerham via the moss roads where I realised just how much rain had fallen during the last 4 days. It’s a handy looking flood which may prove to be worth a look for a week or two. I didn’t count the hundreds of gulls but focused in on the far bank where 15 Black-tailed Godwits and a single Redshank fed. A single Kestrel on roadside wires proved to be a juvenile, my first and only of the year so far.
Rawcliffe Moss - August
Then up to Cockerham where Conder Pool had transformed into Conder Lake and in the process lost a more than a few birds. Lapwings and Redshanks were much reduced with 50 or less of each together with 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and 4 little Egret.
Fourteen Teal, 11 Canada Goose and 6 Little Grebe provided the wildfowl with 30+ Swallows, 20+ House Sparrows, 8 Goldfinch and a couple of Pied Wagtails in the area of the farm buildings. It was the Swallows that spotted a Sparrowhawk flap/glide slowly over before a number of the Swallows broke off from their rest and chased the hawk across the road and over the pool.
At the layby I encountered 2 Reed Buntings in the hedgerow together with 8 Long-tailed Tits making their way along the roadside.
Last week I’d promised myself another look at Cockersands where the field of set-aside looked very promising for birds.
The sunflowers gazed into the rising sun but I looked in vain for birds while the adjacent fields wait for a cut of grass half a metre high. Best I managed was a single Meadow Pipit, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Whitethroat, 5 Goldfinch, 8/10 Linnets overhead and plenty of Wood Pigeons.
After those few days off it was good to catch up with a spot of birding and while the weather looks a bit mixed for the next few days, there will be more birds soon via Another Bird Blog.