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August 2008

4th - A Willow warbler was heard singing at the top of St. Giles Croft today.

7th - The young Great spotted Woodpecker is now regularly visiting the peanut feeder. A heavy and thundery shower in late afternoon.

8th - The recently harvested pea field near Old Hall Farm is attracting Black headed Gulls, with a few Common Gulls too, as well as a flock of Starling’s.

Bempton Cliffs - Most of the breeding birds have now left, with all the auks now out at sea. A single Puffin was seen, flying low over the sea. The Gannets are still present though, and the young are still a few weeks away from fledging, as some of them are just starting to lose their fluffy coats. Quite a few Kittiwakes still about, with most juveniles now on the wing, though a handful are still on their nests. The Fulmars are also still about, and along with the Gannets they enjoyed the breeze coming up the cliffs today and hovered within touching distance at times. They really are most graceful and handsome sea birds. In the fields above the cliffs a Corn Bunting was seen and heard, and again in the car park scrub leaf warblers were calling. A nice day out yet again to these impressive cliffs.

10th - A Willow warbler heard singing up in the Lime tree.

Nettledale - A good walk in Nettledale, one of my favourite areas of the Wolds, with the sound of leaf warblers, Whitethroat’s, and Yellowhammer’s in the abundant scrub. Two Roe deer were also seen, and amazingly I saw my first Marbled White of the year, remarkably late and proving what a dreadful butterfly year this has been thus far.

11th - Lapwing’s have joined the gull’s and starling’s on the harvested pea field. In Old Hall Hedge there were quite a few warbler’s seen or heard, with at least three Whitethroat’s, a Sedge Warbler, and a Willow warbler. Perhaps the start of autumn passage ? On Lincoln Way the Rowan’s are now covered in red fruits, as the signs of the coming season continue to appear. In the garden during the afternoon a male Bullfinch was seen on the bird bath.

12th - A group of eight Greylag geese were seen in a Barley stubble field this morning. In the evening there was a heavy and thundery shower, this following heavy rain during the morning. 19.1 mm’s (0.75”) was recorded in total today.

13th - An Oystercatcher joined the birds at the harvested pea field this morning.

North Cave Wetlands - Went on an afternoon visit to our local reserve, which remains on the quiet side. Loads of Greylag geese though, and lots of Lapwings too, though they were the sole representative of the wader family of birds. The Great Crested Grebes are doing well, with at least eight juveniles seen, and one pair have even begun a second family. Seconds broods are also in evidence amongst the Little Grebes, Coots, & Moorhens. In the wildflower field a young Whinchat was spotted, no doubt passing through on migration, and lots of butterflies were also attracted to the flowers with Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Wall Browns, Whites, Peacocks, Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Blues, & Small Coppers. A good number of were also seen amongst the brambles on the other side of the reserve, where Comma’s & Speckled Woods were also found. In what has been a poor year for butterflies this was a rare and most welcome showing. Additionally the Blackberries are really good this year, big but still tasty, and we collected a few and took them home. A lovely afternoon.

17th - The Oilseed Rape collected in. I have noticed a reduction in the number of Swift’s overhead recently, and perhaps they have begun to move on.

18th - First ripe Elderberries beginning to appear in the hedgerows. In the pea fields this morning I saw a couple of Grey Partridge’s, a rare bird these days, and a pair of Black backed Gulls joined the other more regular gulls (Black headed Gull’s and Common’s). Amongst the Black headed Gulls most have now moulted into their winter plumage, and are now white headed. In the garden today I saw a male Bullfinch briefly.

19th - Got within 50 yards of a Roe deer this morning out in the fields, and I also came upon a young Stoat along Long Lane. In the garden a Willow warbler was seen in the Ash today, and I also observed a Goldcrest in one of the Yews, a most welcome sight as I have not seen one in the garden for months. I had been worried because Billy had caught one in the spring and I had begun to fear we had lost our resident population, but it looks like there still ok. Good news.

North Cave Wetlands - Went on an afternoon visit again, and some signs of life are now coming back as autumn grows nearer and nearer. Indeed increased numbers of Pochard were seen today, with at least a dozen, as well as twelve Snipe, and two Common Sandpipers. A Ruddy duck also made an appearance, and a new reserve species for me was seen in the form of a Little Egret. I have now recorded 108 species at this reserve. Still some Sand Martin’s around, though outnumbered by Swallows. A jolly fine afternoon, and again we collected some gorgeous blackberries in the western brambles.

21st - Saw a few Swifts about today, possibly migrants passing over or perhaps I was too hasty the other day for suggesting our local ones had moved on (see 17th). Also observed today in the garden were a family of House Sparrows, an uncommon bird in our garden except during early summer.

22nd - A large flock of Lapwing’s in the harvested pea field this morning, though there were no gulls seen.

24th, Deepdale (Calliswold) - A good walk with Jenny and Dad in Deepdale, always an interesting and productive area. The un-grazed hillsides were covered in Harebell’s, and quite a few species of butterfly were seen on the wing, though nothing of any real note. A male Redstart was seen, a regular observation in this dale during the summer now, and again the local Buzzard was seen over the wood. A young female Roe deer was also seen, noticeably panicking as it sought an escape over the fence and into the safety of the wood. Lots of finches were in the game crop, mostly Goldfinches, and there were also a few Yellowhammer’s still in song from atop the Hawthorn scrublands. A number of leaf warblers heard and seen too.

26th - The Grey squirrels have begun eating the beech nuts, along with the crab apples and now ripening Haws.

28th, North Cave Wetlands - Visited in the afternoon again, though it was much quieter today compared to last time. Pochard numbers have increased further though, with about two dozen now, though the resident wildfowl of the reserve are actually still in eclipse. A Kingfisher was seen in the far north west lagoon, where the vast majority of the juvenile Great Crested Grebes have congregated. In the western fields a genuine Stock dove was seen, and along the western hedges families of Goldfinches were flittering and twittering as we walked by. However the most interesting news of this trip are the new plans to extend this reserve still further from the plans put forward a few months ago. When completed the reserve will be at least three times its current size, with a mixture of lagoons, deeper pools, & wet grassland. The final completion date is 2020 however, though the current phase of works should be completed in the next few years. Exciting and interesting times.

31st - Low cloud and murk today, with fog at first.

Huggatewold & wood - A pleasant wolds walk as we visited Huggate dykes, a feature which is now accessible with the ‘Open Access’ scheme. There we saw a Red Kite spooked out by our arrival. In the nearby fields the farmers were busy trying to get in as much of the Wheat as possible during this short settled spell, in what has been another difficult harvest due to wet weather. The Pig beans were also being harvested today. In the woods a groups of six to eight Bullfinches were seen, and a Marsh tit was also spotted. The beech trees of the wood are starting to show a hint of colour as the march of autumn continues its move southward. A fine morning.

Monthly Review
As the year turned things began to get moving again and harvest got well under way. Indeed this years harvest is proving to be a drawn out affair, with spells of unsettled weather delaying harvesting repeatedly, so that even here, despite the fact we haven’t suffered as bad as some areas of the country, the wheat harvest remains far from complete at the months conclusion. Another problem was the lack of any real heat this year, and the monthly high for August was a very modest 73 F. Amongst the birds warbler migration became apparent during the month, with increased numbers in the hedgerows and woods, and where Barley and Pea fields had been harvested they attracted large numbers of Gulls, Starlings, Lapwings, and even a few Oystercatchers.

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