Saturday, 1 September 2012

A Disappointing Start, but an Enjoyable Ending

The weather was forecast to be fine and sunny yesterday, so I decided to take myself off to the north of the region to a site I had not visited before – Filey Dams. The reserve has a reputation as a bit of a hotspot during the return migration period, and as we had had fairly strong north to north-easterlies for the past day or so, I was hoping for something special.
How disappointed was I? When I arrived it was quite cool and the reserve was occupied only by the usual residents – Greylags, Mallard, Mute Swans, a variety of gulls etc. No waders, and only one visiting passerine in the tree next to the hide – a female Blackcap. There were frequent drop-ins from Swallows and some Sand Martins, but otherwise diddly-squat. Opportunities for photos were limited to some moorhen and odd birds at the feeding table. There was a very brief glimpse of a fox, but it had clearly already eaten as it laid down behind some tall grass for a sleep, and was not seen again.

The word was that Filey Brigg was just as quiet, so I decided to relocate to Bempton Cliffs for the afternoon. Unfortunately things weren’t much different there. Yes the cliffs were alive with Gannets, Fulmar, and Herring Gulls, but the rest of the reserve was very quiet. I did spot a second fox near the old RAF watch station, but otherwise I only saw a few Tree Sparrows and Chaffinch. So I settled down to watch the Gannets and Fulmars.

Fulmar - up close

Fulmar - effortless
The interesting thing about the Gannet colony was that even at this late stage of the season things seemed a bit mixed up. There were young birds flying and practicing their landings; young on the cliffs, some still covered in down; adult birds still courting and mating; and even one bird bringing nesting material back to a mate. Weird!

Gannet-sex - a precarious exercise

"Honey, I'm home..."

One of the last fluffy chicks

Must be a late starter

Juvenile practicing with new skills

Although the day had had a disappointing start, I'm glad I went over to Bempton. Watching and photgraphing the Gannets and Fulmars was something I hadn't done for a while, but found it very enjoyable and a good test for the new camera.

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