Sunday, 12 June 2011

You'll Go Monster Mad For The Honey Buzzards

See how I changed that to avoid copyright issues with these guys.

Saturday I went with 2 mates to North Yorkshire and we had a couple of target species we wanted to see. Our first stop was for the Honey Buzzards at Wykeham Forest in North Yorkshire. We arrived at the vantage point overlooking the forest and a Honey Buzzard was already on show! It took us about 5 minutes but eventually we managed to pick it up. Just in time as well as minutes later it started to do its fascinating display flight. I have never seen anything quite like it. They remind me of a massive day loving Nightjar when they do the display flight; they clap their carpals against each other a few times in succession whilst slightly loosing height at the same time. They do this whilst flying fairly fast paced making it a truly amazing spectacle to observe. We enjoyed spectacular views of what we think was at least 2 males and 1 female. On no less than 3 occasions we had the male overhead. On 1 occasion he was right over my head and on another occasion we actually watched him look down with both eyes at the crowd! I can safely say these were the best views of Honey Buzzard I have ever had and the first decent views of adults I have ever had aswell.

 (Honey Buzzard - © Adam Williams)

 (Honey Buzzard - © Adam Williams)

(Honey Buzzard - © Adam Williams)

We headed off and just as we did it started to rain slightly but it wasn't to heavy and we joined a mini crowd standing and listening to Turtle Doves calling. We had at least 2 birds; one flew off right and it was a poor view. However one of the bird we had sitting in the top of a pine tree not obstructed for a couple of seconds. Turtle Doves are super birds and what a nice bonus!

From here it was a short 30 or so minute drive to a reserve called Fen Bog in the heather moorland of North Yorkshire. Our hopes of Hen Harrier were a bit more than low (none) but we weren't after that species, we had 2 targets; Whinchat and Large Heath butterfly. The butterfly is quite rare and Fen Bog is known as a good spot to see them. First we had a look around for some suitable vegetation and this was when we had a cracking Whinchat. Not a bird I see a lot of as they are a rare breeder in Durham and the well known site is about a 4 mile walk each way over heather moorland with no pathways. We then had to wait for the train to go past, I tried hard not to look so not to be accused of being a birdwatcher and a train spotter. But I love the engineering behind steam engines and the trains themselves so I stood back and admired as it went past with its passengers aboard. There was a break in the cloud and for about 15 minutes we had a break in the weather and we have lovely warm sunshine. So we checked an area of suitable habitat, we found 1, then 2, then we stopped counting! We must have had at least 4 Large Heaths and we had good views as we managed to see 2 of them on deck to study the underwing. Also we had 1 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and had my first chance to study the underwing of this species aswell; it showed well and sat still for a long time allowing us to enjoy it.

(Whinchat - © Adam Williams)

(Large Heath- © Adam Williams)

(Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - © Adam Williams)

A stop off at Saltholme RSPB gave one of my mates his first Spoonbills of the year with 3 showing well feeding. We then headed home but before I got home we had a Hobby fly across the A19 near Elwick in Durham! Superb! A county year tick and always a great bird to see in Durham. I hope this species continues to spread and become more prominent in Durham.

(Spoonbills- © Adam Williams)

A truly fantastic and memorable day with the highlights being the Honey Buzzards displaying and the Hobby.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

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