Whitby Harbour, October 2018

A day out may not involve wildlife-watching, not as a specific goal. But that doesn’t mean treats cannot be found, especially with once-wild species increasingly urbanised.

A line of Cormorants

I have, I’m quite sure, mentioned before that Turnstones are among my favourite birds. They have lovely cryptic plumage that allows them to blend in perfectly on rocky, seaweed-strewn shores. You can be walking along and suddenly realise 40 or 50 of them are lurking nearby.


But over the past few years they have been taking to cleaning up around harbours, trotting along avoiding human feet, gathering the easy food sources we leave behind. The benefit for us watchers is we can get amazing, close-up views of this beautiful little wader.

On Whitby West Pier there was a group of 5 that were clearly used to being fed every afternoon by the man in the lighthouse, who came out and scattered the crumbs of his lunch. The Turnstones grabbed a crumb, then scurried off to a hidden spot under benches where they could eat without fear of the gulls. Then back for another bite.

After eating their fill, they settled down on the pier wall, and had no issues with me walking up to them, no more than a metre or two away, and taking as many photos as I wanted.

It wasn’t just the Turnstones. On the beach, with another group of Turnstones, were a couple of delightful little Purple Sandpiper. There were also quite a few Oystercatcher, sadly like Redcar they were often being disturbed by inconsiderate dog owners.

Along the East Pier, there were numerous cormorants sitting on the railings. The far wooden section of the East Pier is cut-off at the moment, and this isolation makes it a safe space for the birds.

It wasn’t just birds; in the harbour a Common Seal briefly appeared, before disappearing out to sea. Sadly too quick for me.

There are plenty of signs asking us not to feed the gulls, and this is sensible. But I never like to see a bird demonised, so let’s end on a dramatic image of a Herring Gull.

Or should we have some more Turnstones? Yeah, just one more photo…

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An unusual bug, and the value of recording

Wandering my garden on Sunday afternoon, I spied a striking red and black bug on one of the plants. It wasn’t something I recognised, so I grabbed a photo to try identify it. From there, it got exciting… Continue reading

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Save Askham Bog – Get involved

There are plenty of great examples of how conservation and development can work well together. But at other times, it can seem like nobody is ever really listening. Here in York a developer has expressed the intent to build 500 houses on Greenbelt land adjacent to Askham Bog. Again.

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On Redcar Beach… and a dog rant

After the initial jaunt to South Gare, I headed down to the beach at Redcar, stopping in a carpark that was home to far more gulls and Starlings than cars. My goal was twofold; eat my lunch and see if any more birds were around. Continue reading

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South Gare and a Pomarine Skua

It’s fair to say that if you mention the mouth of the Tees to most people, “birding hotspot” is not their first thought. The imposing industrial plants that flank the river instead suggest chemicals and pollution. Yet the reality is very different and at South Gare seabirds and waders are numerous. Continue reading

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Dragonflies on the Foss

One great thing about this time of year is that there are plenty of dragonflies around, even given the limited water on many sites. A Sunday stroll revealed plenty hunting over the local river, the Foss. Continue reading

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Wheldrake Ings, September 2018

As it was a lovely evening, I decided to have a walk around Wheldrake Ings. Unfortunately what I’d not really appreciated was just how much the recent drought had depleted the pool where the waders usually hang out. Continue reading

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30 Days Wild – Day 8 – Nature run

A very quick post to mark Day 8. I got up, had a run along the Foss listening to the sounds of birds singing and calling, in alarm, for territory, for food. It was beautiful. I recommend it!

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30 Days Wild – Day 7 – Sunset over Wheldrake Ings

As it was a glorious evening, I decided to go have a couple of hours wandering round Wheldrake Ings. I hoped I might get lucky and spot a barn owl. We’ll see how that worked out later. Continue reading

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30 Days Wild – Days 4-6 – Fruitless vole hunts

One thing I have been meaning to do, and running out of time for, is a formal water vole survey of the section of the River Foss that I tend to walk. It has to be done by the 15th June. Continue reading

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