Heslington Tilmire

Back in March I had a wander around Heslington Tilmire as there had been a Great Grey Shrike in the area. Sadly we were too late for that. But there was plenty more to see.

The location of the Tilmire

The location of the Tilmire

The tilmire is a historic area for open grazing with, as the ‘mire’ part suggests, a rather boggy element. The minute we pulled up we spotted kestrel and sparrowhawk in the air, and soon a mewing buzzard was overhead too.





The hedgerow was full of small birds, most of which were being very relaxed about our present, but so active amongst the trees and bushes as to defy photography! The horde of chiffchaff that had recently arrived were particularly noisy and flitting about happily, but hard to catch:

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCThere were also plenty of long-tailed tits, often sitting just feet away, and a treecreeper too, though as this blurry image shows, again hard to get a hold on:

SONY DSCYork is fortunate to have good populations of the otherwise threatened Tree Sparrow around and about, and this was no exception.

SONY DSCEasily distinguished by that pure chestnut brown cap. I also noticed their ‘chirp’ is a slightly different pitch to the House Sparrow, an observation that has never occurred to me before.

The final surprise of the trip didn’t come till I was home and looking at these photos. Sometimes you get back, you are passing over some images, and you realise what you photographed wasn’t what you thought. Sure enough this time, one of many shots I tried of the chiffchaffs was something else entirely:

SONY DSCThe big eye tells us this is a bird used to dark, in this case dense forests. It’s our smallest bird, the goldcrest. Didn’t spot it at the time (though I had heard them), but a good illustration of why you should always check through any pictures you took.

On the way back there was one quick glimpse of something that seemed ususual. There were two of us, and we both later admitted we’d thought the same thing: Hen Harrier. But with such a fleeting glimpse I won’t be counting it for the year!

There’ll be a little pause in the blogposts for a few days as I’m off for some peace and quiet on the Northumbrian coast, but hopefully there’ll be stuff to talk about from that trip too.


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I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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