Potteric Carr. Oct 27th 2017

I’ve had a “fits and starts” kind of relationship with this blog recently if truth be told.  This latest start was stimulated by a reminder that my subscription is due in a month or so, and that I shall have to pay £85 if I’m going to continue.  Pause for thought!

Actually I’d quite like to keep it going, although doing so means another shift of emphasis, albeit still with a leaning towards photography, and I guess that this posting is a sort of trial ….. do I really want to make the effort?  Is it the most appropriate way of keeping some sort of diary / journal?  Will anyone else read it?  Does it matter?  In the end of course, it doesn’t matter at all (although interestingly an old friend has recently made contact via the website, presumably after “googling” me and thus stumbling across the blog, and maybe that answers the question!)

The shift in photographic interest then is towards wildlife, and particularly birds.  Much of our activity in this regard takes place at several local wildlife reserves, especially Potteric Carr, run by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust on the southern edge of Doncaster.  It’s an interesting and pleasant place to be – and they serve a decent cup of coffee!  I’ll add a few images each time, and maybe I’ll try (as much as anything else for my own education) to include some “notes” on any species of particular interest – it should be said that I have a smallish repertoire here and so species that I regard as new and interesting will no doubt seem very ordinary to more experienced avian watchers.

Our most recent visit was back in October (27.10.17), and amongst the usual suspects, we came across three species new to us:

Golden Plover:  Pluvialis Apricaria

Snipe:  Gallinago Gallinago

Black Tern:Chlidonias Niger

The Golden Plover were in amongst the great flock of Lapwing that seem to be almost a permanent fixture, seen from the West Scrape hide.  I confess that it was a guy with a scope that pointed them out, and it was only in developing the photographs that I realised how many of them (the plover that is) there were, standing mostly fairly still in the midst of the commotion of Lapwing, all facing upwind of course.

They seem to be reasonably plentiful; the RSPB handbook suggests 22000 breeding pairs in the UK with possibly in excess of 300,000 individuals here in the winter.  There is some decline in the breeding population though, attributed to the all too familiar problem of loss of habitat.  I’m not sure whether those that we saw are resident or winter visitors …. Time will tell, I guess.

Snipe are secretive, but in fact again reasonably plentiful.  They are though also in decline and for much the same reason.  They have a liking for wet grasslands, fens and bogs and as these have increasingly been drained for agriculture so the numbers breeding have reduced, and a high proportion of breeding Snipe is found on nature reserves.

In addition to the “locals” RSPB suggests that a million or more migrate from Iceland, the Faroes, Germany, Russia and Scandinavia and winter here, so worth keeping an eye open for in the next few months.

The Black Tern caused quite a stir at Potteric, and was spoken of in reverential terms in several hides.  We finally got to see it from the Duchess hide and following some sightings in flight, it eventually settled where I was able to make a photograph which is at least clear enough for positive identification.  It is something of a rarity, there being no breeding pairs in the UK, and their established migration routes being further to the East.  RSPB says that “huge numbers gather on some European and African estuaries”.  Not rare then, but rarely here!

A good and satisfying visit all told ….. and a few pictures follow.


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RSPB Old Moor. 22nd February 2017

This is a place that we’ve visited a good few times now since moving to Leeds, and which is only about 45 minutes away down the M1.  I guess that like many such sites in West and South Yorkshire this was an industrial area, maybe open cast mining, which has become a quite wonderful centre for fresh air breathing and wildlife watching.

We’ve not seen it in quite this mood before though!  There’s a storm called Doris – yes really! – developing to the West of us and it’s due to clobber Yorkshire tomorrow, and today seemed to be a sort of precursor.  Bright and breezy doesn’t quite tell it – it was blowing the proverbial “hoolley”, which meant that many of the birds were hunkered down, but the reedbeds and indeed the surface of the water were quite spectacular in their movement.  Some of the still images point to that – I’ll try to post a video which makes it much clearer!

I do enjoy this place, wherever the weather.  They serve a good cup of coffee and decent food in the cafe, the environment is very visitor friendly being well signed and well pathed and the visitors seem to have a shared sense of enjoying the place and the experience.  There is a sort of hierarchy (perhaps only in my imagination in truth) which is based on the length of camera lenses and the casual shoulder carrying of ‘scopes on tripods, which can be just a touch intimidating.  In truth though I’ve never found an “expert” here unwilling to share their expertise, and generally in a non-patronising way!

So we were glad to be there.  In the midst of all that’s going on in our world today there’s a real refreshment “blowing in the wind” in places like this, which makes them resources beyond price.

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