Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

Goodbye Fox, Hello Terns

Fox cub face

I’m happy to report that the two fox cubs I’ve been observing for the past several weeks are doing well. They have both gained their independence and are now exploring their new territory. Recent rain and bright sunshine has tripled the size of the vegetation making it extremely difficult to get a reasonable photograph. So I will leave them in peace and wish them well.

Well, when one door closes, another opens. I have spent the past couple of days over at the Tophill Low marshes. I must admit that I’m not a great fan of gulls. Their endless raucous calling is not sweet music to my ears. However, the graceful flight and the rather less objectionable voice of the Common Tern is at least, bearable. The breeding season for the gulls and wildfowl is well underway and it has been fun watching the mating displays and territorial battles.

One particular pair of Common Terns caught my attention. Mating over, the male bird flew off to find its partner a fish. This happened several times, on each occasion the female accepting the gift of a small fish. Just before sunset, the male bird returned once more with a plump looking fish but despite several attempts, the female declined the offer and the male Tern gave up and swallowed the meal. Here’s a few photographs that illustrate some aspects of their courtship behaviour…

Common Terns-mating

Common Tern-with fish_1

Common-Tern with fish_2

Common Terns-sharing

The local Shelducks have been active too. Several pairs have been fighting over territory, both with their own species and with the Black-headed gulls. Lots of splashing and wing flapping and the occasional nip to the rear of their rivals…



I was very lucky to see what I believe to be three Temminck’s Stints on Sunday evening. Bird identification is one of my weaker points. So I have a call out to the warden, Richard Hampshire to verify my sighting. Richard has forgotten more about birds & wildlife than I shall ever know, so I await his expert opinion. Anyway, three birds flew in together and stayed for about thirty minutes. These birds are very small, about six inches long in old money, so I apologise now for the quality of the photograph. [Edit – Richard has just informed me that this bird is a Common sandpiper — now I feel a right fool! Just goes to show that you’re not to trust anything I say when it comes to bird identification!]

Elsewhere on the reserve, I was delighted to see a pair of Great Crested Grebes pay a brief but welcome visit. I even managed to get a passable flight shot despite the dense, early morning mist…

Great Crested Grebe - pair

Great Crested Grebe - in flight

A pair of local Roe Deer also put in an appearance on that misty dawn morning…

Roe deer - dawn mist

I must confess that in the right light, I cannot resist taking a picture of a Swan. This one was in full attack mode with the golden evening light picking up the details of its fine white plumage.

Mute Swan-at sunset

Finally, don’t forget to click on an image to see a larger version. Before I return to my boring but essential domestic duties I will leave you with one of my recent humorous images that I must admit, always makes me smile. The flying rabbit!

Flying rabbit


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3 thoughts on “Goodbye Fox, Hello Terns

  1. Striking fox, and tack sharp. Love the rabbit/hare as well. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. Mandy on said:

    A very fine set of photo’s Tony. I especially love the deer in the mist and the flying rabbit, and the fox is superb.

  3. Hi Tony

    More great shots. When are we meeting up?? If you would like too and have the time of course.

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