Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

It was a new day yesterday…

Returning to an empty nest

The sudden shock of my alarm clock waking me at 3:30 am is tough; but the promise of some exquisite dawn light and the opportunity of taking some wonderful images spurs me onwards down the stairs. A couple of espresso coffees later and I am ready to greet a new day. The last of the late night revellers are winding their way home as I drive through Driffield and out into the countryside. A short walk through the dew-soaked grass soaks my boots but that wonderful spring aroma of hawthorn blossom and the silent flight of a barn owl prepares me for sunrise. The path is littered with sleepy buttercups, purple bugle and tall cow-parsley.

The egg bandit

I can hear the calls of the black-headed gulls long before I arrive at my destination. They appear to have won the battle for the occupation of the two tern rafts, leaving a solitary tern to fly from one side of the lake to another with a small fish in its beak, waiting for a chance to entice a female with its present. A gull nest by the side of the lake is raided by one of the local crows and I manage to capture the moment complete with the punctured egg’s contents spilling onto the grass. The local canada and greylag geese are doing well with the adults herding the chicks with flaps of their wings.

Roebuck sillouhette

Canada goose and goslings

A pair of roe deer wander idly across the a narrow spit of land between the two lakes silhouetted by the golden glow of the pre-dawn light. I watch as the morning mist swirls across the surface of the lake and glows fire-red in the light of rising sun. A pair of linnets have made a nest just yards from the hide and I watch with fascination as they forage for food and wipe their dirty short beaks on dry stalks to clean them before embarking on their next trip. Reed warblers flit from stalk to stalk, pulling on the silken spider silk and reeling in their prey like an expert fisherman.

Linnet female

Male Linnet perched

Reed Warbler

Back-lit Barn Owl

All too soon the explosion of colour disappears and the strong sun-light evaporates the mist and the harsh light makes me squint and cover my eyes with my hand. A barn owls makes one more flight before returning to its roost. The cormorants arrive one-by-one muttering to each other in their deep guttural voices. After five hours of observation and photography I’m feeling tired and hungry so I wind my way home via the farm-shop to a few hours of catch-up sleep.

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