Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

Archive for the tag “Kestrel”

Halcyon days and short nights

Badger emerging from sett

A few weeks ago, my young friend and gifted wildlife photographer Rory Selvey, invited me along to a well-hidden badger sett in the heart of the Yorkshire Wolds. We sat there together with his mum and grandmother in the fading light waiting for a badger to appear. We spoke to each other in hushed tones as we watched and waited for these beautiful creatures to appear. After about an hour, a badger poked its head above the tall nettles, sniffed the air and swiftly disappeared. That was it. The moment was all too brief and neither of us dared to press the shutter to capture the moment as we didn’t wish to alert the creature and spoil the moment for each other.

A couple of nights later I returned to the sett alone. Once again, I waited for an hour or so and the inevitable happened. A badger appeared, sniffed the air and promptly disappeared. This time I did click the shutter and got two reasonable exposures. I felt guilty that Rory wasn’t there too and I’d like to thank him for sharing the location with me. I decided to leave them in peace and have not returned. I do hope they have a long and happy life!

Common Tern panorama

Back at the ranch, the local wildlife at Tophill Low appears to be flourishing. The common terns have made a temporary peace treaty with the black-headed gulls and are now sharing one of the floating rafts. The terns are always fun to photograph as they reel, spin and dive into the lake for a small fish before returning to the raft.

Common tern turn

I’ve also been fortunate enough to spot a fox cub or two as they practice their hunting skills amongst the tall grass and nettles.

Fox cub running

Young Fox cub

A pair of Roe deer I’ve been observing for a few months are both looking healthy, resplendent in their new summer coats.

Roebuck - spring evening

Roebuck sillouhette

The local raptors are busy as well and I have been lucky to get some clear photographs of Barn owl, kestrel and yesterday evening, a splendid male sparrowhawk.

Barn Owl

Kestrel perched

Sparrowhawk - male on willow

I’ve also had fun watching the whitethroats and sedge warblers collecting food to feed their respective families.

Whitethroat with blue damselfly

Sedge warbler with spider

Last but not least, several kingfishers are taking advantage of the warmer weather and delighting everyone with their colourful presence. Richard Hampshire (the local warden at Tophill Low) even constructed a humorous perch over at North Marsh which has become particularly popular venue for kingfishers and photographers alike.

Kingfisher toss

I watched and photographed this beautiful male kingfisher attempting to dismantle Richard’s handiwork…

Kingfisher vandal

Well, that’s it for now. I’m off to the Norfolk Broads for a few days next weekend to capture some of their wildlife residents. Meanwhile, please watch this space for a very special posting on Wednesday 26 June!


Dancing on ice

Well the thaw may be occurring, but the marshes and reservoirs at Tophill Low still remain frozen. I have just spent an enjoyable weekend photographing the wildlife in and around North Marsh. Saturday was a beautiful day; cold and very still. On arriving at the hide just after dawn, I was immediately rewarded by the presence of a fox as it strolled across the frozen lake Pheasants and Roe Deer were present too and the local raptors were also out in numbers. Martin Hodges turned up just after lunch and helped me identify several species including a Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and a Common Buzzard.

The light was perfect and the fauna, very co-operative. I even got a glimpse of a Kingfisher as it hurtled by on its journey to find some unfrozen water.

Sunday was not quite so bright but still was a beautifully calm day with just a hint of a breeze from the north-west. I was captivated by the site of three Roe Deer as they made their way around the perimeter of the frozen lagoon. I didn’t believe that the ice would support their weight as they struggled to stay upright—shades of Bambi, the wobbly legged fawn, came to mind.

At around 9:30, a Bittern flew over the hide and I managed to get just one frame of it in flight as it headed south along the bank of the River Hull. During the afternoon, I was joined by fellow enthusiast Jonathan Roe from Beverley. Always nice to have good company on a very quiet weekend. Warden, Richard Hampshire was taking a small group (of one) around the reserve on a mammal hunt. His group disturbed three Roe Deer and they ran southwards along the top of the dyke. The light was fading fast but I did manage to get one rather impressionistic image of a deer as it ran at full speed through the snow.

Well, I’m migrating east to Hungary next weekend for a week—so this will be my last post until Christmas day. Hopefully, I will have a few Eagle photographs to share, if I make it back before the 25th.

Just in case, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and maybe Santa will bring you that new lens or camera. 😉

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