It was very rewarding to see the Pen in the Haven tucking away a tiny newly hatched cygnet. On the river there were two Canada Goose families and the school of young Greylags. The lower path was still impassable at the Irish Bridge ( this may need some investigation). The Little Ringed Plover was on its nest while the other bird flew around. Warblers were fairly scarce and there was not a sign of the Swifts or the Cuckoo. SC/AE
The addition of fresh gravel and raking over the tern platforms took place on Wednesday afternoon 6th April after poor weather caused the postponement from 4th April.
Although the day was bright and sunny there was still a fairly fresh south-westerly breeze as Pete Smith accompanied by Dave Gartside and Rob Woodward set about the launch of our new boat on the south-eastern side of the Deep Water Pit, watched from a safe distance by Pam, Archie, Darren and Alan.
Since Pete could not see where he was going, Dave stood at the water’s edge giving hand signals like a policeman on point duty. In spite of this, Pete finally reached the tern platform in the teeth of the breeze. Observers on the bank top could see that he was not able to maintain contact with the platform and that he was soon back on the shore, quicker than he went. After a discussion, Dave appealed to the watchers for a, preferably, small and lightweight volunteer to go out with Pete on a second attempt. He had hardly finished speaking when Archie was over the fence like a two-year old.
Owing to certain dimensional problems it was found that it was necessary to row the boat backwards and to tie the oars to the rollocks with gaffer tape to give them some chance of a safe return. Upon reaching the platform disaster was narrowly averted when both of the crew leaned to one side to hold on to it, causing a shift to that side of the two sacks of gravel. There was only about a centimetre of freeboard between them and an unplanned bath!
The attention to the platforms was completed and it was noted that the second platform seemed to have dragged it’s anchor which was probably the cause of the slope. The three Common Terns which had already arrived from Africa were left in peace to resume their quarrel over possession with the Black-headed Gulls and the Cormorants.
Finally there was a discussion about the report, from the boat crew, concerning some knocking sounds on the bottom of the boat. This remains a mystery and it was suggested that further investigation of the Deep Water Pit was required.
During the last few days many migrant species have been returning to the lagoons and helped to provide a quite exciting morning’s watching in very pleasant bright weather this morning. Amongst others, the Sand Martins are now present in considerable numbers on the river bank. Willow Warblers were noted in several locations, as were Chiffchaffs and one or two Blackcaps. A single Reed Warbler was heard in the Deep Pit and a Whitethroat in the brambles on the Slurry Lagoon. The highlight of the morning was a Wheatear, which perched very close on fence posts, and the close second was the appearance of three Buzzards, which displayed well, including an aerial fight. The Cetti’s Warbler was in good voice also.
Meanwhile two Common Terns were struggling with Black-headed Gulls for space on the tern platform.
Butterflies, including Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, and Red Admiral were noted and the Blackthorn Blossom was a sight to see (and smell). A Yellow Wagtail was also seen over the Large Gravel Pit and six Shelduck flew into the Slurry Lagoon.
The Barn Owl was again seen, quite close at times, hunting in the gravel pit area in the late afternoon. Earlier, a Little Egret was seen feeding in the Ouse Dyke near the footbridge and a Peregrine was seen on an adjacent pylon. AE.PS.
This afternoon a Peregrine spent about 5 minutes perched on the pylon nearest the Small Gravel Pit before flying off in a northerley direction. Two Little Egrets and a Heron were flushed from the Dyke by a passer-by. AE
Leaving the willow walk it was noticed that there were many gulls circling over the slurry,the oil terminal and the railway land. Upon walking a few metres along the railwayside path many large dragonflies were seen darting rapidly here and there in a large swarm. In the next 50 metres or so it was estimated that there were approximately 100 dragonflies to be seen around eye-level. They looked like Migrant Hawkers and it is probable that the gulls were hunting them. AE
This afternoon at least three Cuckoos were recorded on and around the sight. At the bottom of the ‘grand staircase’ on the riverside bank a small mammal was seen to cross a patch of bare earth and disappear down a hole under a plant. After some discussion it was decided that it was most likely a Wood Mouse, otherwise known as a Long-tailed Field Mouse . AE + PS.
This afternoon a Banded Demoiselle was on riverside vegetation near the railway arch while just under the arch was an adult Grey Wagtail with two juveniles on the gravel path. AE.
This morning a Peregrine Falcon flew over and perched on the nearby electricity pylon for a few minutes before moving to the next pylon to the north-east. A Common Sandpiper flew round the Slurry Lagoon and a Little Ringed Plover was displaying over the Slurry.
In the early afternoon one Common Tern appeared on the newly recommissioned Tern Platforms. One Swift and two House Martins were seen and a Redstart was heard alarm calling. A Tawny Owl was observed in the willow tree. RW.
Later two Avocets settled on the Slurry Lagoon and a male Marsh Harrier flew through. PS. RW.
Towards the end of the Spring Patchwatch today much excitement was caused by the flight of a Hobby over the lagoons.
Other noteable species amongst the 74 seen during the day were :-
Two Little Egrets, Golden Plover, two Cuckoos, Little Ringed Plover, Lesser Whitethroat and Cetti’s Warbler.