Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Forest and Sea Spectacular

First of all, I would like to apologise for the lack of posts recently.
On August 1st, my Mum and I went on a Yorkshire Coast Nature event called 'Forest and Sea Spectacular'. It was taken by Richard Baines, the lead tour guide at Yorkshire Coast Nature. Richard is a lovely man, always really friendly and willing to answer any questions. We went to the breathtaking Langdale Forest in the morning, and I was blown away by the number of bird species that we spotted. We saw some fantastic birds of prey, including a Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), 2 Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus), 4 Buzzards (Buteo buteo), a Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), and a Hobby (Falco subbuteo)! Both the Goshawk and the Hobby were firsts for me.

An image of the Northern Goshawk that I found on the Internet
Eurasian Hobby, again this picture was found on the Internet
I also spotted a Scorpion Fly (Panorpa communis), which are lovely insects that I am quite fond of. This insect can easily be identified by its tail, which it raises like a scorpion, hence the name. Despite its dangerous namesake, the tail has no stinger of any sort and is instead used primarily for courtship.
The bizarre Scorpion Fly
 We also saw 3 Common Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra), which was very exciting because I had never seen them before. They are so named because the bill overlaps at the tips. The males are red, but the females are brown-green. Their unique bill allows them to get to pine seeds inside pinecones.

A male Common Crossbill

In the afternoon, we went to Staithes, a small fishing village near Whitby. From there we went out on a boat with a large amount of chum (very smelly leftover bits of fish). Bit by bit, we through the chum overboard to attract seabirds. We saw several Fulmars (Fulmaris glacialis), Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus), and a few Gannets (Morus bassanus).

A Fulmar, note its strange 'tube nose'

My favourite seabird that we saw was the Great Skua (Stercorarius skua), an impressive, large bird with dark plumage. They are the pirates of the seabird world, forcing other birds to give up their meals. They will take on birds as large as Gannets, even attacking and killing smaller sea birds such as Puffins (Fratercula arctica)!

 A Great Skua

The skipper was very kind and allowed me to have a go at actually sailing the boat! We also checked 2 lobster pots, and I had the opportunity to hold a lobster.
I had a really good time, and I would highly recommend going on a Yorkshire Coast Nature tour.

Until next time, keep on the wild side!

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