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Hartoft To Danby Beacon

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We were heading to Hartoft Rigg, a place where I know Crossbills are easy to see along with many other species including Siskin, Goldcrest and the occasional Goshawk. As we started to climb out of Cropton one bird stood out and that was Northern Wheatear, literally on every rock, post and fallen tree, they were everywhere. I have never seen so many Wheatear in one area albeit a large one.

I can remember when I used to have to go to Spurn Point or get very lucky on the east coast to see a Northern Wheatear and when you spotted one it was quite exciting. Yes I have led a very sheltered life and little things and all that! But that was true and now literally hundreds which have clearly bred. Hartoft Rigg is a very beautiful part of gods own country "Yorkshire" and when you stand there looking out over Rosedale valley and the forests that surround you it really does remind you of the natural beauty of our country.

And as you stand and pontificate, you may also forget your troubles and the fact you can hear the almost guaranteed Crossbills behind you, yes three of them chirping away saying hello I'm here, you came all this way to see me. And there they were, as always in the very tops of the tallest trees. Phil immediately picked up a Siskin and as we know Siskin are becoming increasingly hard to find, with the Latin name
Spinus spinus these beautiful birds would light up anyones day.

Sometimes Siskin are seen in quite large flocks, 100 were seen at Castle Howard relatively recently and 52 at Pocklington canal. These flocks are quite rare and localised and getting rarer and even more local as we systematically devour our arable land and farms.
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Above: We have my best efforts to photograph the Crossbills, the trees are very tall here and this is at the very top, that's my excuse and I'm definitely sticking to it.

Below: Phil soaking in the sun looking out over the Rosedale area probably letting go of life frustrations. Phil could also hear a Cuckoo and at the same time I was listening to Goldcrest and a whole army of Chiffchaff. The sounds from these birds was prolific and one day I may blog about the mental benefits of just sitting and listening to the natural world, especially on a day like this one.
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I watched this Coal Tit for quite some time gathering nesting material and cramming as much as possible into its beak. It kept dropping bits and it would fly and recapture the tiny bit then compose itself fly off and moments later return to the same spot. The process would start all over again.
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Above: Meadow pipit.
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"Breeding Male Northern Wheatear look like smaller Great Grey Shrike".
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On the moors between Hartoft and Danby Beacon we saw hundreds of Pipits, Northern Wheatear and Red Grouse. This particular Red Grouse was patrolling this wall and fence like it was the border between his world and ours.
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