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birdwatching in Yorkshire and beyond.

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It's 7 am and I'm on the road towards Westerdale in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. With me I have my daughter Hannah, we are sat in the car looking at these very vulnerable Lapwing chicks. These beautiful little pieces of life have little idea of the struggle to survive that is ahead of them.

The parents of this chick are only a few metres away but they are very clearly in the view of some Black Headed Gulls hovering just above. Only a few seconds from being taken by the very clever Gulls and the Lapwing parents are up in the air chasing them away, I'm sure that this must be an hourly occurrence. In the background we can hear Curlew and one of several cuckoos we have heard so far.

I have never heard three completely separate cuckoos in any place in my birdwatching history. Maybe I have just led a very sheltered life. Hannah who is extremely keen and very willing to learn birdwatcher is very excited at all the sights and sounds going on around her, she is in heaven.
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Take a look at the size of the foot on this chick and how disproportionately large the foot is at this stage in its life.

This bird will not fall over with feet like that.
Meadow pipit are one of our most common moorland birds but they never cease to amaze me. No matter where you are on the moor there is always more Meadow pipit watching you, than you watching them, they are one of the most widespread of all the birds in the UK holding in excess of 1.9 million territory's (Source: BTO) However there has been a very steady decline in populations since 1994 up to 2019. ( al)
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Take a look at the image below and think about what you can see. Can you see anything at all other than the moorland bracken? If I hadn't seen it fly in, I most certainly would not have seen that I think is a daytime flying Moth called a Bordered White. Can you see the antennae waving around in the wind? No! They are very clear to see.
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Perhaps the picture below makes the moth a little easier to see. If I am totally wrong about the species please let me know, I would be very grateful for correction and information as there are several species that look quite similar. All entomologists with an opinion welcome. All the information that I gather on moths and butterflies comes from the excellent butterfly conservation website. if you haven't been on this website take a look.
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At the point where the below photograph was taken we could very clearly hear a corncrake, a Cuckoo and a Whimbrel. Now I get very excited at Corncrake but to hear a Whimbrel at the same time! This is all too much. We were joined at this point by the gamekeeper Michael who was interested in what we were doing, we had a chat about the obvious Corncrake screaming away in the background and about birds in general, he told me about his son Robbie who was a very keen birdwatcher and he is only five years old. Robbie is desperate to see a Bullfinch and any kind of Woodpecker in his garden, I hope you get your wish Robbie, good luck.
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At this point I need to apologise for the poor quality of the photographs in this blog. The heat haze was causing havoc with the focusing on the camera. Above, we have a photograph of a flying whimbrel and in my opinion one of our most beautiful birds. Several thousand birds pass through in April and May and if we are luck we get to see a few, like the one above.

For the past few years Whimbrel have visited the excellent Lower Derwent Valley just south of York and this is my usual haunt to see them but with the lockdown for Covid-19 I have not visited recently.
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Above we have a few shots of one of our most iconic visitors, the wheatear.
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Above: Curlew, I can remember a time when if you visited the uplands of Yorkshire or even the lowlands you would see many many curlew and now you only see a few.
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Above: Spotted Flycatcher.

Below: Stonechat.
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