It’s the second week in September and I’m looking after a cattery and smallholding at Hillam, near Selby. The weather has deteriorated since I arrived but I managed to get a few days out to look at the wildlife. A trip to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s site at Wheldrake Ings was educational but, otherwise, a waste of time. Educational in the sense that I discovered the best time to go is in the winter when hundreds of water birds arrive to take advantage of the flooded plains, followed by the spring when breeding activity and courtship displays make for a great show. The worst time to go, it seems, is now. In fact, I just looked at the YWT website which promises – ‘at times in the centre of Wheldrake Ings, it can be so peaceful and remote that you feel like the only person on earth.’ Well, on Tuesday, this week, I was. I saw nothing and nobody of interest and it was cold, wet and windy.
I had better fortune at RSPB’s Fairburn Ings where from the Pickup hide, I saw a willow tit, practically non-existent around my home, tree sparrows, greenfinches, goldfinch, a sparrowhawk, and several marsh harriers. At the Kingfisher hide, my long wait resulted in a couple of sightings on Thursday and no less than six sightings in the space of two hours on Friday. While I was there, and standing still and alone, I caught sight of a weasel coming from behind me. He wandered around my feet for a short while and then scurried under the screen.
Back at Hillam, there is a huge flock of starlings nesting in bamboo in the garden and this barn swallow’s nest in a chicken shed, with young just about ready to leave. Presumably, the good weather has prompted a late brood. I’m hoping they flit before I leave so I can, maybe, get some shots of them feeding.