Monday 6 April 2020

Lockdown Day 14 - Wild flowers and Oystercatchers

After some welcome overnight rain, the weather quickly cleared up this morning and so it was time for another cycle ride while I still can - due to some irresponsible behaviour by some there are warnings by the Government about tightening up the lockdown. Where I cycle, on minor country lanes, I see very few people and the lanes are wide enough to pass any that I do see with two metres or more separation. Getting out into the countryside and seeing wildlife and other nature is something that I find relaxing and enjoyable and coupling that with some exercise on my bicycle is an healthy way to spend some free time.

In the two weeks since the lockdown started, Spring is really become apparent, with blossom in the trees and hedgerows, birds displaying and making nests and flowers coming into bloom. The weather has warmed up a bit, but coming back to the house today was very hard going in the strong wind.

Not too far from where I live is Askham Bog. Whilst today I didn't venture into the reserve, as the paths are really too narrow to have safe separation, across the other side of the A64 from the reserve is an area of wildflowers, gorse and ponds.

In the space of a week since I last cycled past the cowslips (Primula veris) have come into flower. There are a number of locations in my area that have verges filled with cowslips

Also flowering now are Primroses (Primula vulgaris). Less common round my area but there were many groups of these lovely yellow flowers in this area.

This one took me a little while to identify as I am not sure it is natural to this part of the UK. It is a Grape Hyacinth and I suspect it is one of the introduced species that has escaped a garden at some point (Muscari armeniacum) rather than the native (Muscari neglectum) which I think is only found in East Anglia. Though I could be wrong and I am happy to be corrected by any botanist reading this!

And finally, the Oystercatchers! (Haematopus ostralegus) As I was cycling up Catterton Lane again today, this pair flew over and landed in the next field. They are skittish birds so I used the zoom lens on the camera to avoid getting too close. They started feeding in the ploughed field, probing the dirt with their long beaks for worms and other food. They breed in moorland areas of the UK, so they will have been using the Wharfe Valley as a migration route to the Pennines. While I was watching these birds, two lapwings starting displaying over the same field. Half a mile further on, two Skylarks were doing the same.

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