Having been a keen but novice bird watcher since I was a boy I was over the moon when I received as a Christmas present from Liz, a gift voucher for a day out with Yorkshire Coast Nature. The trip I eventually chose -there being such a variety on offer- was excitingly known as a ‘safari’. It was a combination of birding and fauna observation in Dalby Forest and a sea trip with Real Staithes. Having recently seen Spring Watch Yorkshire Coast I couldn’t wait to get out and see for myself!
18th April 2015 and a great start to the day, heard my first cuckoo of the year here at Crag House Farm.
Our party of 6 led by Richard Baines our guide from Yorkshire Coast Nature, met up at Seamer railway Station at 8.30 and we moved off immediately to Deer Dale in Langdale Forest just north west of Hackness part of the Great Yorkshire Forest. A Tree Pipit was soon sighted followed quickly by a Linnet both of which I had seen before but was not sure of the identification until confirmed by members of our group. A Jay was easily recognisable but the other bird I could hear I did not recognise, Richard said it was a Chiffchaff, he explained that when birding in woodland the ratio between hearing and sighting a bird was about 80-20 and therefore maybe more important to learn how to identify birds by song and ‘tone’ rather than sight as highlighted by BBC Radio 4 Today Programme ‘Tweet of the Day’.
We moved down from the mainly coniferous forest to a small quiet stream, a tributary of the River Derwent, we noted that a lot of cherry blossom trees where in full flower. Here we saw Yellow Wagtails, Swallows, House Martins and my first definite confirmed sighting of a Goshawk high up and travelling very fast.
Lunch and lovely cake at the The Everley Country House Cafe gave me the opportunity to meet my fellow Birders. A couple from Leeds who were first timers like me had come with a friend who was an old hand and knew his stuff. The other two gentlemen had travelled from Beverley and were beginners. Richards quiet helpful manner put us all at ease making us feel comfortable with our varying degrees of experience.
After lunch we picked up bait at the Sea Life centre Scarborough then travelled north past Whitby to Staithes for the second part of the adventure. We were met by Sean and Tricia of Real Staithes and boarded their boat ‘All my Sons’. We hadn’t gone very far out from the spectacular cliffs before I understood why we had come out to sea with bait. Fulmar, Great Black Gulls, Guillemots were so close to the boat we felt we could touch them, a photographer’s dream. A seal was spotted eating something, Sean quickly manoeuvred his boat to the place and we scooped out what was left by way of a hollowed out Monkfish! We pulled up lobster pots (another first for me) returning some females with eggs back to the sea for another day because when measured they were found to be too small and immature.
We docked safely back in Staithes and Liz was there to meet us and keen to hear all about the day. It was decided that we should retire to the Cod and Lobster for a pint and fish and chips for me and fish pie for Liz while I told the story of the days exploits. I had a fantastic trip and can highly recommend Yorkshire Coast Nature. It was fun, fascinating and an informative day, I am now angling for another trip out for my birthday present next month!