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Saturday, 21 March 2015

Filey Dams - on 12th March, 2015

It's been a long while (nearly three weeks!), since my last post, and this is partly because my wife (Lindsay) and I had a much-needed break for just over a week, based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

On one of those days, Lindsay had a day enjoying a 'stained glass' workshop. She was quite concerned that I'd be left on my own, but I assured her that I'd probably find something to while away the time!

As it was sunny, there was no contest - I headed off to one of my favourite bird-watching locations in the area, and that is Filey Dams.

Filey Dams is quite a small reserve, accessed by driving to the end of a modern housing estate on the outskirts of Filey. It is managed by the Filey Bird Observatory & Group (FBOG), and has two relatively small hides. 

I'd been to the Dams in August, 2013 during a lone week based in Scarborough. The birders there are a very friendly group, and there was plenty of bird action to keep me amused too. I was, however, unsure as to what I might find during this March visit.

The first thing I noticed was a brand new Barn Owl box, probably only about 100 metres from the original box (still extant) that I'd enjoyed watching a Barn Owl emerge from on my previous visit. This new box was much closer to the hide than the old one. I was told that a Barn Owl had been investigating it recently, but did not seem to be in residence.

On my previous visit, most of the action had been at East Pool Hide, with plenty of waders giving good views. However, this time round, Main Hide (less than a stone's throw from the car park) provided most of the entertainment. Whilst nothing astounding, or even unusual, was seen, there were some good photo opportunities.

 It was gratifying to see that there is still a healthy population of Tree Sparrow here - a species that seems to be in decline in my own area.

Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) - Filey Dams
In the same area, to the left of Main Hide, where the Tree Sparrows were showing, Reed Bunting were also showing well. I spent quite some time photographing these. I only saw winter plumaged males.

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) (male) - Filey Dams
Out on the water, in front of Main Hide, Little Grebe, Pochard, and Gadwall gave reasonable photographic opportunities.

Pochard (Aythya ferina) (male) + Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - Filey Dams

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - Filey Dams
Gadwall (Anus strepera) (female + male) - Filey Dams
Gadwall (Anus strepera) (male) - Filey Dams
Greylag Geese were resting on the grass in front of Main Hide, but they did take to the water too at one point.

Greylag Goose (Anser anser) - Filey Dams
Also resting on the grass in front of Main Hide was a female Pochard.

Pochard (Aythya ferina) (female) - Filey Dams
From the right hand side of the hide, I noticed a warbler. It didn't do me the favour of uttering any sort of sound but, from its appearance, I think that it's a Chiffchaff, rather than a Willow Warbler. Please correct me if you think that I'm wrong.

Chiffchaff? (Phylloscopus collybita) - Filey Dams
I did spend a while round at East Pool Hide, but only Shelduck arrived within photographable distance. 

Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) (female) - Filey Dams
After the session here, I headed off to Reighton Sands to look for fossils, but didn't have much luck. It seemed logical, therefore, to return to Filey Dams for a while, in the hope of seeing an early Barn Owl before I had to go and pick up Lindsay at the end of her session, 15 minutes away.

On return to Filey Dams, I was told that I'd missed the Barn Owl by ten minutes!! I hung on in hope, but it didn't reappear. I did, however, take a few shots of Dunnock and Wren at the right hand side of Main Hide, although the light was poor by now, and the images not so good.

Dunnock (Prunella modularis) - Filey Dams

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) - Filey Dams
I went off to pick up Lindsay, who'd had an absolutely splendid time at The Stained Glass Centre, and was very careful not to be too enthusiastic about my own day!


I'd like to draw your attention to a recent post I made to The Owlers Blog Network (link by clicking on the banner on the right of this blog, or here). It features a nest-cam which overlooks a Great Horned Owl nest in USA, in which there are two owlets. Check it out quickly as they may be gone soon! 

Thank you for dropping by.


  1. Given the limited time you certainly got a variety of species. It looks quite so interesting reserve going from the map/image. And great light too, the Tree Sparrows were really nice (as were all) and the light on the Little Grebe was really nice too. As for those Owl's on the nest dam, bet Paul's glad he hasn't got to erect a box in that tree!!

    1. Actually, Doug, the light can be a problem here. Morning is definitely the best time if the sun's out as the most interesting area from East Pool Hide is straight into the afternoon/evening sun. Main Hide is a lot more forgiving as it pretty much faces due north.

      You should have seen the nest-cam on the owls nest swaying when it was windy. People were complaing that it was making them feel poorly watching it!

  2. Some excellent images from your visit to Filey Dams Richard, on the edge of a housing estate as you say. I went there many moons ago, it has some good past records to it's credit including rare birds.

    Yes Chiffchaff Richard.

    Kind Regards.

    1. Yes, Pete, it has turned up some really good birds. The best I've seen there, however, was a Gargany.

      Thank you for the confirmation of Chiffchaff.

      Best wishes - - - - Richard

  3. Absolutely stunning captures Richard,I love the crisp sharp detail with every image captured, especially the eye detail.
    I wish I was standing behind you looking over your shoulder.

    1. Thank you, John. I do love this place. I find it quite relaxing, and could happily stay here all day, in spite of it being small.

      I'm getting better images now that I've switched from the Sigma 150-500 to the 50-500. I'm looking forward to checking out its macro capabilities when we get more summer-like weather.

      Best wishes to you and Sue - - - - Richard

  4. O my God! Richard, these are really very good photos!!! Our favorite is a serie with the Greylag Goose. BRAVO!!!! Our compliments!
    Warm greetings!

    1. Thank you, gentlemen. Those are very kind words indeed! Thank you also for your warm greetings - we could do with some warmth here!!!

  5. Wow such stunning captures. I do not know wich one I like the best but that sleepy goose is one of my favorite.
    I want to thank you also for your reaction on my blog. I do appreciate that very much.
    Have a nice week,

    1. Thank you so much, Roos. It always gives me great pleasure to receive such kind comments from such an accomplishes artist as yourself.

  6. Hi Richard,
    Well you did take great advantage of this day!
    I smiled when I saw some of your pictures like the House wren who has been a real friend to me this winter!!
    Dunnock, goose, buntings and sparrows are magnificent photos too!
    Keep well, kind regards :)

    1. Thank you for those kind words, Noushka. I've got a lot of work to do if I'm going to get such wonderful Wren images as those that you have shown us!

      Have a great week - - - - - Richard

  7. As you may recall, you advised me to visit Filey Dams when I was in that area last year? I really enjoyed it albeit there wasn't many birds about then, apart from Barn Owls. I spent hours watching them coming and going from the box on the far side of the reserve. Sadly too far away for my 300mm lens but good to watch! Nice post buddy.....

    1. Thank you, Paul. You'll have to go back there with the new lens, Paul, particularly as the new BO box must be somewhat less than half the distance from Main Hide as the old one is from East Pool Hide!

  8. I do trust Lindsay had at least as much fun as you did! It seems you took full advantage of the hides to create some stunningly excellent photographs! I'm happy there is no requirement to choose a favorite as I would be disqualified for selecting them all.

    Happy to hear you were both able to take a bit of time off. Equally happy to devour a wonderful post full of sights, delights and information bites.

    (Okay, I am not a poet ......)

    We hope you are fully enjoying the first full week of Spring! All The Best, Richard.

    -- Wally In Rainy Florida

    1. If truth be known, Wally, I'm sure that Lindsay had as much fun as I did - her entertainment certainly cost a lot more than mine!

      What's all this about the first full week of Spring? I could swear that we're presently heading into the thick of winter!

      A great wordsmith doesn't need to be a poet too, Wally. You're not allowed to hog all the talents!

      Thank you for your very kind encouragement.

      Best wishes to you and Gini - - - - - Richard

  9. Some beautiful captures of your birds especially the Tree Sparrow and the Reed Bunting.

    1. Thank you, Linda. Sometimes it can be very gratifying to try and get better images of more common species!

  10. A great day, Richard, with an interesting variety of species. You probably wanted to book Lindsay in for a second day at the stained glass workshop!

    1. Thank you, David. I did try to persuade her, but to no avail!


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