Source Dave McGrath Wildlife Safaris (

Over to t’other coast

The Safari has had a few days away across on the east coast. Lots of sightseeing along the Cleveland coast and in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park (aka North Yorkshire Moors dead zone - there's almost no wildlife at all!) but not a lot of time for wildlifing.
We went to the picturesque Yorkshire harbour town of Whitby via Brough and Barnard Castle, where the castle is impressive looming large and austere above you as you drive across the river. As ever we did a Buzzards v Kestrels count during the journey, a not very productive Buzzards 2; Kestrels 0. Dead things were also recorded apart from the horrendous number of Pheasants, more of the 40,000,000 released in the autumn must get hit by cars than by the flying lead they are bred for, the only other thing we could identify was a drake Mallard
Along the motorway we had a Jay carrying an acorn fly over us then a few miles further on two more together. Close to the tiny village of Ravenstone we passed a Red Grouse sat atop a roadside bush. In the distance a couple of large plumes of smoke rose from Heather fires burning on the fells of the Yorkshire Dales National Park lit by the grouse blasting fraternity. 
Our first full day was in town where we met up with our Extreme Photographer who is working there now. The harbour area was lacking in trawlers so there were very few gulls in town and none of the hoped for Iceland or Glaucous Gulls
Most towns have a large population of Feral Pigeons but here they are replaced by multitudes of Turnstones running round between peoples' feet picking up various dropped bits n pieces.
Not much else in or around the harbour but we did watch a Cormorant catch a fish in the dock and others were sat drying their wings on the outer breakwaters and there was a shy Rock Pipit flitting around. We stayed in a modern development close to the river right beneath the impressive disused railway viaduct just out of town.
It's 120 feet from the water to the track (or at least where the track used to be)
How many bricks??? It took just two years to build
Top quality Victorian detail - was it really necessary to be so intricate?
No piece about Whitby is complete without a mention of the ancient Abbey, so here it is as seen from the deck of the viaduct complete with 'shanty town' of the allotments just beneath it - bet they don't often get a mention in the same breath as the abbey!
In the afternoon we took Monty for a wander on the nearby beach at Sandsend. The tide was just on the ebb. He lost his ball in the surf and we got our wellies full of water trying to find it for him. The surf not only took his ball but also provided decent conditions for some of the local surfers. Hardy folk, we can confirm the water wasn't particularly warm and a thick November mist rolled in.
Looking the other way towards the village the light coming through the clouds was dramatically catching the breaking waves.
Back at Temporary Base Camp in the evening a Tawny Owl was 'kewicking' nearby, our Extreme Photographer heard two bickering a little later.
Wednesday had us watching a pair of Bullfinches down the old railway line early morning with Monty. There were signs of Badgers all over the place and Monty's nose was all over the place too trying to work out what they are, what they were doing and where they were going...He's never met a real live Badger yet.
The ex-track side bushes held a good number of Redwings and Blackbirds but where are all the Fieldfares?
The day was spent sightseeing up the coast. We got as far as Saltburn stopping at the very steep Staithes on the way.
Like Whitby it was a little disappointing to see very few boats in the harbours. They must only park them there for the summer tourists.
The rocky shores around he outer harbour held Rock Pipits and Jackdaws but there was a surprise at the top car park in the form of a couple of Tree Sparrows in the House Sparrow flock.
From Staithes we headed down to Runswick Bay. Here Redshank and Oystercatchers roosting on the far beach inaccessible to humans and their mutts while to tide was still up to the rocks. The gaps between the big sea defence rocks were home to Robins, Wrens and Dunnocks.
As we were leaving we had a special moment as two Roe Deer ambled across the road in front of the car, good job it's a steep slow climb out of the village. A Sparrowhawk was seen by our Extreme Photographer perched on a road sign as we sped by on our way south.
Back at Sandsend a Stonechat was spotted on a clump of roadside Brambles close to where we'd parked up the previous day.
The Tawny Owl was in the garden again at dusk.
Dead things seen on the road today included a Brown Hare and a Hedgehog.
Thursday saw us head inland driving through forests, over moors and trekking to waterfalls. Our first stop in the Dalby Forest only gave us a Wren and a Coal Tit, almost totally devoid of birdlife. The trackside Birch trees were covered in Witches Broom some of which were covered with mosses and in some cases Wood Sorrel too.
At the visitor centre we hoped there's be a bird feeding station but in this instance there wasn't, so no chance of any Siskin pics for our Year Bird Challenge although we could hear some in the trees not too far away, no Crossbills though. A Jay, Robins and a few Blackbirds were all that were in the area.
Over the desolate moors there was no sign of life apart from a couple of Red Grouse always far too far away for any chance of a pic.
Trees will grow on the moors as can be seen from the young Birch growing safely on the road side of the fence. It's got no chance on the other side as it gets burned to 'promote' the growth of Heather and destroy almost everything else. Obviously no raptors as they've all been done in by those lovely grouse shooters. Please sign this latest petition to have this out-dated Victorian 'tradition' banned and the upland environment improved for all. There should be a mossy, lichen encrusted woodland up there not mile upon mile of flat nothingness.
Once off the derelict moorland we were in verdant woodland, or as verdant as late autumn allows on the hunt for waterfalls. First up was the scramble over small car sized boulders to Mallyan Spout close to the village of Goathland, the real 'Adensfield' in the long running TV show Heartbeat.
A mush easier walk in but a trickier drive to was Falling Foss not far from Whitby. Apparently a well kept local secret as chat in the pub that evening revealed that it's a 'locals place; that the tourists don't know about. Perhaps more tourists should thoroughly peruse the Ordnance Survey maps often left in their digs. A really serene little find and a beautiful woodland walk.
Once again the tawny Owl was calling back at Base Camp at dusk.
Friday was our drive home day. It dawned frosty with a lovely but chilly sunrise.

The old railway line gave us our best views of the Bullfinches of the week and a Sparrowhawk. Monty was very interested in the two Grey Squirrels he spied running across the horse paddocks. We have to say the Bullfinches have been the best birds of the week, great to see them every day!
Before leaving Whitby we drove up to the James Cook monument. Can't believe he left the tiny speck of the remote Pacific island of Tahiti only to bump into some land not on his map...Australia!!!
Great to see a gull on his head - wonder what seabirds he saw on his voyages and how many - and more worryingly how many he ate!
Whitby was a whaling town almost 3000 being brought in to be chopped up and boiled down. Again we wonder what species, is that why there's no coastal Orcas in the North Sea and very few Humpbacks? We've not looked to see if there's any species records. These are a replacement set donated from Barrow, Alaska, so possibly Bowhead? They are 20 feet high.
The whale jaw bones
We took the scenic route back to the west coast via Pickering, thirsk, Ripon, Harrogate, Skipton and Clitheroe. Another almost raptor free route Buzzards 0; Kestrels 1. The Kestrel was on the flat land beyond the escarpment from the White Horse near Thirsk.
Dead things on this route included:- 
Pheasants - gazzillions
Badger 1
Barn Owl 1
Fox 1

Good to be back at Permanent Base Camp from where our first Safari was out to the nature reserve. A Little Egret (MMLNR #88) was the best sighting.
Today we were able to grab an hour out between the drizzly showers. Off to the big park we went with CR in search of the Scaup that have been there a few days.
Success, they hadn't done an overnight flit!!!
Scaup (187; YBC #163) was on the possible but not definite list of birds we thought we'd get pics of during the year.
Also there has been a Ring Necked Parakeet knocking around for a few weeks and we were lucky enough for it to show for us.
Another not definite to get although there is a small breeding colony, that seems to be declining, nearby. Good to get old Polly on the Year Bird Challenge; Ring Necked Parakeet (188; YBC #164).
We 'need' one more to reach our predicted target from earlier in the year. Over in Yorkshire we hoped to get Siskin, Crossbill, Red Grouse and Shag but no such luck.
Where to next? back to Marton Mere nature reserve in the morning - but will the Bittern(s?) show for us???
In the meantime let us know who's bright green in your outback.