Peasholm Park, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, 12.25 p.m., 55°F, 13°C, 75% cumulus, breeze from north north-west: A pair of tufted ducks float by, ‘sleeping’ and preening.
A herring gull goes into its bathing routine: wings held out, it dips its head and spreads water over its back.
On the sunny side of the pagoda roof of the floating bandstand seventeen herring gulls are snoozing, all facing into the prevailing breeze.
Herring Gull Mating
South Bay, near the lifeboat station, 3.30 p.m. (top of page, bottom right sketches): A herring gull is standing on the beach apparently just watching the world go by. It starts calling, the laughing cry that instantly conjures up a picture of a seaside town for me when I hear it in a radio play.
A second gull flies down and the first calls at it as if in greeting, but perhaps with a degree of agitation – ‘and where have you been?!’. The second bird responds with a head nod.
The pair see off a rival.
There’s a mating, a successful mating, I guess. It’s the female who has been waiting on the beach.
The female waggles her rear end. The male leaves first, then the female.
It reminds me of a 1980 book, The Golden Turkey Awards, featuring what were affectionately judged to be the worst ever movies. It included a close up of two sea gulls with the caption ‘One of the steamy love scenes from Jonathan Livingston Seagull.’
Dewsbury station, 9.45 a.m., 69°F, 20°C: As we wait for our train on platform 2, the south-east facing stone embankment is a sun trap this morning. A fresh looking peacock butterfly basks on the wall. Our first large whites, two of them, flutter over the blossoming shrubs. House sparrows chirrup and argue in the cover of the neatly trimmed laurel. A female blackbird disappears into a dense growth of ivy. She doesn’t seem to be plucking at berries so perhaps she has a nest hidden there. A wren sings lustily from the shrubs. Above, a grey squirrel climbs a eucalyptus, its grey green foliage contrasts with a clear, deep blue sky.
Scarborough train, Church Fenton, 10.25 a.m.: The floods have subsided but some of the fields in the Vale of York are still sodden; three lapwings stand at the edge of a pool in a ploughed field. I glimpse a llama as we pass a farm.
In woodlands near Malton wood anemone is still in flower; there are pale yellow patches of primroses on the embankment; a few bluebells are starting to show and there’s lots of dogs mercury.
A heron stands in a marshy field; a buzzard flies over the Vale of Pickering. Cloud is building as we head to the coast.
1.35 p.m., 45°F, 8°C, dropping cooler as it clouds over: Two bullfinches make a thorough job of nibbling the blossom buds on a small tree that overhangs the path in a quiet side valley in the woodland at Peasholm Park. I say quiet but a chaffinch sings an emphatically chirpy song, and a chiff-chaff is calling. Wood pigeon and great tit join in occasionally.
2.35 p.m., 50°F, 10°C, breeze from west north-west: A redshank sits out the high tide, perching on a boulder by the sea wall on Marine Drive, keeping its reddish bill tucked under its wing
12 noon, Peasholm Park, Scarborough; We can hear the tapping and see the odd bit of bark dropping down but at first all we can see in the tree canopy is a wood pigeon preening in the branches above. After a minute or so we see a female great spotted woodpecker working her way up the multiple trunks of the adjacent tree.
Once again my monocular comes in handy because through it we can see that in the morning sun the red of her vent shows up well as she hangs almost upside down, pecking on the overhanging trunk. There is no red on the back of her head, which is how we can tell that she’s a female.
It was a calm morning but there must have been quite a swell because the waves at North Bay were crashing against the sea wall.
Despite having spent a day in Scarborough, this terrier looked distinctly hangdog as she commuted to Malton on the Scarborough/York/Liverpool coast to coast train.
Marine Drive, Scarborough, 11.50 a.m.; Thirty kittiwakes set off towards the sea from the Castle cliff, then we see what set them up; a peregrine flies along at mid-ledge level then arcs out above our heads, loops over the sea and returns to the cliff. I’m ready to watch it hunt but it soon settles on a commanding knoll on the cliff-face, which could be a potential nest-site.
Through the little monocular that I keep in my art bag, I can see that it’s a slate grey male. It sits there, facing the cliff with its back to us, calling for ten minutes; a plaintive mewing. Is it hoping to attract a mate or complaining that the restless kittiwakes are hard to surprise this morning?
A kittiwake chases a fulmar, constantly gaining height then swooping on it. Resembling a miniature albatross, the fulmar might win the prizes when it comes to effortless gliding but the kittiwake is more aerobatic.
A turnstone is doing just what its name suggests; turning over pebbles as the tide ebbs in the harbour. I’ve drawn it as all brown here but there are white patches on its head.
Turnstones peck for scraps around your feet on the quayside, behaviour that seems surprising for a wader.
Chiff-chaffs are singing in the wooded valley in Peasholm Park. The pagoda island is awash with pale yellow primroses.
11.50 a.m.; a juvenile herring gull has a yellow plastic ring no. 5B6B on its left leg and on its right a metal BTO ring. It’s one of a group of juvenile gulls attracted to food offered by visitors to the park. In the town, gulls swooping to pinch sandwiches and chips from tourists are seen as a nuisance by some locals.
I draw the Mexican style entrance to MAP (Military Adventure Park) from our table at the Peaches and Cream cafe, North Bay.