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A Grand Day Out

Recently Yorkshire has become a bit of a hotspot for ospreys as they head south for the winter.

One had been at Sprotborough Flash near Doncaster for 4 or 5 weeks so we decided to head on down and see if it was still about. It is named after its main feature, the flash, a long, water-filled depression parallel to the river Don. There's a path between the river and the flash and along there are 3 hides with seating and views over the water, and as we passed a couple with cameras they confirmed the osprey was still about and showing quite well.

We headed to the first screen but there wasn't much to be seen apart from a few ducks so we headed on to the next hide.

Here a great white egret was busy fishing and was the first time I'd seen one up close. 30 years ago every twitcher in the North of England would of headed out to see it but they are getting more common and pushing their territory further north as the climate warms.

They are much larger then the little egret and have black legs rather than bright yellow. They are about the same size as a grey heron and fish in the same way, spearing their prey.

A beautiful juvenile mute swan slowly swam by dredging for weed and a female shoveller duck kept it company.

When we arrived at the next hide there wasn't room to sit or view over the water as it was full of osprey watchers. The bird was perched further up the flash out of site, but generally after fishing it returned to eat in front of this hide. One kind soul told us that the bird was visible if you were willing to trudge through the brambles in one spot further along the path so we headed there, planning to come back later.

And just as we'd been told there was the osprey sat in a tree on the opposite bank looking out for a fishy treat

Even at a distance they are a stunning bird with their bright white chest, dark wings and big yellow eyes. It is believed this is one of this years juveniles born in Scotland and now heading to Africa for the winter. At the time of our visit she'd been around for over a month and catching plenty of fish so appeared to be in no hurry to move along.

We stood and watched her for a while before returning to the hide and this time managing to get a seat. A kingfisher kept the crowd entertained before a loud splash was heard and it was clear the osprey was fishing. She flew down towards us and to everyones delight perched directly opposite and ate her catch.

After eating her snack she flew a short distance down stream and perched in a tree where she attracted attention from a couple of grey herons who really didn't like her being around. At one point three herons flew directly at her encouraging her to move on but she stood her ground.

As they light was starting to fade we headed back to the car after a couple of very enjoyable hours watching this beautiful bird.

She stayed for 40 days in the end and finally headed south. I wish her a safe journey and hopefully she'll be back next year.

The next day another osprey was reported near Leeds and another at the coast, Yorkshire really was an osprey hotspot.


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