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The YOC Committee regrets that, owing to the restrictions on gatherings and  general movement for anything other than essential business plus the uncertainty about when it will be safe to meet up again, the YOC meeting and trips in May and the BBQ at the start of June are (as you will not be surprised to hear) postponed/cancelled. This is in line with other groups who have also been forced to suspend meetings, close reserves and cancel surveys for the time being.

The most important consideration is that everyone stays safe and well.   

In light of government advice for everyone to avoid social gatherings and to keep social ‘distance’ over the next few weeks in an attempt to contain Covid-19, the Committee has had to bow to the inevitable and postpone the April indoor meeting due to take place on Tuesday 7th April. We will look forward to Craig Thomas coming to speak to us at a later date instead.  The April Club outing to Ripon City Wetlands and Staveley on Sunday 5th is being cancelled too.   

The May indoor meeting will almost definitely be postponed too and, as things stand, the North Wales weekend trip in May is extremely unlikely to go ahead.  Looking a little further ahead, the June BBQ could also become a casualty. Regarding the May and June events we will confirm what is happening nearer the time.  

In the meantime, we hope that everyone stays well and is able to enjoy some birding at least, even if it becomes limited to our garden birds serenading us with spring song.  

On 8th March, 11 met at Filey for the monthly trip. Highlights there were Purple Sandpipers on the Brigg, Red-throated Diver and Gannet out to sea plus several displaying Skylarks. It was very windy so we headed for Troutsdale where we dipped on Dippers at the regular site though there was a Grey Wagtail. Raptors showed well though, there were a few Buzzards, Sparrowhawk and Kestrels but the highlights were two female Goshawks displaying and giving close views. Then on to Castle Howard but we didn’t catch up with the Hawfinches reported recently though decent views of a Barn Owl was seen by half the group on the way home.

The YorkBirding website works well using the Chrome browser on Windows 7 and 10. It is also functional using Safari and Firefox on newer versions of Mac OS; definitely works with v10.14. However, some issues have been noted on other technologies:

Minor issue using the Edge browser – the Twitter feed scroll bar is not visible, however the Tweets can be scrolled using a mouse wheel.

Internet Explorer 11 – The Twitter timeline does not display, however the link works to take you to @Yorkbirding where you can see the history.

Mac OS v9 – There are issues with the menu and the display of the new-style gallery (as used for 2019 photo competition, sorry the old-style gallery is not compatible with the latest WordPress) using old versions of Mac OS and Safari. Suggest trying a different browser.

Samsung browser on phones – the menu is difficult to use, try using Chrome on the same device.

UPDATE The Field trip on Sunday 9th February was postponed because of Storm Ciara. I was hoping to rearrange it for this coming Sunday (the 16th), but that isn’t really possible. The B1223 which is the main access route to the Lower Wharfe is currently flooded in three places and that means access is limited and difficult (via minor single track roads) and I have been advised that at least one section of it is not expected to reopen until 2nd March. Add on the fact that another storm is expected to bring high winds and more rain this weekend and it’s clear that the trip can’t run.

A note from Paul Doherty regarding the trip originally planned for 9th February:

“At Tuesday’s Club meeting I mentioned the poor weather forecast for Sunday and raised the possibility that the Field Meeting on Sunday 9th February might have to be postponed. I have been keeping an eye on the weather forecasts and it has stayed poor for Sunday. I’ve just had a look at the Met Office and they have a warnings posted for wind and rain:-

Storm Ciara will bring very strong winds and potentially some disruption to travel throughout Sunday.

What to expect

  • Injuries and danger to life from flying debris are possible

It’s clear that the wind and rain would mean we would see very few birds, plus travelling by car and even walking amongst the trees could be dangerous, so I think the only decision is to postpone this meeting. To be honest the forecast is so bad that running the trip isn’t really an option.

I propose to reschedule it for Sunday 16th February and will circulate more details in due course.”

On 3rd December, the club held its annual photo competition. Many thanks to Tom Lawson for his work in preparing the show and running the evening. Thank you too to Peter Watson and Barry Thomas for standing in as judges, a difficult task.

The results of the popular vote after Peter and Barry had whittled down the entries to a short list were:

World:

  1. NORTHERN FULMAR by Phil Moss
    2 = GANNETS by Terry Weston
    2 = CREAM COLOURED COURSER by Terry Weston

Rest of the UK:

  1. KESTREL by Terry Weston
  2. SHORT-EARED OWL by Antony Ward
  3. COMMON TERN by Tom Lawson

York Area Nature:

  1. STOAT by Terry Weston
  2. SOUTHERN HAWKER by Trevor Walton
  3. PAINTED LADY by Antony Ward

Congratulations to the winners and to all who took part. The winning photos have been published in a gallery.

The January field activity this year was once again taking part in the annual Michael Clegg Yorkshire Bird Race. This year’s beneficiary is Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre run by Jean Thorpe.

Four teams from York took part and it was a record year for species and fund raising:

York Upstarts (Tim Jones, Chris Gomersall, Jack Ashton-Booth and Oliver Metcalf) racked up a new record 108 species during the course of the day (and quite a lot of the night!). They were the top team in Yorkshire.
A brilliant day with lots of luck to make sure we managed to see most of the potential species on offer around the area.

[Ex-] Chairman’s Pick (Peter Watson, Rob and Jane Chapman, Duncan Bye and Neil Hildreth) had our best ever race total, clocking up 91 species – Nuthatch and Barn Owl late on taking us over our previous best of 89 (recorded on no less than three previous occasions!). They were runners up in Yorkshire.

Nevermind the Woodcocks scored 88. The team comprising Emanuela Buizza, Rich Baines, Paul Brook and Jono Leadley had a fun day but a lot of bad luck, missing some fairly common species. 

Paul Doherty, Jonathan Begbie, Jim Reid and Alan Swain went round the York SE53 10km square and recorded 72 species. The highlight of the day was prolonged views of a juvenile Peregrine.

Not only did the York Upstarts smash the record for the York area, they also set up a fund raising page for sponsorship. At the time of writing, this has raised over £2,250 for Jean and is still available at https://www.gofundme.com/f/yorkshire-bird-race-2020-fundraiser?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet.

A collection of sponsorship from teams not using that page and further donations was held at the YOC meeting on 7th January, raising over £220.

This month’s trip, on 8th December, was a clockwise loop around the LDV. Starting at Bank Island, five of us spend a while looking through the geese for rarer species but only Greylags (about 200) and Canada Geese. Every hedgerow and bush appeared to contain Fieldfares and Redwings though, which was a theme of the day. To keep the sun behind us, we headed for East Cottingwith, on the way we found 14 Pink-footed Geese in a flock of 470 Greylags on fields just north of Hagg Bridge.

On the Refuge, there were 175 Tufted Duck, six Grey Herons in the air at the same time as well as others hunkered down in the fresh wind, one Little Egret and a Jay were seen too. Then on to Ellerton where we had 11 Goldeneye and a family party of Whooper Swans with a large flock of Lapwings, over 1200 we reckoned. At Aughton there were more Goldeneye and an even larger flock of Lapwings, perhaps 2000.

Overlooking North Duffield Ings from Bubwith, we counted 500 Golden Plover and at least 50 Pintail. The Whooper count at NDC was 33 but there were probably more as there were some partially obscured behind bushes on Bubwith Ings. Thorganby was quiet but the gull roost at Wheldrake Ings was very impressive, mainly Black-headed and Common Gulls but also c.140 Great-black Backed and a few Herring Gulls; there must have been tens of thousand birds.

Rob and Jane

On Sunday 10th November, nine club members met at Flamborough Head for the November club trip. An hour’s seawatching in the new hide (thanks to the observatory) produced three or four Little Auks, at least 20 Red-throated Divers, Gannets, Common Scoter, Guillemot and Razorbill flew past and a Great-Crested Grebe was on the sea. We also saw porpoise and seals. On the rocks, there were Purple Sandpipers, Shags, Turnstone and Rock Pipit.  

We then walked to Old Fall, finding a flock of nine Snow Buntings in a ploughed field on the way which showed really well from the coastal path. We spent time in the plantation in the hope of seeing the reported Hume’s Leaf Warbler but only had definite sightings of Chiffchaff. A Sparrowhawk that chased a Blackbird around the trees for what seemed like several minutes possibly sent the passerines into hiding. However, deciding to walk around the outside, we soon heard the call of the Hume’s which proceeded to show well to all, giving close views and calling much of the time.  

After lunch we headed to Thornwick pools but were too late to catch the Waxwing reported earlier. We explored that area for a while and then set off for Bempton where we caught up with a second Hume’s Leaf Warbler which again was showy. Our day finished with wonderful views of two Short-eared and two Barn Owls hunting over the fields near the car park.   A thoroughly enjoyable day and, in contrast to recent trips, the weather was mainly dry with only one short shower.

Rob

On Monday 2nd December at 7pm at St Wilfrids Parish Community Hall, Doncaster Road. Brayton. YO8 9HE, the Friends of Brayton Barff are giving a 2 hour presentation on Brayton Barff and Britain’s woodlands.

The purpose of this evening event is to convey to the local community how important it is to preserve what there there is in the Selby District and beyond, gain support and new members to the Friends of Brayton Barff. The aim is to successfully protect this valuable natural resource.
Also invited are the Barff’s owners Yorkshire Water & Selby District Council & the Woodland Trust are also there to talk about some of their woodland initiatives.
Its free and refreshments will be provided.