Lower Derwent Valley trip

On Sunday 11th Feb, ten of us met a Bank Island for a trip around the LDV. Highlights were:

Bank Island
3 Little Egret
8 Barnacle Geese

Wheldrake Ings
1 immature Peregrine
27 Curlew
1 Marsh Tit along the lane to the car park
2 Willow Tit
1 Nuthatch

Thorganby viewing platform
1 Little Owl

North Duffield Carrs
13 Whooper Swan including a rung bird Yellow G57 (Craig is this one of yours?)
7 Ruff
80 Pintail

Aughton Ings
1 male Stonechat
130 Pochard
64 Whooper Swan

400 Golden Plover
40 Dunlin

per Duncan Bye

Posted in Trip Reports

Michael Clegg Memorial Yorkshire Bird Race 2018

This year, we again had five teams covering the York recording area on 7th January.

Paul Doherty summarised the day: “An excellent day’s birding for all the teams yesterday and by my count there were 102 species seen in the York area. 

A bit of a triple whammy with some great birding, lots of records for the club report (please use the spreadsheet) and money raised for conservation – this year’s proceeds will go towards providing a Sand Martin bank at Kilnsea Wetlands. There will be a collection after our February indoor meeting and my thanks to those who have already contributed generously.

Once again congratulations to all the team members and many thanks for taking part.”

Here are the reports from the teams, in species count order:

Nevermind the Woodcocks
A fantastic day to be out birding round the York area. We were the same Woodcocks team as last year; Emanuela Buizza, Paul Brook, Richard Baines and me [Jono Leadley]. We scored 94 [actually 96 on a recount and one more than last year].

Cettis Warbler at Castle Howard was a big surprise, found on call but showed briefly.
Hawfinches – 72+ at the Arboretum
Marsh Harrier, NDC
Peregrine Bank Island
Green Sandpiper 3 at Rufforth
Brambling, 3 Elvington (thx Adam!)
Red Kite, 2 LDV

Missed birds: Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Willow Tit, Jack Snipe, Redshank, Scarce gulls, American Wigeon

York Upstarts (well, they were called that last year!)
Firstly congratulations to all other teams taking part in the bird race , particularly to the ‘woodcocks’ in acheiving the highest total !
This year our team consisted of Paz Fletcher, Georgia Locock, Ollie Metcalf and myself [Chris Gomersall], last year’s incredible total of 105 was always going to be difficult to match, and the water levels in the LDV making it even tougher for all the teams, the high totals achieved are testament to the perseverance and skill of everyone taking part, well done!

Ahem! (Sorry team members) after a recount, we finished on a respectable 93 (forgot to add curlew, I could well be off counting duties next year!), though as with other teams, there have been some favourite ‘bird race nemeses’ for us!
Grey wagtail
Grey partridge
Grey heron
Great spotted woodpecker
Marsh harrier
All missed!

We did have some highlights though!
Church bridge: Kingfisher, Corn buntings, Water rail, Little grebe, Woodcock
Thornton: Peregrine, Hawfinch, Golden plover
Refuge: Red kite, little egret, Curlew
Allerthorpe: Crossbill, Green woodpecker
Castle Howard: Nuthatch, Willow tit, more Hawfinch, ,Mandarin
Hes east: Jack snipe, stonechat
Rufforth: Green sandpiper, Lesser black backed gull

Once again well done everybody!

Chairman’s Pick
Peter Watson, Duncan Bye, Masha Sitnikova and Neil Hildreth as well as myself [Rob Chapman].

We started at Allerthorpe Common about 6.30, then on to Field Lane, Thornton and Church Bridge and then East Cottingwith. After that Castle Howard for the Hawfinches and back to the LDV via Hes East, finishing at Ellerton. Our total was 89 which was up on last year though we still missed some that we might have hoped for like Little Owl and Peregrine.

Highlights were the Hawfinches, Willow Tit at Allerthorpe and near Church Bridge, two Marsh Harriers at the Refuge, Woodcock at Allerthorpe Common and Red Kite.

York SE53 team
Paul Doherty, Jonathan Begbie, Jim Reid and Alan Swain covered SE53 (the 10km square in the extreme southwest of the club area) and we saw 83 species. An excellent total for a 10km square and helped by some favourable flooding along the Lower Wharfe and a wonderfully crisp, sunny day. We started at Bishop Wood in the dark and got 5 Tawny Owls without really trying, then on to Milford Common, before going along the Lower Wharfe to Kirkby Wharfe, then back to Milford Common.

The highlights were:

Milford Common: Little Egret 3; Barn Owl 3; Peregrine 1; Jack Snipe 4

Lower Wharfe: Whooper Swan 3; PF Goose 62 (56 flew N, 6 with the local geese); Shelduck 2; Pintail 21; Shoveler 15; Gadwall 12; Tufted Duck 10; Goldeneye 2; Goosander 23; Red Kite 2; Peregrine 1

Kirkby Wharfe: Nuthatch 3; Hawfinch 1

Same team as last year, Helen Searstone, Sue Ball, Keith Reynolds and me [Liz Reynolds], we had a species count of 69 birds, an increase of 2 on last year’s total. A great day out, we focused on the Derwent Valley and then Castle Howard. No time for anywhere else, again!

Highlights included the sight of flocks of Lapwing in flight at Field Lane and again @ Thorganby giving great displays in brilliant sunshine. Always a treat, the displaying male Goldeneyes @ Castle Howard were great to see. We noted several groups of 10+, 15+ Pied Wagtails in fields and around the frozen water margins @ Aughton and Thorganby.


Posted in Trip Reports

East Coast – December 10th

With most people being put off by the weather forecast, only three of us (Neil and Noel were the other two) who headed to Scarborough for the day on Sunday. There were a few snow flurries off the sea and it was generally a cold day but not as bad as feared. However, it was slow birding with little on the sea though we did have a Gannet and Common Scoter. We picked up the Purple Sandpipers at the high tide roost and visited Holbeck car park where there were at least eight Mediterranean Gulls. After a visit to Scalby Mills as the rocks were beginning to be exposed with the tide ebbing, we finished off at the Mere with a few woodland species and some Goosanders.

Rob Chapman

Posted in Trip Reports

Photo Competition 2017

The club’s photo competition was held on 5th December. Winning entries were:

UK – Terry Weston’s Nuthatch

World – Antony Ward’s White-tailed Sea Eagle

YOC area – Terry Weston’s Kestrel

A gallery will be added to the website in due course to showcase the top three entries in each category.

Posted in Club News

The Rare and Scarce Birds of the York Area 1965 to 2015

The Rare and Scarce Birds of the York Area 1965 to 2015 was written by Jono Leadley, the York area recorder and published by the York Ornithological Club in November 2017.

The 74 page book contains details of all species that have occurred in less than half the years since the Club’s formation in 1965. All records are listed with comments about the occurrence. The book contains several photos of featured birds taken by local photographers.

Club members will receive a copy along with the 2016 report and can purchase further copies if wanted. They will be available at club meetings while stocks last.

Non-members can order a copy from the Secretary using the ‘Buy Report’ form. The cost is £5 plus p&p.

Posted in Club News

2016 Report

The 2016 Report has been printed and will be available for members to collect at the next meeting on Tuesday 5th December.

Posted in Club News

Alkborough trip

Despite the cold wind, nine members left York for North Lincolnshire on Sunday 12th. Our first stop was overlooking Read’s Island where the numerous waders featured active flocks of Golden Plover and Dunlin with some Bar-tailed Godwit. Several skeins of Pink-footed geese flew over, some fairly low, and in the distance we could see what must have been thousands of them over the Wolds. A couple of Whooper Swans passed by and a Marsh Harrier was hunting over the island.

We then moved on to Alkborough Flats where the wind kept many passerines quiet, though a pair of Stonechats were sitting on wires. A Water Rail briefly showed itself but the highlights were the waders: two Little Stints, a Spotted Redshank, several Black-tailed Godwits in addition to the commoner Dunlin and Redshank on the pools. Hundreds of Lapwings and Golden Plover settled in the fields and then were disturbed by Marsh Harriers giving us a spectacular show. We were also treated to a Woodcock flying low past us. Before dusk and as the rain moved in, we moved on to Far Ings where a Slavonian Grebe was a fine bird to end the day.

Rob Chapman

Posted in Trip Reports

Hawfinches at Castle Howard

One of the events of this autumn is the influx of Hawfinches into England. The York area has had its share of these visitors with up to nine birds at Gilling East and small numbers elsewhere including six today over Milford Common. The largest flock, however, has been at the Yorkshire Arboretum, Castle Howard, where birds were first reported on 2nd November and numbers have built up to 50 or 60 over the weekend. There were fewer on Sunday but BirdGuides reports 50 again today, 6th November.

Posted in Sightings

YOC trip to Arnside and Silverdale

18 of us crossed the border into Lancashire for the trip (I know, it’s tough, but somebody has to risk it).

The weather varied between glorious (Friday and Sunday) and on the grim side (Saturday). We took in Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Brockholes reserve on the way over on Friday, and the Hest Bank Wader roost that evening. Saturday we were all day at Leighton Moss, calling again briefly at Hest Bank on the way back. Sunday we were able to check out Morecambe Bay from Morecambe promenade before breakfast and then did Leighton again until mid-morning, followed by the Kent Estuary at Arnside and Arnside Knott.

In total we had 92 species (including Feral pigeon which I was instructed to include despite my better judgement), although as usual not everybody saw everything.

Highlights and Lowlights included:
Bittern an Kingfisher (almost the first two birds) at Brockholes.
A good variety of waders (including both Bar- and Black-tailed godwits) at Hest Bank, but a feeble high tide and stupid dog walkers meant numbers were very low and disappointing,
Good movements of mixed Fieldfare and Redwing flocks on Saturday and Sunday
Great views of a singing Cetti’s warbler at Leighton Moss
Fleeting views of Bearded tits on Saturday at Leighton, followed by stunning views on Sunday
Marsh harrier at Leighton
Fabulous views of a couple of Otters at Leighton which some of us watched for 45 minutes; probably a female and (a much smaller) youngster, which mum (if it was mum) appearing to be teaching the smaller one to catch fish. Twice she appeared with fish in her mouth, dived next to the youngster, resurfaced without the fish (which she appeared to have dropped for the smaller one), all accompanied by play. It was the longest views of otters I have ever had in England.
Mixed flock of Siskins, Redpolls and Godfinches at Leighton
Chiffchaff at Leighton
Great white egret at Leighton
Peregrine causing panic at Leighton
But totally dipped out on Purple heron at Leighton, despite super-human patience by some of us.
3 Ravens at Arnside.

John Lawton

Posted in Trip Reports

Trip to Spurn on Sunday 8th October

Rather wondering if Spurn was going to be very quiet owing to the lack of easterly winds in the preceding week, sixteen of us nevertheless took a chance that something might be about. As the high tide was at 7.40 am we met up at Kilnsea Wetlands first, just after 8.30am, to enjoy the roosting waders there. A good decision as a flock of waders comprising mostly Dunlin and Redshank also contained Bar-tailed Godwit, a Spotted Redshank and two Little Stints. Two further Little Stints were then spotted running about under the feet of some Mute Swans standing on mud at the far end. Much to everyone’s delight a Slavonian Grebe was feeding up at the far end and a party of seven Whooper Swans were swanning about and calling to each other. Just over the road was a very large flock of over 100 Curlews and three Roe Deer. Common duck species were also about and several Little Egrets.

We then headed down to the Warren to watch the waders feed close by on the shoreline as the tide receded. The wader spectacle between the breach and the Warren Car Park was well worth seeing; thousands of waders coming in, flying up in swirls then landing on newly exposed mud. Golden Plover and Sanderling flocks were particularly striking while the Grey Plover showed their black armpits well in flight. Whinchat and Stonechat were also sitting up well in the bushes there. The first Redwings of the year were also coming in.

With regard to birders, it was a day for meeting friends from York and further afield; everywhere we went we seemed to bump into people we know. Andy Walker is a very rare UK sighting these days and it was great to see Martin Quinlan too. Tim and Ollie were being kept busy with ringing duties – we were able to see a juvenile female Kestrel in the hand which was much admired.

We then heard that Red-breasted Flycatcher was showing on Vicar Lane in Easington, so we headed off there – no luck with the RBF, but Brambling were showing well and I got a well-marked Yellow-browed Warbler. On then to the bird that many of us were desperate to see as it would be a lifer – a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling. Having seen it last week, Peter Watson said that he knew exactly where it would be (by bungalows on the road into Easington), even pointing out the very tree it would land in – and we were not disappointed as it turned up in a small flock of Starlings landing in full sight at the top of a tree several times so we all got a good look at it. Not wanting to be greedy or anything, but it wasn’t the most exciting tick ever! On then to catch up with the Red-backed Shrike in a hedgerow opposite Easington Cemetery and many thanks to Lance Degnan for his pin-point directions as to the hedgerow it was favouring. We had excellent views of that, then the news came through that an Arctic Warbler had turned up in Church Field so off we hared back to Kilnsea. We arrived to find a large number of observers already there and thankfully all of us managed to pick it out as it flitted about in the bushes, showing really well at times. A few minutes later it was trapped and after a short wait we were shown the bird in the hand too before it was released, allowing even closer views of its distinguishing characteristics.

Our lunch break provided the main dip of the day for those of us that did not drive the short distance to the Carpark by the Bluebell – Peter, Noel, Neal and Emanuela being the only ones to see a Lapland Bunting there, found in a flock of Meadow Pipits by none other than Andy W!
We then headed up Beacon Lane in search of Red-Breasted Flycatcher and were rewarded eventually with good views of both it and a Yellow-browed Warbler in trees just over the hedge inside the Caravan Park.

Walking the triangle produced Wheatear and more Meadow Pipits and Reed Buntings, but no further sign of the Lapland Bunting. However in the late afternoon sun we had fantastic, close views of up to eight Bearded Tits including three males feeding in the reed bed along the Canal.
A few of us finished off the day at Sammy’s point where we had at least five Stonechats perched close to each other in the second paddock and a flight view of a Great Grey Shrike which then dived into a berry covered bush and sat half obscured, presumably intending to roost there. Antony was also lucky to have a Red-backed Shrike sitting up on a bush beside the road as he drove in. A Mediterranean Gull was seen distantly on the ploughed fields behind the paddocks and the day ended with a Barn Owl hunting successfully then devouring its prey as it sat on a fence post.
A great day’s birding with the morning’s wader spectacle capped by a number of scarce and some common autumn migrants, with many of us achieving at least one lifer. We also had super weather for the time of year (mild, calm and no rain), and a stunning sunset. It was fun to see so many birding friends down there too.

Jane Chapman

Posted in Trip Reports

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