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As the club is unable to meet on 5th May owing to the lockdown, we would like to encourage you to spend a bit of time this evening indulging your passion for birds and birding as you would if you had attended the meeting. To assist with this, Jono Leadley and Duncan Bye have put together a York Birding Quiz to tax all the bird brains in the Club!

People can share around, and keep their answers for their own interest. It is just a bit of fun and there are no prizes!  We suggest that you try and do the quiz on your computer/tablet screen as it will use up a lot of ink to print and it is better for the environment not to print things unnecessarily. It will be distributed via the YorkBirding distribution and can also be downloaded here.

Note: There is an error in Round 1 question 8 – the clue should read: Block Litigated Wad

UPDATE – And here are the answers.

Jono Leadley turned up an exciting find yesterday when he came across a Red-rumped Swallow at  Acaster Malbis during his daily lockdown exercise. A quality bird and only the fourth for the York area, if accepted!

Read his account and see the videos he took on his blog at: http://birdingdad.blogspot.com/2020/04/lockdown-birding-red-rumped-swallow.html

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