Teesdale Trip 9th April – change of time

In order to try to see the Black Grouse lekking, the trip to Teesdale on 9th April has been changed to a meeting time of 7.00 am at the destination, Langdon Beck, near to the cattle grid on the minor road to the north of the houses; grid reference NY850321.

If this start is too early for you and you want to arrive later or to arrange transport, please contact Rob Chapman beforehand using or at the indoor meeting on 4th April.

Posted in Club News

Staveley YWT 12th March

Fifteen of us (including a visiting birder from Canada) enjoyed a glorious sunny spring day at Staveley YWT reserve SW of Boroughbridge on Sunday morning, followed by a visit to Nosterfield Quarry N of Ripon in the afternoon.

We clocked up 78 species (though as usual not everybody saw everything). Some of the highlights included:


First singing Chiffchaffs
A small marsh with up to 30 Snipe
Reed buntings everywhere
Tree sparrows ditto
Flock of (elusive) Siskins
Marsh tit
A single Brambling
Displaying Goldeneye
2 Buzzards and a Red kite soaring together in beautiful light
A good selection of dabbling ducks (Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon, Shoveler, Shelduck)
Fieldfares and a single Redwing
Water rail (heard, not seen)


Avocet 4
(European) White-fronted geese – 2
Little owl – 2
Dunlin – 2
Great drifts of Lapwings
A mystery flock of about 100 ‘small brown birds’ too distant to ID with certainty, but could have been Linnets
Barn Owl
Tawny Owl
Stock Dove
And the Starling murmuration was very good and worth the wait (per PEWW)

Altogether a great day out
John L

Posted in Trip Reports

Tophill Low – February 12th

Owing to the poor weather forecast, only eight members headed to Tophill Low, with its hides, rather than being caught in cold, wet and windy conditions on the east coast. A selection of duck were seen and the highlights were two redhead Smew. Around 50 species were seen, a low total by normal standards, and we did see a few woodland species including Treecreeper and Goldcrest.


Posted in Trip Reports

The Second York Gull Watch

Rufforth Gull Trip © Jono Leadley Feb 2017

About 25 intrepid souls joined Chris Gomersall and Jono Leadley to have a look at the Rufforth Tip gulls for the second annual York Gull Watch. It was a mild morning and following a welcome from the Club Chairman, Peter Watson, the group split into two, with Chris taking half the gang down to the field opposite the tip and Jono staying with the others at the layby.

Glaucous Gull, Rufforth © Jono Leadley Feb 2017


A small flock of gulls were loafing in the field across the road and gave the group a good chance to look through the various ages of Herring, Great Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls. A little later Jono picked up a first winter Glaucous Gull over the tip and several of the group managed to see it in their scopes. Meanwhile, Chris had found a second Glaucous Gull in the other field and the group enjoyed good views of this and some argentatus Herring Gulls. Jono led the others to meet Chris and after a while we added a second winter Lesser Black-backed Gull to the list. A first winter Glaucous Gull dropped in and the whole group got scope views. This may have been the bird Jono had over the tip as it was a paler bird than the one that was sitting in the field earlier.

Rufforth Gull Trip © Jono Leadley Feb 2017

Towards midday, birders began to drift off and a flock of  Fieldfares went over north. An enjoyable morning despite relatively few gulls to look through. Many birders headed south to Acaster Airfield where a Great Grey Shrike has been showing well for the last couple of days.


Posted in Sightings, Trip Reports

Pine Bunting at Dunnington – Updated

During last week, Terry Weston found a large flock of Yellowhammers at Intake Lane, Dunnington. On Friday, Chris Gomersall took a look, intrigued by the possibility of something interesting with them. He was rewarded by a brief glimpse of a male Pine Bunting at 12.20 though it was not seen subsequently. Yesterday, Saturday 21st Jan, he and other birders had further sightings through the day and there were some video clips posted on social media.

See Jono’s blog for an account http://birdingdad.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/pine-bunting-york-mega.html.

This is a real rarity; there are only 53 accepted records for the UK currently. Let’s hope that it sticks around for more birders to enjoy this excellent find. Keep an eye on the Twitter feed on the home page of this site for news.

Update 29/01/17 – The bird is still present, though elusive. Please do not park on Intake Lane or on the grass verges. The owner of the horse paddock who has very kindly allowed access for viewing will withdraw permission if birders do not heed the warning.

Posted in Sightings

Michael Clegg Memorial Birdrace. Sunday 8th January 2017

A total of 18 teams took part this year covering their selected areas around Yorkshire. The recipients of this years sponsor money will be ‘The English Twite Recovery Project’ and will go towards helping Twite in Yorkshire.

Many congratulations to all the York members who took part – we had a record 5 teams in the York area. After some near misses the York Upstarts broke the 100 barrier in some style – an excellent achievement. Chris Gomersall mentioned that they didn’t get great crested grebe, crossbill, red kite or curlew. Paul Doherty’s group had a Red Kite so there were at least 106 species in the Club area. Can any of the other groups add great crested grebe, crossbill or curlew?

York Upstarts
Well what a fantastic day today has been. Jack, Tim, Adam and Chris competed in the annual birdrace and after a check of species it transpires that we amassed a total of 105 species! There were many highlights and flukes, long eared owl on Strensall common, 10+ tawnys throughout the day, the first flock of gulls we looked at contained 2x Glaucous, Iceland, Caspian, Greater and Lesser black backed and Herring gulls, all in 10 mins, waxwings, whitefronts and bean geese, 15 species in an hour at hes east. All very hectic and fun!

The fog made it particularly difficult at times. All said, the YOC area is a pretty good one to live and bird in.

Nevermind the Woodcocks
Evening all, NTW (Richard Baines, Emanuela, Paul Brook and Jono Leadley) scored 95 in the York area.
Best birds- Waxwings, Scaup, Jack Snipe, Tundra Bean and White-fronted Geese, Bramblings, Chiffchaff.

York Chairmans Pick
Our team of Duncan Bye, Peter Watson, Jane Chapman and Rob Chapman had a total of 82 species (if you exclude a Black Swan and rogue Barnacle Goose). Highlights were Glaucous Gull and Tundra Bean Goose. We started at Redhouse Wood and ended at Wheldrake Ings, via Hessay, Poppleton, Rawcliffe, briefly at Strensall, a fog bound Castle Howard, Thornton and East Cottingwith.

York Bird Club
Our team (Paul Doherty, Neal Hildreth, Jim Reid, Alan Swain, Noel Wilkinson) covered SE53 (the 10km square in the extreme southwest of the club area) and saw 71 species. A pretty reasonable total given that there was no flooding along the Lower Wharfe, so several species we might have seen were absent. We started at Milford Common, went on to Bishop Wood, along the Lower Wharfe to Kirkby Wharfe, then back to Milford Common.

The best bird was the last one, a Little Egret which came in to roost at Milford Common. Another highlight was the male Peregrine hunting over Milford Common in the morning. We had permission from the shoot to go off the public footpath at Milford Common and recorded an impressive 11 Jack Snipe and at least 20 Common Snipe. Other species seen during the day included Red Kite, Water Rail, Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Corn Bunting.

Species we missed included Tawny Owl (first time ever), various wildfowl, Golden Plover, Kingfisher, Sky Lark and Tree Sparrow.

Our team (Keith and Liz Reynolds, Helen Searstone and Sue Ball) confirmed 67 York Area sightings to Paul, for our first and very enjoyable participation in the Bird Race.

We started at dawn at Allerthorpe, then down via Thornton (taking in Field Lane for TB Geese etc) and Melbourne and discovering interesting little pockets of habitat in that area before making our way round to Bank Island. We decided to go the Castle Howard for last stop rather than Andy Booth Hide. The earlier mist had cleared and the clouds peeled back as the sun was going down. So much activity on the water with 100s of gulls, BHG, Common, Herring and the odd GBB, like a churning white mass highlighting the waterfowl in the fading light, inc Goosander, Mandarin and Goldeneye. It was an amazing sight and very atmospheric as some mist started to hang low over the far side of the lake. Going back past the end of the lake in the moonlight we could hear the calls of 100’s of geese which had lifted from the fields, they appeared out of the dark and passed right over us. A spectacular end to a great day out, birding with friends. Can’t beat it!

Our best bird in terms of rarity would have to be Tundra Bean Goose, but we enjoyed seeing so many fieldfare with redwing, some with starlings, others with linnet feeding in the fields. We also had some great views of Bullfinch and Yellowhammer.

Posted in Club News, Sightings, Trip Reports

Waxwings and Wagtails

York has had a decent couple of weeks of Waxwing sightings since Christmas. Following a couple of individual records in late autumn and early December, up to a dozen were seen near the Swan pub in the Bishopthorpe Road/Nunnery Lane area on 27th December. Numbers built up to 44 in the following days, though the birds were elusive at times. Having stripped the bushes around there, they were spotted regularly in the Castle Mills area, behind the Castle Museum and at the entrance to St George’s Field car park, over the New Year weekend, peaking at 45 on the 1st January. Earlier in the day 40+ were seen near Heworth Green. Since then there have been reports of smaller groups at a variety of locations including Micklegate, Queen Street, Beckfield Lane (Acomb), Woodthorpe (24) and Haxby (28). Elsewhere in the area, there were reports of flocks at Melbourne and Yearsley (40+) in December on a couple of occasions. Follow @yorkbirding on Twitter, also to be seen on this site’s home page, for up to the minute information.

The city centre has also been hosting the regular and spectacular Pied Wagtail roost in Parliament Street, this is well worth checking out as the light starts to fade. This year 1100 birds were estimated on 27th December and a similar number on 3rd January.

Posted in Sightings

New spreadsheet for 2017 records

There is a new spreadsheet for recording your sightings in 2017. It is available on the Yorkbirding website at http://yorkbirding.org.uk/records/.

Instructions are on the ‘guidance’ tab. It uses the BOU’s newer standard vernacular names, as per the 2014 and 2015 club reports. Therefore, many names have reverted to more traditional names; for example, Golden Plover not European Golden Plover, Chiffchaff not Common Chiffchaff. You type the name in now and it will flag up whether it is found or not; the drop down lists of letters have been removed.

The spreadsheet is downloadable in an old format (Excel 2003) for backward compatibility and to work around a problem with Internet Explorer not recognising downloads of newer files from WordPress sites as belonging to Excel. Please let me know if you find any problems with it.


Posted in Club News, Sightings

Potteric Carr – December 11th

Thirteen of us went to Potteric Carr today in calm and, for the time of year, very mild conditions. Bird wise it was rather a quiet day – though we did clock up around 60 species as we walked round the reserve. It’s been a while since the Club went there and it was interesting to see how much it has changed. The more notable sightings included a Bittern flying over, but that was only seen by a couple of lucky people; a small skein of eight Whoopers flying overhead, followed immediately after by a small flock of Fieldfares; Willow Tits visiting feeders by the Education Centre; a Marsh Harrier which gave prolonged views as it quartered Huxter Well Marsh; a couple of Stonechats; and the male of a pair of Red-crested Pochards provided a good splash of colour. The year of the Goldcrest continued with lots of sightings and there were numerous Long-tailed Tit families flitting about. Sadly the Starling murmuration seen several times earlier in the week did not materialise and we were all surprised that there were no Redpoll, Siskin or Greenfinches about. However it was interesting to visit the reserve with the new visitor centre and car park now open.
A pleasant if rather quiet end to the Club’s birding for the year.

Jane Chapman

Posted in Trip Reports

Photo competition results

The club held the annual photographic competition on 6th December. Thank you to Paul Doherty and Jean Smith who acted as judges to produce the shortlists for the popular vote.

The results are as follows:

YOC area – a clean sweep

  1. Kestrel family by Terry Weston
  2. Buzzard by Terry Weston
  3. Barn Owl by Terry Weston

Rest of UK

  1. Bittern by Tom Lawson
  2. Little Owl by Antony Ward
  3. Kestrel by Tom Lawson


  1. Hoatzins, Ecuador by Jane Chapman
  2. Lesser Flamingo, Namibia by Tom Lawson
  3. Australian Darter, Australia by Pete Richman

Well done to all winners and many thanks to all those who entered photos. A gallery will be set up on the site in due course so please revisit to see the winners and runners up.

P.S. 23/12/16 – There is now a new gallery to showcase the winning photos from the 2016 Photographic Competition.

Posted in Club News

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