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

Teesside Trip Sept 10th

Seven brave souls headed north to Teesside on the morning of 10th September. Despite the strong southwesterly winds, we had a good day with highlights being good views of two or three Water Rails at Saltholme and one or two adult and one juvenile Roseate Terns roosting on the rocks at South Gare among a flock of Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns.

We noticed a steady passage of Swallows, House Martins and Meadow Pipits throughout the morning with large flocks of hirundines coming in off the sea at North Gare. We saw several Sand Martins too over the water at Back Saltholme Pool.

Very few other passage migrants about, as one might expect given the conditions, with one Wheatear at South Gare noted. Waders were more in evidence, with Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Dunlin, Greenshank, Golden Plover and Snipe amongst others, though we missed the Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint at South Gare.

Harbour (Common) and Grey Seals gave good views at Greatham Creek, making up for being thwarted in our walk by the coastal realignment modifications being made to the flood bank.

Insect-wise, we had a few Red Admirals, a posing Migrant Hawker, a few Common Darters and a moth at South Gare which proved to be a Flounced Rustic.

Jono Leadley
York Area Recorder

Posted in Trip Reports

Pocklington Canal evening walk

Many thanks to Terry Weston, for another most enjoyable summer evening walk along the canal from Hagg Bridge towards Storwood on Tuesday 1st August.  Despite the dreadful forecast, the rain held off and we had a lot of evening sunshine.  Eighteen of us went on the walk.  Highlights were prolonged views of at least two, if not three, hunting Barn Owls, a Little Owl perched on a post, a couple of Common Terns flying along the Canal, a Marsh Harrier flying towards Hagg Bridge and, for a lucky few, a Kingfisher flitted past. Hirundines and Swifts were swooping about overhead in good numbers  and a small flock of five Snipe flew over too. Yellow Wagtail and Corn Bunting were heard while Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting showed well on the hedges. There were also at least five hares (one pair even observed mating) and three roe deer.
Posted in Trip Reports

Best Birdwatching Sites: Yorkshire – Review

Neil Glenn and John Miles’ book ‘Best Birdwatching Sites: Yorkshire’ is a fine piece of work and one that should be of use to all Yorkshire birders, especially those keen on county listing or exploring Yorkshire’s best birding sites. The book provides information on 88 sites, five of which are in the York Recording Area (Askham Bog, North Duffield Carrs, Skipwith Common, Strensall Common and Wheldrake Ings). Most sites are allocated a double page spread, but larger, more complex sites such as Spurn are given eight pages, enabling the authors to convey lots of useful detail.

Much of the information on Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and RSPB sites is available elsewhere (on their websites for instance) but what this book offers is a review of the sites purely from a birders perspective, which is useful. The information for each site is up to date – although things change rapidly of course – and includes birding tips to get the best from your visit, detailed site maps which is a great help for finding and enjoying the site, information about disabled access, what birds you might see in each month or season and what the public transport options are. For patch workers there will be undoubtedly be improvements that could be suggested, but as a general birders guide it is an impressive piece of work and an essential handbook.

The book also provides suggested itineraries for birding month by month, with key avian highlights mentioned, and finishes with an annotated Yorkshire bird list, which includes rarities such as the Siberian Accentor from 2016 and recent taxonomic changes, such as the lumping of Common/Mealy and Lesser Redpolls.

The only downside of this book is that there are a few errors in site names and other typos plus inconsistencies around site ownership, issues that should have been picked up by the proof reader. These things do not detract from what is a comprehensive review of Yorkshire’s top 88 birding sites and the authors have done a fine job. I am sure this book will find a place in many Yorkshire birders car glove boxes and book shelves and will be used for many years to come.

Visit http://www.buckinghampress.co.uk/best-birdwatching-sites-yorkshire1.html for details of how to purchase the book. The cost is £19.95 (inc. p&p).


Jono Leadley, York Area Recorder

Posted in Club News

Red House 9th July – directions

Revised meeting point for the walk on 9th July at 10.00am around Redhouse Wood, Lagoon and River.

Please IGNORE directions on Club Programme as parking at a local farm has been negotiated.

Leave York Bypass A1237 on to A59 near Poppleton. Continue for just over 3 miles and turn right at the cross roads towards Moor Monkton on Church Lane. Continue and pass Oakland and the Church. On entering Moor Monkton bear right at the T junction along Main Street. At the first bend turn left over the cattle grid signed Laund House Farm. You will then be taken to the farm for parking in the Farm Yard.

Posted in Club News

SE57 Trip 11th June

Eleven of us headed for SE57 in the northwest of the recording area, being joined there by Georg (a friend of Paz Fletcher) who is writing an article about German and British birding. Our first stop was out of area at Sutton Bank to try for the Turtle Doves there, sadly without success, though the family of Siskin visiting the feeders were enjoyed. On then to Wass, where Garden Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher were the best birds followed by a stop at Newburgh Priory lake which yielded little apart from a family of Mute Swans and six Shelduck. We then did a walk through woodland (more common birds seen and heard) to the source of the Foss at Pond Head, Oulston Reservoir – not much there either but a family of Mute Swans with ten young was notable. We spent the whole afternoon at Yearsley – not a Redstart in sight though – however we had very good views of at least seven Tree Pipits – definitely the birds of the day. A very quiet day’s birding and rather small total of species seen and heard.

Many thanks to Peter for leading the trip and showing some of us areas we had not visited before.

Posted in Trip Reports

Best Birdwatching Sites: Yorkshire

We have received a copy of Buckingham Press’s newly-published Best Birdwatching Sites: Yorkshire by Neil Glenn and John Miles. Keep a look out on Yorkbirding for Jono’s review of it.

Check the Buckingham Press website for further information and to order your copy. Early applicants should be able to get a discount.

Posted in Club News

Northumberland weekend – April 21/23

Club trip to Northumberland

21st to 23rd April 2017                                Leader: Peter Watson

Fifteen club members went on this weekend. Having agreed to meet up at Seahouses, where we were staying for the weekend, most of the group headed early for Hulne Park (via a stop off for hearty breakfast on route), to try somewhere new to many club members. This proved to be an excellent choice, with several hours spent there, and a wide variety of woodland birds were seen, highlights including Crossbill, Siskin, Wood Warbler, Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Treecreeper, several Mistle Thrushes, late Fieldfare and Redpoll. Firecrest was also heard and a Kingfisher seen, each by one lucky person. The river running alongside the edge of the park also afforded great views of Dipper, Common Sandpiper and Grey Wagtail. Everyone else met up here by 2pm, and the competitive spirit was well and truly sparked on swapping details of the morning’s birding, with the Rob and I having seen a Black Tern and a Grasshopper Warbler on our stopover at East Chevington on the way north!

Late afternoon saw us all visiting Budle Bay where the tide was out, but Knot, Curlew and Grey Plover were added. On then to Seahouses where sharp eyes picked out Purple Sandpiper on the rocks, and we added the first Shags, Kittiwakes, Turnstones and Ringed Plovers of the trip. Watching a flock of Eider waddling up the slipway at the harbour to come and beg bread alongside Mallards was a first – how often can you put out a hand and have it pecked by one of these stunning sea ducks? An excellent first day saw a combined total of 106 species seen.

A number of us ventured out on an early morning walk round the harbour in biting cold on Saturday morning (northerly winds); good to see House Martin here as well. We headed off to Lindesfarne after breakfast as the tides were favourable – a planned trip to the Farne Islands was ditched on hearing that many of the nesting birds weren’t back there yet. Despite the cold weather and periods when it was very dark overhead in the morning the weather improved markedly towards the end of the day. Whilst nothing particularly rare was about, highlights included good views of Bar-tailed Godwit, Red-breasted Merganser, Golden Plover (in full breeding plumage, on the ground), Sandwich Tern, streams of Gannets (heading both north and south as we sat seawatching by the triangulation point), a flock of Sanderling on the beach, Red-throated Diver and Rock Pipit. Coming off Holy Island we made our way to Fenham-le-Moor and some great birding, the undoubted highlights being close views of Whimbrel, then a Short-eared Owl which flew past close by before heading over the mud flats towards Holy Island. Distant views of pale-bellied Brent Goose and a flock of Little Terns feeding were also much enjoyed. The moaning of the large Seal colony could also be heard clearly – an extraordinary sound.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and stayed that way all day. After another early morning harbour walk, we birded our way back south stopping first at Low Newton, which was rather quiet apart from a Pink-footed Goose, White Wagtail and a couple of Stonechats, then at Hauxley to try and pick up a Green-winged Teal reported from there (sadly not seen), though we did have our first Whitethroats. We also spent some time looking across to Coquet Island, but the terns were just too far away to reliably identify any Roseate Terns that might have been there, though Puffins were visible. Then on to Druridge CP where we cut through the car park to East Chevington pool. To everyone’s relief, the Black Tern was still on the pool flying up and down so we spent ages enjoying it. Most of us then moved on to Druridge Pools, where a Grasshopper warbler obligingly showed itself to all those who had not seen one on Friday. Other highlights included Yellow Wagtail, Whooper Swan, White-fronted Goose (probably injured as it had a dodgy looking wing) and some Ruff. Sadly the Hooded Crow seen in fields nearby earlier in the day did not reappear for us. A small group that went to the ‘usual’ parking place at East Chevington before heading to Druridge Pools picked up a pair of Garganey and a Marsh Harrier there. The last stop was Cresswell Ponds where we had a Bar-tailed Godwit in full breeding plumage, several Avocets and Little Egret.

It was a highly enjoyable trip despite the cold weather on the first couple of days and we pooled a grand total of 135 species – about the maximum we could have hoped for short of a major fall of rarities!

Thank you very much to Peter Watson for arranging it all and leading the trip.

Jane Chapman

(Apologies for the late write up for those of you wondering where it had got to!)

Posted in Trip Reports

Spurn Trip May 7th

Yesterday, 7th May, we had a great start at Sammy’s Point with a selection of migrants including Ring Ouzel, Pied Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat, Lesser Whitethroat and some late Fieldfares and Redwing as well. A number of Whimbrel were on the estuary mud and in the horse paddocks too. Later in the morning we walked the Triangle at Kilnsea, hoping for a sight of the Wryneck that had been reported. There was no luck with that, unfortunately, though several more Whimbrel, Whinchat and Wheatears were seen. In the trees by Canal Scrape there was a striking male Redstart and here a Lesser Whitethroat was seen rather than just heard.

After a bite to eat and relocating to Kilnsea Wetlands, we added Common Scoter and Little Tern. Then to the Warren for some high tide waders including some sparkling Grey Plover, Dunlin in breeding plumage and red Bar-tailed Godwits and Knot. Despite the biting wind, the thirteen of us finished at Spurn with a decent list of migrants and over 60 species in total.

Four of us met up at North Cave Wetlands on the return home for a further hour and a half and enjoyed the hirundines and Swifts which were feeding up and down the road, missing our heads by inches.

Rob Chapman

Posted in Trip Reports

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