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

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

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