Brayton Barff 12th May

Five early risers met Derek Cooper at the Barff car park at 6.30. Derek very kindly showed us around the area. Here are his bird notes:

  • 1 Whitethroat along the Bypass Trail. Another on Barff Lane. Yellowhammer at feeders in the main Car Park.
  • 1 Garden Warbler, 3 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff and over 12 Blackcap. A little concerned by lack of Spotted Flycatchers and Garden Warblers
  • Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Treecreeper, Great, Blue, Coal and Long Tailed Tit. Pheasant, Crow, Stock Dove and Wood Pigeon.

We would like to thank Derek for kindly showing us around the various parts of the woodland and telling us about its wildlife.

Posted in Trip Reports

SPURN 6th May 2018

What a total contrast to our weekend trip to Norfolk the previous week – 14 of us met up at Kilnsea Wetlands in blazing sunshine and, increasingly hot, calm conditions. Although the wind increased a little as the day went on, it remained like that throughout. Who would have thought we would be wearing t-shirts and going home with sunburn?

The smart new Sand Martin hotel is up at Kilnsea Wetlands (partly funded by the YOC with money raised from the Bird Race) but no birds have yet taken up residence. The wetlands were quiet; the best birds being a male Scaup which was with four Tufted Ducks, Avocet, several Oystercatchers, three Wheatears on the bank and Little Terns spotted in the far distance over Beacon Ponds (more of these later).

We headed off towards the Warren to see the waders congregating at the high tide, but had an impromptu stop when Rob and I spotted a Wryneck on its ‘usual’ spot on the path almost opposite the small caravan site as we drove towards the Bluebell. It flew into a bush by the side of the road as everyone else stopped too, then went over the road eventually perching up long enough for most of us to pick it up, before flying over a hedge not to be seen again! Waders on the high tide included a Whimbrel (and at least 6 others were showing well in the last field before the gate down to the Warren), a single Knot, lots of Grey Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew and Brent Geese on the water.

Walking the triangle gave us Whitethroats in profusion; Lesser Whitethroat also showed well – Reed Buntings, Sedge and Reed Warblers were calling from the reed beds and common resident species from the trees and shrubs about. We also had reasonable views of a Whinchat and more distant views in hazy conditions of a Black Redstart. Hirundines, apart from Swallows, were in short supply – just a couple of House Martins and Sand Martins. More surprisingly, we had no Swifts at all. After lunch, a walk towards the Little Tern colony via Beacon Lane was productive with up to 20 Little Terns seen loafing about and fishing (from a safe distance). Ringed Plover, a Goosander, Sandwich Tern, Marsh Harrier were also about in that area.

We ended the day on a high at Sammy’s Point, where a very well concealed Long-Eared Owl in the last paddock was quite unconcerned by us all looking at it. Thank you to the very kind birder from Cumbria, who showed us the exact location – not sure whether we would have got it otherwise! The only other bird of note from Sammy’s was a Yellow Wagtail before we all met up – a couple of others were also seen elsewhere.

For the six of us who visited North Cave Wetlands on the way home, the birds added to the list were: Little Ringed Plover, nesting Mediterranean Gulls, Pochard, Shoveler, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Common Tern. A magnificent dog fox was also eyeing up the BH Gulls as it strolled past the colony!

Many thanks to Peter for leading the trip. Yet again Spurn gave us some unexpected delights – which is why we keep going back!

Jane Chapman

Posted in Trip Reports

Club weekend to Norfolk via Frampton (Lincolnshire) 27th – 29th April 2018

Peter Watson (who lead the trip) neatly summed up the weekend as ‘Wet, windy and worthwhile’. Despite the almost continual rain for two days out of three, we came away with a very creditable total of around 120 species and some cracking birds. A total of 19 of us went on the trip.

With different start points for some, who had gone down the day before, the majority met up at Frampton RSPB Reserve at 11 am on Friday to start the trip in earnest. Swifts and Swallows over the reserve reminded us it was supposed to be spring, while birds seen from the hides included both Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit coming into breeding plumage, with some of the birds being particularly well marked. Avocets and both Little Ringed Plover and Ringed Plover were also about and a few wild Barnacle Geese. As the rain eased slightly, walking along the bank to overlook the marsh, we were surprised to see a flock of around 1000 Brent Geese still about, along with a couple of Wheatears and Yellow Wagtail, and back on the reserve a Spotted Redshank in breeding plumage was showing well. But that was only a taster of what was to come – Emanuela and Sue having seen a single Dotterel in with a small flock of Golden Plover earlier in the morning, we were keen to catch up with this too after lunch. On the way to where it had last been seen, the hedge by the car park yielded a Lesser Whitethroat and Cetti’s Warbler. By this time Keith and Liz had walked round the Reserve the other way and had located not only a Green-winged Teal (sadly not seen by any of the rest of us), but even more excitingly, a Red-rumped Swallow, which was subsequently seen and much enjoyed by all as it swooped up and down along the reservoir near Marsh Farm. For several of us this was a British tick and for some a lifer. In ever heavier rain we kept on walking and eventually caught up with the Dotterel too, through rain-soaked binoculars and ‘scopes. A Common Sandpiper was only spotted by Neil and Noel, while John saw and heard a Greenshank. Most supposedly waterproof coats had given up by this time, so we set off for the rest of the journey in a rather soggy state. Weather conditions prevented any further birding that day so we settled in to Heacham Manor Hotel and draped wet clothes all over our rooms in an attempt to dry things out for the following day.

On Saturday seven of us headed out before breakfast to try to locate a Golden Pheasant – without success this time – though we did see a couple of Jays and a handful of Muntjac Deer and hear a few common woodland birds. We headed off to Cley straight after breakfast, some of us picking up Red Kite – or was it a Black Kite (one had been in Norfolk earlier in the month)? – the debate goes on, en route. Cley was…wet! Heading first for the hide on East Bank, we picked up various waders and ducks there, including a small flock of Bar-tailed Godwits, one in very orange breeding plumage and a Grey Plover. We also had three Marsh Harriers up together (looking towards Salthouse). Sea-watching yielded a few Gannets, but the cold and wind defeated us pretty quickly and we returned to the centre to pay for entry to the central area and spent quite a while in the three hides there. With the left hand scrape having been dredged there are now an impressive number of Avocets nesting, some very close to the hides. A Glaucous Gull was distant but quite visible and a couple of Wheatears were spotted – one perched up in a bush for a short while – and more Yellow Wagtails. A Bearded Tit was pinging away in the reedbed, but only gave very brief flight views – Sedge and Reed Warblers likewise were vocal, but not showing well. After lunch we headed off to Holkham Woods, hoping to get a little shelter from the conditions. Woodland birds were calling and some were even seen – Long-tailed Tit and Treecreeper spring to mind and a mixed flock of hirundines was swooping low over one of the ponds. Reaching the Tower Hide was well worth it though as we all managed to see the Spoonbills from there in the end. Those who got to the hide a little earlier had five, but most saw two, their brilliant yellow bill markings showing well in the gloomy conditions. We gave up early and returned to Heacham – just as the rain actually stopped! More clothes were draped over radiators etc. to dry out. Sadly the Barn Owl did not materialise later on, but some heard Green Woodpecker in the grounds and the Mallard ducklings kept all amused.

Sunday dawned dry but very cold as four car loads headed off back to Scissors Car Park for a walk out to Dersingham Bog before breakfast – a great start to the day ensued. Treecreeper, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were all singing in the woods, and a pair of Stonechats was showing well as they went back and forth with beakfuls of food to their nest site. Walking further into the open area, Peter saw a Woodcock flying off, another Wheatear was about and several Linnets, but the best birds were a Wood Warbler heard in the woods at the far side of the bog area and, on the way back, a very showy Woodlark flying about overhead, singing all the while.

We headed to Titchwell straight after breakfast and spent the whole morning there. Sea/beach watching was hard going in the strong winds, but a flock of Common Scoter was seen on the sea and Sanderlings were scurrying along the beach. Curlew, Grey Plover, Turnstone and Dunlin were also about. We then heard that the Red-crested Pochard was showing well in the lagoon – it was, and quite close in. The large hide was busy but we spent a good while in there watching the hundreds of Sandwich Terns (unusual for the reserve to have anything like these numbers) and a rather jaw-dropping 90+ nesting Mediterranean Gulls mixed in with the Black-headed Gull colony. There was also a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits, many in breeding plumage. Marsh Harriers were showing well. Little and Great Crested Grebe were about, along with various ducks. Sedge Warblers were in full cry in the reeds and scrub, but the Cetti’s were not evident this trip. The trees and feeders by the shop were being well visited by common tits and finches – but the highlight was a Hawfinch, spotted (and photographed) by Jane and Rob, however it flew off before anyone else caught up with it.
After lunch and a quick stop at Choseley Drying Barns in the hope of seeing Turtle Dove there (none were) some headed straight back to Frampton, while others went via Abbey Farm Hide – a single Pintail was an addition to the list there – and Thornham Marsh, where a flock of 14 Whimbrel showed well.

Those who got back to Frampton early were rewarded with views of Wood Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper, large numbers of Ringed Plover and a flock of varied and well-marked Ruff, and the Spotted Redshank was seen again later on too. A great end to the trip.
Many thanks for Peter for organising and leading it.

The full list of birds seen and heard (counted from 11 am at Frampton on Friday until leaving Frampton on the way back on Sunday) was as follows: (hopefully none missed out!):
Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Barnacle Goose, Greylag Goose, Brent Goose, Pink-footed Goose (1 with damaged wing), Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon, Pintail, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Scoter, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Gannet, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Spoonbill, Little Grebe, Great-crested Grebe, Red Kite/Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Avocet, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Dotterel, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Whimbrel, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Redshank, Woodcock, Snipe, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Glaucous Gull, GBB Gull, Common Gull, Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Swift, Green Woodpecker (H), Kestrel, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Bearded Tit, Woodlark, Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Cetti’s Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Wood Warbler (H), Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Tree Creeper, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Stonechat, Wheatear, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Hawfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting.

Jane Chapman

Posted in Trip Reports

Staveley & Nosterfield

14 of us had a good trip to Staveley and then on to Nosterfield on Sunday. In all, by the time I left, we had clocked up 69.5 species (the 0.5 being 2 White wagtails at Nosterfield).
Other good birds were:
Numerous singing Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and (unexpectedly a bit early) Willow warblers at Staveley.
Also at Staveley:
A few Swallows
Loads of Sand martins
1 Redwing
One possibly 2 Cetti’s warblers (a local said they had first appeared on the reserve last year)
A pair of willow tits excavating a nest (photographed from safe distance by Tom).

We missed out on several waders reported from Nosterfield earlier in the day, but managed to find:
Slavonian grebe coming into breeding plumage
A lone Greenland whitefront with the Greylags
A Little owl in the ‘usual’ tree.


Thanks for a great day out to John.

We added Little Egret, Little Grebe, a lone Whooper Swan and one Dunlin in full breeding plumage (very smart)a few more Redshank and three Ringed Plovers at Nosterfield LNR.


Posted in Trip Reports

Dearne Valley trip 11th March

Ten YOC members made the trip to the peoples republic of south yorkshire today, meeting up in the Broomhill Flash car park.

We were greeting by good views of the long staying Hawfinch, while on the Flash were a few ducks including Pochard and Goldeneye.

Next was a short trip down the road to Wombwell Ings where we joined a small crowd and were eventually treated to views of the Yellow-browed Warbler and Firecrest. Both cracking birds and only a few meters apart. On the Ings themselves were Whooper Swan and Little Egret.

Med Gull at Old Moor © Duncan Bye 2018

Med Gull at Old Moor © Duncan Bye 2018

Then it was onto Old Moor where we had close views of a displaying male Bearded Tit with another heard calling in different patch of reeds. On the mere were 2 adult summer plumaged Mediterranean Gulls one of which was showing the Black-headed Gulls who was boss. There were also several Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A few of us also briefly heard a Bittern boom.



Among the ducks were 3 Goosander and a pair of Pintail, while waders included several Oystercatcher, Redshank, Snipe and 2 Green Sandpiper.

Some of the group then visited Adwick Washlands after dinner where they saw, White-fronted Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Brambling and Ringed Plover.

A really enjoyable day out especially for me returning to some of my old South Yorkshire stomping grounds.


Posted in Trip Reports

March talk – change of speaker

Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances, the planned talk on Wakefield Peregrines will not be able to take place in March. However, Paul Doherty has kindly stepped in to talk about how he got into birdwatching, how that led to bird photography and then to videoing birds. Thanks to Paul and we hope that we will be able to hear the originally planned talk in the future.

There is no change to the date, time or venue.

Posted in Club News

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

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