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

Heslington Tillmire

Eight of us took part in the walk on the Tillmire yesterday [26th April] evening; a bit cold, but lovely light.

After the prolonged period without much rain, the Tillmire is very dry for the time of the year, and wader numbers are well down.

The best birds were:
Barn owl: one hunting and showing well
Lapwing: About 7 birds on the Tillmire itself, and about another 7-8 on spring cereal fields just to the east
Curlew: a displaying pair
Redshank: just one solitary bird
Little egret: 1 further along the same dyke as the Redshank
Snipe: 3
Shoveler: a male on the central pond – the first I have ever seen here
Meadow pipit: at least 12
Skylark: 3 singing males
Yellowhammer: 2 males
Wheatear: 1m, 1f on spring cereal fields just to east
And remarkably one field just to east with no less than 11 hares in it.

For those who were with us I took £16 round to Jan’s this morning for use of the church car park.


Posted in Trip Reports

Teesdale and Grouse

The changed plan to meet at Langdon Beck at 7 a.m. rather than setting off from York at that time for the club’s trip to Teesdale yesterday (9th April) proved a success. The Black Grouse lek was underway with 18 males displaying and later peaking at 21 when five grey hens showed some interest. In good light and fair weather, they put on a superb show for almost two hours, though they were fairly distant. The black cocks squared up to each other, jumped about, show their lyre-shaped tails and white undertails and we could hear their bubbling calling. If we had met at the original time we would have missed most of this.

And, it wasn’t just the grouse that we displaying, Snipe, Curlew, Lapwing and Redshank gave us a treat too as well as singing Skylarks and parachuting Meadow Pipits. While the four members who had stayed at the pub overnight tucked into their late breakfast, the other 11 walked down the hill, picking up signs of spring with Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers singing while a couple of flocks of Fieldfare reminded us some of our winter visitors are still with us. Along the beck we had good views of Grey Wagtail and Dipper, with Sand Martins overhead. More surprisingly, there was a House Martin around the pub and later we had, for many, the first Swallow of the year. On the botanical front, the landlady of the pub had given directions to some early flowering Spring Gentians, the vibrant blue flowers of five plants stood out on a grassy bank. Walking back up the hill, three people were lucky to see a Woodcock fly into the wood.

We then headed up to the quarry on the road to Weardale, Wheatear and a female Ring Ouzel were picked up but it was windy and overrun with motorcycles so we drove round to Bollihope Burn, a new site for many of us. Here were more Ring Ouzels and Wheatears. Then we returned to Teesdale to finish off with some woodland birds, more Dippers and another Swallow at Bowlees. It was a great day out with almost 60 species.

Rob Chapman

Posted in Trip Reports

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

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