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The January field activity this year was once again taking part in the annual Michael Clegg Yorkshire Bird Race. This year’s beneficiary is Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre run by Jean Thorpe.

Four teams from York took part and it was a record year for species and fund raising:

York Upstarts (Tim Jones, Chris Gomersall, Jack Ashton-Booth and Oliver Metcalf) racked up a new record 108 species during the course of the day (and quite a lot of the night!). They were the top team in Yorkshire.
A brilliant day with lots of luck to make sure we managed to see most of the potential species on offer around the area.

[Ex-] Chairman’s Pick (Peter Watson, Rob and Jane Chapman, Duncan Bye and Neil Hildreth) had our best ever race total, clocking up 91 species – Nuthatch and Barn Owl late on taking us over our previous best of 89 (recorded on no less than three previous occasions!). They were runners up in Yorkshire.

Nevermind the Woodcocks scored 88. The team comprising Emanuela Buizza, Rich Baines, Paul Brook and Jono Leadley had a fun day but a lot of bad luck, missing some fairly common species. 

Paul Doherty, Jonathan Begbie, Jim Reid and Alan Swain went round the York SE53 10km square and recorded 72 species. The highlight of the day was prolonged views of a juvenile Peregrine.

Not only did the York Upstarts smash the record for the York area, they also set up a fund raising page for sponsorship. At the time of writing, this has raised over £2,250 for Jean and is still available at https://www.gofundme.com/f/yorkshire-bird-race-2020-fundraiser?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet.

A collection of sponsorship from teams not using that page and further donations was held at the YOC meeting on 7th January, raising over £220.

This month’s trip, on 8th December, was a clockwise loop around the LDV. Starting at Bank Island, five of us spend a while looking through the geese for rarer species but only Greylags (about 200) and Canada Geese. Every hedgerow and bush appeared to contain Fieldfares and Redwings though, which was a theme of the day. To keep the sun behind us, we headed for East Cottingwith, on the way we found 14 Pink-footed Geese in a flock of 470 Greylags on fields just north of Hagg Bridge.

On the Refuge, there were 175 Tufted Duck, six Grey Herons in the air at the same time as well as others hunkered down in the fresh wind, one Little Egret and a Jay were seen too. Then on to Ellerton where we had 11 Goldeneye and a family party of Whooper Swans with a large flock of Lapwings, over 1200 we reckoned. At Aughton there were more Goldeneye and an even larger flock of Lapwings, perhaps 2000.

Overlooking North Duffield Ings from Bubwith, we counted 500 Golden Plover and at least 50 Pintail. The Whooper count at NDC was 33 but there were probably more as there were some partially obscured behind bushes on Bubwith Ings. Thorganby was quiet but the gull roost at Wheldrake Ings was very impressive, mainly Black-headed and Common Gulls but also c.140 Great-black Backed and a few Herring Gulls; there must have been tens of thousand birds.

Rob and Jane

On Sunday 10th November, nine club members met at Flamborough Head for the November club trip. An hour’s seawatching in the new hide (thanks to the observatory) produced three or four Little Auks, at least 20 Red-throated Divers, Gannets, Common Scoter, Guillemot and Razorbill flew past and a Great-Crested Grebe was on the sea. We also saw porpoise and seals. On the rocks, there were Purple Sandpipers, Shags, Turnstone and Rock Pipit.  

We then walked to Old Fall, finding a flock of nine Snow Buntings in a ploughed field on the way which showed really well from the coastal path. We spent time in the plantation in the hope of seeing the reported Hume’s Leaf Warbler but only had definite sightings of Chiffchaff. A Sparrowhawk that chased a Blackbird around the trees for what seemed like several minutes possibly sent the passerines into hiding. However, deciding to walk around the outside, we soon heard the call of the Hume’s which proceeded to show well to all, giving close views and calling much of the time.  

After lunch we headed to Thornwick pools but were too late to catch the Waxwing reported earlier. We explored that area for a while and then set off for Bempton where we caught up with a second Hume’s Leaf Warbler which again was showy. Our day finished with wonderful views of two Short-eared and two Barn Owls hunting over the fields near the car park.   A thoroughly enjoyable day and, in contrast to recent trips, the weather was mainly dry with only one short shower.


On Monday 2nd December at 7pm at St Wilfrids Parish Community Hall, Doncaster Road. Brayton. YO8 9HE, the Friends of Brayton Barff are giving a 2 hour presentation on Brayton Barff and Britain’s woodlands.

The purpose of this evening event is to convey to the local community how important it is to preserve what there there is in the Selby District and beyond, gain support and new members to the Friends of Brayton Barff. The aim is to successfully protect this valuable natural resource.
Also invited are the Barff’s owners Yorkshire Water & Selby District Council & the Woodland Trust are also there to talk about some of their woodland initiatives.
Its free and refreshments will be provided.

Seventeen of us headed to Northumberland for the Club’s autumn weekend away. Having met up at Stannington Farm Shop for a tasty breakfast en-route, we headed off in rain (the theme of the weekend) to RSPB Hauxley reserve – now re-opened. The rain eased during our time there which helped and the afternoon gave us pretty much the only rain-free period! We spent several hours there doing a loop in and out of the hides overlooking the lagoons and coast picking up a variety of duck, including a female Scaup amongst a flock of Tufted Duck, one female Pintail and up to ten Common Scoter on the sea. A showy Willow Tit was much admired among passerines visiting a feeder (later seen flying up and back along a hedge), while at least two Stonechats also showed well in scrub on the edge of the dunes and Reed Buntings were much in evidence, as were other tit species. A red squirrel visiting a feeding station near the entrance was enjoyed by a few lucky observers.

A stop on the dunes at Lower Hauxley proved productive with the best being Bar-tailed Godwit, a late juvenile Common Tern (sadly not Roseate given that we were directly opposite Coquet Island where there is a breeding colony), a Kingfisher fishing in a pool on the beach, Purple Sandpiper, Knot, a small flock of five Skylarks and a few Linnets in fields behind us. Driving on up the coast road a flock of 26 Ringed Plover feeding in a field together was an unexpected sight, followed shortly after by 40+ Curlew in adjacent fields.

The estuary at Amble saw us add another Kingfisher, while the waders included a Ruff, Golden Plover, Dunlin and a large flock of Lapwing. At Alnmouth near the Cricket ground, there wasn’t a great deal to be seen as the tide was right in, but lovely scenery and a rain free period was much appreciated as dusk approached.  We then headed north to Seahouses. We were based at Bamburgh Castle Inn at Seahouses again; it makes a good base for getting to sites in the area without too much driving. A flock of ‘winking’ Pink-footed Geese flying over just as we arrived was appreciated.

Saturday dawned clear (but colder); it didn’t last!  A few headed out before breakfast to check out the harbour but with the tide still well in there were just a few waders about and Eider and Cormorant on the sea, though we did add House Sparrow and Feral Pigeon to the list! The intention was to spend the day at Holy Island so we all headed off up there even though the forecast was dire for the entire area (and accurate as it turned out) as nowhere was likely to be good weather wise. 

On the way a large flock of Pink-footed Geese heading over Budle Bay was appreciated by many (missed by some!). The tide had cleared the causeway to Holy Island by 9.30am and in light drizzle we stopped there to enjoy the spectacle of thousands of Pale-bellied Brent Geese close in on the newly exposed mud; early arrivers also saw the only Barnacle Geese of the trip. Making our way to The Snook the rain falling ever more heavily we ventured out to pick up our first Chiffchaff of the day and a Goldcrest before the torrential downpour forced everyone back to their cars – already soaked. Some then headed straight for coffees and gave Holy Island a miss while the rest of us soldiered on. The rest of the day it rained and it rained and it rained!  We did have a small break of about 40 minutes when it only drizzled, which was the most productive period. We spent this time by Vicarage gardens where we saw several Chiffchaffs, two Blackcaps, Song Thrush and Tree Sparrows; though sadly the most interesting looking warbler came and went without us being able to pin down an identification. Thousands of flocking Golden Plover coming to land on exposed rocks/shoreline was a fantastic sight (accompanied by one Grey Plover), while four Red-breasted Mergansers came reasonably close in to the shore and we had numbers of Redwing and Fieldfares flying over. After that it was a matter of survival – we all got soaked and apart from saw very little (things were moving in hedges but always the wrong side for us to see them!).  A return stop on the causeway using the cars as hides gave close views of thousands of Brent Geese and Wigeon again – while those late off had thousands of Pink-footed Geese as well.  Fenham-le-Moor hide provided useful shelter for watching the duck and wader spectacular; there were thousands upon thousands of Wigeon and impressive numbers of Golden Plover and other waders too.  The line of c. 100 seals lying on a sandbank diminished as we watched with the tide coming in swiftly.

A visit to Stag Rocks on the way back was worthwhile; the sea was thunderous with waves crashing down – quite a sight. Purple Sandpiper and Turnstones clung precariously to the rocks while Gannets, Red-throated Diver and a few Guillemots were seen appearing and disappearing again in the huge waves. On the exposed sand of the beach to the south a few Bar-tailed Godwit and Sanderling were feeding and Rock Pipits were in among the more sheltered rocks.

Sunday weather was mostly pretty awful – the few rain breaks we had didn’t last for long and the wind was strong all day.  Surprisingly we managed to see quite a lot in the end, with the last couple of hours the best of the whole trip in terms of scarcer species!  Budle Bay was the first stop – Yellowhammer, Mistle Thrush and Sparrowhawk in fields behind were added but with the tide still well in the waders and wildfowl were generally a long way off.  The most notable was the very large number of Shelduck and a flock of Pink-footed Geese over. Next, the stronger winds at Stag Rock made the sea even more impressive than the previous day. Red-throated Divers, a few Guillemots and large numbers of Gannets were moving on the sea, but the highlight was a Peregrine which did a very slow fly past (making heavy going of it in the wind) close by.

Our next stop was Low Newton where a small flock of Sanderling on the beach entertained and three Common Scoters flew past.  However the most unexpected bird was a lone Swallow (sadly not seen by all of us) flying over the scrape. Water levels were high so the scrape was rather disappointing, with fewer waders than anticipated, though there were Snipe in the long grass and a small number of Turnstones. The pool was largely empty but held at least six Little Grebes (we saw these at almost every site we visited) and a flock of Long-tailed Tits were foraging in the bushes and trees nearby, along with a Goldcrest or two.

Some of us went to Druridge CP/East Chevington and others to back Hauxley after that.  East Chevington pool yielded Goldeneye and more Little Grebes, but not the hoped-for Iceland Gull present the previous day. A male Stonechat showed up right next to the path too there, but not much else was about. Heading on to Druridge Pools we upped the Little Grebe count again and added a juvenile Great-crested Grebe, but nothing else we hadn’t seen before.  The sun did come out for 30 seconds though – but then it started raining again.

The last stop of the trip was to Cresswell Pools – and that turned up some of the best birding of the entire weekend – as well as a four-footed surprise!  A Merlin flashed over, the Little Stint present for a couple of days was still there (and was eventually picked up by everyone when it came in closer to the hide to feed on exposed mud), while three Long-tailed Ducks proved tricky to spot in the ruffled water but gave good views overall. Eight Whooper Swans, (including some juveniles), our only ones of the trip, sat around on the pond before heading off. Yet another Kingfisher was seen briefly and a red-head Goosander was bobbing about. Other waders included Golden Plover, Redshank, Curlew, Dunlin, a couple of Ruff and at least 20 Snipe sheltering and feeding in the edges of the reed bed. A Water Rail wandered across the mud and it (or another) was then seen later on walking into a different patch of reeds. The highlight though was an adult Otter and a cub which appeared on the edge of the reeds right in front of the hide. To our collective delight they stayed there for several minutes; the cub wanted to play and was climbing over its parent and jumping about.  Eventually they slowly went out of view in a thicker clump of reeds by the water’s edge, but then reappeared a while later crossing the mud and moving up the shallow channel before disappearing into the main reedbed – memorable. With the light fading fast by this time we called it a day and headed off back.

Huge thanks to Peter Watson for organising and booking the trip and for leading it.

Jane C

Bird list

Pink-footed Goose, Barnacle Goose, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Brent Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Scaup, Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Red-legged Partridge, Grey Partridge (H), Pheasant, Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Water Rail, Coot, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Turnstone, Knot, Ruff, Sanderling, Dunlin, Purple Sandpiper, Little Stint, Redshank, Snipe, Guillemot, Common Tern, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Willow Tit, Skylark, Swallow, Long-tailed Tit, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Treecreeper, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Stonechat, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Brambling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting

Other: Red Squirrel (1) and Otter (2)

Following a recent donation from the club tthe Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows have now installed new Tree Sparrow nest boxes.


You might think it would have been crazy to go out birding in the dire weather this morning, but four of us (Peter, Neil, Noel and myself) braved it and headed east to Flamborough. We had a great day with a large fall of birds, some of which we witnessed coming in off the sea. Amid several hundred Redwings and Song Thrushes, we saw Velvet Scoter, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Bramblings, a comical Jack Snipe, Ring Ouzels, Yellow-browed Warblers and best of all a stonking male Red-breasted Flycatcher in Old Fall.

There is a little write-up here: http://birdingdad.blogspot.com/2019/10/york-birding-club-trip-6th-october-wet.html with a few pics and a video of the bouncing Jack Snipe.

Jono Leadley

Seven members met at 8am in the main Hatfield Moor car park. It was a first ever club trip to this site and a first visit for many of the members.

From the car park, 1-2 Green Woodpeckers were heard while around 40 Swallow passed south and a Grey Wagtail flew over. The first of several Chiffchaff was heard singing. From the car park the group made its way to the hide overlooking Boston Park Lake, where a Common Sandpiper was present along with 9 Pochard and at least 10 Little Grebe, 12 Tufted Duck & 13 Gadwall. Nearby a Little Egret was present with another 2 Little Grebe on the Dragon Pits.

Taking the path to the Badger Corner Lake, a large tit flock continued Coal Tit, several Chiffchaff, Treecreeper & Great Spotted Woodpecker. The Badger Corner Lake produced 3 Wigeon, a couple of Gadwall and 3 more Tufted Duck amongst the hundreds of Greylag and Canada Geese.

From here we made our way to the open area of Hatfield Moor, dominated by heather, colonising birch and the old peat workings, many of which were dry. There were numerous dragonflies, including Black Darter as well the occassional Painted Lady.

Birds encounted in this area were mainly Meadow Pipit & Pied Wagtail, feeding along the edge of the flooded peat workings. A single Stonechat and then another pair of Stonechat were found on the Packards south area of the Moor. Several Buzzard were seen gliding over this area. However the highlight of the day was a pair of Peregrines which gave a great display over the Packards north area.

After lunch the group headed to Blacktoft Sands, where the Spotted Crake was still present along with several Water Rail as well as Curlew Sandpiper & Spotted Redshank

An interesting day, and with such a large site, a return visit is needed, with a future spring visit being planned. 45 species were seen at Hatfield Moors

The Nightjar Brewery in Mytholmroyd: https://nightjarbrew.co.uk/ has recently brewed a beer called Gabble Ratchet (an old Yorkshire name for Nightjars) and had delivered some consignments to two pubs in the York area; the Grey Horse in Elvington and the Drovers Arms in Skipwith.

The brewers have undertaken to make a donation for each cask sold, to be used to assist in the conservation of nightjars on Yorkshire’s NNRs, .
This is certainly an initiative which we can get behind, by sampling a pint or two.

The “tasting notes”:
“4% – Next generation bitter. Lovely deep amber in colour and giving fruit notes with a slight nuttiness on the palette. Brewed with English Hops, Fuggles for the Bittering and Goldings for the aroma. Extremely moreish, clean and easy drinker.”

Operation Owl is a national campaign to increase public awareness of bird of prey persecution and to seek support in tackling it head on.

Full details can be found here:

North Yorkshire is a national hotspot for raptor persecution in the UK, as proven by a Buzzard recently found shot near Pocklington. For full details see the link below.


Having eyes in the field is important in combating this crime. For details on the law concerning wild birds click on the link http://birdersagainst.org/