Oops! It appears that you have disabled your Javascript. In order for you to see this page as it is meant to appear, we ask that you please re-enable your Javascript!

We met at YWT Potteric Carr Nature Reserve just before 9am to find that the road in front of the reserve was closed from 9am to 2pm due to a marathon. This meant that we had a very pleasant day with the reserve almost to ourselves — no kids screaming, no hides full of people glued to their seats!

It was nice to see and hear the chicks and juveniles of several species, including lapwings, oystercatchers, pochards, little grebes, whitethroats, blackcaps (photo of 5 juveniles attached, can you see all the heads?), blue and great tits, goldfinches, black-headed gulls (photo attached), and others. We had good views of a juvenile great spotted woodpecker.

Blackcap young © Emanuela Buizza June 2019
Black-headed Gull young © Emanuela Buizza June 2019

Other highlights were a yellow-legged gull, 3 hobbies flying around at one time, 3 little ringed plovers, lots of pochards (at least 50 males + females and a few young), avocets, a brief view of a bittern flying into the reeds.

The total list for the day is 64 species, with 8 species of warblers and 5 species of gulls.

Best wishes, Emanuela

Spurn was lovely and sunny yesterday for the Club Trip – ten of us went and enjoyed a full day out – pity some of the rarities had moved on with clear skies on Saturday night and we dipped on the Wryneck, but we still had lots of good sightings. Highlights were Wood Sandpiper, a Blue-headed Wagtail, female Hen Harrier, around 60  Little Terns and ten Sandwich Terns at Beacon Ponds , singing Lesser Whitethroat (which also gave good views), a couple of Redstarts (including one striking male at the Cemetery – both birds found by us!!), and a silent Cuckoo gave a couple of fly pasts up and down Canal Bank.  Waders included lots of summer plumage Grey Plover and a handful of Knot coming into summer plumage and we also saw at least five Whimbrel, six Black-tailed Godwits and four Bar-tailed Godwits. Loads of Swallows, fewer House Martins but no Swifts. A very late Fieldfare at Sammy’s Point was unexpected.  Other migrants included lots of Whitethroats and a few Wheatears as well as Willow Warbler and Blackcap.  

Six of us stopped off at North Cave on the way back, adding LRP, Yellow Wagtail, nesting Mediterranean Gull and…Swift!  Loads of hirundines there too.    Many thanks to Peter for leading it – a most enjoyable day out.

Twelve of us went on the trip – some getting up at 4 am to head over to Teesdale. We met up at Langdon Beck cattle grid in atrocious weather at 7 am on Sunday – very high winds, bitterly cold, fog and even some sleet! Seeing, let alone hearing lekking Black Grouse seemed an unlikely prospect. Heading off down the hill to look back up the valley we got reasonable views through the mist and gloom of Curlew, Lapwing and Oystercatcher, but the lek site wasn’t visible from there at all. Deciding it was even less likely we would spot Ring Ouzel up at the quarry site, some went back to the warmth of the hotel for breakfast (having come up the day before in much nicer conditions) and we got on with plan B – go and look at the fields by the farm (where the grouse are often to be seen later in the day) and have a walk down by the waterfall etc. to try and get Dipper and Grey Wagtail. Stopping just before the lower cattle grid, we scanned for grouse and got two female Black Grouse as well as Snipe (calling and drumming). As the mist was lifting, I decided to head back up to the top of the hill, just in case the lek was visible and… it was! 16 lekking males were present, so I hot footed it back to the pub in the car to let the others know and went back up the hill. Very shortly after I got back, 12 flew off and thinking that was it, we decided to carry on with the Dipper walk as planned. Going to turn the car lower down the hill, Rob, Natasha and I were amazed to see a whole load more lekking males which weren’t visible from the top of the hill – at least 16 (and as the twelve had not come back our total had just jumped to 28); we could even pick up their calls as the wind died down. We tried to text but my text didn’t get through – phone signals were dodgy all day. On arriving back to meet up with everyone else, those that had finished breakfast by then went to have a look and the rest of us went to find the Blue Gentian (none so far this year), and enjoyed close views of Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit and Great Tit. No hirundines though. Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush were also about and we had a couple of Redshank too. All together, we then walked down the lane and picked up two Dippers busily feeding and taking beakfuls of food up to their nest site along Harwood Beck.

We visited High Force next – an impressive amount of water coming over the falls – and were also rewarded with a pair of Grey Wagtails and a further pair of Dippers. Much to everyone’s surprise we also had a Cormorant flying over, down river! After than we went to Bowlees for lunch , where the noisy Nuthatch was still in the car park, and then (guided by Ken, Helen, Keith and Liz – thank you very much) went on a walk out across the fields to Low Force (where a large number of canoeists about – some were jumping off the bridge!) and then on up towards ? Holwick Fell where they had seen Ring Ouzel the previous day. By this time we had beautiful sunny weather, it was much warmer and the wind had died down so it was a real treat to stroll that way. Lots and lots of Lapwings about, some more Oystercatchers and at least 10 Wheatears to enjoy, along with singing Skylark and the bubbling song of Curlew. Though we spent much of the rest of the afternoon up there, we never did catch up with a Ring Ouzel – fabulous scenery to admire though and for a number of us, the first time we had ever been up there. We were also rewarded with views of a further five male Black Grouse feeding in fields – two even flew up and perched on a wall in full view. Oh and the sheep producing lambs as we went past was interesting as well! We must have pretty much come at peak lambing time as there were just loads of lambs about 1 – 2 days old about.

On returning to Bowlees car park, we picked up yet another Dipper and then, a quick walk to the little quarry and feeders yielded a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit (for Ken and Helen). It then started to tip it down with rain, so we gave up and headed back to York.

Considering the unpromising start, it turned out to be a much more successful day than seemed possible and our only big miss of the day was Ring Ouzel. The total number of species seen was about 48 – and the scenery, once the weather improved, was spectacular!


With the weather forecast looking awful, there was not much point in heading to Wykeham for raptor watching so an intrepid bunch, lead by Jono, braved the weather and headed for the LDV. See Jono’s blog for a write up of yesterday’s rather damp visit: http://birdingdad.blogspot.co.uk/

Eleven members met up at Hornsea Mere this morning (Sunday 10th February) on what proved to be a chilly but dry day. Many of the wildfowl were distant from Kirkholme Point but a good selection was noted, including a bird that looked to be the first-winter Scaup that has been reported recently. However, as its head-shape looked a bit unusual and its bill perhaps was not quite right, some raised the possibility that it might be a hybrid; unfortunately before this could be explored fully the bird flew off never to be re-located. Distant views of at least two Marsh Harriers were welcome. Next stop was at the western end of the mere to explore some of the parkland and see common woodland species, the highlights here were half a dozen or more Bullfinches. It was an enjoyable walk in an area that many had not been before or, at least, for some years.

We then went to the coast to scan the sea and have our lunch. Some of us had been here earlier in the day before the meet-up and had recorded 20-25 Red-throated Divers. There weren’t so many when we returned but some were on the sea and there was at least one bird that looked good for Black-throated. Following this we headed north to Barmston and then ended at Fraisthorpe with a pleasant stroll on the beach but there were few birds here as it was busy with dog-walkers and the like though we had close views of Sanderling.


Rob Chapman

The 2019 Michael Clegg Memorial Birdrace took place across Yorkshire last Sunday, 6th January. Four teams from the York area took part. Here are summaries that were posted on Yorkbirding email and Twitter. Well done to the York Upstarts (Tim, Jack and Adam) who again broke the 100 barrier and topped the league.

York Upstarts
From Tim: “Our second best total 101, highlights Arctic Redpoll, Red-necked Grebe, Great White Egret, stunning Male Merlin, Otter on York Uni campus! And a Siberian Chiffchaff at Hes East!”

Never Mind the Woodcocks
From Emanuela: “Sadly without their captain Jono this year — included Richard, Paul B, Paul W and myself. We scored 90.
We started before dawn with three owl species near Thornton — little, tawny and barn owl. We then headed to Allerthorpe Common where the highlights were crossbill, willow tit and marsh tit. We then toured the LDV, where the highlights were black-tailed godwit, white-fronted geese and pink-footed geese. Next step was Castle Howard Lake, where we saw the red-necked grebe.

We finished off at Wheldrake Ings with a nice woodcock. We missed a few species we had seen on previous years such as stonechat, brambling, green woodpecker, jay and nuthatch.

See Paul’s blog for an account: https://dippyman.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/the-wacky-bird-race-3-revenge-of-the-nuthatch/

York Chairman’s Pick
From Duncan: “The Ex-Chairman’s Pick team for the bird race comprised Peter, Neil as well as myself & later in the morning we were joined by Rob & Jane.

We started at Allerthorpe Common about 6.30, then on to Field Lane, Thornton and Church Bridge and then East Cottingwith, Ellerton, North Duffield Carrs, Escrick, Heslington West & East & finally Bank Island.

Our total was 89 which was the same as last year though we still missed some that we might have hoped for like Meadow Pipit, Stock Dove & Sparrowhawk!

Highlights were the Willow Tit at Allerthorpe and East Cottingwith, Black-tailed Godwit at East Cottingwith, Peregrine & Stonechat at North Duffield Carrs & watching 2 Barn Owls hunting last thing at Bank Island where the White-fronted & Pink-footed Geese were present.

York Bird Club SE53

From Paul D: “Our team (myself, Alan and Jonathan) concentrated on the SE53 10 km square in the southwest of the club area. We scored a modest 71, well down from last year’s bumper 83 and largely explained by the lack of flooding which meant that nine species of wildfowl we saw last year weren’t around today.

Our best birds were Jack Snipe, some stunning Red Kites and several Brambling (usually hard work around here).

Unexpected misses were Common Gull and Greenfinch. The former may seem surprising but last year we didn’t see one until well into the afternoon, so we tried from the outset today, but still didn’t see any.


There is a change of speaker for the January meeting. The talk will be by Richard Baines on “Birds and wildlife of Northern Thailand”.

Date, time and venue remain the same. 8th January 2019 at 7.30pm, St Olave’s Chruch Hall.

11 members and a guest went for the day to St Aidan’s RSPB reserve. It was a sunny day for a change with 74 species seen or heard. Highlights were Red Kite, Peregrine, Great White Egret, Cetti’s Warbler (heard by two early starters at Lin Dike on the way), Stonechat, Dunlin, Redshank ,Shelduck and Barnacle Goose. There were good numbers of Gadwall and Great Crested Grebe. We finished at Lin Dike, Fairburn Ings with a murmuration display by several thousand Starlings. Thanks to Peter for leading the trip.

Last night, 4th December, was the annual photographic competition. Twenty people entered photographs in three categories. Once we managed to gain entry to the hall, a decent turnout had an enjoyable evening. There will be a gallery of winners in due course but here are the results:

York area

  1. Barn Owl – Trevor Walton
  2. Goldfinch – Terry Weston
  3. Hawfinch – Antony Ward


  1. Reddish Egret – Terry Weston
  2. Blue & Yellow Macaw – Phil Moss
  3. Black-throated Robin – Tom Lawson


  1. Short-eared Owl – Antony Ward
  2. Common Tern – Trevor Walton
  3. Puffin – Terry Weston

Congratulations to all the winners and everyone who entered. Thanks to Tom Lawson for organising and running the evening also to Paul Doherty and Jean Smith for judging the entries to get the shortlist for the popular vote.

Fourteen of us met up at Kilnsea Wetlands on Sunday 8th for one of our annual autumn jaunts to Spurn. It was lovely to have Jenny back with us again, now that she has recovered from her broken hip. The winds weren’t looking too promising (where are the easterlies this year?) and the tides times weren’t overly great either, but it turned out to be a much, much, better day than expected; with around 74 species seen and that doesn’t include the Marsh Harrier spotted on the way there!

With practically no birds on Kilnsea Wetlands as the tide was out, we stopped long enough to pick up a couple of Curlew on the fields opposite the car park and enjoy seeing a large skein of Pink-footed Geese flying over, then headed promptly to the Bluebell car park with the intention of walking the Triangle from there. Stonechats, Skylarks and Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers were all showing well south of South Field and there was obviously a good passage of Meadow Pipits going through. The first Redwings of the autumn for most of us passed over too. We were intending to stop to look for the Jack Snipe at Canal Scrape when we were told of a Barred Warbler by the Warren so we all hot-footed it to there instead. With a bit of perseverance most of us picked up the bird which was being rather elusive and exhibiting skulking/‘crashing through bushes’ behaviour before giving a brief but good flight view, while a male Blackcap did its best to fool everyone into thinking it was the Barred Warbler. There were also three or four Brambling by the Heligoland trap. News of a Rosy Starling, relocated and showing well from the bank along the Canal Zone caused us to continue our detour as we headed along the bank to try to catch up with it. With patience, great views were obtained – it was feeding in buckthorn, with a few Starlings, before flying about with a Starling flock that grew to 50+. In excellent light and calm conditions the pale colouration stood out from the rest of the flock and when perched, the yellow on the bill was evident. The flock was pretty mobile flying between wires and bushes – the Rosy Starling even spending some time on the Solar panels on Southfield farm (rather distant from our viewpoint on the bank). We finally made our way back to Canal Scrape Hide to see the Jack Snipe – picking up a mobile but showy Yellow-browed Warbler on the way (another treat for the day, though given the number of them that were about, it was surprising that that was the only one we managed to catch up with). The Jack Snipe proved to be hard work – even looking through a ‘scope trained on it, it was incredibly well camouflaged. Fortunately, it did bob up and down at times which clinched the bird for many who had been looking in the wrong patch of reeds! We then returned to Canal bank and continued with the Triangle. A few Golden Plover were showing well on the mud in the sunlight, and we also picked up Redshank, Ringed Plover and a couple of Knot (one in summer plumage still). A few Fieldfares flew over and most of us saw Wheatear and Chiffchaff too. There were also one or two Swallows and House Martins seen. Stopping off at Church field, we were given a guided tour of the new viewing platform behind the observatory – great views from the top, but not many birds about, though a GWE was supposed to have come down in Kilnsea Wetlands somewhere.

Back at the Bluebell car park for lunch, a bit of sea-watching gave Noel and Neil a Short-eared Owl fly past (the only two lucky enough to see this); then we all picked up a flock of Common Scoter, a few Gannets and a Red-throated Diver.
Heading to Sammy’s Point, we dipped on Ring Ouzel (present there earlier in the day) but had good views of a Bar-tailed Godwit on the mud and more Wheatears. As it had turned quiet we headed off to Easington Cemetery to see if anymore YBW were about – we didn’t find any, but did pick up a Pied Flycatcher, which was much appreciated, and some more Brambling.
Knowing that high tide was only an hour off we then headed back to Kilnsea Wetlands for birds coming in to feed and roost up. We were also rewarded with seven Brent Geese flying over. The wetlands were far more productive this time – Spotted Redshank, White Wagtail, Shoveler, Pintail and Med Gull all being added to the list. We then walked up to overlook Beacon Ponds and hope a few owls might be about near the listening dish. We had a flock of eight Greenshank, good numbers of Grey Plover, several Little Egrets and, satisfyingly, the Great White Egret too on the shores of the ponds. Heading back to the cars in fading light, and a fitting end to the day, most of the group got all too short views of a Short-eared Owl as it flew over the wetlands bank and dived into the long grass, not to be seen by any of us again.

An unpromising weather forecast for seeing much, but we came away having had a really satisfying day’s birding – even if many of the birds weren’t ones we might have expected to see at the time of year.

The full list of species seen (not necessarily in this exact order) was:
Teal, Wigeon, Meadow Pipit, Shelduck, Goldfinch, Little Egret, Curlew, Kestrel, Pink-footed Goose, Starling, Lapwing, Little Grebe, House Sparrow, Grey Heron, Greenfinch, Skylark, Stonechat, Wren, Reed Bunting, Robin, Dunnock, Yellowhammer, Pheasant, Redwing, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Swallow, House Martin, Brambling, Blue Tit, Blackcap, Barred Warbler, Rosy Starling, Great Tit, Yellow-browed Warbler, Jack Snipe, Snipe, Wheatear, Chiffchaff, Redshank, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Knot, Fieldfare, Chaffinch, Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Short-eared Owl, Mallard, Herring Gull, Great black backed Gull, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Pied Flycatcher, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Linnet, Cormorant, Spotted Redshank, Common Gull, Collared Dove, Brent Goose, White Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Shoveler, Pintail, Med Gull, Greenshank, Grey Plover, Great White Egret, Mute Swan, Black-headed Gull.

Jane Chapman