Michael Clegg Memorial Birdrace. Sunday 8th January 2017

A total of 18 teams took part this year covering their selected areas around Yorkshire. The recipients of this years sponsor money will be ‘The English Twite Recovery Project’ and will go towards helping Twite in Yorkshire.

Many congratulations to all the York members who took part – we had a record 5 teams in the York area. After some near misses the York Upstarts broke the 100 barrier in some style – an excellent achievement. Chris Gomersall mentioned that they didn’t get great crested grebe, crossbill, red kite or curlew. Paul Doherty’s group had a Red Kite so there were at least 106 species in the Club area. Can any of the other groups add great crested grebe, crossbill or curlew?

York Upstarts
Well what a fantastic day today has been. Jack, Tim, Adam and Chris competed in the annual birdrace and after a check of species it transpires that we amassed a total of 105 species! There were many highlights and flukes, long eared owl on Strensall common, 10+ tawnys throughout the day, the first flock of gulls we looked at contained 2x Glaucous, Iceland, Caspian, Greater and Lesser black backed and Herring gulls, all in 10 mins, waxwings, whitefronts and bean geese, 15 species in an hour at hes east. All very hectic and fun!

The fog made it particularly difficult at times. All said, the YOC area is a pretty good one to live and bird in.

Nevermind the Woodcocks
Evening all, NTW (Richard Baines, Emanuela, Paul Brook and Jono Leadley) scored 95 in the York area.
Best birds- Waxwings, Scaup, Jack Snipe, Tundra Bean and White-fronted Geese, Bramblings, Chiffchaff.

York Chairmans Pick
Our team of Duncan Bye, Peter Watson, Jane Chapman and Rob Chapman had a total of 82 species (if you exclude a Black Swan and rogue Barnacle Goose). Highlights were Glaucous Gull and Tundra Bean Goose. We started at Redhouse Wood and ended at Wheldrake Ings, via Hessay, Poppleton, Rawcliffe, briefly at Strensall, a fog bound Castle Howard, Thornton and East Cottingwith.

York Bird Club
Our team (Paul Doherty, Neal Hildreth, Jim Reid, Alan Swain, Noel Wilkinson) covered SE53 (the 10km square in the extreme southwest of the club area) and saw 71 species. A pretty reasonable total given that there was no flooding along the Lower Wharfe, so several species we might have seen were absent. We started at Milford Common, went on to Bishop Wood, along the Lower Wharfe to Kirkby Wharfe, then back to Milford Common.

The best bird was the last one, a Little Egret which came in to roost at Milford Common. Another highlight was the male Peregrine hunting over Milford Common in the morning. We had permission from the shoot to go off the public footpath at Milford Common and recorded an impressive 11 Jack Snipe and at least 20 Common Snipe. Other species seen during the day included Red Kite, Water Rail, Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Corn Bunting.

Species we missed included Tawny Owl (first time ever), various wildfowl, Golden Plover, Kingfisher, Sky Lark and Tree Sparrow.

Our team (Keith and Liz Reynolds, Helen Searstone and Sue Ball) confirmed 67 York Area sightings to Paul, for our first and very enjoyable participation in the Bird Race.

We started at dawn at Allerthorpe, then down via Thornton (taking in Field Lane for TB Geese etc) and Melbourne and discovering interesting little pockets of habitat in that area before making our way round to Bank Island. We decided to go the Castle Howard for last stop rather than Andy Booth Hide. The earlier mist had cleared and the clouds peeled back as the sun was going down. So much activity on the water with 100s of gulls, BHG, Common, Herring and the odd GBB, like a churning white mass highlighting the waterfowl in the fading light, inc Goosander, Mandarin and Goldeneye. It was an amazing sight and very atmospheric as some mist started to hang low over the far side of the lake. Going back past the end of the lake in the moonlight we could hear the calls of 100’s of geese which had lifted from the fields, they appeared out of the dark and passed right over us. A spectacular end to a great day out, birding with friends. Can’t beat it!

Our best bird in terms of rarity would have to be Tundra Bean Goose, but we enjoyed seeing so many fieldfare with redwing, some with starlings, others with linnet feeding in the fields. We also had some great views of Bullfinch and Yellowhammer.