YOC field trip to the LDV on Sunday 11th February 2024

10 hardy members braved the rain to meet at the Bank Island car park at 8am. Two more members joined us as we made our way round the valley.
With water levels still rising there was no access to the hides at Bank Island or to Wheldrake Ings.

Barn Owl on a post
Barn Owl © Duncan Bye

At Bank Island a pair of Barn Owl performed well, while a couple of Dunlin were seen as a Lapwing flock lifted from Wheldrake Ings.
We then headed to the viewing platform at Thorganby Ings, where highlights included 3 Oystercatchers, 150 Pintail, a Pochard & 1500 Lapwing.
It was still raining so we headed for the shelter of the Geoff Smith hide at North Duffield Carrs. The red wing tagged Marsh Harrier ‘D3’ was present here. This is a bird which winters in the LDV & breeds near Fakenham in Norfolk. At least one other Marsh Harrier was present causing panic amongst the ducks. 40 Dunlin were present here in with the Lapwings.

Mixed waders
Waders at North Duffiled Ings © Duncan Bye

It was then onto the layby on the west side of Bubwith bridge where we viewed North Duffield Ings (south of the bridge). This was spectacular with large numbers of wildfowl & waders present on the flood & the adjacent farmland by Derwent Cottage Farm. There were over 300 Pintail, with 18 Whooper swan the sight of 3500 Golden Plover, 2000 Lapwing, 600 Dunlin and 20 Black-tailed Godwits regularly being spooked. While the group watched this, luckily Jeremy was looking the other way & to the delight of all, he picked up 2 Cranes as they flew north over Bubwith Bridge. A new bird for some in the group.

Two Common Cranes
Common Crane © Duncan Bye

After this excitment we headed to Aughton Church, where 126 Pochard were present. Then along the lane between here & Aughton a flock of around 2000 Starling & 500 Fieldfare were in the fields.
At Ellerton we had a walk along the lane to Ellerton Landing. As expected we had to stop short due to the flood water. However here we had closer views of Whooper Swan & around 20 Pink-footed Geese. Raptors started being active with 1 Marsh Harrier, 2 Red Kite & 7 Buzzard. A Little Egret, 4 Oystercatcher & 400 Dunlin were also present.

YOC members
Trip at Ellerton © Duncan Bye
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon © Duncan Bye

Finally we arrived at East Cottingwith & took the footpath from canal lane across the fields to overlook the canal (flooded) and the Refuge at the back of Wheldrake Ings. The male Scaup was briefly seen, before it disappeared, while on the Refuge there were 104 Tufted Duck & 9 Goldeneye. Again raptors were out with 2 Red Kite, 5 Buzzard, a Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, 2 Marsh Harriers & a large immature female Peregrine which was hunting before giving good views while it drifted over the group’s heads.

Pink-footed Geese
Pink-footed Geese © Duncan Bye

With time getting on, most people headed off, but some stopped at a pond near East Cottingwith where a flock of 400 Pink-footed Geese gave good close views.
We then returned to Bank Island to watch the huge numbers of gulls heading to roost on Wheldrake Ings.