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Sightings in our area - 1998/99


These are some sightings reported by our members. They are not intended as a comprehensive report, but are a brief summary of sightings reported at our monthly meetings and by individual members.

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December 1999
(From our Jan 2000 meeting).
Numbers of Goosander appeared to be lower than previously at Castle Howard, with 35 reported on the 28th, plus six Goldeneye. Around 200 Golden Plover were near Strensall at the end of December. 500 Lapwings were on the Elvington road on the 2nd, near Grimston Bar. A Buzzard was sighted near Castle Howard on 19th December, flying north, with what appeared to be a rabbit kill nearby. A Tawny Owl was calling on Haxby Road last week. A Barn Owl had been seen hunting near Grimston Bar on the 19th. 30 pied wagtails were on flooded fields by the Ouse on the 27th, and around the same number at Strensall sewage works on 2nd January. One or maybe two grey wagtails had been near Rowntrees all winter, with another at Dunnington. 3 Waxwings in York on the 12th and 13th, not seen since. A female Blackcap was in a Micklegate garden on the 21st. 4 Siskin were at Fulford Ings, 15 in Dunnington, with Goldfinches down to around 350, and still about 50 Tree Sparrows. Around a thousand Goldfinches were in a flock near Wilberfoss. Five Redpoll had been on Fulford Ings on the 2nd January, with Redpolls also reported from Clifton Moor. A late report from November was of nine snipe and two jack snipe flushed at Butterwick, near the Rye.

November 1999
(From our December 1999 meeting). From Dunnington, winter flocks of up to 1000 Wood Pigeon reported, also 500 Goldfinch and 100 Redpoll feeding on flax, Corn Buntings also present. A Kingfisher is seen regularly at Hassacarr reserve.A Blackcap was in the garden all November, and about fifty Tree Sparrows in the area . From Rawcliffe Lake, a northern race Chiffchaff was present in November. A Firecrest was seen at Clifton Ings. A white-headed Chaffinch had been seen at East Cottingwith, and Roy Crossley wants reports of other white birds (not just spotted Blackbirds). Reported from the River Ouse between York and Bishopthorpe, Goldeneye seen flying on occasions, Grey Wagtails in October and November.A Water Rail had been heard.Three pairs of Bullfinch, and three Redpolls, were noted on 20th November, and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker on the 27th. Also reported, up to 5,000 gulls roosting at Castle Howard, a Blackcap in Flaxton in December, and a dozen Collared Doves roosting in a garden in Osbaldwick. One Waxwing had been seen in Micklegate on 4th December.A further three were reported from the city walls on the 11th (near Bishopthorpe Road). There was a report on the survey work in the summer in the Derwent Valley; the Barn Owl survey produced 69 breeding pairs, tending to breed in clusters.A nocturnal survey had found six calling Corncrakes, one pair certainly bred, and 16 calling spotted crakes. At Rawcliffe Lake, Chiff-chaff on November 8th; this coupled with the sighting in February would indicate this species is wintering in the area. Also a couple of Redpolls are back feeding with the Goldfinch's. All the Great Crested Grebes have now left, 2 young successfully raised to maturity. The Chiff-chaff was seen again on a couple of occasions during the week 22nd-26th November showing characteristics of the northern race, abietinus.

October 1999
(from Nigel Stewart). 3 early returning Pink Footed Geese at Wheldrake on the 10th and a female Goldeneye briefly at Rawcliffe Lake on the 15th where a male Sparrowhawk showed well on the 11th, perched in a tree.

September 1999
Juvenile Great Crested Grebe on R. Ouse on 4th. On same date, Tree Pipit heard at Fulford Ings, with Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler all still present (Blackcap feeding on elderberries). Juvenile Willow Warbler at Priory Street on 4th.

August 1999
Nigel Stewart reports: "News from Rawcliffe Lake is that the Great Crested Grebes have bred, 4 chicks to start with now down to 2. The Mute Swans started with 4 cygnets now down to 1. There were 2 pairs of Ruddy Ducks displaying on 7th and 8th of July and a Sparrowhawk on 21st July. Elsewhere a female Marsh Harrier at Duffield Carrs on 18th July and a couple of walks along the Pocklington Canal from Hagg Bridge have produced a lot of Dragonfly sightings, most common are Brown Hawker and Red Eyed damselfly." Still on the insect front, Ian and Ruth Traynor reported a Comma Butterfly in their Osbaldwick Garden on 31 July. Fulford Ings sightings on 22nd included three Sparrowhawks including a juvenile male, a Tree Pipit, and a juvenile Reed or Marsh Warbler. The last Sedge Warbler was at the Ings on 6th. A Common Sandpiper was at the R. Ouse near the A64 bridge on 6th.

July 1999
Three juvenile Spotted Flycatchers were at Fulford Ings on 31st, and an Oystercatcher flew over on 21st. A moulting Great Crested Grebe was on the R. Ouse from 12th - 24th.

June 1999
Records from Fulford Ings: The highlight was a male Marsh Warbler singing at Fulford Ings between 5th and 16th. Another bird was present on 13th at least, but no evidence of breeding. Four Common Terns flew S down the R. Ouse S of York on 18th and an Oystercatcher flew over Fulford Ings on 26th. Up to 3 Reed Warblers were singing at the Ings on 26th, where a Water Rail was also heard. A Spotted Flycatcher was at the Ings on 6th. A Woodlark was at Barlow Common (date?), and a dark-phase Buzzard at Melbourne (date?). Three singing Corn Buntings were at the Forest of Galtres Golf Course on 23rd.

May 1999
Reported at the June 1999 meeting. There had been several sightings of Ospreys over the York area, particularly New Earswick and Rowntrees' factory. in the first part of May. A White Stork had been present at Castle Howard for a couple of weeks, seen displaying. Despite being unringed, it was generally considered to have come from Harewood Bird Garden. The first Nightjar reported was churring at Skipwith on 14th May, an early record. A red kite had been reported over Sutton on Forest, seen several times on the 7th and 8th May. Breeding of Spotted Flycatchers and Tree Sparrows noted from Huby, with a pair of Curlew also nearby.
Report from Nigel Stewart on Rawcliffe Lake: At Rawcliffe Lake 4 pairs of Coots had chicks by mid month, the pair of Mute Swans had 3 cygnets on the 19th, up to 10 pairs of House Martins were nesting on nearby houses and at least 3 pairs of Willow Warbler breeding. Unfortunately the Great Crested Grebes first breeding attempt has failed, the pair were displaying again by end of the month. Elsewhere I had my first Turtle Dove of the year at Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd also 10 Whimbrel and 20+ Grey Herons on the falling water levels on the same day. Also at Wheldrake a male Garganey showed well on the pool from the 11th to 20th at least.

March 1999
Reported at the April 1999 meeting: Spring arrivals noted, the first Chiffchaff recorded from Warthill, on the 17th March, and in York from the 28th, with many now singing in the Yearsley area. The first Blackcap song was noted on the 26th. Willow Warblers were singing at Skipwith and Wheldrake on April 3rd. A Sand Martin was at Wheldrake on March 26th, and the first Swallow at Pond Head on April 5th. Winter birds were still being seen, with large flocks of Fieldfares (200-300) in the north of the area. The Goldfinch flock, of 200 plus, were still in the Dunnington area. Passing through, a few Curlews near Nunnington, and a Black-tailed Godwit at Wheldrake on the 30th. The regular passage of 50 Corn Buntings passed Dunnington on the 3rd to 4th April. Unusual sighting were Green Woodpecker in Bishopthorpe from mid March, and Glaucous and Iceland Gull at Wheldrake on the 26th. There had also been reports from the Derwent Valley of Common Crane at Hagg Bridge and a Kumlein's Gull, on the 28th, but no member present had seen either. Breeding noted from Little Owls, at Dunnington.

February 1999
Reported at the March 1999 meeting: 20 bullfinches had been seen at Strensall. Golden plover flocks were still in the area, with 1200 at Simbalk Lane. Some lapwings had dispersed, but a large number remained near Castle Howard. Huge numbers of wood pigeons had been noted in the area. A blackcap was seen in Muncastergate. A green woodpecker was at Skelton, and a lesser spotted woodpecker at Strensall. At Poppleton, there were a pair of yellow-hammers, and four red-legged partridge. Breeding had been noted amongst thrushes, blackbirds, dunnocks and robins, with coots nest building.

January 1999
Reported at the December 1998 meeting: Both common and black-headed gulls regularly on the Knavesmire. Large numbers of gulls visit Rufforth tip. A ring-billed gull had been reported near Lendal Bridge at the end of January. A lesser spotted woodpecker had been seen at Wheldrake car park, a chiffchaff at Rawcliffe Lake in January, a Sparrowhawk at Bishopthorpe, and a Grey Wagtail in the centre of York, in the market place. At Dunnington were 250 wintering skylarks, 150 corn buntings, 40 yellow-hammers, 40 tree sparrows, all on untreated stubble, with five sparrowhawks in the area. There were now 300 goldfinches on linseed, also large numbers of pigeons. Unusual garden visitors were a Long-eared Owl in Brayton, and a red-legged partridge in Osbaldwick, York. On 12th February, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker with a large Tit flock at Strensall Common.

December 1998
Reported at the January 1999 meeting: Reported from Wheldrake in early January, a female bearded tit seen on the path to the Swantail hide. Also on the reserve, now over 40 Bewick swans. A great grey shrike had been seen on two days at Wheldrake, with another at North Duffield Carrs. A woodlark had been found near Sutton on Derwent. A huge flock of finches, including goldfinches, greenfinches and brambling, totalling in excess of 700, had been feeding on a field of linseed near Hagg Bridge. 300 goldfinches were reported from Dunnington Common, an unusually high number. Large golden plover flocks, some over a thousand, were still in the York area. Grey wagtails had been seen on the Foss (near Yearsley baths) and at South Parade.

November 1998
Reported at the December 1998 meeting, members reported huge Golden Plover flocks on the outskirts of York, the largest estimated at 3000 birds; located off the northern ring road, and by the A19 both north and south of York. Large numbers of Fieldfares and Redwing had been passing through, and Redpoll seen in suitable areas. At least 25 Goosander were on Castle Howard lake, with Goldeneye also there and on other lakes (including Pond Head, where there was also Kingfisher), in small numbers. Over 1000 Woodpigeons were feeding on flax near Dunnington. A pair of Jays in a suburban setting at Osbaldwick was an unusual occurrence. A request for reports of Grey Partridge (an apparently declining species in the area) produced the following records:
Covey of 7 Howthorpe Farm Castle Howard Estate 23rd November
Covey of 4 beside Dixieland Farm, South Holme 29th November
Covey of 5 just west of Sutton-on-the-Forest cemetery 5th December


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