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Sightings in our area - 2008

   

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.

We welcome bird records for our area from anyone, whether you are a club member, a resident, or a visitor to our area. Please see our Reporting Guidelines on how to submit records. You can submit sightings online here or you can email sightings to our Recorder at: Recorder@YorkBirding.org.uk

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December 2008
The last month of the year is usually a fairly quiet affair but this time things certainly did not just fizzle out! It was a rather cold month with often freezing temperatures and although Rawcliffe Lake was mostly iced over a lot of the time a single Great Crested Grebe remained throughout. Up to 61 Whooper Swans were again wintering in the Lower Derwent Valley with a single Bewick’s Swan being found amongst the herd at North Duffield Carrs on the 12th while three of the latter species flew south at Thorganby Ings on the 26th. This site also hosted a single Egyptian Goose on the 17th with 150 Pink-footed Geese flying in the direction of Bubwith from Knedlington near Howden on the 3rd. At least 300 Wigeon were counted at Thorganby on the 26th with a pair at Naburn Marina on the same date being more unusual. Around 50 Pintail were at Wheldrake Ings on the 30th while at least 20 Shoveler were in the Lower Derwent Valley on the 29th with counts of c. 30 Pochard and c. 100 Tufted Duck at Wheldrake Ings the following day. Five Goldeneye were at Castle Howard Lake on the 25th with the same number at Wheldrake on the 30th while a maximum of eleven Goosander (seven drakes) was on the River Ouse at Clifton Ings on the 1st with just five at Castle Howard Lake on the 30th and a single bird noted in the Lower Derwent Valley on the 29th. It was also a good month for raptors with a single Red Kite seen flying from Askham Bog towards Askham Bryan on the 5th and several noted all month at the new raptor hotspot of Millington Pastures near Pocklington , just outside the recording area. A bird seen in the Green Hammerton area on the 30th may have been there all winter while a Marsh Harrier passed over Millington Pastures on the 7th with a lingering female also noted in the Lower Derwent Valley towards the end of the month. A ringtail Hen Harrier was also seen at Millington Pastures on the 10th with possibly the same bird noted further east at Warter Wold on the 22nd.  A female Goshawk was reported flying over Everingham Park, mobbed by corvids, on the 31st while Common Buzzards were noted at Millington Pastures and Heslington Tillmire and a Rough-legged Buzzard was reportedly seen with the former species at Thorganby Ings on the 1st with up to two ‘Roughlegs’ remaining at Millington Pastures throughout the month. A Merlin made a kill at Bank Island on the 1st with a male seen from the A19 near the Tollerton turnoff on the 5th while singles were noted at Millington Pastures on the 17th and 21st. Single Peregrines were reported from Wheldrake Ings on the 8th and by the Pocklington Canal at Bielby on the 26th. A Water Rail was an unexpected find at York University Lake on the 4th while another was heard at the more traditional site of Wheldrake Ings on the 30th. There was nothing particularly unusual wader-wise with c. 100 Golden Plover and c. 300 Lapwing noted on farmland near Terrington on the 23rd with c. 2000 of the latter at Thorganby on the 26th as well as 25 Dunlin, 18 Ruff, 23 Redshank and a Black-tailed Godwit. The godwit was still present next day while other sightings of Ruff included one at Bubwith Bridge and four at Aughton Ings on the 27th with 20 again at Thorganby on the 30th. Single Jack Snipes were flushed at Rawcliffe Cornfield NR on the 9th and Fulford Ings on the 30th when at least 20 Common Snipe were also present with 18 of the latter at Heslington Tillmire the previous day. A Green Sandpiper dropped into the new ditch at Rawcliffe Meadows Flood Basin briefly on the 15th while a late Lesser Black-backed Gull flew west over the River Ouse between York and Naburn on the 6th. Single Barn Owls were reported from Fulford Golf Course on the 1st and both Bielby and Hagg Bridge on the 26th with Little Owls being seen at Welburn on the 25th and Bielby on the 26th while a Green Woodpecker was in the Rawcliffe Meadows Flood Basin on the 15th. Moving on to passerines, 15 Meadow Pipits at Rawcliffe Cornfield NR on the 20th was unusual while 30 were at Bielby on the 26th with five Grey Wagtails at Ouse Bridge, York on the 8th. The major event this month, however, concerned a good scattering of Waxwings with the largest flock being 27 at Strensall on the 16th. Pairs of Stonechats were noted at Millington Pastures on the 25th and North Duffield Carrs on the 29th while the only Redwing flock reported was of 80+ birds on the golf course adjacent to Askham Bog on the 5th. Perhaps the same male Blackcap was seen visiting different gardens in Copmanthorpe on the 24th and 27th with a Chiffchaff showing well outside an office window on York Science Park on the 5th. Six Treecreepers were counted in Askham Bog on the 27th while three Nuthatches feeding on a dry stone wall away from any trees at Terrington the following day was unusual. Sizeable flocks of Tree Sparrow consisted of 50 at Earfit Lane, Copmanthorpe on the 2nd, 30+ in stubble near Terrington on the 23rd and 50 at Strensall on the 29th. Siskins were also seen in good numbers with seven at Rawcliffe Lake on the 20th, 70+ by the River Rye east of Nunnington Hall on the 23rd, 50 at Askham Bog on the 27th, five in a Strensall garden on the 29th and a single male at Naburn Sewage Works on the 6th. Lesser Redpolls were less evident with three at Earfit Lane, Copmanthorpe on the 2nd and 20 in Askham Bog on the 22nd being the only reports. The wintering flock of 60+ Linnets was still present at Rawcliffe Cornfield NR with at least ten birds noted in the Lower Derwent Valley on the 29th while a pair of Bullfinches at Earfit Lane, Copmanthorpe on the 2nd was said to be noteworthy. Three Crossbills were seen in Wheldrake Wood on the 6th with five flying east over Wheldrake Ings on the 27th and a single Hawfinch reported from Millington Pastures on the 17th. Notable flocks of Yellowhammer concerned 20+ at Earfit Lane, Copmanthorpe on the 2nd, 30+ in stubble near Terrington on the 23rd, 50 at Bielby on the 26th and at least ten at Heslington Tillmire on the 29th along with a similar number of Reed Buntings. Finally, Corn Buntings were reported to still be present in the Poppleton area on the latter date.

November 2008
There was still quite a bit of excitement this month before things gradually quietened down for the winter period. Nine Whooper Swans remained in the Castle Howard area until at least the 16th while the usual herd in the Lower Derwent Valley built up to a maximum of 90 birds by mid-month. Two Tundra Bean Geese were reported amongst  a flock of 210 Pink-footed Geese at Wheldrake Ings on the 24th with 150 of the latter species seen flying southeast over Pocklington on the 3rd, perhaps accounting for a similar number at Wheldrake on the 16th? Meanwhile, 20 White-fronted Geese were reported flying south at Kexby on the 17th while numbers of other wildfowl were generally low with a drake Green-winged Teal being seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th, three Pintail at Black Dyke Ings, Barmby Moor on the 11th and four Goosander on the River Ouse at Clifton Ings on the 8th and 24th with only two birds noted at Castle Howard on the 16th. Four Little Grebes were on the smaller roadside lakes at Castle Howard the same day while pairs of Great Crested Grebe remained at both Rawcliffe Lake and York University Lake. Although just outside the recording area, the discovery of up to three Rough-legged Buzzards at Millington Pastures near Pocklington from the middle of the month attracted a lot of attention both locally and regionally. A strong supporting cast of several Red Kites, Common Buzzards, Kestrels, Peregrine and at least two Short-eared Owls all added to the interest! Elsewhere, a Marsh Harrier was seen at North Duffield Carrs on the 20th with the ringtail Hen Harrier still ‘kicking about’ there at the start of the month, a female Goshawk reported from Allerthorpe Common on the 15th and a rather late Hobby near Crayke on the 1st. Around 2,500 Golden Plover were at North Duffield Carrs early in the month where an American Golden Plover was reported to be with 600 of its commoner cousins on the 20th and 500 ‘Goldies’ counted at Norton Towers mid-month along with 1,000 Lapwings. Seven Ruff were at Wheldrake Ings on the 16th with 45 at North Duffield around the same time while a Jack Snipe was seen at Wheldrake on the 16th. Single Woodcocks were reported from Askham Bog on the 25th, Kexby Stray Farm on the 26th and Fulford Golf Course on the 29th. Late summer migrants included a Swift flying southeast over York Museum Gardens on the 13th (single birds had also been reported from outside the area at Hackness near Scarborough on the 6th, Helmsley on the 9th and Kirkbymoorside on the 11th) and a Swallow at Sand Hutton Central Science Laboratory on the 4th. The influx of Waxwings continued although birds were still a bit sparse in our area with seven at Melbourne on the 4th, one flying east at Upper Poppleton on the 5th, ten at Kirkbymoorside (just outside the recording area) on the 9th with 15 there on the 26th, a single bird feeding on apples at Scrayingham on the 23rd and at least one in a garden at Tang Hall, York on the 29th. There were few reports of winter thrushes received during this period with c. 80 Fieldfares at Heslington Tillmire on the 29th being the only count. Encouragingly, four Willow Tits were seen at Kexby Stray Farm during a BTO bird atlas survey on the 26th with ten recorded at Allerthorpe Common on the 28th. Two Jays remained in the Clifton Ings area during the month while the only reports of Tree Sparrow were two on The Outgang at Heslington on the 29th and 17 visiting garden feeders at Long Marston towards the end of the month. A female Brambling was seen with Chaffinches at Sand Hutton CSL on the 4th with at least four birds at Gipsey Lane, York on the 26th and a male at Langwith Stray on the 29th. A large flock of Greenfinches was found feeding in a sunflower strip at Heslington Common on the 13th when 150 birds were counted with c. 100 there on the 16th. Survey work in Dunnington Common  area also produced a flock of 60 Goldfinches between Gipsey Corner and Langwith Lodge on the 26th as well as two Siskins with other finches at Heslington Common on the 16th, six in Millington Wood (just outside the recording area) on the 20th and five at Gipsey Corner on the 26th. Meanwhile, good numbers of Linnets were reported from both Heslington Common & Rawcliffe Cornfield NR with c. 30 Lesser Redpolls seen in birch trees at Fulford Golf Course on the 21st and four between Gipsey Corner and Langwith Lodge on the 26th. Up to 50 Crossbills remained on Allerthorpe Common throughout the month while groups of six Yellowhammers were seen at both Heslington Tillmire and The Outgang on the 29th. Up to 12 Corn Buntings were coming in to roost at Clifton Ings on the 25th and 28th while other flocks consisted of c. 30 between Barmby Moor and Yapham on the 17th and 25 near Poppleton on the 29th.

October 2008
October was typically a busy month for records with many members feasting their eyes on the bountiful fruits that autumn provides! There was a noticeable southerly movement of returning Whooper Swans with one at Wheldrake Ings on the 12th, another at North Duffield Carrs on the 17th, three adults on a roadside flash near Barmby Moor on the 19th, 21 birds at North Duffield on the 21st rising to 30 by the 28th and a family party of six on Castle Howard Lake on the 26th with nine birds there on the 31st. Caught up in this movement, one observer was lucky enough to have the only Bewick’s Swans seen when five adults dropped in to North Duffield on the 17th. Pink-footed Geese were also still on the move with 20 birds at Wheldrake on the 12th eclipsed by a total of 500+ dropping in there on the evening of the 24th. A presumed escaped Ross’s Goose was seen at this site on the 14th while a single Barnacle Goose (feral bird?) was at Castle Howard Lake on the 31st with the six
Egyptian Geese
first noted last month relocated in stubble fields between Kexby and Dunnington during the first week. Small numbers of Wigeon, Teal and Pintail were reported from North Duffield Carrs on the 17th while an impressive 165 Teal were counted on the roadside flash near Barmby Moor on the 19th. A drake Pochard was on the boating lake at Rowntree Park, York on the 18th with only about five birds seen at Castle Howard Lake on the 26th when there was c. 30 Tufted Duck also present. A female Goosander was at Redhouse Reservoir on the 29th with four noted at Castle Howard Lake on the 31st. A covey of ten Grey Partridges (two adults) was seen at Dunnington Common on the 10th while the pairs of Great Crested Grebes at Rawcliffe Lake and York University Lake remained on site all month. More unusual was a Gannet which flew west over Pocklington School (just outside the recording area) on the 4th. A Cormorant lingered at Rawcliffe Lake from the 25th (no doubt to the annoyance of the local fishermen!) and a Bittern was seen at North Duffield Carrs on the 9th. Interesting raptor reports included a Red Kite over Sand Hutton Central Science Laboratory (first for the site) on the 6th while up to two Marsh Harriers continued to be seen at North Duffield Carrs and Wheldrake Ings throughout the month. A ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier graced these two sites between the 20th-23rd and a Common Buzzard was seen at Heslignton Tillmire on the 2nd while Peregrines were noted at North Duffield on the 9th, near Barmby Moor on the 14th and 15th (two on latter date) and hunting Lapwings at Wheldrake on the 24th. It was a more exciting month for waders with the roadside flash near Barmby Moor featuring prominently: c. 25 Golden Plovers flew west over the A64 Malton bypass on the 4th with small numbers noted at North Duffield Carrs on the 17th, c. 500 Lapwings were at the Barmby Moor site on the 19th where there was a juvenile Little Stint on the 13th, a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper on the 13th and the 21st, with it or another reported from Wheldrake Ings on the 14th, a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper from the 17th-21st, four Dunlin on the 13th when a single Ruff was also present with one at Wheldrake the day before, a Greenshank at the Barmby Moor site on the 13th, 18th and 21st and a sometimes elusive Wood Sandpiper there from the 13th-21st. A juvenile White-winged Black Tern was reported briefly circling over Wash Dyke at Skipwith Common before flying off southeast and not being relocated; however, this record is likely to be lost in the mists of time if no details are forthcoming... Skylarks were noted to be moving through Clifton Ings late in the month while lingering summer visitors included 12 Swallows at the Rawcliffe Park&Ride site on the 6th with five near Hessay on the 3rd, four south at Dunnington Common on the 10th, four over the floodplain at Tadcaster (just outside the recording area) on the 23rd and two at Long Marston on the 25th. House Martins were still present in reasonable numbers at the beginning of the month with 20 at Crockey Hill on the 2nd (some possibly still feeding young in the nest!), 20+ over Clifton allotments on the 7th and three at Beningbrough on the 6th. It looks as though we could be in for a good Waxwing winter with many birds turning up at coastal localities and smaller numbers (so far) filtering inland including single birds seen flying west over Camblesforth near Selby (just outside our area) on the 28th and over the city walls near the railway station in York the following day. Fieldfares were late this autumn, not surprising in a month dominated by westerlies(!), with flocks of c. 80 and c. 90 flying over North Duffield Carrs on the 17th, 100+ over Redhouse on the 29th when the first birds arrived in the Clifton area and four west over Walmgate Stray, York on the 31st. An influx of thrushes to Rawcliffe Ings on the 9th produced at least 60 Blackbirds and 20 Song Thrushes in just one tree(!) while Redwings continued to arrive in some numbers with 100+ flying over Sand Hutton CSL on the 17th when c. 100 were seen at Bank Island and 50+ at Rawcliffe Meadows, c. 50 along the River Ouse between York and Naburn on the 18th and 30+ at Redhouse on the 29th. The only warblers reported may involve birds set to winter with a male Blackcap at Clifton allotments on the 8th and a female at Danesmead Copse, Fulford on the 18th while a Chiffchaff was seen in a Long Marston garden on the 9th. A small influx of Goldcrests was noted at Clifton Ings with two birds seen at Redhouse on the 29th. A Willow Tit was a good local patch find at Earfit Lane, Copmanthorpe on the 20th while a small influx or local movement of Jays was evident with birds seen at Heslington Tillmire on the 2nd, Wheldrake Ings on the 24th (two), Redhouse on the 29th (two) and Clifton Park at the end of the month. At least 150 Chaffinches were noted at Skipwith Common on the 24th with 20+ Bramblings reported to be with them while at least five Siskins were seen or heard along the River Ouse between York and Naburn on the 18th with small numbers noted at Rawcliffe Cornfield Nature Reserve on the 22nd. Six Lesser Redpolls were seen in the car park area at Wheldrake Ings on the 24th with two at Redhouse on the 29th while at least 50 Crossbills were again reported from Allerthorpe Common on the 24th with 17 in Wheldrake Wood on the 28th and at least ten still there the next day. Meanwhile, 16 Corn Buntings dropped in to roost in long grass at Clifton Ings on the 28th.

September 2008
With autumn migration now well under way, things were certainly hotting up this month! A noticeable passage of Pink-footed Geese during the last week saw skeins of c. 50 birds flying south-southeast over Heslington on the 25th and  41 south over Copmanthorpe on the 28th when c. 100 flew west over Heslington  with another skein of c. 60 flying south-southeast there. A group of six wary Egyptian Geese found in a riverside field at Kexby on the 24th was unusual while the expected species of duck started to put in an appearance in the Lower Derwent Valley with ten Wigeon at Bank Island on the 14th, five Pintail at Wheldrake Ings on the 30th, single Garganey at Wheldrake on the 5th and 20th and two Shoveler at Bank Island on the 14th when there were about ten Pochard there as well as several Tufted Ducks. The failed breeding pair of Great Crested Grebes remained at Rawcliffe Lake all month as did the rather more successful pair at York University Lake along with three fledged young. A Bittern was seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 23rd while a Great White Egret settled down there for a day after first been seen flying north at Bank Island; this bird was only observable distantly from the viewing platform at the latter site as the ings was flooded, providing brief glimpses through the trees with some patience! While waiting to see this elusive individual, birdwatchers were entertained by an impressive passage of raptors including six Honey Buzzards, part of a national influx and a repeat of the unprecendented event of the year 2000! In fact, a total of at least 11 of these birds passed through the Lower Derwent Valley that afternoon with three also seen over East Cottingwith and two over North Duffield Carrs. Further singles flew over Ellerton Ings on the 18th and North Duffield Carrs again on the 21st; most were moving in a southerly direction. The 14th also produced a male Marsh Harrier, three Sparrowhawks, several Common Buzzards, an Osprey and a Peregrine, all from the viewing platform at Bank Island. Also, up to at least four different Marsh Harriers were seen at various sites throughout the Lower Derwent Valley during the month while another Osprey flew north over Castle Howard Lake on the 13th, a single Merlin was reported from North Duffield Carrs on the 23rd with two Hobbies watched for an hour hunting in front of the Geoff Smith Hide there on the 21st while single Peregrines were noted in the Lower Derwent Valley on three dates in addition to the bird passing over Bank Island on the 14th. Wader-wise, the month was rather uneventful with just eight Dunlin at Wheldrake Ings on the 30th along with six Ruff and a Greenshank while c. 30 Snipe were flushed by a Marsh Harrier there on the 14th and both a Green Sandpiper and a Wood Sandpiper reported on the 2nd. A juvenile Common Tern was at Thorganby Ings on the 14th with a Black Tern seen at North Duffield Carrs on the 23rd before flying off high to the north. A single Short-eared Owl was reported from Wheldrake Ings the same day while a Kingfisher perched on a post at Bank Island on the 14th when a late Swift flew through Long Marston. The remains of a Hoopoe wing was discovered at Pocklington School on the 1st (RIP the July Dunnington bird?) while a Wryneck was picked up dead by the River Foulness at Water End on the 16th having been present in local gardens for two days – just a shame the news didn’t get out before this bird succumbed!... Moving on to passerines, at least 12 Yellow Wagtails were observed gathering to roost on  the roof of a farm building adjacent to the Thorganby Ings car park on the 3rd with two (adult and juvenile) at Hessay in the last week of the month. The first Redwing of the autumn was heard calling on York University campus in the early morning of the 24th while lingering summer-breeding warblers included a Reed Warbler at Castle Howard Lake on the 13th, six Chiffchaffs singing along the River Ouse between York and Naburn on the 14th with three birds along that stretch on the 21st and single Willow Warblers at Fulford Ings on the 14th and 21st. Spotted Flycatchers were also ‘hanging on’ with two at Clifton Park early in the month and one at the nearby allotments on the 18th. A single Jay was seen at Fulford Ings on the 21st while nine Tree Sparrows in a Long Marston garden on the 14th were noteworthy and 350+ Goldfinches were feeding in an uncut oilseed rape field at Newton on Derwent on the 24th. Other interesting finch records included ten Lesser Redpolls in a hedgerow at Clifton Ings on the 26th where three Crossbills (two males) were a local patch ‘tick’ for the observer the day before. Finally, two Yellowhammers visited a Long Marston garden on the 14th.

August 2008
August was more eventful than the previous two months, in terms of the variety of species at least, as birds were on the move again! Two Pintails were at Thorganby Ings on the 24th as were two Garganey. A Quail was heard calling at night near Stockton-on-the-Forest on the 11th while the pair of Great Crested Grebes at Rawcliffe Lake had abandoned their nest by mid-month but both birds remained to the month’s end. Presumably the same Little Egret was seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 8th and 25th but the highlight of the month (or even the year!) was undoubtedly the juvenile Black Stork found at Wharfe Ings near Cawood on the 24th; it remained in the immediate area until the 29th but could be very elusive as it had chosen a location with pretty limited viewing! The bird was belatedly reported from Seavy Carr on the 30th and would have been the same bird previously seen in County Durham and Northumberland, thankfully dropping into our area before moving to Spurn Point and last seen circling over Great Yarmouth in Norfolk before presumably heading out to sea... One to two Marsh Harriers were seen at several sites in the Lower Derwent Valley throughout the month where single Common Buzzards were also noted with two birds observed mobbing the Black Stork at Cawood on the 28th. A female/immature Merlin was seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th with a Hobby  seen well at Clifton Ings on the evening of the 17th while five were hunting over Thorganby Ings on the 26th and one at Bank Island next day. A juvenile Peregrine was watched chasing a Green Sandpiper at East Cottingwith on the 21st with another carrying off a Collared Dove at Long Marston on the 24th. An intriguing record received was that of a pair of Little Ringed Plovers breeding at York Railway Station (with photo!) while Golden Plovers started to return with six at Wheldrake Ings on the 4th and one at Thorganby on the 28th. Likewise, Lapwing numbers began to build up with counts of c. 700 at Wheldrake on the 4th, c. 200 at Thorganby on the 25th and c. 200 at Wheldrake again on the 28th. A lone Dunlin was seen at Wheldrake on the 18th while up to eight Ruff were seen at various sites in the Lower Derwent Valley with Thorganby Ings being favoured. Other waders on return passage included two Black-tailed Godwits at Whedrake Ings on the 23rd, although Thorganby Ings obviously had the best feeding on offer with a maximum count of 21 on the 27th while four Greenshanks were also at this site on the 23rd with two on the 27th and another(?) two at North Duffield Carrs on the 28th. Reports of single Wood Sandpipers were made from Wheldrake on the 10th and Thorganby on the 27th. A Common Tern flew over Clifton Ings on the 5th while one was again at York University Lake on the 15th with a single Black Tern at Castle Howard Lake on the 30th. Three Barn Owls were seen together, all carrying food, at Wheldrake on the 20th and Swift reports were prominent this month as birds began to depart for warmer climes with 50+ over Long Marston on the 17th, 20 over Poppleton the same day, a total of 100 heading south over Pocklington on the 24th, one south over Heslington on the 25th and several south over Poppleton again on the 27th. Many thousands of Swallows were reported coming in to roost at Bank Island on the 20th while c. 50 Pied Wagtails were feeding on York University playing fields on the 17th. The Reed Warblers at Rawcliffe Bar Country Park were feeding fledged young mid-month but all had departed by the last week. Not a common bird this year, a Lesser Whitethroat was seen at Malton on the 20th while two Blackcaps were at Hessay on the 15th and several at Redhouse on the 16th. Other warblers reported included a single Chiffchaff in a Heslington garden on the 18th with several at Malton on the 20th while two Willow Warblers passed through a Long Marston garden on the 17th when several were at Hessay and several were also at Malton on the 20th. Two Spotted Flycatchers were still at Wheldrake Ings on the 4th with one at Malton on the 20th and three at Clifton Park on the 28th while two Willow Tits (a scarcity in our area nowadays) were seen at Wheldrake on the 17th. A single Siskin was at Fulford Golf Course on the 25th while a Crossbill flew over Malton on the 20th with another possibly heard at Redhouse on the 16th.

July 2008
Another rather quiet month as is usual for July. A Garganey was noted at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd while the pair of Great Crested Grebes at York University Lake had produced their third brood (of four chicks) with the less successful pair at Rawcliffe Lake trying again after two failed attempts. A Little Egret was seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd and 4th with two birds there on the 23rd while a probable Black Stork was seen flying northwest between Nunburnholme and Warter (just outside the recording area) on the 9th. There was a good run of raptor records this month with single Red Kites over Ellerton on the 2nd and Sheriff Hutton on the 31st with a Marsh Harrier flying east at Burythorpe near Malton the same day, a ‘ringtail’ Montagu’s Harrier reported over Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd, a Common Buzzard seen from Clifton Ings on the 4th with at least six birds at Coneysthorpe on the 27th, single Hobbies at Wheldrake on the 2nd, near Malton on the 6th and at Strensall Common on the 13th and an adult Peregrine over Clifton Ings on the 8th. Wader records included four Oystercatchers at the Moor Monkton turnoff on the A59 road on the 3rd with two on a small pond between Long Marston and Hessay the same day, an unusual report of a Snipe in a Sheriff Hutton garden on the 4th when three Ruff were at Wheldrake Ings, a Black-tailed Godwit at the latter site on the 3rd, eight Whimbrel flying south over Sand Hutton Central Science Laboratory on the 14th and seven Curlew on the small pond between Long Marston and Hessay on the 3rd when a Green Sandpiper was at the Moor Monkton turnoff on the A59 road. A male Turtle Dove performed nicely during the YOC field trip along the Pocklington Canal on the 29th as well as a Barn Owl but the highlight of the month for most members was the Hoopoe discovered in a farmyard on the outskirts of Dunnington from at least the 20th; the bird remained in the general area until the 22nd allowing many people to connect with this exotic-looking visitor which even made a TV appearance on a regional news programme and a collection made at its chosen location raised money towards the upkeep of nearby Hassacarr Nature Reserve. Two pairs of Stonechats were noted at Strensall Common on the 13th with broods of four and two fledglings respectively while a Lesser Whitethroat was watched feeding young at the Moor Monkton turnoff on the A59 road on the 4th. A pair of Spotted Flycatchers was also seen feeding young at Wheldrake Ings during the month while 16 Crossbills were at Skipwith Common on the 14th and three Corn Buntings singing along the Pocklington Canal near Hagg Bridge the following day.

June 2008
Things tended to quieten down a bit this month as the main spring migration period drew to a close and many species settled down to breed. On an unseasonal note, a Whooper Swan was still at North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd while surprisingly there were no reports of Garganey after last month’s glut of records. A pair of Grey Partridge was seen at Long Marston on the 15th with numbers of Quail estimated to be in the mid-twenties in the Lower Derwent Valley by the 10th when three were at West Lilling. A Little Egret was at Wheldrake Ings on the 24th while two White Storks, presumed to be wandering birds from the Harewood Estate near Leeds, flew high east over Acomb in York (no date).  Sightings of Common Buzzard included seven soaring together at Castle Howard on the 5th with other raptors records of note including an Osprey flying north over North Duffield on the 4th, single Hobbies at Allerthorpe Common on the 28th and over Haxby on the 29th and an immature Peregrine at Dunnington Common on the 13th. Wader reports included a notable count of 14 Lapwings in a maize field at the latter site on the same day, two Woodcock roding at Yearsley Moor on the 23rd, 11 Black-tailed Godwits at Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd, a pair of Curlews at Fulford Ings on the 9th and over the river at Middlethorpe Ings on the 24th, a Green Sandpiper at Wheldrake on the 24th and a Common Sandpiper at Rawcliffe Ings on the 30th. A pair of Common Terns was seen most days throughout the month at York University Lake while the only record of Turtle Dove concerned a calling bird at Yearsley Moor on the 9th. Cuckoos were also a bit thin on the ground with singles at Naburn on the 16th and 19th as well as Skipwith Common on the 21st being the only reports while an adult Little Owl was a welcome sight on Middlethorpe Ings on the 9th and 24th. Three Nightjars were noted in a new cleared area on the northwestern side of Yearsley Moor from the 8th with another at the now virtually defunct site at Skipwith Common. An impressive gathering of 300-400 Swifts was seen hawking around the Marston Moor battle monument on the 29th while a Green Woodpecker was at Walmgate Stray in York on the 16th with Tree Pipits noted at both Skipwith Common and Yearsley Moor. A female Black Redstart was found at the untypical location of Fulford Golf Course/Heslington Tillmire by a very startled observer on the 10th while a Common Redstart still on territory at Yearsley Moor on the 24th was more expected. A singing Sedge Warbler was noted at Fulford Ings on the 9th and 24th with one to two pairs of Reed Warblers breeding at Rawcliffe Country Park while other warblers of note this month were single Lesser Whitethroats in the Heslington area on the 10th and North Duffield Carrs on the 19th with two at Riccall the same day, a Garden Warbler still in song at Fulford Sewage Works on the 5th with three at Fulford Golf Course on the 10th and two Wood Warblers still at Yearsley Moor on the 24th. Single Spotted Flycatchers were seen at Dunnington Common on the 13th and Pool Bridge fishing lakes, Crockey Hill on the 27th while a Nuthatch was heard calling at Rowntree Park, York on the 24th with a breeding pair noted at Yearsley Moor where a singing male Golden Oriole was an unexpected discovery during a BTO Bird Atlas survey on the 14th, but did not linger much to the disappointment of other local birdwatchers. An adult Jay was seen at Fulford Ings on the 24th while a fine adult male Rose-coloured Starling was photographed coming to feed on pears in a garden at Wetwang (just outside the YOC recording area) on the 3rd; again, this star bird did not hang around for others to see! Two Crossbills were noted at Askham Grange prison, Askham Richard on the 6th with another two at Yearsley Moor on the 9th and at least 50 birds making their presence known at Allerthorpe Common on the 11th and 12th. Last, but not least, a Corn Bunting was seen at Long Marston on the 15th with three at West Lilling on the 24th.

May 2008
Typically another busy month for local birdwatchers with spring migration now in full swing. A single Pink-footed Goose was seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd and 10th with this or another flying high north over Middlethorpe Ings on the 14th. A single Barnacle Goose was also at Wheldrake on the 10th with 11 Shelduck counted at Newburgh Priory Lake on the 19th. Becoming a more regular feature now, single drake Mandarin Ducks were noted at Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd, 7th and 9th as well as Castle Howard Lake on the 6th. There were many records of Garganey received with up to four birds being seen at various sites within the Lower Derwent Valley while the only record from elsewhere concerned a drake on the pond at Sand Hutton Central Science Laboratory on the 8th. An elusive drake Blue-winged Teal was reported from Wheldrake Ings for several days early in the month where it could sometimes be seen in the company of an escaped New Zealand Shoveler; however, for reasons best known to themselves, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust requested that news of the former bird be suppressed! Two Red-breasted Mergansers were reported from North Duffield Carrs briefly on the 4th while a late record of Goosander concerned a female on the River Wharfe at Ulleskelf on the 27th. A Quail was calling at North Duffield from the 18th with four there by the 20thand at least 11 in the Lower Derwent Valley by the 28th; elsewhere, a single was at Ulleskelf from the 24th with one to two at West Lilling from the 27th. Breeding pairs of Great Crested Grebes were noted at Naburn Marina, Rawcliffe Lake and York University Lake while two White Storks reported flying high west over York on the 11th were most likely wandering birds from Harewood House near Leeds. Interesting raptor records included a possible Honey Buzzard high northwest over Long Marston on the 20th, a female Marsh Harrier at North Duffield Carrs on the 16th, a possible immature Goshawk flying east over South Bank in York on the 8th, a Common Buzzard low north over South Bank on the 7th with a noticeable movement of this species over Pocklington during the first week of the month, a first-summer male Red-footed Falcon at Howden Station on the 26th and 27th with a female  at nearby Belby Hall (just outside the recording area) at that time and single Hobbies reported from several sites throughout the month. Wader-wise, three Oystercatchers were at Naburn Sewage Works on the 10th with a pair there on the 25th and an adult Little Ringed Plover at this site on the 10th, single Grey Plovers at Thorganby Ings on the 5th, Wheldrake Ings on the 6th and two seen at Thorganby again on the 7th, 25 Lapwings including young counted on Middlethorpe Ings, two Temminck’s Stints seen at Wheldrake on the 9th with one there on the 13th, a late Jack Snipe at North Duffield Carrs on the 1st, five Whimbrel at North Duffield from the 1st-4th with two there on the 10th and 11th while a maximum of 136 roosted at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st with just 16 there by the 6th, a Greenshank noted at this site on the 10th and 13th and single Common Sandpipers at Castle Howard Lake on the 9th and on the River Ouse at Bishopthorpe Palace on the 17th. A pair of Common Terns was present at York University Lake on the 22nd while sightings of Black Tern consisted of two at Wheldrake Ings on the 4th, three at Castle Howard Lake on the 5th, one flying northeast over Wheldrake on the 7th, another at Newburgh Priory Lake on the 9th and two again at Castle Howard the same day. The only records of Turtle Dove were singles at Acaster Selby on the 10th and Yearsley Moor on the 19th with Cuckoos being noted at Moreby on the 3rd and Fulford Ings on the 10th. A recently fledged Tawny Owl was in Danesmead Copse on the 17th while an unseasonal Short-eared Owl was reported from North Duffield Carrs on the 4thand a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker noted at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th. At least five Swifts were seen over Rowntree Park, York on the 4th with birds soon arriving en masse throughout the recording area producing a count of 100+ at Naburn Sewage Works on the 17th and 25th which included a partial albino bird on the latter date. Pairs of Woodlark continued to be reported from traditional sites while two Tree Pipits were in song at Strensall Common on the 20th. At least 20 Yellow Wagtails were at Copmanthorpe on the 5th while more unusual these days was a Dipper seen at Crambeck on the 10th. Singing male Redstarts were noted at Castle Howard on the 9th and Yearsley Moor on the 19th with three Stonechats and three Wheatears seen at Strensall Common on the 16th and 5th respectively. Moving on to warblers, a Grasshopper Warbler was reported from Wheldrake Ings on the 7th, single Sedge Warblers noted by the River Derwent at Malton on the 5th and Fulford Ings from the 14th with ten at Wheldrake Ings on the 9th when a similar number of Reed Warblers was in the reedbed there with one at Rawcliffe Bar Country Park on the 7th being joined by a mate from the 12th and two at Castle Howard Lake on the 9th, 15 Whitethroats counted along the River Ouse between York and Naburn on the 10th, a Garden Warbler singing in Lady Spring Wood, Malton on the 5th, five birds at Wheldrake Ings on the 9th, one at Naburn Sewage Works on the 10th, another at Fulford Sewage Works from then until the 25th and one at Clifton Ings on the 14th with two Wood Warblers singing at Yearsley Moor from mid-month. Pairs of Spotted Flycatchers were noted at the latter site on the 19th and on Strensall Common the following day while a pair of Tree Sparrows was at Ulleskelf on the 29th and, finally, an albino Starling seen from Naburn Bridge on the 25th.

April 2008
April has always been seen as a fickle month for weather but with a good mix of birds thrown in and this was no exception with its constant comings and goings! Fourteen Whooper Swans remained in the Lower Derwent Valley at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st with an apparently injured bird still at North Duffield Carrs on the 4th. Three Pink-footed Geese were seen at Wheldrake on the 18th while the adult Greenland White-fronted Goose lingered at Castle Howard until at least the 5th. A drake Mandarin Duck was seen at Wheldrake Ings from the 23rd-25th with a drake Green-winged Teal also at this site on the 22nd while five Garganey (three drakes) were noted there on the 21st with two birds remaining until the 23rd. The long-staying female Scaup was regularly seen on Castle Howard Lake until at least the 21st with the elusive ‘redhead’ Smew staying there until the 11th. The only reports of Goldeneye and Goosander were of one to two birds at Wheldrake and Clifton Ings on the 22nd and 9th respectively. An adult Great Crested Grebe was at Naburn Marina on the 5th while the pair at York University Lake had four chicks by the 16th. The only reports of Black-necked Grebes were of one adult at a potential new breeding site on the 16th and two at Bank Island on the 16th & 17th. A (probable  escape)  White Stork was seen flying north over the A64 at Bishopthorpe Bridge on the 3rd while there were a series of interesting raptor reports this month with single Red Kites near Raskelf on the 26th and Colton on the 28th, a male Hen Harrier drifting northeast over East Cottingwith on the 16th, one to two Marsh Harriers seen in the Lower Derwent Valley on several dates between the 11th & 27th, an adult male Goshawk flying north over Danesmead Copse, Fulford on the 22nd, two single Ospreys flying north over North Duffield Carrs on the 7th with another being mobbed by a gull as it drifted north high over Acomb on the 22nd, a Hobby at Wheldrake Ings the following day and a Peregrine downing a pigeon between Copmanthorpe  and Acaster Malbis on the 8th with others chasing duck at Wheldrake Ings on the 17th and soaring over Heslington on the 19th. A Common Crane was probably lingering in the Lower Derwent Valley being seen at Wheldrake on the 17th and 25th. A good passage of waders was noted this month, attracted by the floods: two pairs of Oystercatchers were at Middlethorpe Ings from at least the 5th-12th, four Avocets at Wheldrake Ings on the 22nd with a Little Ringed Plover there the day before, up to 100 Golden Plover at Naburn on the 12th, c. 15 pairs of Lapwing counted at Heslington Tillmire on the 11th, a single Knot at Wheldrake on the 21st, a Dunlin on fishponds between Moor Monkton & Long Marston on the 29th, six Common Snipe displaying at Heslington Tillmire on the 11th, an impressive build-up of Black-tailed Godwits in the Lower Derwent Valley with a maximum of 56 at Wheldrake Ings on the 21st while a summer-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit was reported with one of these flocks at Wheldrake on the 1st where the Whimbrel roost peaked at 62 birds on the 25th, eight Redshank at Middlethorpe Ings on the 5th, two Greenshank at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th, a Wood Sandpiper at Wheldrake on the 29th and a Common Sandpiper at Sheriff Hutton Park on the 21st. An adult Little Gull was seen at North Duffield the same day while a probable first-winter Yellow-legged Gull flew west low over Middlethorpe Ings on the 12th and an adult Iceland Gull roosted at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th. Single Common Terns were seen at North Duffield and Wheldrake on the 21st (same bird?) and Castle Howard Lake on the 27th. Two Cuckoos were seen at the Towthorpe end of Strensall Common on the 13th with another noted there on the 25th, two at Skipwith Common on the 27th and one at Poppleton on the 28th. A pair of Little Owls was seen at Thorganby on the 26th with one at Dunnington the following day, but there were few reports of Barn Owl in what is reported to be a bad vole year. The first Swifts were three at Castle Howard and one at Bishopthorpe on the 27th with another at Clifton Ings on the 28th when at least 20 birds had returned to Pocklington with eight seen at Copmanthorpe the following day.  Green Woodpeckers were reported from several areas while a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was heard down Ings Lane at Wheldrake on the 23rd. Single Sand Martins were seen between Long Marston and Tockwith on the 1st and at Clifton Ings on the 2nd while at least 30 were at Naburn Sewage Works on the 5th with c. 50 there by the 12th. A single Swallow was at this site on the 4th with eight there the day after when the first House Martin of the year was also present with at least ten there on the 12th. A Tree Pipit was back on territory at Strensall Common on the 22nd while at least seven were scattered around Yearsley Moor by the 25th. The first Yellow Wagtail was seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 17th while further singles were at this site again and at the new university development site on the 22nd with another at Naburn Sewage Works on the 25th. A White Wagtail was located at the latter site on the 5th among some 65 Pied Wagtails while a Black Redstart was found at Askham Grange prison, Askham Richard on the 20th and male Common Redstarts seen at Bank Island on the 22nd and near Warter (just outside the recording area) on the 28th. Male Wheatears were at Naburn Sewage Works on the 5th and Strensall Common on the 13th but signs of winter still prevailed with a few flocks of up to 40 Fieldfares seen in different areas until the 14th and c. 40 Redwings passing west over Naburn Sewage Works on the 5th. Records of incoming warblers included a Grasshopper Warbler  heard ‘reeling’ near Beningbrough on the 25th, three Sedge Warblers at Wheldrake Ings from the 21st, a Reed Warbler reported there on the 25th, singing Lesser Whitethroats at Naburn and Wheldrake the same day whence  up to four Whitethroats were noted at various localities, a Garden Warbler singing at Castle Howard on the 27th, the first presumed migrant Blackcaps noted at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st with a number of reports thereafter, a count of 12 singing Chiffchaffs along the River Ouse between York and Naburn on the 12th and two Willow Warblers singing at Wheldrake on the 4th and one at Naburn on the 5th with three there on the 12th. A Marsh Tit was seen in the car park area of Wheldrake Ings on the 4th when two Willow Tits were seen further downriver with another noted at Yearsley Moor on the 25th as well as a Nuthatch with a pair of the latter discovered using a hole in brickwork above the reception entrance of Askham Grange prison as a nest site on the 19th. A Jay was in Clifton Park on the 4th with at least 50 Tree Sparrows counted at Hassacarr Nature Reserve, Dunnnington on the 18th. Four late Bramblings were feeding on garden feeders in Strensall on the 24th while pairs of Siskin were seen at Fulford Golf Course on the 11th and Yearsley Moor on the 25th when a single bird was at Sheriff Hutton. Four Twite were reported to be with a flock of Linnets near North Duffield on the 7th with eight Crossbills being seen at Yearsley Moor on the 25th.

March 2008
Although March is generally seen as heralding the beginning of spring, winter lingered on in most areas with the first arriving migrants having to brave freezing conditions towards the end of the month! Most waterbird interest was again in the Lower Derwent Valley as well as at Castle Howard Lake as up to 59 Whooper Swans remained in the North Duffield area with the herd including up to two rather elusive Bewick’s Swans. Fifty Pink-footed Geese flew north over Wheldrake Ings on the 17th with at least one bird lingering at Castle Howard where a Greenland White-fronted Goose was also present from the 9th. A good selection of ducks was to be found in the Lower Derwent Valley with thousands of Wigeon, hundreds of Shoveler and at least 100 Pintail being the pick of the more expected species. An elusive drake Green-winged Teal found at North Duffield Carrs on the 27th was reported intermittently during the rest of the month with a drake Garganey also present at the same site from the 25th. A female Scaup remained at Castle Howard Lake with the female Smew being rediscovered there late on in the month. A female Common Scoter was seen from the Swantail Hide at Wheldrake on the 28th while there were few reports of Goldeneye and Goosander with most sightings of the latter being from the River Ouse, particularly to the north of York. The pair of Great Crested Grebes at York University Lake had a very early breeding attempt thwarted by ice, but were soon back on the nest again and had hatched young by the end of the month. A Cattle Egret was reported circling over Wheldrake Ings with two Little Egrets on the 10th, but unfortunately only one of the latter came down onto the floods and the former was never seen again; Yorkshire and the north of England in general have fared very poorly in terms of the large national influx of this species (so far!). Meanwhile, the Cormorant colony at Wheldrake continues to prosper, with c. 25 birds nesting providing the usual constant comings and goings; the estate owners of Castle Howard’s attempt to remove their colony of this species and Grey Heron by cutting down the nesting trees is very regrettable – let’s hope it fails miserably! Moving on to raptors, a Red Kite flew over Long Marston on the 24th while one to two Marsh Harriers were seen at North Duffield Carrs from the 10th with another flying west over Selby on the 20th. Common Buzzards now seem to turn up just about anywhere, and in ever-increasing numbers, while more notable records (these days!) concerned single Merlins at North Duffield on the 11th and 28th as well as Wheldrake on the 12th and single Peregrines on three dates at the former site with another over Heslington on the 9th. Many species of wader had returned to their breeding grounds by the end of the month with numbers of wintering species building up before their northward migration, while the start of spring passage was indicated by a Grey Plover moving through North Duffield Carrs on the 29th, three Jack Snipe at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th, two Black-tailed Godwits at North Duffield on the 11th and Wheldrake on the 31st, 40 Ruff at North Duffield on the 11th and a Green Sandpiper along the Pocklington Canal on the 14th. More ‘gull-able’ observers picked out scarcer species from their commoner cousins such as a first-winter Mediterranean Gull at the Wheldrake Ings roost on the 17th, an adult Yellow-legged Gull there on the 18th and up to three juvenile Glaucous Gulls at both Wheldrake and Harewood Whin landfill site during the month as well as an adult and up to three juvenile Iceland Gulls while perhaps one of these juveniles was responsible for an unusual record of a bird on the River Ouse in the centre of York during the early morning of the 29th; pride of place, however, goes to a first-winter Caspian Gull identified at Harewood Whin tip on the 3rd (a ‘probable’ had been seen there a few days earlier) with undoubtedly the same bird reported from Wheldrake Ings, also on the 3rd. A flock of 23 Stock Doves in a field by Fulford Golf Course on the 22nd was notable while there were regular sightings of up to two Barn Owls from several typical areas with a pair of Little Owls seen at Springfield in Heslington on three dates. Singing Woodlarks were reported from a new locality mid-month while Skylarks were described as being numerous in some areas. A Sand Martin braved the wintry weather at Naburn Sewage Works on the 24th with nine birds there by the 29th when two were seen at Ouse Bridge in York; three were at the southern end of Fulford Ings the day after while another was at Wheldrake Ings on the 31st. The often elusive (or perhaps nobody had been looking?!) Water Pipit at Catterton was still present on the 7th while a White Wagtail was seen with reasonable numbers of Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits at Naburn Sewage Works on the 24th. The pair of Stonechats at Heslington Tillmire remained until the 5th while another pair was discovered along the York-Selby cycleway south of Naburn on the 26th. Generally, Fieldfare and Redwing reports were thin on the ground, although a large flock of the former was reported from Askham Richard with up to c.100 of the latter still feeding on flooding aftermath at Middlethorpe Ings late in the month. The first returning migrant Chiffchaff was noted at Bank Island on the 17th with well-scattered reports of one to two birds thereafter. Willow Tits were recorded from the traditional sites of Askham Bog and Wheldrake Ings with a Nuthatch calling at Bishopthorpe Palace on the 29th – also a well-known site for the species. Up to eight Bramblings were still coming to feeders by the Geoff Smith Hide at North Duffield Carrs on the 1st with birds noted in mixed finch flocks at Allerthorpe Common early in the month and Askham Bryan on the 18th and 19th; a male was also an unexpected visitor to a Huby garden on the 25th. Siskins also delighted observers by visiting garden feeders though no notable flocks were reported. Up to ten Lesser Redpolls frequented the alders on the edge of York University Lake during the month with seven birds still feeding on nettles at Danesmead Copse, Fulford on the 2nd. At least one Mealy Redpoll was present with the former species at York University from the 5th-26th, often feeding on the ground, with two at Rawcliffe Lake on the 21st while six ‘Common Redpolls’ were reported from Allerthorpe Common early in the month. A belatedly received report showed a female Hawfinch photographed in a tree by the Stamford Bridge turnoff near Wilberfoss on the 21st while a small influx of Reed Buntings into the Lower Derwent Valley was apparent with ten separate flocks, each of up to 20 birds, discovered. Finally, the roost of Corn Buntings at Clifton Ings had dwindled to four birds by the 4th with only two left on the 7th.

February 2008
Another busy month for records, with most interest again focussed on the Lower Derwent Valley. Up to 50 Whooper Swans remained in the North Duffield/Bubwith area while two Bewick’s Swans were seen with the herd on the 25th. A skein of c.100 Pink-footed Geese flew west-southwest over South Bank in the early morning of the 7th and an adult White-fronted Goose was present on the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 28th. A good variety of ducks was attracted to the receding floods in the Lower Derwent Valley with large numbers of Wigeon and Pintail in particular. The female Scaup remained at Castle Howard Lake where the ‘redhead’ Smew was rediscovered on the 9th but proved to be quite elusive, seemingly spending most of its time out of sight behind the eastern island! Up to 25 Goldeneye and 15 Goosander were also reported with 18 of the latter on the fishing pond between Elvington and Wheldrake on the 4th, though only single figures were noted at other sites. Grey Partridges were reported from Breighton airfield, Copmanthorpe and Langwith Lakes while an early breeding attempt by the Great Crested Grebes at York University unfortunately failed due to the lake freezing over, but the pair was soon at it again! A Red Kite was seen from the A1079 near Barmby Moor on the 27th but it has become apparent that birds occur more regularly in our area than is reported... Sightings of Common Buzzard continue to increase, with several birds being seen together around Pocklington and Skipwith. Single Merlins were seen at North Duffield Carrs on the 3rd and Clifton Ings on the 29th while at least one Peregrine was regularly reported from Wheldrake Ings. Impressive flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing provided entertainment, particularly in the Lower Derwent Valley where up to at least 100 Dunlin and Ruff were noted, although one of the latter on the village green at North Duffield on the 19th was much more unusual and seemed unperturbed by local schoolchildren marching past! A Woodcock was seen in Askham Bog on the 10th with a single Black-tailed Godwit present at North Duffield Carrs on the 25th. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull roosted at Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd where up to three different Glaucous Gulls and Iceland Gulls also roosted, particularly towards the end of the month, with some of these birds occasionally roosting at North Duffield Carrs and several were regularly seen feeding at Harewood Whin landfill site near Rufforth; an Iceland Gull was also reported with a small number of other gulls at Acaster Malbis on the 20th. A putative juvenile Thayer’s Gull or hybrid was reported from the Wheldrake roost on the evening of the 23rd, but was not seen again and will likely remain as ‘one of those that got away’... Single adult Yellow-legged Gulls were also reported in the roost at Wheldrake Ings with one at Clifton Ings on the 2nd being a good record. Turning to passerines, many species started to sing bringing some thoughts of spring – but not for long! These included Skylarks in several areas, their song always being most welcome and uplifting for many people. Woodlarks also returned to local breeding sites and although their song is likewise evocative, it is heard much less often and so is less familiar. At least 50 Meadow Pipits were at Naburn Sewage Works on the 16th where reasonable numbers of Pied Wagtails continued to feed on the filter beds. The lone Waxwing lingered at Strensall until the 14th and continued to draw a steady stream of admirers during its stay, while numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing were not particularly high. A wintering Chiffchaff of the nominate race (usual one here) showed well near Naburn Sewage Works on the 16th  with another reported from Askham Bog on the 23rd as well as a Nuthatch. A Great Grey Shrike found in the northern part of the reserve at  North Duffield Carrs on the 28th would have been well appreciated had it hung around but was last seen flying off to the west. Finch flocks were much in evidence in several areas with one such aggregation near Copmanthorpe on the 16th including at least two Brambling while up to six birds were attracted to the feeders by the Geoff Smith hide at North Duffield Carrs throughout the month. The Linnet flock at Rawcliffe Meadows NR peaked at 100+ birds mid-month while a Mealy Redpoll was still feeding on nettles near Danesmead Copse in Fulford on the 3rd, though fewer Lesser Redpolls and Siskins were noted this month. The farmland between Acaster Malbis and Copmanthorpe seemed to be particularly good for granivorous passerines with up to 30 Yellowhammers and 25 Reed Buntings being counted while up to 18 Corn Buntings came in to roost at Clifton Ings during the first half of the month.

January 2008
A glut of records was received this month as more observers went out into the field to get their year lists off to a good start and clear any Christmas overindulgence out of their system! Most of the interest, as ever, was in the Lower Derwent Valley until severe flooding made many areas inaccessible. There was also a good number of reports from far-flung parts of the recording area as volunteers covered rarely visited sites as part of the ongoing BTO Bird Atlas. Up to 55 Whooper Swans were lingering in the North Duffield area with a single Bewick’s Swan being noted with the herd from the 20th. Seven Pink-footed Geese were at Castle Howard early in the month when three were at Wheldrake Ings, but a sizeable movement was documented on the 28th and 29th with counts of 300+ over the Lower Derwent Valley, 250 over Pocklington, 220 over Heslington, 200 over Clifton Ings and 120 over Acomb with birds heard passing overhead at night in York. Up to five White-fronted Geese remained at Wheldrake Ings early on with six Shelduck loosely associating with the swan flock at North Duffield on the 20th. No counts of dabbling duck were received but diving ducks were well represented with c.150 Pochard at Castle Howard Lake on the 5th and c.100 at Wheldrake Ings over the weekend of the 26th and 27th. A female Scaup was present throughout the month at Castle Howard Lake with two noted there on the 22nd when at least 26 Goldeneye and 19 Goosander were counted. A ‘redhead’ Smew was reported from the Great Lake around this time while a covey of nine Grey Partridges flew out of a field at Buttercrambe on the 5th. A freshly dead but badly oiled Red-throated Diver was found by the side of Castle Howard Lake the same day while single Little Grebes were noted on the Ouse at Fulford Ings on the 3rd and by the Derwent at Malton on the 5th with 12 counted on the Pocklington Canal at Melbourne on the 6th and three on the floods at North Duffield Carrs on the 27th. Great Crested Grebes were rather thin on the ground, however, with birds unusually absent from Castle Howard Lake! On the raptor front, notable records included a Rough-legged Buzzard reported from Buttercrambe on the 4th, a female Merlin flying south over Fulford Ings on the 28th and single Peregrines at Wheldrake Ings and North Duffield Carrs on several dates. A showy Water Rail performed to admirers in front of the Geoff Smith hide at North Duffield on the 6th while flooding in this area attracted a good number and variety of waders with large flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing in particular; at least 2,000 of the former were flying around the Fulford Ings/Middlethorpe Ings area on the 28th when c.500 of the latter were on floods at Middlethorpe Ings. Good numbers of Ruff were present throughout the month in the North Duffield/Bubwith area but the only count received was of 77 at North Duffield Carrs on the 28th. Woodcock were seen at a few widely scattered localities with four in birch woodland at Heslington Common on the 1st being the highest count. Meanwhile, single Green Sandpipers were seen by Bubwith Bridge on the 6th and at Middlethorpe Ings on the 29th. A first-winter Yellow-legged Gull was identified at the latter spot the same day with at least five immature Lesser Black-backed Gulls also dropping in to drink and bathe while the only ‘white-winger’ reported was a juvenile Glaucous Gull at Harewood Whin landfill site on the 31st. The Water Pipit was still frequenting flooded fields near Catterton while three Waxwings were seen on a hedge by the side of the A1079 at Wilberfoss on the 22nd with a lingering bird in Strensall attracting much local interest in what has been a lean winter for the species; according to a local resident, there had been six birds there originally. A female Stonechat was seen distantly at North Duffield Carrs on the 6th with a pair noted at Heslington Tillmire on several dates while a male Blackcap was seen in a Copmanthorpe garden on the 15th. The elusive Siberian Chiffchaff remained at Fulford Ings until at least the 14th before flooding apparently forced it to move on; some supporting photographs were taken although attempts to trap the bird were unsuccessful. Two Nuthatches were calling in the grounds of Aldby Park near Buttercrambe on the 4th with one seen in the main car park at Castle Howard on the 6th. Up to four Bramblings were attracted to the feeders by the Geoff Smith hide at North Duffield Carrs early in the month while a single bird was seen in the car park at Bank Island on the 3rd with another found near Grimston on the 20th. Good numbers of Siskin were reported from many areas while at least 30 Lesser Redpolls were discovered feeding on nettle seeds at the end of Broadway West in Fulford and remained throughout the month, although there was a high turnover of birds with up to at least four Mealy Redpolls being picked out amongst the flock. Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings seemed to be rather scarce this month, however, with 20 of the former at Fulford Golf Course on the 16th and at least ten of the latter coming in to the roost at Melbourne on the 6th.

 




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