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Trip Report - 2010

Chatsworth Park
10 March

An unusually select group of only 4 members started the walk from Calton Lees car park at 9.30. After the bad weather earlier this year, this was the club's first field trip of the year and there were few birds to be seen or heard on the climb up to Beeley Hilltop. The only birds of note were a few Stock Doves. One or two Brambling and Siskin could be heard calling in the woods but it was very quiet. On the lake by Swiss Cottage there was a pair of Mandarin, with a few Tufted Ducks and a flock of Canada Geese. A female Goosander landed on the lake as we left. The Emperor Lake was very low with only Mallards to be found. On the lawns by the house, there were SEVEN Song Thrushes. On the river were 3 more Goosanders and a pair of Grey Wagtails - the first of the year for us. Only 31 species were recorded.

Carr Vale
23 April

The weather was perfect for the 6 members who made the trip - hot and sunny with very little wind. Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps were singing everywhere and easily visible as the foliage is a little late this year. We also had good views of a pair of Whitethroats and there was one (possibly two) Grasshopper Warblers reeling. There were several butterflies around including Orange Tip, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. In addition to the Lapwings and the usual summering wildfowl were a pair of Oystercatchers, at least 4 Little Ringed Plovers, 3 Common Sandpipers, a Redshank and a pair of Shelducks around the flashes. There was a lone Pink-footed Goose there, as there was last year - maybe the same bird? On the feeders were several Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers and Bullfinches. Other highlights included Yellow Wagtails, Little Owl, and at least 3 Willow Tits. As we returned along the Stockley Trail there was an almighty disturbance created by loads of small birds' alarm calls in a nearby thicket. Our investigation flushed a Tawny Owl which flew out and into a copse of yew trees, where we had earlier discovered pellets at a roost site. In total, we recorded 61 species.

Clumber Park
1 May

For this early morning start the weather conditions were ideal for observing birds and after about 6 hours the three of us had a tally of 74 species. Among the regular woodland and wildfowl species we had several warblers, namely Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler. Quite a few Mandarin Ducks were seen, including several in the field behind Chapel Wood. Some scarcer species were eventually located, including Turtle Dove, Woodlark, Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit. There were a least 3 Cuckoos calling and around midday we watched two chasing one another, while we also admired a drake Mandarin Duck perching in a tree and waited for the Woodlarks to show themselves. As always, a truly remarkable day.

N.B. The gates to the Chapel Car Park do not open until 7AM.

Whisby Pits
15 May

A small group of 3 made the trip and were not disappointed. The day started very quietly with only a few very short snatches of Nightingale song in the usual spots. The weather was warm and dry and the warblers were in full song with many Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. We had loads of opportunities to compare the songs of Garden Warbler and Blackcap but only found a single Lesser Whitethroat. There seemed to be fewer Common Whitethroats than usual but the others made up for that! The visit to the lake nearest the A46 surprised us by providing distant views of a Black-necked Grebe in full summer plumage. Later we were rewarded with a very obliging Nightingale which sang beautifully on the edge of one of the main paths and gave excellent views too. The only raptor we saw was a single Hobby - which made up for the lack of the others! There were at least 24 Common Terns getting ready on the rafts but the 500 or more Black-headed Gulls seemed to be making life a bit tricky for them. Waders included a Little Ringed Plover, Oystercatchers on eggs and a few Lapwings. The Sand Martin colony is still deserted, being overrun with rabbits now. We also had an excellent view of a stoat there who seemed to enjoy watching us as much as we enjoyed watching him. It seems the Sand Martins have moved to a new colony about ½ mile away - ironically outside of the reserve - where we heard there are over 40 pairs. We only saw 5 Sand Martins hunting over the lakes. The final species count was only 51, a shade disappointing for Whisby but the quality was certainly there.

North Cave
7 July

North Cave is one of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's "Big 5" reserves and six members of the bird club savoured the 63 species that it had to offer. Wildfowl were well represented with many fledglings and juveniles confirming breeding among Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall and Great Crested Grebe. Two Black Swans, assumed to be escapes, were present too. A couple of Common Terns were sitting on eggs, surrounded by vocal Black-headed Gulls and their chicks. A few species of wader were present, including Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Snipe, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper. At least a couple of Buzzards were soaring overhead, one being a very pale morph, as well as Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Some of the scarcer farmland birds are usually present and we weren't disappointed: Yellow Wagtail, Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer were all seen (or heard, in the case of the latter). Among the reeds and scrub were the expected warblers: Reed, Sedge and Whitethroat, but none of the leaf warblers were noted. As well as the Black-headed Gulls, there was also a young Common Gull and a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls, also various ages of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. All the hirundines and Swift were seen. We also enjoyed watching 3 Stoats, presumably youngsters, playing alongside the reserve margin. As we left, a Red-legged Partridge was surveying the area next to the working gravel pit that is being landscaped, and late leavers were treated to a Green Woodpecker.

Potteric Carr
2 August

Five of us made the summer trip to Potteric Carr and weren't disappointed. The Kingfishers were feeding young on Piper Marsh (presumably a second brood) and there was lots more to be seen. Waders were represented by Lapwing (370+), Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper (4) and Common Sandpiper. A pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls have produced 2 young on Huxter Well Marsh - a first for the site. Wildfowl included a lonely Wigeon, a few Shovelers, Teal and Pochard along with the larger flocks of Gadwall and Mallard. There were only 2 adult Tufted Ducks and a single brood of 9 young. We were still able to find Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Reed Warbler. Five Little Egrets were probably the best of the rest - and a decent total of 56 species were recorded.

Blacktoft Sands
7 September

Fortunately, the poor weather forecast didn't stop the 4 members who made this trip as it turned out to be a perfect bright and sunny day. On one of best the club visits to Blacktoft for some years there was a lot to enjoy. There were Green and Wood Sandpipers, Common and Spotted Redshanks, lots of Ruff and Lapwings, Snipe, at least 2 Little Stints and 2 Greenshanks, a Curlew, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Little Ringed Plover, dozens of Dunlin together with at least 15 Curlew Sandpipers. A total of fourteen wader species! The air was alive with the twittering of House Martins and Swallows feeding up for the trip south. Other summer visitors still around included a few Yellow Wagtails, Sedge Warblers and a Whitethroat. Hundreds of Teal were already settling for the winter and the Wigeon have started to arrive too. During the afternoon, we decided to stretch our legs by walking to Ousefleet, which we knew would be dry and without birds, and so weren't surprised to find only a Kestrel and 3 Woodpigeons there! The walk back was remarkable, hiowever, as we disturbed a Barn Owl, which flew just a few feet over our heads soon after leaving the hide, this was soon followed by grand views of a female Marsh Harrier passing over and then, as we approached the car park, a Sparrowhawk dashed out in from in front of us from the adjacent hedge. It made a memorable end to a memorable day!

Old Moor Wetlands
6 October

Despite heavy rain early in the day the weather was perfect when we arrived at the reserve. The garden feeders were very quiet but a couple of juvenile Bullfinches and a Willow Tit were seen. The water level from both Wath Ings and the Wader Scrape seemed very low but there was plenty to be found. There were 100s of Lapwings and Golden Plovers, regularly disturbed by a Sparrowhawk and settling in a variety of different spots. Other waders included 3 or 4 Greenshanks, at least 6 Green Sandpipers, about 13 Dunlin, 2 Little Stints, 3 well hidden Snipe and at last 6 Ruff giving a total of 8 wader species. Other highlights included a couple of Lesser Redpolls feeding with a small flock of Goldfinches. Numbers of wildfowl are building nicely and included Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Wigeon. A total of 51 species were recorded.