Sunday, 23 April 2017

23rd April

Summer migrants continue to drip in (albeit slowly) with a single House Martin over the village yesterday and the first Common Sandpipers on the river…


The Willow Warbler population seems to be in better shape than last year with around ten singing birds between Morton bridge and Thrintoft beck but no Whitethroats seen yet.
The excellent pools in the Bottom Fields have been reduced now to a tiny puddle but still attracted Green Sandpiper (with a second bird on the river yesterday). They also pulled in this female Pied Wagtail doing a good impression of a White…


A Little Egret has taken up virtual permanent residence on the river by the railway bridge…


Funny how quickly you get used to birds, I don’t give it much more attention than I would a Grey Heron these days but I can still remember the excitement of seeing my first bird in the parish only a handful of years ago.
And talking of semi-resident, this Cormorant has been present virtually every day this year in the Magic Garden…


On the mammal front I saw my first Stoat of this year in the Bottom Fields yesterday and today this Fox on the railway (it’s behind you!)


On an entirely different subject my wife spotted a dent in our car bonnet yesterday and found this caught in the wiper trough..


It’s magnetic and contains metallic flecks. Is it a meteorite?!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

16th April

Despite the sunshine it has been a really cold weekend so not surprisingly migration has slowed to a trickle. My only new bird for the year was a single, rather distant, Wheatear in the Bottom Fields today…


And although there are now three Willow Warblers singing in the Magic Garden…


(along with two Blackcaps) Swallows remain distinctly scarce throughout the parish.

In the brief warm spell yesterday afternoon I found my first Small white butterfly for the year and my first Peacocks..



Slim pickings for a long weekend in April!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

9th April

Despite the recent beautiful sunshine the mornings have been really cold…


So it’s perhaps not surprising that summer birds have been a bit slow in arriving but today Sand Martin numbers were almost up to summer levels, my first Willow Warblers  and at least five singing Blackcap were in the scrub near the river at Morton and I had my first Swallow over Greenhills Lane.

The sun also meant insects were more noticeable, these included my first Green-veined Whites of the year…


And half a dozen male Orange Tips along the railway line.  


And continuing my painfully slow entomological education, I think this is Bombylius Major – the Dark-edged Bee-fly…


This is the only half-decent shot I have ever taken of Treecreeper. A pair of birds looked to be prospecting a potential nest site over near Sanderson’s wood…


It wasn’t until I downloaded the picture that I saw the bird was carrying a ring. I can just make out a 2 and what looks like a 7 so this is almost certainly HJA 472, a bird which was ringed in the Magic Garden in October 2015.
This Chiffchaff was also carrying a ring but unfortunately it is on too high a zoom and is not crisp enough to make out any characters. This bird was behaving strangely, stretching up on long legs, its wings half-cloaked and its mouth open as though panting.


Another distant photo taken today of a Kingfisher with a fish which it has brought back to its nest hole. It wouldn’t enter until I had gone (despite being a considerable distance away and on the opposite bank)


I should also mention the 'big bird of prey' which a few villagers have mentioned to me. Not a great picture against the sky but this bird was distinctly large (and was hovering at one point) but I can’t make it into anything other than Common Buzzard…


Talking of sightings by other people, recent ones have included a remarkable ‘kettle’ of at least 20 Buzzards over the north fields  (seen by Tracey Palmer), John and Ann Coxon saw Red Kite at Scruton Lane ends (a couple of days before my sighting in Ainderby) and Alex Martin had a fine flock of 50 Waxwings feeding along Greenhills Lane. 
I also saw six Waxwings in the Magic Garden last week and Andy Johnston had a dozen at Warlaby. Presumably the last remnants of what has been a fantastic winter for this species.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

1st April

Bird of the day was undoubtedly Red Kite. As the cloud rolled in today I picked up what I thought at first was a large gull flying in from the east but soon realised it was a kite. It was heading straight for the village but the local crows then intercepted it and drove it off to the south-west out over Langlands/Greenhills direction hence this distinctly distant shot…


Yet another bird that would have been missed if I’d been a minute later walking up the lane.

Despite them breeding relatively close to here they are still a real rarity in the parish as they don’t seem to have made the leap from their breeding  sites around Harrogate over the sterile arable prairies to the south of us.

Yesterday I walked along the river again, very quiet with no further sign of the Dipper. Sand Martin numbers had increased and I saw Little Egret, two Kingfishers, a pair of Oystercatchers and four pairs of Goosander…


A pair of Red-legged Partridge were on Langlands farm and there were twelve singing Skylarks between Morton Bridge and Ainderby (via Langlands)…


I also had good views of this young Hare grooming (Hare-styling?)



Today I had Siskin in the garden, unfortunately I had forgotten to fill up the nyger seed holder so it made only the briefest of visits. I also saw my first Brimstone of the year at the top of Greenhills Lane…



Wednesday, 29 March 2017

29th March

I had a short walk along the river this morning on what was a distinctly dismal and grey day….


Undoubted pick of the birds was a Dipper, a new species for the parish and by far the furthest I have ever seen one downstream on the Swale. I first heard it calling (a sound I knew I knew but couldn’t place) and then it flew past heading further downstream. I couldn’t relocate it but hopefully it may stay around (although this part of the river certainly isn’t classic Dipper territory).

A single Siskin overhead was my first of the year and other birds seen included seven Goosander, five Teal, two Kingfishers, a couple of dozen Sand Martins, a Grey Wagtail, three singing Corn Buntings, two Reed Buntings singing in the brief spell of brightness …


and this Little Egret with full ‘aigrettes’...


The other evening in the Magic Garden I had an interesting Chiffchaff, it didn’t call and unfortunately this was the ‘best’ picture I managed but it was quite distinctly brown/buff, enough for my youngest son to pick out without binoculars… 


Sunday, 26 March 2017

26th March

Heavy rain this week has led to the first extensive flooding of the winter…


The water receded exceptionally quickly though and by the afternoon had changed from this extensive lake to isolated pools.

Pick of the birds for me (which shows how low inland birders set their sights!) were two Coot on the open water. Doubling the number of records in the parish!


A single Redshank was my first of the year…


The floods also held seven Shelduck, as usual very aggressive toward each other…


Plus seven Grey Herons, ten Snipe, a handful of Lapwing, a pair of Oystercatchers and two Green Sandpipers..

Good numbers of gulls too with a couple of hundred Black-headed and a few dozen Lesser Black-backed, Herring and Common Gulls. Almost 100 Black-headed gulls were also circling high over our garden yesterday - presumably catching flying insects.

Signs of spring are everywhere now with a loud chorus of amphibians and masses of Frog spawn…


But underwater toads too…


And their more delicate spawn you can just see in the centre of the picture…



Monday, 20 March 2017

20th March

A long walk around the southern side of the parish this morning and then back up along the river. A total of 58 species seen. Highlight was the first Sand Martin of the year over the river…


(it is one honestly!)

And I also added Corn Bunting (three singing birds) and Canada Goose to the year list. The latter were a group of 11 birds on the Magic Garden lake including this push-me/pull-me bird…


I totted up a reassuring total of 18 singing Skylarks, there were also three pairs of Grey Partridge seen (including one pair feeding on the mud at the edge of the river), five pairs of Lapwing and three displaying Curlew.
Other birds included a single Golden Plover (flying over the top fields) and very large numbers of winter thrushes, mainly Fieldfares, with upwards of a 1000 birds seen in two main feeding areas. This is a small part of one flock flushed by a Sparrowhawk….


I also saw this Roe Deer nibbling the fresh shoots of hawthorn..


And this striking fungus Phellinus igniarius - The Willow Bracket…



Less happily the lovely little flash near Greenhills Farm (which has held breeding Yellow Wagtail, Shelduck and Little ringed Plover as well as passage waders) has been drained. A depressing loss and presumably subsidised by our taxes…


The fantastic ‘Rich Ditch’ with its excellent mix of aquatic plants has also been  hit hard with heavy dredging and flailing of the ditchside plants…


Sunday, 12 March 2017

12th March

Spring is definitely here! Four Chiffchaff singing in the village this morning…


Fantastic chorus of frogs in the Magic Garden lake (with a heron standing on the path hoovering up any that came out of the water) and an early Comma butterfly…


I don’t need much excuse to mention Waxwings again. No more in the village this week but good numbers at work peaking with a flock of over 100 on Friday.




Otherwise it has been a rather quiet few days. Pick of the sightings was a distant view of a possible Goshawk on the Scruton side of the river. Unfortunately instead of watching it I tried (but failed) to take a photo of it so it remains only a possible. There have been odd reports of Gos about this time of year before so may be birds dispersing to breeding sites?
Also on the same side of the river Andy Johnston had a probable male Ring Ouzel on Thursday. This is a bird I’ve often anticipated for the village so maybe this will be the year?
A walk down to the river yesterday only turned up 20 Teal on the Ox-bow, five Goosander, Little Egret and two pairs of Oystercatchers along the river. Chris Knight had a flock of 12 Siskin but they were just north of my patch boundary.  

Walking down Greenhills Lane today I had my first Red-legged Partridge for the year, there was a nice flock of around 35 Stock Doves, a ‘kettle’ of five buzzards and on the flash here there were 20 Lapwing and seven Shelduck.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

26th February

I was just about to take my eldest to his Saturday job yesterday when I heard the unmistakeable call of Waxwings. Around a dozen birds flew in over the rooftops and dropped into the trees around the small green in Ainderby.  I couldn’t stop to look at them but texted Jim in the village to keep a look out but they had gone by the time I got back.

Along the river yesterday I added Green Sandpiper and (two) Little Egret to my year list. The Oystercatchers here are taking up territories…


A single Grey Wagtail was on vegetation in the river and up to eight Goosander were also seen.


Heavy erosion of the banks here continues and more trees have gone in to the river over the last couple of days…



This morning I walked down Greenhills Lane. The Curlew flock is slowly building up with 26 birds there today although still a long way off the record flock I had of 200 birds a few years ago. Good numbers of winter thrushes are gathering too, with very large flocks of Fieldfares in the muddy open fields along the Lane.


Numbers of Redwings are smaller and, in contrast, they are mainly concentrated up in the paddocks and pasture near the village.

On the flash there were 65 Greylags, 35 Lapwings, two Oystercatchers and four Shelduck…


Also Good numbers of Reed Buntings which have outnumbered the Yellowhammers this winter.


An old ash tree in the Magic Garden has become a regular loafing site for Cormorants now.


This bird is probably of the ‘British’ form (carbo) distinguished by the smaller angle between the back of the orange gular patch and the bill...


Compare the angle with this continental race bird (sinensis) which is almost a right-angle from bill to back of the gular patch