Monday 1 April 2024

Easter Monday 2024

The first Sand Martins were back on the river on Good Friday…

But apart from excellent numbers of singing Chiffchaffs no other summer migrants have made it to the village so far. Pick of the birds though was a distant Coot, on the flood pool on Ladyfield, a surprisingly rare bird in the parish…

The sunshine at Easter did bring out a few insects too with a number of reports of Brimstone, two Peacocks and a Small Tortoiseshell…

And the first Bee-flys with four on a willow trunk by the river.


These were all Dark-bordered, the only one we get up here, but at least one other species is moving rapidly north so worth keeping an eye out…

A few bees too with (I think!) Early Mining Bee…

And Ashy Mining Bee…


I also managed a trip up Ingleborough this weekend to see Purple Saxifrage, I definitely knew I had walked to the summit when I got into bed that night but it was a glorious day…


Sunday 17 March 2024

17th March 2024

It’s always good when the first summer migrants arrive and yesterday saw the first Chiffchaffs singing their name in the village. I had five on my shortish walk and friends in the two neighbouring villages also reported their first arrivals yesterday so it was obviously an arrival en masse. I could only manage this poor shot though…

As these birds arrive others are on their way out but Fieldfares and Redwings have been decidedly scarce this side of the new year. There were, though, around 250 birds in the large ploughed field down School Lane yesterday, around 80% were Fieldfares…

The same field held five Little Egrets today on a small pool of floodwater.

Little else to report although it was good to have at least three Corn Buntings singing down Potter Lane yesterday…

Another scarce farmland bird, the Tree Sparrow, seems to have had a sudden, and unexplained, dip in fortunes in this area after encouraging signs of recovery. This has been noted by other local birders too so it’s always nice when you come across a flock…

Sunday 3 March 2024

3rd March 2024

After a wash out yesterday I did manage to get a walk out today. Starting off along Potter Lane I spotted a small bird hopping on and off the fence posts. It was a smart female Stonechat…

Although they are a generally common bird they are very rare in the parish with this being only the fourth modern record. A very nice addition to the year list. Further along the Linnet flock in the cover crop was down to around 100 birds now but I also flushed a Grey Partridge here, almost from under my feet.

Earlier that morning I had put out on the parish wildlife WhatsApp group to keep a look out for Whooper Swans as they were starting to move north. Almost on cue I picked up their fantastic call and a skein of 13 birds swept over me…

I got a text from a friend a few minutes later as the same birds passed over Bolton-on-Swale which is just under eight miles as the swan flies. Taking the timings of the two that would put them averaging about 52 miles per hour. Not a bad lick considering there was no following wind (and helps to explain why my photo was only of them retreating rapidly into the distance!)

The river levels were very high so there was little to see, but a Grey Wagtail flew over and I saw my first Lesser Redpoll of the year.

There were two pairs of Oystercatchers along here too. I have never been sure whether these early birds are just passing through or are our local birds. The answer came with the appearance of a wandering single bird. In both cases the pairs acted very aggressively towards the interloper, driving him off. So they are clearly paired and holding territory…


Sunday 25 February 2024

25th February 2024

Pinkfooted Geese used to be a distinctly uncommon bird in the parish with sightings restricted to the odd fortuitous sighting as they passed over in Autumn. Now they are seen with some regularity in winter and on both migrations.

This bird was one of eight associating with the parish Greylag flocks…

And this morning there was a fine skein of 175 calling high over the village…


Otherwise it has been a quiet week although I have added a few more species to my year list with the first Corn Bunting singing by the river, small numbers of Golden Plover near Morton Bridge and a lovely Barn Owl along Greenhills Lane…

This should have been a great shot as it was flying right at me but by the time I had fiddled with settings it had spotted me and this is all I got!

Finally, a small cover crop down Potter Lane has been good for finches and buntings this winter and the Linnet flock here yesterday had grown to more than 300 birds (but difficult to count in the fog!)



Sunday 18 February 2024

Suffolk & Early Butterflies

We have just come back from a week in Suffolk, staying again in Eastbridge. Normally we would have taken a daily walk down to the sea at Minsmere but the intense rain of the previous weeks meant this path was completely flooded (above welly level!) as were a number of the roads. In contrast we had a lovely week of (mainly) bright skies and sun.

No intense birding this week but Suffolk is the kind of place you can’t help bumping into wildlife…


  Dabbling duck on North Warren

Marsh Harrier

Muntjac


Snow Buntings




   Tremella (?) Fungus

White-fronted Geese

But pick of the sightings for me were at least four different adders…


And two singing Woodlarks…


Despite forty odd years of birding, and a number of sightings of the species, this was the first time I had actually heard their (beautiful) song.

Back home today and a quick walk out was quiet for birds but I did see both Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock on the wing in Morton-on-Swale. Easily the earliest village record for both species.


Sunday 28 January 2024

28th January 2024

Pick of the birds this week was a cracking male Merlin watched chasing a Skylark near the river. The lark was constantly singing whilst being hunted which I think is the same principle as antelope ‘pronking’ to show predators it is too fit to be worth chasing. It seemed to work as it escaped unharmed. 

Floodwater dominated again this week and turned up a few birds this included Oystercatcher…

We didn’t used to get the first until late February but they are recorded annually in January now. Also on the floods were 34 Canada Geese, three Gadwall (far from an annual visitor), a pair of Tufted Duck and 42 Teal. There was also a good count of 57 Common Gulls, again this is unusually early as they don’t normally appear before early March.

This morning a skein of 21 Pinkfeet flew north over the village…

A flock of 45 Lapwing over Langlands yesterday included a very small wader but frustratingly brief views meant I couldn’t identify it.

I also had this unidentified (presumably juvenile) duck species on the floods yesterday.

It’s actually very rare these days that you walk along the strandline of receded floods without seeing a plastic duck, where the hell do they come from?!

Other sightings of note included a group of 12 Siskin in the trees near Morton bridge and a flock of 120 Linnet in a cover crop along Potter Lane

Villagers have also reported at least three different Barn Owls in Ainderby over the last week.

On the mammal front I had brief views of Otter in the Swale yesterday, eight Roe Deer on Langlands today and at least six Hares doing what comes naturally!!

Finally, I have set up a little WhatsApp group in the parish to report wildlife sightings, WIG-WAMS (Wildlife Information Group – Warlaby, Ainderby, Morton and Scruton). Just let me know if you would like to be added in.

Sunday 14 January 2024

Waxwings

It has been very quiet in the village this week other than Grey Wagtail on the waterworks and a small influx of Goldcrests today (presumably ahead of the imminent cold snap). 

More tempting has been a nice flock of Waxwings ten minutes down the road...


As usual they performed very well for their audience (although a visit by a Sparrowhawk earlier meant they were slightly jumpy whenever a bird flew over). 



Sunday 7 January 2024

7th January 2024

It took me until October to see my first Nuthatch in 2023 but they were much more obliging this year with daily visits by at least two birds to our bird-table…


Even better was my first garden Marsh Tit record for more than twenty years.

With sightings elsewhere in the parish, and friends reporting similar visits to bird-tables, perhaps there is a local upturn in fortunes?  

Elsewhere extensive floodwater was still around but didn’t attract the numbers of birds compared to the Christmas period. Nonetheless it was good to tick off Shelduck, Teal and Wigeon for the year…

Other records of note included a skein of 44 Pinkfeet over the village, a roost of 200 Fieldfare on Langlands and two Green Sandpipers on the river.

So My first week of 2024 has turned up 51 species (compared to 101 seen in the whole of 2024).  

Saturday 30 December 2023

It's Been a While...

Apologies first for such a huge gap since my last post. Some building work which kept me off the computer and then a new work role which has kept me very busy are my ‘excuses’ but my new year resolution is to do better!

The undoubted highlight since I last wrote has been the appearance of a spectacular display of nacreous clouds….

These are formed from the sun reflecting off ice crystals high in the atmosphere and are only formed at temperatures below -78 degrees. Unsurprisingly they are mainly restricted to the polar regions so this was a rare, and beautiful, sight. A friend’s wife, who is a meteorologist, has only seen these once before so it does feel a bit of a once in a lifetime view!

The more dominant theme of recent weeks though has been rain, with the consequent emergence of floods around the village…

They have drained between storms surprisingly quickly, given how saturated the ground is, but the very heavy rain before Christmas did pull in some birds. Pick of these was a Great White Egret on the Wiske floods near Warlaby (photographed from his garden by my friend Peter).

Despite hanging around for three days I never managed to catch up with it.

The floods also attracted their diminutive cousin with up to four Little Egrets on the Ainderby floods and three at Warlaby.

At one time I saw a bird pattering like a Herring Gull so I assume they were after earthworms?

Good numbers of wildfowl were attracted on to the floodwater at Langlands with up to 440 Greylags, including this leucistic bird…

Pinkfeet skeins have been seen flying over on a number of occasions this autumn and winter but five on the floodwater yesterday evening was more unusual…

Teal numbers peaked at 220, a record number for the parish…

And up to 58 Wigeon was also one of the best ever counts for the village

Other records on the floods included ten Whooper Swans (first seen over our garden and later on the floods), Shelduck, Goldeneye, up to 70 Curlew, 125 Lapwing, 60 Golden Plover and two Woodcock.

Pick of the other sightings was a Marsh Tit near the river at Morton. They have sadly declined dramatically in the UK and this was the first in the parish for over a decade.