Sunday, 31 May 2015

Dreaming of waders...

A small, shallow field pool to the south of the village has, unusually, held water throughout the spring and I have had high hopes of flocks of Ruff and godwits and perhaps the odd Avocet dropping in. These have, as ever, remained unfulfilled fantasies and the sum total of wader sightings has been a pair of Little Ringed Plover and a single Redshank. Admittedly it has not been a classic spring for wader passage but I think the other reason may be these….

This pair of Shelduck have been resident on this pool since mid-April and I’ve recently witnessed how territorial they have become not only aggressively chasing off another pair of Shelduck but physically attacking a group of Mallard and even driving off Curlew and Lapwing. So I suspect any Blackwits foolish enough to try and land in the pool would have had a similar ‘warm’ welcome. Incidentally they seem to have adopted the Black-Headed gull in the picture and the three birds are inseparable!

Better views of Little Owl today, presumably at a nest site in this ruined building, although still quite distant in dull light (that's my excuse anyway...)


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Verging on the sublime...

The verges of Warlaby Lane look tremendous at the moment…. 


My self-confessed minimal knowledge of plants is fortunately offset by the encyclopaedic capacity of friends Helen and Linda so amongst the ubiquitous Nettles, Cleavers and Dandelions in the pictures are Field Forget-me-Knot, Red Campion, Cow Parsley, Cowslip, Bush Vetch, Herb Robert and Sweet Woodruff.  
All of them reminders too of the poetry of English nature names.


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

27th May

A quick walk down the river this morning but quite quiet. Around 200 Sand Martins, a handful of Goosander, small knots of Greylags moving over, a pair of Grey Partridge, a Kingfisher, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a couple of Oystercatchers.

I would also have had a nice shot of Yellow Wagtail but I was photo-bombed by a sheep!

Monday, 25 May 2015


Being a lowlander by birth this is one of my favourite parts of the parish with a view to the distant peak of Pen Hill (lost in the cloud here). It occasionally floods during winter to pull in wildfowl and in a wet spring a hollow here can hold water long enough to attract the odd wader (a pair of Little Ringed Plovers nested one year but the pool dried out and they abandoned).

The fence posts here are popular perches for Little Owls and after I had photographed this scene the other evening I spotted one (fourth post from the left), this is it zoomed in so sorry for the quality.

These fields are now grazed by this rather handsome sheep breed. I hadn’t seen them before but I believe they are Zvartbles, a Dutch breed used to the cold and wet!
The ruined Greenhills Farm here used to be run by a pair of sisters who would walk up to the village in their working boots to catch the bus to town (having first changed into their town shoes which they would leave at one of our neighbours).
A few years ago I put a photograph of this farm on the Geograph website and received an e-mail from a chap in France. During World War One a young woman growing up at Greenhills had rushed out to rescue an RFC pilot who had crash landed on the farm. Love blossomed and they were married. It was his mother and father....

Sunday, 24 May 2015

One day in June....

Whilst searching for any historic bird records for the village I saw reference to a Yorkshire Naturalists Union excursion to Ainderby. It took place on 22nd June 1946 and the advice for attendees included a recommendation for rubber thigh boots and the warning that Ainderby Bottoms was home to a “particularly vicious gnat, the full effect of whose attentions are delayed”. Perhaps most surprisingly it appears the bus services are more frequent now than in 1946!
However, the overwhelming feeling as a local birdwatcher is one of regret at the loss of what must have been tremendous habitat and a much richer avifauna. The ornithology list includes no less than thirteen species that no longer breed in the village:-

Teal , Snipe,  Redshank, Black-headed Gull  (older villagers remember going to collect the gull eggs as a supplement to wartime rations), Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Tree Pipit, Redstart, Whinchat, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler and Marsh Tit.

In addition, not recorded on the YNU visit but known to have bred in the past, are Stonechat, Green Woodpecker and Willow Tit.

We did at least record Grasshopper Warbler in the parish this year, this typically elusive bird held territory for about a week before moving on.

On the positive side of the balance sheet we have rather more meagre pickings with only Greylag and Canada Geese, Collared Dove and Nuthatch added to the list of breeding species since then.

I wonder if local birdwatchers in 70 years time will look back to this period with the same sense of nostalgia and loss?

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Ringing again

Another trip by John to the Magic Garden. Quieter this time and a sign migration has slowed to a virtual stop.

A pair of Reed Bunting was nice, and not a species caught last time.

There were a number of re-traps including Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap and a smart male Bullfinch.

Other species seen here included Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Treecreeper, two Cormorants over and a pair of Kestrel attending a nestbox.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Send in the clouds....

Striking cloud seen last night over the village, a cross between a tornado and a nuclear mushroom...

Also finally caught up with Red-legged Partridge for the year

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Patchwork Challenge

A pair of Tufted Duck were on the Manor Pond this evening. Not particularly exciting I know but these were my first in the village this year and now means I have already exceeded my 2014 Patchwork Challenge total.

I would really recommend taking part, it's an extra incentive to visit your patch and just gives a little competitive edge to your birding, even when that competitor is yourself! The weblink is:-

Friday, 15 May 2015

15th May

A day off today so walked on the south side of the parish and up along the river in the optimistic hope of scarce migrants. Those hopes were dashed! Nonetheless a decent 60 species seen. Undoubted highlight was a Cuckoo, first I've had in the parish for almost ten years. Also saw my first Garden Warbler of the year.

Other sightings included two Kingfishers, a tight 'kettle' of six Buzzards, 25 Goosander including a bachelor party(?) of 15 drakes, four pairs of Oycs, three pairs of Yellow Wagtail...

...and a heartening nine singing Corn Buntings.

Excellent numbers of hares too....

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Whinchat, Hares & Hobby

I'm doing the Patchwork Challenge and a friend had seen a Red-legged Partridge which I still haven't caught up with so far this year. No luck but I did stumble across this cracking Whinchat singing in an Oil-seed Rape field. This is only my second parish record although it is a former breeding species. Not a great picture as it was quite distant and in poor light....

As I tried to get closer I almost tripped over this leveret...

As I walked home a Hobby shot low over my head. This is the first village record for a couple of years. The bird then half-heartedly chased a Swallow around the church tower before powering off to the north.


Wednesday, 13 May 2015


I have access to bird an excellent large garden containing a pond, a tiny piece of original fen and some damp woodland etc. I had invited a local ringer, John Bell, to do some mist netting here. A really enjoyable morning with a final haul of 49 birds of 20 species. Highlights were:-
An early Spotted Flycatcher

At least three Lesser Whitethroats (one released without a ring!)


 And a Sedge Warbler (a very scarce visitor to the parish now)

 Nice too to see birds like Treecreeper in the hand

I haven’t seen either Sedgie or Lesser White in this area before so it is another  indication of how much must move unseen through sites like this.


Barn Owls

One of the recent success stories has been an excellent recovery of local Barn Owl numbers. I hadn’t seen one in the village before this year but there are probably three pairs in the parish now and they have regular beats. This lovely picture was taken by Chris Knight on the northern edge of the village.