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?

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