One of the most spectacular winter scenes in the LDV, (although often under-rated), is the immense gull roost at Wheldrake Ings. This roost is nationally important, regularly supporting in excess of 20,000 birds, largely comprising of Black-headed and Common Gulls in recent years, as birds move from their day-time feeding sites in the wider area and Yorkshire Wolds, to roost on the flooded Ings. Numbers of the larger gulls (Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls), have declined following the closure of landfill operations at Harwood Whin near Rufforth, where the gulls would spend the day scavenging for scraps. The ringing of the birds at Rufforth have shown that the same individuals roosting at Wheldrake have come from/go as far as the Bering Sea in the Arctic Circle, Scandinavia and eastwards towards Russia, as well as southwards into southern Europe and North Africa – a range of 5000km from the Ings.
If you'd like to see the roost then best to aim for 3pm onwards, when birds start to come into roost an hour or so before dusk - gathering on the water in front of Swantail Hide where a passing Peregrine can panic the flock into a scene not dis-similar to a snow globe - well worth a visit. Thanks to local birder Duncan Bye for the image.