Lower Derwent Valley NNR - April Sightings
April was a standout month for Garganey, with multiple birds present at several sites daily throughout the month. At least four pairs and three additional drakes remained at month end, with at least three females thought to be incubating. Common Cranes put on a great display with two to four appearing regularly, with up to nine one day – possibly the wandering flock of nine seen recently on the upper Humber. Last months early Spotted Crake influx resulted in up to nine birds calling early in the month, becoming increasingly less vocal from mid-month.
The record-breaking passage of Black-tailed Godwits
continued, with a peak of 521 on the 3rd. A degree of turnover was identified as the flock reduced and increased again, until the last four were seen
on the 26th before a late single moved through on the 30th.
highlights were at least three Twite found in the flock of Linnets in
the Newton Mask area – a species which is now very hard to locate in the area.
Two Bearded Tits were at Wheldrake on the morning of the 2nd -
the first record of spring birds on the reserve, whilst between 11 - 12 singing Cetti’s
Warbler finally announced the arrival of the species as a breeding bird in
returning dates for summer migrants included Swallow (1st), Willow
Warbler (2nd), Sedge Warbler (10th), House
Martin (11th), Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, and Yellow
Wagtail (12th), Whitethroat and Reed Warbler (13th),
Whinchat (15th), Lesser Whitethroat (16th),
and Cuckoo and Grasshopper Warbler (18th) – before the
first Swifts appeared on the 29th.
always many thanks to everyone who submitted counts and records throughout the
month, in particular to members of York Birding, and regular patch birder Duncan
Bye, thanks also to Duncan, Adam Firth, Matt Gowney, Jono Leadley & Jean Thorpe for the use of their images below.
Swan – The
resident herd further reduced with 11 remaining on the 4th. A
passage herd of 22 were at Wheldrake Ings on the 5th whilst
14 flew north up the reserve on the 9th. A single was present
at North Duffield Carrs on the 18th.
remained at Storwood and Aughton early in the month with one on the
canal at Storwood thereafter to end month.
Swan – 56
were grazing on arable fields by Derwent Farm on the 4th, by which
time three pairs were incubating clutches at North Duffield Carrs. 108 were
present throughout the site with clutches of 7, 8 and 8 at North Duffield on the
16th, with another nest built but no eggs, and a further pair on the
riverbank. Four pairs were recorded at Wheldrake with another at Bank Island. Five pairs were noted along the Pocklington Canal, with one on the Low Grounds and four
pairs on ponds in the wider area – total of 20 pairs throughout.
Goose – 197 adults were counted throughout the site on the
16th when the first
broods were noted at Wheldrake – 22 Goslings from 2 broods. 10 goslings were
then seen in a brood at North Duffield Carrs, with another brood of nine nearby.
– A small number of pairs remained scattered throughout the wider area on ponds
and small lakes rather than the Ings.
– 19 flew north-west over Wheldrake Ings on the 10th.
Goose – Five were present at Wheldrake on the 10th, with three there on
the 15th. Three or four were seen regularly in the Low
Grounds/Wheldrake area thereafter, with 10 on the reserve on the 16th – when the first brood
of nine were at East Cottingwith. Three or four birds were in the Wheldrake/Low
Grounds area during the month, with five there on the 16th and six on the 23rd. The brood at East
Cottingwith numbered seven on the 28th
with a second brood of at least three at the same
site on the 30th.
– 162 were recorded across the reserve on the 1st,
with a further wave of migrants noted later in the month, in addition to the
local breeding population (via ringing studies/colour-ringed birds), many of
these birds being first year individuals. A total of 113 were counted throughout
the site on the 16th.
– Two were at Aughton Ings with 11 Shelduck on the 16th.
– A male was present at Wheldrake Ings on the 12th.
– 3,654 remained throughout the site on the 4th,
with a large clear out around the 11th/12th
- leaving just 307 by the 16th.
68 remained at Wheldrake Ings on the 24th
with 24 there on the 28th.
remained throughout the site on the 4th, with numbers decreasing
quickly thereafter to 689 by the 16th. 570 were still present at
Wheldrake on the 22nd – followed by 440 on the 24th
and 28th to month end. 60 were at North Duffield Carrs on the
30th with six at Thornton Ellers – total of 548 present on
that date throughout the site.
Mallard – 20+ broods appeared
throughout the month.
Gadwall – 160 were counted on the
4th, with 194 present throughout on the 16th.
The majority of females were incubating at month end, with several
concentrations of 20-30 loafing drakes around the reserve.
Shoveler – 215 were recorded on
the 4th, with 228 noted on the 16th. A
single pursuit flight at Wheldrake on the 27th involved 60
drakes after a single female.
drakes were present at both Wheldrake and North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd
with one at Bank Island on the 3rd. A pair were at North
Duffield Carrs and a drake at Bank Island on the 4th followed
by two there on the 5th. Two ducks and a drake were seen at
Bank Island on the 7th and 8th with a pair
caught and ringed there on that date. Drakes were present at Wheldrake and
North Duffield Carrs on the 11th when three birds remained at
Bank Island (drake and two ducks). Drakes were at Wheldrake and North Duffield
on the 12th, with two drakes at each North Duffield, Bank Island and
Wheldrake on the 13th. Several were then present daily at
numerous sites thereafter to month end, with seven recorded on the WeBS on the 16th.
A pair were on the Low Grounds from the 17th onwards, with three
pairs and three additional drakes on the reserve on the 20th to
month end - including three drakes and a duck pursuit-flighting on Wheldrake on
the 25th. Five drakes were at Wheldrake on 26th
with a single drake at Thornton Ellers on the 30th – on the
same day a single pair remained at North Duffield Carrs.
Pintail – Numbers remained high with 174 on the 4th. A large clear out of overwintering ducks was noted on the 9th/10th, with nocturnal passage recorded overnight at Elvington on the 10th. 73 were still present at Wheldrake on 13th but only 29 remained throughout the site on the 16th. As few as 12 were recorded on the 24th with a pair remaining at Wheldrake to month end.
Duck – Up
to 35-40 pairs were scattered throughout the site to month end.
Scaup – A single female was
present at Wheldrake Ings on the 8th.
pairs remained on the pool at Wheldrake early in the month with three drakes and
two females on the 4th. Two drakes were present on the 13th
and 16th, with a pair observed copulating on the 18th.
A single drake was at North Duffield Carrs on the 20th. At least
one pair remained at Wheldrake to month end.
were at Wheldrake Ings on the 4th with two remaining between
the 10th-16th. A single female was present until
Scoter – An
adult drake was at Wheldrake on the 2nd followed by a female on
the 4th. A female was rescued further up the Derwent near
Malton on the 6th – before being released at the coast the
following day. Flocks were recorded on nocturnal passage over Elvington overnight
on the 9th/10th, with small numbers of flocks
continuing to be picked up on nocturnal recorders thereafter until the 13th
(two flocks just after midnight), and a single flock on the 14th.
None were recorded thereafter until a single flock of male and female calls
were picked up overnight at 0300hrs on the 30th.
Goosander – Three flew into roost
at North Duffield Carrs on the 13th.
– Up to
30 remained at the Wheldrake Ings roost throughout the month.
Grebe – Nine
pairs were present on the Ings with four additional pairs on other local water
– A single on Wheldrake Ings on the 15th and 29th.
Grebe – A
summer plumaged bird at North Duffield Carrs on the 16th.
Heron – Good
numbers were present throughout the site during the month as birds were feeding
young in the local heronry - total of 27 pairs on the 28th.
Many nests held large young on that date with the first fledged juvenile at
Wheldrake Ings on the 29th - with an incubation period of 25
days and a fledging period of 7-8 weeks, this gives an approximate laying date
around early to mid-February.
Egret – Six were at Aughton, seven at Wheldrake and four
at Bank Island on the 13th,
with 21 across the site on the 14th
when a colour-ringed bird ‘H4’ was at Bank Island - ringed as a breeding adult
in 2019. Another colour-ringed bird, ringed as a chick in Hartlepool in 2019,
was present at Bank Island during the month. A total of 32 nests were counted
in the heronry on the 28th.
Great White Egret
– Two were at North Duffield Carrs with another at Thornton Ellers on the 2nd. Three were at Skipwith
Common on the 13th
followed by one at Bank Island on the 22nd
Common Crane – A single un-ringed adult was at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st (DB, AF et al), and remained the following morning. It was then joined by two additional birds before all three headed north mid morning – being reported from Staveley, near Ripon, later in the day. A single circled Sutton-upon-Derwent on the morning of the 10th, before later passing south over Wheldrake Ings, North Duffield Carrs and then off towards Skipwith Common. Four were at Thornton Ellers early on the 11th with two over North Duffield Carrs and Aughton Ings on the 19th. A single appeared at Skipwith Common on the 19th with six flying north at Bank Island on the same date. Four were present at Melbourne on the 21st with two over the Low Grounds and Bank Island on the 22nd. A single was reported at Wheldrake Ings on the 29th.
– A single flew high and north, over East Cottingwith and Bank Island at midday
on the 14th,
before being followed by another an hour later and a third later in the day. A
single headed over Wheldrake on the 22nd
whilst one lingered throughout the afternoon at East Cottingwith Ings on the 25th.
Three were present across the reserve on the 2nd, with two
still at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th-12th and regular
sightings of one or two thereafter to month end. A female was seen carrying nesting material on
the 22nd/23rd with three females at Wheldrake on
the 28th and two on the 29th.
Kite – Single
was present on the 1st with others at Thorganby, North Duffield
Carrs and Thornton Ellers on the 2nd. Four were at Wheldrake on
the 10th with three over Melbourne on the 14th.
30+ were counted from North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd with 6 at
Thornton Ellers, 8 at Wheldrake Ings and 8 recorded elsewhere – minimum of 52+
around the reserve. Nine were visible from the Thorganby viewing platform on
Falcon – Two
were at North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd with another at
Wheldrake Ings on the same date. A single was at Thorganby Ings on the 10th
with a buff-headed immature at Wheldrake on the 11th with
another high south there on the 18th.
Goshawk – A single was displaying
at an un-disclosed location on the 8th with another nearby on
the 10th. A further two displaying birds were noted in the
Merlin – Single at Thornton on
the 2nd with one observed chasing Meadow Pipits at Seavy Carr
on the 24th.
Hobby – The first returning
bird was at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th, with singles at Wheldrake on
the 17th and daily thereafter until two on the 24th
and 25th and daily thereafter.
Coot – Numbers continued to increase
with 214 on the 4th and 238 on the 16th. A
brood of four were at East Cottingwith on the 27th. A brood
then appeared on the pool at Wheldrake on the 29th.
Crake – A
fourth bird was calling on Wheldrake Ings on the 1st when two
were calling at 10:30hrs during daylight. Another was on nearby Skipwith Common
on the same date. Daytime calling birds were heard at both Wheldrake Ings and
North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd, with another new bird at
Wheldrake on the same date – at least seven calling birds recorded by this
date. Birds continued to call at dusk, through the night and at dawn, with occasional
singing throughout the day - three were still at Wheldrake at dusk on the 4th
and 5th although calling activity had dropped. Birds were
still calling, night and day on the 10th – 11th with
three, possibly four, still calling after dark on the 12th. ‘New’
birds were heard at Aughton and the Low Grounds on the 13th. Thereafter,
birds were largely silent with two calling at Wheldrake Ings on the 18th.
A single was calling at a new location in the refuge area after dark on the 27th
– possibly a new arrival.
Rail – A singing
male was at North Duffield Carrs on the 18th with eight there
after dark on the 19th and regularly thereafter. Up to eight
calling birds also remained in the reedbed/pool area at Wheldrake, with three
at Bank Island and four scattered singles elsewhere – total of 23 singing
birds. Single was recorded on nocturnal passage over Elvington overnight on the
– A pair were displaying near Newton Mask on the 4th with a
single at North Duffield Carrs on the 11th. One passed over Elvington on the night of the 15th/16th,
with a single at Wheldrake Ings on the 16th - a pair were at
Thornton Ellers on the same date. Single at Bank Island on the 25th.
Four dropped into the Low Grounds with two Sanderling on the 12th
– the first for the year, followed by another at Thornton Ellers on the 16th.
– Up to 17
pairs were present in the area with three pairs nesting on arable near East
Cottingwith towards the month end.
Plover – 119
‘northern’ birds were still at Wheldrake on the 1st, followed
by 32 on the 4th and 76 on the 7th. A
single was recorded on the 11th and 14th, with
32 present at Thornton Ings on the 16th.
Grey Plover – A single was found at Thornton Ellers on the 13th (NC).
Snipe – There was once again a clear marked passage of birds through the site during the month, with 500+ at Wheldrake on the 13th, when an estimated 800+ were present throughout the site. 300+ were recorded at Wheldrake Ings on the 18th followed by 180+ at North Duffield Carrs on the 19th – including six birds drumming, with two also heard drumming at Bubwith Ings. A total of 12 drumming birds were present by month end.
Snipe – Two
were at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th with five there on the 18th.
Single at North Duffield Carrs on the 19th.
Curlew – The first clutch was
found at North Duffield Carrs on the 21st with two more by
Whimbrel – Seven arrived at Wheldrake
on the morning of the 12th, followed by two over Bubwith Ings
during the day and three at North Duffield Carrs. 15 were at the Wheldrake
roost on the 13th (with three more roosting at North Duffield
Carrs). One or two then roosted at Wheldrake daily until three on the 19th,
12 on the 20th, 15 on the 25th and 30+ on
the 26th. At least 15 roosted in front of Tower Hide on the 28th
with at least 42 in two roost sites on the 29th. Three were
daytime feeding on North Duffield Carrs on the 30th.
– 25 were
still present at Wheldrake on the 1st with five there on the 10th
Sanderling – Two dropped into the
Low Grounds with four Ringed Plovers on the 12th.
– 20 were
at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st followed by three there on the 10th.
Five were at Bank Island on the 11th with 10 at Wheldrake on
the 12th and six at North Duffield Carrs on the 13th.
Nine were at Wheldrake on the 16th followed by 12 on the 17th.
Up to 12 remained thereafter with two at Wheldrake on the 29th
and five on the 30th.
Redshank – 15 pairs were present
throughout the site.
Greenshank – A single at Wheldrake
Ings on the 13th was the first of the year with two picked up
on nocturnal passage over Elvington on the 14th. Singles were present at Wheldrake on the 28th and North Duffield Carrs on
the 29th and 30th.
A total of 451 were at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st with 500+ there
on the 2nd. 503 were at Wheldrake on the 3rd when
18 were also at North Duffield Carrs. 400+ were then recorded daily thereafter until
the 7th, before some departed leaving 192 on the 8th
and 9th, and 100 on the 10th and 11th.
Presumably further passage birds moving through brought numbers to 250+ on the 12th
(with two caught and ringed on this date having low weights - consistent with being
newly arrived). 437 were recorded across the site on the 13th. 136 remained on the 15th
with 147 throughout the site on the 16th and 95 at Wheldrake
Ings on the 17th-18th. 59 remained at North Duffield
Carrs on the 19th and 20th, with 10 in the
Wheldrake Ings/Low Ground area on the same date. 10 remained on the reserve
thereafter until the 24th, with nine on the 25th
and four on the 26th. A single was present on the 30th.
– Two were at Thornton Ellers on the 15th with one remaining
on the 16th. Two, presumably the same lingering birds, were
at Seavy Carr on the 24th, with one also at Bank Island on the
24th-25th and one at Wheldrake Ings on the later date.
Two were seen at dusk on Wheldrake on the 26th, with one overnight
picked up on nocturnal passage.
– The first returning bird was on the pool at Thornton Ellers on the 2nd,
with another on the banks of the River Derwent at Thorganby on the 14th.
– The first of the year was present at Thornton Ellers on the 16th.
Gull – An
adult passed through Bank Island, following a small flock of Common Gulls on
Black-headed Gull – Numbers
were generally low although 130+ at Wheldrake Ings on the 12th suggested some passage
through the site.
Mediterranean Gull – Two
summer plumage adults flew north over Wheldrake in a small group of Black-headed
Gulls on the 10th,
before settling in the refuge area. A single was present there on the 11th.
Sandwich Tern – One
flew north over Bank Island calling on the 12th
Common Tern – The
first returning pair were back on the pool at Wheldrake on the 25th and were present on the
tern rafts until month end. Another pair were at Ellerton on the 26th and North Duffield
Carrs on the 28th,
with three at Wheldrake Ings on the 29th.
Arctic Tern – Three
flew high over Bank Island on the 28th
Short-eared Owl – Single
at North Duffield Carrs on the 21st.
Cuckoo – The
first returning bird was back at Skipwith Common on the 18th followed by one in
Wheldrake village on the 19th
and Skipwith on the 21st.
The first to arrive in the Melbourne, Church Bridge area was a calling male on
the 22nd with the first following at Wheldrake Ings on the 24th.
Small numbers continued to arrive thereafter with one at North Duffield Carrs viewing
platform on the 26th,
East Cottingwith on the 28th
and Bank Island on the 29th.
Swift – The
first returning birds were six at Wheldrake Ings on the 29th.
– Up to eight singing males remained early in the month.
– The first returning bird was a single over Bank Island on the 12th, followed by eight at
Wheldrake Ings later the same day. Six were at Thornton Ings on the 13th with 10 roosting at Wheldrake
on the 18th.
– 30 roosted in the Wheldrake Ings reedbed on the 12th
and were present again on the 20th.
– Single at East Cottingwith on the 16th
and Thornton Ellers on the 18th.
Sand Martin – Two
were at North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd
with several there on the 11th
and three at Wheldrake Ings. 80+ were recorded throughout
the site on the 12th
and 18th. Low numbers
were then present daily with 30+ at Wheldrake Ings on the 27th.
Swallow – The
first returning bird was at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st
with singles at Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 6th.
At least six were recorded from Wheldrake Ings on the 7th followed by five on the
8th. Two or three
were present daily thereafter, with 12 on the 11th,
25+ on the 12th,
100+ on the 25th/26th
and 150 on the 27th/28th.
House Martin – The
first four returning birds were at Wheldrake Ings on the 11th with 15 on the 12th. Only small numbers
arrived thereafter until 60 at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th with
100+ there on the 27th/28th.
15 were in Thorganby village at nest sites on the 29th.
Whinchat – A single was present at
Wheldrake Ings on the 15th.
Wheatear – A single was at
Thornton Ellers on the 12th followed by two on the 13th
and 15th, with another at Wheldrake Ings on the later date. Four
were present at Hagg Lane and two at Thornton on the 16th. Single
remained at Hagg Lane on the 18th.
Redstart – A male was seen in the
car park scrub at Wheldrake Ings on the 21st.
Two flew south at Wheldrake Ings early morning on the 12th.
Fieldfare – 610 passed over Bank Island
on the 1st. c300 were in field by North Duffield village on the
Redwing – 170 flew east over Bank
Island on the 1st. A large clear out of birds took place overnight
on the 14th with large numbers heard passing over after dark.
The first returning bird was singing at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd
with another there on the 6th. A further small arrival took place
on the 8th and 9th with up to four birds at
both Wheldrake and Skipwith on that date. Seven were at Wheldrake Ings on the 11th
with 13 recorded on the 12th. Numbers at Wheldrake had increased
to 23 by the 14th.
Blackcap – A single was singing at
Bank Island on the 2nd with 11 recorded across the site on
the 3rd (first large arrival of the year) - only small numbers
The first returning bird was at East Cottingwith on the 28th
with several across the reserve the following day.
– The first returning birds arrived on the 13th with singles
at Bank Island, Wheldrake and North Duffield Carrs, followed by four at Wheldrake
Ings on the 15th. Larger numbers then arrived a week later on the 24th/25th.
– The first returning bird was at Wheldrake Ings car park scrub on the 16th,
followed by singles at South Duffield on the 18th, Melbourne
on the 20th and Bank Island on the 22nd. Birds
were widespread by the 27th with seven singing males scattered
across roadside hedges in the East Cottingwith/Storwood Parish on the 28th.
A singing male remained in the Water Treatment Works at Bank Island on the 1st
– 12th, with a single at East Cottingwith again on the 3rd.
One was heard in riverside willows by Tower Hide at Wheldrake Ings on the 4th
with two present at Bank Island on the 13th and then daily thereafter.
Two at Bank Island and two at Wheldrake were recorded on the 16th,
with another at East Cottingwith Ings on the 17th. Possibly
three singing birds were at Bank Island on the 28th with one
on the same date at North Duffield. A single was heard on the Pocklington Canal at Storwood
on 29th - total of 7-8 singing males present during the
month with five caught and ringed.
individuals were also present south along the Derwent at Barmby Marsh Wetlands,
with another at Loftsome Bridge, Wressle – total of 11-12 singing males in the wider
The first returning bird was present in the reedbed at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th
with another singing there on the 12th – up to six by the 13th
when two were also at Bank Island. Six remained at Wheldrake Ings on the 15th
with 11 on the 18th.
The first returning bird was at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th with
another on the 16th.
A possible sighting was reported from the Low Grounds on the 18th
with the first singing male at North Duffield Carrs on the 23rd
followed by another at Wheldrake Ings on the 24th. Two were ‘reeling’
at North Duffield Carrs on the 25th to month end, with a pair
seen together there on the 29th.
Tit – A pair
were present at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd, showing well
before flying off high to the east – first spring record for the reserve.
Goldcrest – Three singing males
were recorded in the East Cottingwith/Storwood Parish on the 28th.
at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th.
Crossbill – 30 were present at Sutton
Plantation on the 3rd.
– 10 were present near Thornton on the 3rd with 50 there on the 13th,
22 on the 14th and 19 on the 16th.
Twite – Three were found with 300
Linnets at Newton Mask, near Newton-on-Derwent on the 2nd (AF