Lower Derwent Valley NNR - February Sightings
Another excellent month with some notable records and counts, and a mix of winter and passage movements. Highlights included up to four Red-head Smew and four popular Tundra Bean Geese that lingered from the 4th-17th, as well as the first spring passage flock of nocturnal Common Scoter and two Hen Harriers including the long staying individual. A single first-winter Caspian Gull, five Mediterranean Gulls, a Raven and the first returning Woodlark added additional interest.
Wintering wildfowl included 176 Whooper Swans with the first return passage noted late in the month, whilst up to 600 Pink-footed Geese remained (in addition to 1763 passage birds logged heading back north-west). Other notable counts (presumably with returning passage) included 9150 Wigeon, 7717 Teal, 543 Pintail, 495 Gadwall, 248 Shoveler and 235 Coot. In addition to the Hen Harrier up to eight Marsh Harriers remained with up to 10 Red Kites noted – a record day count on the 27th. A Grey Plover on the 19th was notable as were the 7018 Lapwing on that date, whilst 1990 Snipe (and 11 Jacks) indicated some passage movement through the site - the first drumming Snipe was noted towards month end. Spring passage and returning breeding birds saw up to 103 Curlew back by month end, with 39 Ruff, 90 Black-tailed Godwit and one or two Green Sandpiper. Up to 80,000 Starlings continued to show well at North Duffield Carrs/Aughton to month end.
thanks as always to everyone who contributed records and counts throughout the
month, in particular to members of York Birding and regular patch birder Duncan
Bye. Thanks also to Duncan Bye, Tim Jones, David Salisbury and James Wild for the use of their images below.
Swan – 69
were recorded on the monthly WeBS count on the 19th.
Swan – The
month opened with 176 remaining from January. 143 were recorded at North
Duffield Carrs on the 12th followed by 144 on the WeBS count
on the 19th. 112 flew out of the roost at Wheldrake Ings at
dawn on the 24th.
first passage flock of 37 paused at Wheldrake Ings on the 21st
with 30+ departing Wheldrake and heading north over the village after dark on
Pink-footed Geese – 600 remained throughout
the month until the 18th with 300 thereafter, although they
were more elusive than previously (feeding in surrounding fields for much of
the month returning to the Ings after dark). 300 still present at Wheldrake on
120 flew over Bank Island on the 1st
followed by 57 on the 2nd and 150 on the 3rd.
29 paused for less than an hour at Wheldrake on the 4th followed
by 38 there on the 6th. 130 flew north-west at Wheldrake on
the 11th. 200 passed over the reserve on the 15th
followed by 30 on the 16th and 120 on the 17th.
430 passed over the NNR high on the 21st with skeins of 220
and 139 following on the 22nd. 100+ flew over Skipwith Common
NNR on the 27th. A total of 1763 passage birds were recorded
during the month.
Goose – Numbers
declined quickly as usual during the month with just 215 remaining by the 19th.
– Four were present (with a Pink-footed Goose) at Bank Island and Wheldrake
Ings between the 4th – 17th – proving to be a
rather popular attraction.
White fronted Goose
– A single recorded from North Duffield Carrs on the 27th.
Goose – There
was a big reduction in wintering birds early in the month with just 43
(presumed local breeders) recorded throughout the wider area on the 19th.
Goose – Up
to seven individuals were recorded regularly throughout the month in the
Wheldrake/Bank Island and East Cottingwith areas.
Shelduck – 100+ remained
throughout the month with 115 counted on the 19th.
– A monthly maximum of 9152 were recorded on the WeBS on the 19th.
Good numbers remained throughout with 7717 present on the 19th.
Gadwall –180 were counted at
Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd with a total of 366 present
throughout the whole site on that date. Numbers increased quickly with 300+ at
Wheldrake Ings on the 7th with an additional 89 at North
Duffield Carrs. The monthly WeBS count on the 19th produced a
total of 495 with 200 at Wheldrake Ings a week later on the 26th.
Mallard – 1000+ were present
early in the month with 603 on the 19th.
Pintail – Up to 400 remained across
the reserve early in the month with 496 throughout the site on the 12th.
A full count during the monthly WeBS resulted in a total of 657 throughout the site.
310 were present in the Wheldrake/Bank Island area on the 25th
with 543 throughout the reserve on the 26th.
Shoveler – Numbers increased to
100+ at Wheldrake Ings on the 7th when 190 were recorded
throughout the site. Numbers had reached 248 by the 19th.
Duck – 60
were recorded at Wheldrake Ings on the 7th, increasing to 97
throughout the site on the 19th.
Scaup – Last month’s individual
was still present on the 1st but wasn’t seen again during the
remainder of the month.
Pochard – Small numbers present
with five at Wheldrake on the 11th followed by eight briefly on
the 19th and five again on the 25th.
Goldeneye – Up to 13 were at
Wheldrake Ings early in the month followed by 15 on the 11th
and 13 again on the 19th. Nine remained at Wheldrake on
Smew – A single red-head was
at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd with two then appearing there the
following day on the 3rd. A single remained on the 4th
with two reappearing once again on the 19th. Four red-heads
were then present together at Wheldrake on the 20th with three
present on the 24th, four on the 25th -26th
and two to month end.
The first nocturnal passage flock was recorded over North Duffield Carrs on the
Goosander – Six were at Wheldrake on
the 2nd followed by 13 on the 5th and 11 between
the 11th – 18th. Three were still present on the 25th
with two at Wheldrake/Bank Island on the 28th.
Cormorant – 36 were at the
Wheldrake roost on the 12th followed by 60 on the 19th.
Egret – One or two were recorded daily early in the month,
with an increase in frequency of sightings as breeding birds started to return to
Great White Egret
– A single was present again at Hagg Bridge on the 1st
and Wheldrake on the 2nd
- remaining there throughout the rest of the month.
– Birds started to return to the flooded Ings to breeding sites from around mid-month.
Great Crested Grebe
– The first returning bird was at Wheldrake Ings on the 12th.
Five were still present in the Bank Island/Wheldrake Ings area on the 10th
with three at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th – an estimated seven/eight
birds still wintering across the reserve (recorded on the 18th).
The long staying immature bird was seen at Bank Island on the 3rd
with another at Heslington Tilmire on the 6th. Individuals
were also recorded from Wheldrake Ings and the Low Grounds at Hagg Bride on the
11th, North Duffield Carrs on the 18th and 24th,
and Wheldrake Ings on the 20th and 24th-25th.
Two juveniles were present across the reserve on the 27th.
Kite – Four
were recorded at Wheldrake on the 11th with six in the same
area on the 24th. A ‘group’ of 10 were present in the Wheldrake/Escrick
area on the 27th.
Peregrine – Up to five wintering
birds remained throughout the month.
– A pair were recorded at Bank Island throughout the month with a pair also at
Wheldrake Ings on the 11th.
Rail – Up
to 14 calling birds were recorded on wintering territories during the month.
Coot – Numbers increased early
in the month with 26 on the 6th followed by 126 at Wheldrake on
the 11th and 235 across the whole site on the 19th.
222 were recorded at Wheldrake on the 26th.
Oystercatcher – A single was recorded
overnight at Elvington on the 3rd/4th with two
pairs back on the reserve on the 4th. Two were at Wheldrake on
the 11th with a pair at North Duffield Carrs on the 12th.
Seven were recorded on the WeBS count on the 19th.
Plover – 215
were recorded on the 19th with 150 at Wheldrake on the 25th
and 374 on the 26th.
A single was present at North Duffield Carrs on the 19th.
Lapwing – c2000 were at Wheldrake
Ings on the 2nd (a return following the freezing conditions
in mid-January). 4000+ were present throughout the site on the 5th
with 6500 recorded on the 11th (including 4000 at Wheldrake
Ings) and 7018 on the 19th. c5000 were at Wheldrake Ings on the
22nd followed by c3000 on the 25th.
Snipe – 100+ were recorded on Melbourne
and Thornton Ings on the 2nd. 300+ were present at Wheldrake on
the 12th, with 200 at North Duffield Ings and 800 at North
Duffield Carrs on the 15th. 50 were counted at Bank Island on the 16th
– on the same date c200 were also present at Heslington Tilmire). An estimated
1500-2000 were possibly present throughout the reserve during this time, with
1990 recorded on the 19th - presumably a degree of spring passage.
The first drumming birds (three) were present after dark at North Duffield
Carrs on the 27th with five or six additional chipping birds.
Snipe – Three
were at Wheldrake Ings on the 8th followed by two there on
the 10th. Two were recorded
at North Duffield Ings on the 15th with three also present at North
Duffield Carrs. Five were located at the Heslington Tilmire on the 16th
with three at Wheldrake on the 17th. A total of 11 were
recorded throughout the site on the 19th. A single individual
was showing during the day from the hides at North Duffield Carrs on the 24th
with three there on the 27th.
– 39 were
recorded throughout the site on the 12th with numbers up to 27
by the 19th.
– 150 remained
on the reserve on the 11th with 298 recorded throughout the
site on the 12th. 200 were at North Duffield Carrs on the 18th
with 276 on 19th suggesting a degree of spring passage. 300 were
present at North Duffield Carrs on 24th.
Curlew – Up to 27 remained early
in the month with 37 at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd and the first
singing bird at Bank Island on the 3rd. 34 were at Wheldrake on
the 11th with 69 throughout the site on the 19th.
40 were recorded at Wheldrake on the 25th followed by 66
there the next day on the 26th (with a minimum of 103 across
the reserve on that date).
Woodcock – Following extensive
flooding last month, up to four were present at Wheldrake Ings after dark early
in the month. However, the number of birds feeding on the Ings after dark fell dramatically
from the second week of the month, presumably as birds started their return
migration. A single was recorded at Wheldrake Ings on the 15th
Godwit – Six
were at Wheldrake on the 1st with a flock of 20 (including a
single colour-ringed bird) arriving in to Wheldrake Ings on the 5th.
90 individuals arrived at the same site on the 7th with 40
remaining there between the 11th – 18th. A flock
of 46 were recorded at Wheldrake again on the 19th, increasing
to 60 on the 25th with a total of 66 throughout the site on
Redshank – Up to 21 were present
on the reserve throughout the month.
– Single at North Duffield Carrs was heard after dark on the 15th
and was present again on the 19th - when two were also recorded
at the Hemingbrough Gravel Pits.
Gull – A
first winter bird was again located at the Wheldrake Ings roost on the 4th
(a different individual to that recorded in late January).
Gull – 15,000
remained at the Wheldrake roost on the 19th.
Gull – A
first winter bird was observed at the Wheldrake Ings roost on the 1st
and 3rd, with two adults and a first winter on the 4th
and a first winter and different adult on the 5th, with just
an adult seen on the 6th. Four individuals (two adults and
two first winters) were present on the 11th, with two first
winters and an adult present on the 12th. A single adult was still
present on the 19th.
Gull – c5000
were present at the Wheldrake roost on the 19th.
Gull – 100
were at Wheldrake on the 19th.
– Six drumming birds were recorded on Skipwith Common NNR on the 26th.
– A single was at Wheldrake Ings on the 11th followed by one
at Bank Island on the 19th.
Owl – A single
calling bird was heard after dark near Wheldrake on the 26th.
Skylark – Two birds were singing
over Melbourne Ings on the 1st with single singing birds at
Bank Island and Skipwith on the 3rd, and Wheldrake Ings and
North Duffield Carrs on the 4th.
Woodlark – The first returning
bird was back on Skipwith Common NNR on the 9th, although not
singing, with the first (two) singing birds heard there on the 15th
followed by five on the 18th and four on the 26th.
Starling – Up to 100,000 remained
at the Aughton roost early in the month, proving a popular attraction for visitors
to North Duffield Carrs. 80,000 remained on the 12th. Elsewhere,
15,000 flew south at dusk at Wheldrake Ings on the 12th –
presumably on their way to joining the Aughton roost.
A singing bird was present at Melbourne Arm on the 1st followed by
one at Bank Island on the 8th.
Raven – A single between
Wheldrake and Thorganby on the 21st.
Stonechat – Up to two remained at
North Duffield Carrs during the month with one at Ellerton on the 19th.
Two were heard at Wheldrake Ings on the 11th.
Tit – Three
were seen at Wheldrake on the 11th.