Lower Derwent Valley NNR - June Sightings
The stand-out highlight for local birders in terms of the unusual was a Collared Pratincole found at Wheldrake Ings frequenting Swantail on the 13th. It was present again from dawn the following day, before flying off high north-west at 08:30hrs – the first reserve record and one which drew quite a few visitors during its short stay.
As expected, the month was dominated by local breeding activity, with waterfowl having a productive season. Up to 10 drakes and at least three female Garganey were present in late May/early June, with a single brood of eight appearing during the month. 30 broods of Gadwall were noted (minimum 200+ ducklings), and 20 broods of Shoveler (minimum 150 ducklings), with large brood sizes noted. Grey Heron juveniles built up on the Ings with 24 on the 19th, followed by the first broods of Little Egrets on the 26th when 11 were on the pool at Wheldrake. A colour-ringed Spoonbill was present on the 21st – details to follow. Raptors included an Osprey on the 16th, with Hobbies and Marsh Harriers present throughout. A rehabilitated Peregrine was released at North Duffield Carrs on 19th – thanks to the efforts of Jean Thorpe. Up to 12 singing Water Rails and several Spotted Crakes were present throughout the month, whilst additional Quail were located - total of 23 singing males.
Breeding waders had a productive season, whilst the first returning passage waders appeared mid-month, with the first Green Sandpipers (16th) and Wood Sandpiper (19th-21st), followed by Little Ringed Plovers and a single Dunlin.
A total of 174 bird species have now been recorded since the 1st January 2021. Many 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, Gerry Capelin, Nick Carter, Steve Race and Jonathan Scragg for the use of his images below.
Mute Swan – 53 non-breeders were still present around North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd.
Whooper Swan – A single remained at North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd.
Greylag Goose – The first fledged young of the year were seen flying around Bank Island on the 16th, with 34 there on that date, and 173 young and moulting adults at Wheldrake Ings on the same date. A total of 287 were recorded throughout the area by the end of the month.
Pink-footed Goose – A single remained in the Bank Island/Wheldrake Ings area until the 27th.
Egyptian Goose – A single was present with the moulting Greylag Goose flock and creche at Wheldrake Ings and Bank Island between the 1st – 15th. Two were at Wheldrake Ings with a single at Bank Island on the 16th - by the 24th all three had moved over to Wheldrake. 13 were in the East Cottingwith area on the usual farm ponds on the 24th, giving a total of 16 birds on the reserve at this time. Two remained at Wheldrake to month end.
Wigeon – Two drakes and a female were involved in a protracted fight on the pool at Wheldrake on the 1st, with three drakes and a female there on the 2nd. A pair were present at Melbourne and Thornton Ings early in the month. Up to four pairs/off duty males were at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th and 15th.
Garganey – Good numbers remained from May, with four drakes and a female at Bank Island on the 1st, and three drakes at Wheldrake on the same date. Three drakes and a female were recorded at North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd, when two drakes and a female were at Bank Island, and three drakes and a duck were at Wheldrake - at least 10 drakes and three females are known to have been present during late May and early June. Four drakes were at Bank Island on the 5th when two were at Wheldrake and three remained at North Duffield. The first brood (eight), were found at Bank Island on the 8th, with a female apparently coming off a nest occasionally to join a now moulting male there on the 8th, 9th and 10th. At least one male remained there until the 15th, when another was at Wheldrake and two remained at North Duffield Carrs. A single male was observed Wheldrake Ings on the 16th with a pair still present there on the 22nd.
Pintail – A pair remained at North Duffield Carrs until the 15th.
Gadwall – A brood of seven were present on the pool at Wheldrake on the 1st, with a brood of nine at North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd. A further 15 broods (100+ ducklings) were recorded between the 2nd and the 10th. Broods of eight and nine were newly hatched at Bank Island on the 11th, with three newly hatched broods (9, 9, 11) on the pool at Wheldrake on the 15th. 35 ducklings in five broods were observed at Wheldrake on the 24th, when 22 (three broods), were at Bank Island and 41 ducklings (six broods) were at North Duffield Carrs. A further brood of nine appeared at Wheldrake on the 30th.
Shoveler – The first brood (6) appeared at Bank Island on the 2nd, with four broods (6,7,7,4) at Wheldrake on the 4th. A brood of 11 were later found at Bank Island on the 7th, followed by 10 at Wheldrake on the 8th and 12 on the 9th. Broods of eight and nine were at Bank Island on the 14th, with a brood of 11 at Wheldrake on the 15th and a brood of 13 on the 16th. A total of six broods (47 ducklings) were on the pool at Wheldrake at dawn on the 24th when 18 (3 broods) were at Bank Island.
Tufted Duck – Up to 20 pairs were present across the site.
Great Crested Grebe – A pair with two juveniles were present on the main drain at North Duffield Carrs on the 12th.
Little Grebe – A single juvenile was on the pool at Wheldrake on the 15th to month end, with three adults there on the 24th.
Little Egret – The first eight fledged young (from three nests), were present in the Heronry on the 1st with two young at Bank Island from the 17th. A total of 11 birds were on the pool at Wheldrake on the 26th.
Great White Egret – A single was at North Duffield Carrs on the 1st and 2nd.
Grey Heron – Eight were at Bank Island on the 15th with ten there on the 16th and fourteen on the 17th – on the same date ten were also present at Wheldrake Ings. 24 were at Bank Island on the 19th with 16 there on the 24th.
Spoonbill – A single colour-ringed adult was at Thornton Ellers on the 21st, before flying off high ESE.
Harrier sp. – A single ringtail harrier was reported from North Duffield Carrs late in the month.
Marsh Harrier – An adult female was regular in the Bank Island and Wheldrake area early in the month, with one then present between Wheldrake and Bank Island on the 14th. An adult female was seen regularly after the 19th and was seen flying off from Wheldrake carrying food thereafter to month end. A different cream crown was present on the 24th with the adult female again between the 25th - 28th.
Osprey – A single near Pocklington on the 16th flew west towards Melbourne and Thornton Ings and the Pocklington Canal.
Peregrine – A single rehabbed bird was released at North Duffield Carrs on the 14th with a distant bird seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 19th.
Hobby – Singles at North Duffield Carrs and Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd, with regular sightings thereafter including three at Wheldrake on the 4th. One was still present at Bank Island on the 16th with two at Wheldrake Ings on the 17th, and a single again at Bank Island on the 30th. A pair were present in the Melbourne area during the month.
Water Rail – 12 pairs/singing birds were still present at Wheldrake early in the month. Two juveniles were at Bank Island on the 28th when a single juvenile was seen with an adult at Wheldrake Ings.
Spotted Crake – Seven were still calling at dawn on the 1st in the Wheldrake, Bank Island and Low Grounds area, with two calling after dark at Wheldrake overnight on the 1st/2nd, albeit with much reduced calling. One was calling after dark at 22:30hrs at Bubwith Ings on the 1st, with another calling, only intermittently, at Thorganby Ings on the same night. At dusk on the 2nd seven were calling well at Wheldrake Ings – with birds calling strongly like new arrivals at four locations, whilst those heard on earlier nights continued with further reduced activity. One pair were thought to be ‘dueting’ whilst some males were heard calling against each other in obvious territorial defences. Eight were still calling after dark on the 4th, with seven on the 5th. Most birds fell silent on the 6th and 7th, although a single tagged bird showed that at least some remained at this time, remaining to month end. Two were calling at Wheldrake Ings at 02:00-03:30 hrs on the 8th (SE). Birds were largely quiet thereafter with one at 22:00hrs on the 19th and another at 03:00hrs on the 23rd.
Quail – Three were calling in the Wheldrake/Bank Island/Low Grounds area at dawn on the 1st, with another new bird located at dusk at Aughton. A calling male was at East Cottingwith Ings on the 3rd with another pair seen elsewhere on East Cottingwith by the ragwort pulling team (NC et al). Five were calling in the East Cottingwith area at 21:00hrs on the 7th with one caught and ringed. Two were calling at Wheldrake Ings at 02:00-03:30 hrs on the 8th (SE). Three were calling north of Ellerton Landing on the 13th when one was present between Bubwith and Aughton Ings on the same date. Three were singing in the Aughton/Bubwith area on the 14th with a new bird seen at Melbourne Ings on the 15th. Single at Wheldrake Ings calling briefly on the 27th.
A total of 23 calling males were located (including a sighting of two pairs), with eight males caught and ringed during the month.
Little Ringed Plover – Singles were present at Wheldrake Ings and Bank Island on the 13th/14th, and at Bank Island on the 15th. Two were at Bank Island on the 16th – 22nd, with pairs at both Wheldrake and Bank Island between the 22nd – 25th. One remained at Bank Island from the 26th to month end.
Oystercatcher – A total of 18 pairs were present during the breeding season, with a single pair on ponds at East Cottingwith fledging two young. Additional pairs raised young near Dunnington and Foggagthorpe.
Lapwing – A further brood of four were present at Bank Island early in the month and subsequently all fledged, with 15 young at Church Bridge, Melbourne on the 8th and 10th. Four broods (16 young) were at Wheldrake on the 7th and 10th. A further brood (unseen) were being walked by an adult through arable opposite Bank Island towards the reserve. Post breeding flocks began to build up with 50 at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th and 16th, followed by 92 at Bank Island on the 20th. 107 were present at Bank Island on the 21st with 147 on the 22nd. 179 were at Bank Island on the 27th/28th, with two unfledged young remaining there to month end.
A total of 92 pairs were located across the reserve, with a further 31+ on adjacent arable surrounding the site. Breeding productivity appeared high.
Collared Pratincole – A single was found by a visitor at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th - frequenting Swantail Ings until dusk (AL et al). It was then present again from dawn the following day (14th), before flying off high north-west at 08:30hrs - first record for the reserve.
Snipe – Birds continued to chip and drum throughout the month, with a total of 81 drumming birds present across the whole site. A flock of 17 flew over Melbourne Ings on the 15th. Several individuals were still drumming on the 23rd (three at Wheldrake, one at Bank Island, three at Bubwith and four at North Duffield Carrs), whilst a nest with four eggs was found at Bubwith Ings on the 24th.
Curlew – 21 roosted at Wheldrake Ings on the 8th, with 24 there on the 9th. A total of 55 pairs were found on the reserve during the breeding wader surveys, with a further 11 pairs present on grassland in the surrounding area. Three broods, totaling six young, were ringed in a meadow at Melbourne on the 15th. 25 roosted at Wheldrake Ings on the 19th.
Whimbrel – An unseasonal individual was calling after dark at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd.
Dunlin – One after dark at Bank Island on the 23rd.
Ruff – A single reeve (female) at North Duffield Carrs on the 3rd.
Green Sandpiper – Right on cue, the first returning birds on autumn passage were two at Bank Island on the 16th -22nd. A further freshly arrived individual was present on the 24th with two on the 25th to month end.
Wood Sandpiper – A single adult was recorded at Bank Island between the 19th - 21st.
Redshank – Six or seven pairs (all with young), were at Wheldrake Ings early in the month, with a total of 24 pairs located throughout the reserve. Six birds were at Bank Island on the 15th, with eleven at Wheldrake Ings on the 16th and nine at Bank Island between the 18th-20th.
Lesser Black-backed Gull – Small numbers moved through the site most days, with small numbers also loafing in nearby fields. 60+ were adjacent to Wheldrake Ings on the 4th and 8th. 131 were loafing in fields at Thornton on the 10th, with 17 in fields at Skipwith on the 14th. 40 flew south at dusk at Wheldrake on the 16th, with 120 in ploughed fields by Sutton Farm on the 29th.
Yellow Legged Gull – A single adult was present with Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Thornton on the 10th.
Black-headed Gull – The first four fledged birds of the year were present at Wheldrake on the 16th – having dispersed from other breeding sites. Two juveniles were at Bank Island on the 18th, increasing to 20 by the 29th.
Common Tern – Two pairs remained early in the month, including the incubating pair on the raft at Wheldrake Ings, which had hatched three young by the 8th. All three were ringed and colour-ringed on the 18th.
Cuckoo – Two birds were calling at North Duffield Carrs on the 1st, with three at Wheldrake Ings and a single at Aughton. Seven males and four females were along the Pocklington Canal/Melbourne Ings area on the 8th with three (two males and a female) at Wheldrake on the same date. Single at East Cottingwith Ings on the 9th with two at Skipwith Common on the 10th, and a single male at Thornton Ellers on the 11th. Two at North Duffield Carrs on the 14th with just two males at Wheldrake on the 15th. A female was searching for nests in the Wheldrake reedbed on the 16th, with a calling male also present there. Single males were still present at Wheldrake on the 27th when three were recorded in the Melbourne area.
Swift – A small movement through the site was noted on the 13th with 50 at Thornton Ellers, 110 at Wheldrake Ings and 200 through North Duffield Carrs.
Short-eared Owl – A single was hunting over North Duffield Carrs after dawn on the 2nd (NC, CSR).
Pied Wagtail – A pair bred in the woodshed at the NNR Base at Bank Island, with five roosting in the reedbed at Wheldrake Ings – the start of the post breeding roost.
Swallow – A brood of four fledged from under Tower Hide at Wheldrake Ings during the month.
Starling – The first post breeding flock of 100 roosted at Wheldrake Ings on the 5th, building up to 250 by the 16th and 300+ by month end.
Spotted Flycatcher – A pair remained at the Melbourne Arm with a pair along the canal towards Thornton Ellers on the 8th. The Melbourne Arm pair had young by the 28th.
Sedge Warbler – The first fledged young were at Wheldrake Ings on the 16th.
Grasshopper Warbler – A single singing male was by the Geoff Smith Hide at dusk on the 1st, with one by the riverbank there between the 2nd – 15th. The Wheldrake Ings individual continued to sing early in the month, with two at Melbourne and Thornton Ings and two at Skipwith Common. Another was near Thornton Ellers on the 8th, with two reeling again at Wheldrake on the 16th and one daily to month end. A single was reeling at Bank Island on the 30th.
A total of ten singing birds have now been recorded during the breeding season.
Willow Tit – Two adults with a fledged brood of five were in willows by the windpump at Wheldrake Ings on the 16th.
Corn Bunting – As usual birds started to appear on the Ings to take up breeding territories from early in the month, with three singing males at Wheldrake, four at East Cottingwith, three at Ellerton Ings and four on Bubwith Ings. Three singing males were present at North Duffield Ings on the 30th. Seven singing males were around Hagg Lane at East Cottingwith on the 9th with up to 15 in the Melbourne/Thornton area during the month. Good numbers of singing birds were also present in the South Duffield and Menthorpe area, with scattered pairs elsewhere in the area.
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