Lower Derwent Valley NNR - March 2023
The second half of the month was dominated by the return spring passage of Whooper Swans through the reserve, with a total of 2043 recorded during the month. Smaller numbers of Pink-footed Geese followed with a single Tundra Bean Goose (23rd), eight White-fronted Geese (8th) and 17 Barnacle Geese from the feral breeding population in North Yorkshire (18th). The first Garganey was recorded on the 5th with a single drake showing well from the 23rd. A pair of Mandarin were present late in the month with other notables including a female Scaup, four Smew and the start of the now annual nocturnal spring passage of Common Scoter. A Spoonbill was present (albeit briefly) on the 25th, with a total of 9 Common Cranes, a single Great White Egret and the first calling Spotted Crake after dark on 23rd. A Short-eared Owl moved through the site on the 8th.
The juvenile Hen Harrier remained throughout the month, with a run of Merlin sightings (possibly returning birds moving through the area).
passage commenced with an Avocet (15th) and the first Little
Ringed Plover (27th), with a trickle of returning Jack Snipe
throughout. Black-tailed Godwit passage flocks peaked at 257 (28th)
with signs of turn over thereafter. Returning migrants included Chiffchaff
from the 3rd, Sand Martin (17th) and Swallow
(25th), with large numbers of thrushes on the move during the second half
of the month.
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, Mike Fell, Chris Gomersall and Trevor Walton for the use of their images below.
Swan – 90
were recorded throughout the site on the 12th with the on-set
on spring passage and the usual build-up of non-breeding birds.
Swan – The
month began with 146 on the 1st - down to 100 by the 5th.
81 were still present in the resident wintering herd on the 12th
followed by 96 on the 19th with just 11 remaining at month
spring passage began with 46 north-west over Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd
followed by 34 over Bank Island on the 3rd. 11 flew over Bank
Island on the morning of the 7th, with 547 through the reserve
on the 8th followed by 117 on the 9th. 43
arrived at Wheldrake Ings after dark on the 9th - departing
shortly after dawn on the 10th and heading north. 55 arrived at
Wheldrake Ings shortly before dusk on the 15th, departing
early the next morning, with 33 overnight over Wheldrake Ings on the 16th.
136 moved through on the 17th, followed by 72 on the 18th,
73 on the 19th and 253 on the 20th. Herds
of 40 and 17 headed north over Wheldrake on the 21st whilst six
paused briefly at Bank Island on the 22nd. 204 were on the move in
several herds during the morning of the 23rd before 100
followed north over Thorganby and the Tilmire 10 minutes later at 1530hrs. 43 flew
north after dark at Wheldrake Ings on the 23rd with a small
passage flock of 22 at North Duffield Carrs on the 24th. 32
were at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th with 40 there the next day
on the 26th. 19 set off from North Duffield Carrs at dusk on
the 27th with herds of 70 and 30 north over Bank Island on
the morning of the 28th. A total of 2043 passage birds were
recorded during the month (overall total of 2092 between late February and the end
Pink-footed Goose – 304 wintering birds remained early in the month until the 9th with 436 recorded on the 12th. 200 roosted at Wheldrake Ings on the 15th with 80 remaining on the 26th.
Returning spring passage of birds heading north-west
continued, with 340 on the 1st followed by two skeins of 130
and 165 over Bank Island early on the 2nd. 300+ were recorded
in several skeins during the night of the 2nd/3rd
with 110 over during the morning of the 3rd. 32 were at Bank Island
on the 6th.
Goose – Wintering
numbers continued to fall with 166 on the 5th, 244 on the 13th
and 128 on the 19th.
– A single flew north over Thorganby with six Whooper Swans on the 23rd.
White fronted Goose
– Seven flew east over North Duffield Carrs on the 8th.
Goose – A
flock of 17 arrived at North Duffield Carrs on the 18th and
were present again the next day on the 19th – many of this flock were
wearing colour-rings or neck collars, with information quickly received showing
they had been marked as feral breeders moulting at Scorton Gravel Pits in North
Yorkshire, with journeys further afield to Essex and Kent.
Goose – 40
were recorded throughout the site on the 5th followed by 15
on the 13th.
Shelduck – 120 were present early
in the month with up to 45 at Bank Island daily. 170 were recorded across the site
on the 12th followed by 103 on the 19th.
– Numbers started to decrease as the month progressed, with waves of spring passage
noted early in the month - 5401 remained on the 5th
followed by 8172 on the 13th
and 6181 on the 19th.
3452 were present throughout the reserve on the 5th
with 2938 remaining on the 13th
and 1927 on the 19th.
– A single drake was reported at Wheldrake Ings on the 5th (possibly the same
individual reported at North Cave Wetlands the following day). The same or
another drake was at Hagg Bridge by the Pocklington Canal on the 23rd with the same/another
at Wheldrake Ings between the 24th-26th.
Gadwall – 247 were recorded across
the reserve on the 12th.
Mallard – 883 were present
throughout the site on the 5th, down to 600+ by the 12th.
Mandarin – A single drake was on
the river at Wheldrake Ings on the 16th with a pair at Bank
Island on the 26th and 29th.
Pintail – Spring passage saw numbers
increase to 712 on the 5th, with 472 remaining on the 12th
– down to 180 by the 19th with just 45 remaining at Wheldrake
Ings on the 26th.
Shoveler – 274 were recorded throughout
the reserve on the 5th followed by 288 on the 12th.
Duck – 91 present early in the month increased to 122 by the 5th with 96 recorded on the 12th.
Scaup – A single duck was
present at Wheldrake Ings on the 12th (different individual
to the bird present there earlier in the year).
Pochard – Six remained at Wheldrake
Ings on the 5th followed by three on the 10th/11th
and two on the 12th. A single drake was a Bank Island on the 22nd
with presumably the same bird at Wheldrake Ings on the 26th.
Goldeneye – A total of 16 were
present throughout the site on the 5th, with 15 of the 16 at
the usual stronghold at Wheldrake Ings. 19 were recorded on the 12th
(possibly involving some spring passage), with 11 remaining on the 19th.
Smew – The redhead from February
remained at Wheldrake Ings between the 1st-9th with
an increase to three on the 6th, four on the 10th
and three on the 11th/12th. A single was last
recorded on the 19th.
Scoter – Two
flocks passed over North Duffield Carrs during the night of the 14th
followed by a single on the 17th. Three flocks were recorded after
dark on the 18th with a single flock after dark on the 19th.
Five flocks were picked up on nocturnal recordings between 0100 and 0300hrs on
the 23rd passing over Elvington, followed by three flocks overnight
on the 28th.
Goosander – Small numbers continued
to roost at Wheldrake Ings with eight there on the 4th/5th
and 11 on the 8th. Five were present on the 10th/11th
followed by six on the 12th, with up to 16 roosting there on the
16th. Six were at Bank Island at dawn on the 21st
with three at roost at Wheldrake Ings in the evening. A single went east at
Wheldrake Ings on the 26th.
Cormorant – 44 were recorded on the
5th with 48 on the 12th.
Spoonbill – A single flew north at
North Duffield Carrs on the morning of the 25th, later reappearing
at Wheldrake for an hour, before departing southwards again – presumable the
same individual seen earlier in the morning heading north-west from North Cave
Great White Egret – The long staying individual remained in the Bank Island/Wheldrake and Hagg Bridge area early in the month, remaining to month end.
– Numbers continued to increase during the month reflecting an increase in
breeding activity, with a total of 48 recorded throughout the site on the 12th.
– Numbers increased during the month with birds on spring passage and returning
breeders. 19 were recorded on the 12th
followed by five at Wheldrake and seven at Bank Island on the 25th/26th
with five at North Duffield Carrs on the latter date. At least 17 were present
at Bank Island on the 27th
with 11 at Wheldrake Ings on the 30th
- total of 35 throughout the site on that date.
Great Crested Grebe
– A pair were displaying at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd
with a pair at Bank Island on the 21st
with nest building observed there on the 30th.
Five remained across the reserve on the 5th with six, (including
four at North Duffield Carrs) on the 7th and eight on the 12th.
Four roosted at North Duffield Carrs on the 25th with more
unusually, a single cream crown over Skipwith Common NNR on the 30th.
Hen Harrier – The long staying immature remained into the month favouring the Bank Island/Wheldrake Ings area between the 1st-3rd, on the 4th it was joined by another individual, with one then present daily thereafter to month end, often roosting in the reedbed at Wheldrake Ings (commuting across the reserve between Bank Island and North Duffield Carrs during the day time, and occasionally up the Pocklington Canal).
Kite – Three
were observed together at Thorganby Ings on the 5th with four
at Bank Island on the 6th. Four were present throughout the reserve on the
12th with two at Wheldrake and singles at Melbourne and
Peregrine – Up to four were present
early in the month until the 12th with three remaining at
Merlin – A single adult male was
at Bank Island on the 5th with the same individual still
present the following morning. A male was seen at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th
followed by an adult male at North Duffield Carrs on the 20th. A single male headed north through Bank Island on the 26th.
– Pairs were seen regularly throughout the month at Bank Island and North
Rail – Up
to 10 wintering birds were present throughout the reserve.
The first returning bird gave two calls after dark at Wheldrake Ings on the 23rd.
Coot – 228 were recorded
throughout the reserve on the 5th followed by 211 on the 12th.
124 remained on the 20th.
Six were present on farmland at Newton on Derwent during the morning on the 11th
– heard later in the day from Bank Island and Wheldrake. One flew south through
Wheldrake Ings before spending the afternoon at North Duffield Carrs on the 15th,
with two over Skipwith Common NNR on the 30th - later seen over York.
Oystercatcher – 17 were recorded throughout
the site on the 5th.
Avocet – A single was seen in
the refuge area at Wheldrake Ings on the 15th.
– Single at North Duffield Carrs on the 27th (first of the year).
Plover – The
first two of the year were seen over North Duffield Carrs on the 17th.
Plover – 366
were present throughout the site on the 5th – down to 109 on
the 12th with just 33 remaining on the 19th.
Lapwing – Numbers declined early in
the month with 3058 recorded on the 5th – by which time local
breeders were displaying and hold territory. 851 remained throughout the reserve
on the 12th with 300+ on the 19th.
Snipe – 80 were recorded at
North Duffield Carrs on the 5th and 10th,
with 123 at Wheldrake Ings on the 11th. Smaller numbers followed
on passage during the second half of the month.
Snipe – Four
were at North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd followed by five on
the 12th. A single was at a re-flooding Bank Island on the 17th
with one at Wheldrake Ings on the 21st.
– 19 were
at Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd with 32 throughout the site on the
5th and 21 on the 12th. 32 were present again
on the 19th.
remained on the 5th with c200 at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th
and 156 on the 12th. 148 remained on the 19th.
Curlew – 35 were recorded at
North Duffield Carrs on the 7th with 30 seen regularly at
Thornton Ellers - smaller flocks were noted at Bank Island and Wheldrake. A total of 115
were present throughout the site on the 13th.
Woodcock – After a large clear out
early in the month a single was caught and ringed after dark on Wheldrake Ings
on the 17th. Single over Bank Island before dawn on the 30th.
Godwit – A
flock of 90 on the 2nd increased to 109 on the 5th
– down to 87 on the 12th – with one unfortunate individual taken
by a Peregrine. A minimum of 91 were at Wheldrake Ings on the 17th
followed by 157 on the 19th, 167 on the 21st
and 203 on the 23rd. 187 were recorded a few days later on the 26th,
with a total of 257 counted throughout the site on the 28th. There
then appeared to be some kind of turnover, with 60 at North Duffield Carrs on the 29th
and 30th – a different flock containing colour-ringed birds
from the Wash and France.
Redshank – 19 at North Duffield
Carrs on the 7th.
– Three were seen at the Gravel Pits at Hemingbrough on the 3rd.
Gull – c1200
were recorded at the Wheldrake roost on the 12th.
Gull – Numbers
had dropped to just 300 by the 12th.
– One or two were present daily at the Wheldrake Ings roost from early in the
Gull – 80
were at Wheldrake Ings on the 12th.
– Three drumming birds were at Wheldrake Ings on the 5th.
– Single at Wheldrake Ings on the 26th.
Barn Owl – Several individuals showed well at Bank Island during the month.
Short-eared Owl – A single was reported at North Duffield Carrs on the 8th.
Woodlark – Singing birds were
present throughout the month at Skipwith Common NNR, albeit in lower numbers
and with reduced activity than in recent weeks. Up to eight pairs remained in
the area with six seen feeding in adjacent arable fields towards month end.
Wheatear – The first of the year
was present at North Duffield Carrs on the 22nd.
Three at Bank Island on the 17th were the first for the year,
with two at North Duffield Carrs on the 20th. A single at
Wheldrake Ings followed on the 23rd, with small numbers daily
thereafter. 20 at Bank Island on the 30th.
Swallow – The first of the year at
North Duffield Carrs on the 25th was followed by one at
Wheldrake Ings on the 27th and one at Bank Island on the 28th.
Five were at Bank Island on the 30th.
Starling – Up to 80,000 were still
present at Aughton on the 2nd with numbers decreasing quickly
Blackbird – There was some evidence
of return passage with a notable increase bringing 18 to the car park lane at
Wheldrake Ings on the 6th, with 17 at Bank Island on the same
day. 23 passed over Bank Island (north-east with Starlings) on the 23rd
- a movement involving other thrush species.
Fieldfare – Some return passage was
noted early in the month with numerous small flocks passing through the site (20-40
birds). c500 appeared during heavy rain in a rather dramatic fall around the Wheldrake/Bank
Island area on the 18th. 50 flew over Bank Island on the 22nd
followed by 300 on the 23rd and 120 on the 24th,
with 140 at Wheldrake Ings on the 26th.
Redwing - Some return passage was
noted early in the month with numerous small flocks passing through the site (20-40
birds). Approximately 500 appeared at Bank Island in heavy rain on the 19th.
Nocturnal passage was noted overnight on the 22nd/23rd
with ongoing passage involving 300 birds on the morning of the 23rd. 200
went east at Bank Island on the 28th.
Raven – Single at Stamford Bridge
on the 4th.
Stonechat – Two pairs remained at
North Duffield Ings with pairs at both East Cottingwith and Melbourne on the 5th,
followed by a pair at Wheldrake Ings on the 17th.
Chiffchaff – A singing bird (first
of the year), was present at Melbourne on the 3rd when another,
non-singing bird, was feeding in the NNR base garden at Bank Island. Two singing
birds at Bank Island and four at Wheldrake Ings on the 17th heralded
the first major arrival, with 11 in the Bank Island/Wheldrake area on the 19th
when 17 were present at Skipwith Common NNR.
Blackcap – A single non-singing and
possibly over-wintering bird was at Bank Island on the 17th.
Two remained at Melbourne throughout the month with another at Wheldrake Ings,
followed by two there later in the month. Another calling bird was at Bank Island
on the 11th and 21st.
Brambling – Single in the Wheldrake
allotments on the 18th.
55 were still present at the Melbourne reedbed roost on the 20th.