Lower Derwent Valley NNR - November Sightings
As expected, the month was dominated by the increasing number of waterfowl. 134 passage Whooper Swans were logged, and the wintering herd built up to 104 individuals. Seven species of geese were recorded, including a record 3600 Greylag Geese, whilst between 2000-5000 Pink-footed Geese were present in and around the area, with up to 2000 using North Duffield Carrs for part of the month. 25 Tundra Beans (four flocks), 14 White-fronted Geese and a single Barnacle were also recorded. Wigeon numbered 4600 late in the month with 3000 Teal, and an impressive early count of 196 Pintail. Two lingering Great White Egrets and a single Common Crane were logged, whilst raptors included Goshawk (21st and 30th), eight Marsh Harrier, four Peregrines, Merlin (5th, 22nd and 24th) and a ring-tailed Hen Harrier on the 27th.
Increasing wintering waders included 23 Dunlin, 29 Ruff, 2 Grey Plover (7th and 15th), 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Green Sandpiper and several Jack Snipe, whilst increasing numbers of Woodcock were located in the wider area.
Best of the rest included a single Short-eared Owl, a late Swallow (21st/22nd), a Bearded Tit (3rd), whilst six wintering Cetti’s Warblers remained across the site. Two female Blackcaps were recorded along with a total of 25 Crossbill in what has been a record autumn for the species.
Many thanks as always to everyone who has contributed records throughout the month, in particular to members of the YOC and regular patch birder Duncan Bye – thanks also to Duncan for the use of his images below, credited DB.
Mute Swan – Monthly maximum of 89 on the 15th.
Whooper Swan – 24 flew south at Bank Island on the 1st with seven there on the 2nd and nine on the 8th. 43 flew south after pausing for a while on the 11th, with herds arriving at Bank Island during the night and departing at dawn, including twelve on the 17th (six juveniles) and eight on the 18th including four juveniles. It is interesting to note these later herds contained a higher proportion of young. Four flew over Melbourne on the 16th. A single at Bank Island and nine at Wheldrake Ings were recorded on the 19th, with five at Bank Island on the 20th and four on the 25th. A group of 12 were observed at Bank Island on the 27th with two there on the 30th – a total of 134+ passage birds during the month.
94 were present in the herd at North Duffield Carrs on the 3rd, with 55 there on the 8th and 61 on the 11th and 15th - increasing to 73 on the 21st, 83 on the 24th and 104 on the 30th.
Greylag Goose – c2000 were present at Bank Island at dawn on 1st and 2nd, with an additional 600+ birds present in fields near Elvington Lane at dawn on the 2nd. Large numbers were also reported from several areas in the valley flying over towards dusk later that day, with c3000 roosting at Bank Island. 3600 were present throughout the site on the 11th with 2400 still present on the 22nd. Up to 1300 roosted at Wheldrake thereafter with up to 2500 lingering throughout the reserve.
Pink-footed Goose – Up to 109 lingered at North Duffield Carrs on the 1st/2nd, whilst 56 flew over Bank Island on the 1st. 300 flew over Ellerton Ings at dusk with another mixed flock of Greylags and Pink-footed Geese at dark on the 2nd, whilst flocks of 120 and 80 present at Bank Island at first light had presumably roosted there. 400+ flew to the east of Bank Island heading north at dawn on the 3rd, whilst 470 flew west over Thorganby village. 530 were present on North Duffield Carrs on the 3rd/4th, with 75 over Bank Island on the 4th and 350 over Melbourne. 800 passed north-west during the day over Bank Island on the 5th, with 1000+ over in fog on the 6th. 900 were at North Duffield Carrs on the 5th-7th, in addition to 2000+ there on the 8th/9th. 300 were in the Bank Island area on the 9th, with 100+ on the 10th. 1500 were still present in the North Duffield area on the 11th with 1735 recorded on the WeBS count on the 14th. 380 passed over Bank Island in two skeins on the 16th with 1000 at Wheldrake/Storwood Ings on that date. 250 passed over Bank Island heading south-east on the 19th with 200 over North Duffield Carrs on the 22nd. 300 flew over Melbourne on the 24th. 500 roosted at Wheldrake on the 25th, with 65 over on the 26th and 140 south on the 27th.
It would appear that between 2000-5000 birds roosting on the Humber were heading into the southern end of the valley to feed during the day, seemingly using the north of Howden/Spaldington area, with smaller numbers heading further into the core valley, and up to the north of Stamford Bridge and the Melbourne area.
Tundra Bean Goose – Three flew over South Duffield on the 6th (MS) with 10 over Ellerton (south down the river Derwent - TJ, JAB), whilst five were also present at Bank Island on the same date (CSR, DW). Eight flew east over Bank Island on the 12th (CSR).
White-fronted Goose – 14 flew over Bank Island on the 4th with a single juvenile present amongst the Pink-footed Geese flocks at North Duffield Carrs from the 5th to 14th.
Canada Goose – 278 were present throughout on the 14th with 230 leaving the roost there at dawn on the 25th. 311 were present across the whole site on the 27th.
Barnacle Goose – A single was present in the North Duffield area with the Pink-footed Geese flocks from the 5th to 15th.
Egyptian Goose – Two were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 11th, with six in the East Cottingwith area on the 14th.
Shelduck – 35 were present across the site on the 1st, increasing to 69 by the 15th. 36 were recorded at Bank Island on the 17th/18th, with 50+ on the 24th/25th. A total of 63 individual birds were caught and colour-ringed at Bank Island during the month.
Wigeon – 1000+ were present at Bank Island on the 7th with 1500 at Bubwith Ings on the 8th, when an estimated 3500 were recorded across the whole site - increasing to 4000+ by the 12th. 4680 were counted on the monthly WeBS on the 14th, with 3500+ at Bank Island on the 16th.
Teal – 2355 were recorded on the WeBS count on the 14th with 3000+ at Thorganby on the 30th.
Pintail – 196 were still present at Bank Island on the 1st with 120 there on the 3rd and 147 on the 14th.
Shoveler – Numbers increased to 63 by the 14th.
Gadwall – 42 were recorded on the 14th.
Tufted Duck – Three individuals, two drakes and a female, were at Bank Island on the 6th. Scattered singles were present thereafter until the 15th.
Pochard – The first returning birds, a drake and two females, were present at Bank Island on the 6th.
Goosander – A single red-head continued to roost at Bank Island, and was recorded from the 1st – 22nd.
Goldeneye – Two drakes and a red-head were present across the site on the 14th, with a drake regularly on the pool at Wheldrake thereafter.
Little Egret – Two at Bank Island on the 4th with singles at Thorganby on the 12th and East Cottingwith on the 13th. Regular singles were recorded at Bank Island/Wheldrake thereafter.
Great White Egret – A single remained in the Wheldrake area from the 1st and North Duffield Carrs from the 2nd – 7th. One was present at Hagg Bridge until the 15th. Two flew over Wheldrake towards Elvington on the 23rd, with a single over East Cottingwith on the 26th.
Common Crane – A single flew north-west over Bank Island, calling, on the 6th.
Goshawk – A single was hunting between Ellerton and Aughton on the 21st (OM) with one at Thorganby on the 30th (CSR).
Marsh Harrier – Two were present at Bank Island on the 1st when three were also at Bank Island, where yet another new wing-tagged bird (D3) was seen on the 2nd - remaining until at least the 10th. Three at Bank Island and two at North Duffield Carrs were still present on the 11th, with at least four recorded during the WeBS count on the 14th. At least eight were recorded throughout the site on the 19th (six at Wheldrake), whilst four/five were observed at North Duffield Carrs on the 22nd. Five were present there again on the 24th when two were also at Bank Island.
Peregrine – An adult female at Bank Island on the 1st with an adult pair at North Duffield Carrs on the 4th. Single at Melbourne on the 10th with a juvenile at Bank Island on the 11th. An adult female caught and ate a Lapwing at Wheldrake on the 14th, with an adult female and an immature at North Duffield Carrs on the 15th and an adult there on the 17th. Two were present at North Duffield on the 18th followed by two at Wheldrake and a single over Bank Island on the 19th, whilst three were calling and interacting at North Duffield Carrs on the 30th.
Merlin – A single was present at Bank Island on the 5th with one at North Duffield Carrs between the 22nd - 24th.
Red Kite – Singles were present at Skipwith Common NNR on the 3rd and 4th, with one at Bank Island on the 4th and 10th. A single was seen over Thorganby village on the 24th with three near Skipwith Common NNR on the 26th-29th.
Hen Harrier – A ringtail was observed at Skipwith Common NNR on the 27th.
Grey Partridge – A small covey of eight were found on farmland near Wheldrake after dark on the 12th, with three caught and ringed (GD).
Water Rail – Up to four were wintering at both Wheldrake Ings and North Duffield Carrs during the month, with two at Church Bridge Melbourne, and two at Bank Island along the river bank. A single at Thornton Ellers on the 27th.
Golden Plover – Up to 1000+ were present in the Elvington area early in the month. As with last winter, birds were found after dark feeding in fields along the Escrick Moraine, with one caught and ringed there on the 9th and 30+ present on the 12th. Up to 800 were recorded in the Bubwith Ings area from the 11th to 15th.
Grey Plover – A single flew north over Bank Island in fog on the 7th (CSR), with another found at North Duffield Carrs on the 15th (GC).
Lapwing – Numbers increased during the month with 1300 across the site by the 8th, with 2200 recorded on the 11th followed by 2097 on the WeBS count on the 14th. 1000+ were at Wheldrake Ings on the 18th.
Snipe – 50 at Bank Island on the 8th with 100+ feeding after dark at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th. 290 were scattered throughout the site on the 14th. 100+ were still present at Wheldrake on the 16th, with up to 100 on Melbourne and Thornton Ings throughout the month.
Jack Snipe – Five were recorded at Skipwith Common NNR on the 5th, with two after dark at Wheldrake on the 16th.
Woodcock – The first returning bird was caught and ringed on farmland at Wheldrake after dark on the 9th, with another ringed in the same field on the 11th (GD). Four were feeding after dark near Wheldrake Woods on the 23rd whilst three were present in woodland at Back Common, Thorganby on the 24th.
Curlew – Six were observed on the Low Grounds on the 8th, with a single at Wheldrake Ings on the 14th followed by nine on the 28th.
Black-tailed Godwit – A single at Bank Island on the 1st was followed by 22 flying over towards Wheldrake on the 10th. Single at North Duffield Carrs on the 14th, with two at Wheldrake on the 15th and one at Bank Island on the 26th. Two were at Wheldrake Ings on the 26th to month end.
Redshank – Three were recorded at North Duffield Carrs on the 1st and 2nd, with one at Bank Island on the 5th. Five were present throughout the whole site on the 8th with 30 arriving at Bubwith Ings on the 9th. Five were at Bank Island on the 26th.
Dunlin – Six were at Bank Island on the 1st with one at North Duffield Carrs on the 8th and eight on the 12th. Numbers increased to 43 by the 13th and remained to month end.
Ruff – 11 remained at North Duffield Carrs on the 1st with 15 there on the 8th – on the same date three were also present at Bank Island and the Low Grounds. 16 were at North Duffield Carrs on the 11th with the same numbers at Bubwith Ings on the 12th - increasing to 26 by the 14th. 29 were present on North Duffield Carrs on the 17th.
Green Sandpiper – Two vocal birds were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 17th with a single bird at Bank Island on the 27th.
Mediterranean Gull – A single adult was present on the river at North Duffield Carrs on the 4th with a first-winter present at North Duffield Carrs on the 5th/6th (DW).
Lesser Black-backed Gull – 500+ were present near Skipwith Common NNR on the 4th with c100 remaining on the 26th.
Yellow-legged Gull – Singles present with a large gull flock near Skipwith Common NNR on the 3rd and 4th.
Short-eared Owl – One present near North Duffield on the 2nd with another in the same area on the 14th/15th.
Wood Pigeon – Numbers appearing on the reserve and moving overhead increased, with 1200 at Bank Island on the 2nd and 2500 over on the 3rd. 5500+ flew south over Bank Island early morning on the 4th.
Kingfisher – Birds were regular on the River Derwent around Bank Island and Wheldrake, with two at North Duffield Carrs on the 17th and Aughton on the 26th. Reported regularly at several sites along the Pocklington Canal and from Sutton Lock throughout the month.
Skylark – Large numbers present throughout the reserve with 500+ in stubble fields near Wheldrake Woods on the 6th.
Swallow – Singles were present at Wheldrake Ings and Thorganby Ings on the 21st, with possibly the same individual at Wheldrake again on the 22nd (DB).
Fieldfare – 600+ arrived at Bank Island during the morning of the 3rd, with 1000+ throughout the site on the 5th. 50+ were observed roosting over the meadow at Wheldrake Ings after dark on the 10th. 1000+ moved through Bank Island on the 16th.
Blackbird – A noticeable arrival took place on the 3rd with 40 present in the Bank Island area, with birds seen arriving from the east. Another notable arrival was noted at Bank Island and Thorganby on the 26th.
Mistle Thrush – A single was singing at Melbourne on the 24th.
Stonechat – Three at Bank Island on the 4th with a pair at Melbourne on the 6th. Three at Bank Island again on the 8th and five at Wheldrake Ings. Four were still present at North Duffield Carrs on the 14th, with five at Wheldrake on the 14th/15th. Four were at Bank Island again on the 26th with one at Melbourne to month end.
Starling – c1000 at North Duffield Carrs on the 1st, with 5000+ there on the 3rd. 800+ flew south over Bank Island towards dusk on the 9th/10th – presumably heading towards an evening roost.
Willow Tit – Two were caught and ringed at the North Duffield Carrs feeding station by the car park on the 5th, with calling birds heard on the 17th and 24th. Two calling birds were also present at Back Common Thorganby on the 24th, with one at Church Bridge Melbourne at month end.
Bearded Tit – A single vocal bird at Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd.
Blackcap – A female was present in the NNR base garden on the 3rd with one caught and ringed at North Duffield Carrs on the 22nd.
Cetti’s Warbler – A single was still singing by the Geoff Smith Hide at North Duffield Carrs on the 4th with two there on the 11th. Three singing birds at Wheldrake on the 8th/9th with one at Melbourne on the 9th onwards to month end.
Lesser Redpoll – c50 in Back Common Thorganby on the 24th with up to 70 at Skipwith Common NNR late in the month.
Tree Sparrow – 50 were present on Hagg Lane East Cottingwith on the 14th, with up to 50 at the NNR base feeding stations.
Brambling – Singles were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 8th/9th with four at Bank Island on the same date. One in the car park at North Duffield Carrs on the 17th.
Crossbill – A single over Wheldrake Ings on the 8th with 12 east on the 15th. 12 were present in the Seaton Ross area on the 22nd.
Small Tortoiseshell – One at the NNR base on the 3rd.
Peacock – Singles at North Duffield Carrs on the 4th and Bank Island on the 17th.
Migrant Hawker – One still on the wing at Thorganby on the 4th.
Otter – A female with a cub was present by the reed bed at Church Bridge on the 18th.
Harvest Mouse – A nest was found at Church Bridge Melbourne during the month.
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