Lower Derwent Valley NNR - October Sightings
A total of 332 Whoopers Swans moved south through the reserve during the month, in addition to the steady build up of birds in the ‘resident’ herd. Pink-Footed Geese have undergone a dramatic change in status here over recent years, with increasing passage numbers and wintering birds remaining to feed and roost locally. A total of 4910 flew south during the month, with up to 2000 roosting and feeding locally. More distantly, up to 16,000 could be seen from the viewing platform at Bank Island, commuting from the Humber into the Market Weighton area late in the month. Other waterfowl started to increase, with the usual build up of Greylag Geese with 2370 in the area. 2300 Wigeon, 1200 Teal and a notable 1000 Mallard were also recorded. The first returning Goldeneye was logged on the 21st whilst a migrating flock of Common Scoter were recorded on the 14th.
Up to five Little Egrets were present along with a single Great White and brief Cattle Egret during the month. Up to five Marsh Harriers remained (including wing-tagged bird D3). A ringtail Hen Harrier flew through Wheldrake Ings on the 21st whilst a late Osprey was reported at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th. Wader numbers increased during the month with up to 500 Golden Plover, 600 Lapwing and 200+ Snipe. The first returning Jack Snipe was recorded on the 7th with up to six by the 19th. The first returning Curlew was present on the 23rd, followed by the first Woodcock on the 25th. Up to eight Dunlin, three Ruff and a lingering Green Sandpiper were all present late in the month.
The first returning Redwings arrived on the 6th followed by a single Fieldfare on the 8th – with only another four individuals arriving during the remainder of the month. A late Wheatear was a surprise find in an arable field near Wheldrake village on the 5th. Up to 13 Stonechats were back on wintering territories, whilst the last three Swallows were recorded on the 15th - following the last ten House Martins on the 5th. A Hawfinch flew over Bank Island on the 7th, which followed the first of several Brambling over the same site on the 1st. A large arrival of Starlings was noted at Bank Island between the 25th-27th.
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 for the use of his images below, credited DB.
Whooper Swan – An unringed adult on the river at North Duffield Carrs - present with a flock of Mute Swans, was the first returning bird on the 6th, with two present there the next day. Two flew into Bank Island from the north on the 11th, before continuing southward after resting for a couple of hours. 167 flew south in nine herds on the 16th, with nine in the wintering herd fields at North Duffield Carrs later in the day - a lingering individual was also still present on the river. Six were present at Seavy Carr on the 18th. 21 roosted overnight at Bank Island on the 19th before departing south at dawn on the 20th, followed shortly afterwards by herds of six and nine heading south - 26 were also present at Thornton Ellers on the same date. Several birds were heard roosting at Thorganby overnight on the 20th/21st, whilst nine remained at Bank Island on the 21st with 15 also seen near Hemingbrough before heading NNE towards the reserve. 33 were present at dawn at Thornton Ellers on the same day, with a further 18 recorded passing through Bank Island on the same day. 20 went over Bank Island on the 23rd with 10 grounded birds scattered throughout the reserve on the 25th. A total of 332 passage birds moved south through the NNR during the month.
Mute Swan – Numbers grew as birds returned from their summer moult site and as flood water levels increased. 21 were present on the river at North Duffield Carrs on the 8th.
Greylag Goose – The arrival of floodwater resulted in an increase in numbers, which brought 1000+ to Bank Island on the 7th. 1800 were present in the northern half of the reserve on the 11th with 2140 recorded on the 19th and 2370 on the 25th.
Canada Goose – Numbers increased early in the month with 110 at Melbourne Ings on the 13th and 211 throughout the reserve on the 19th.
Pink-footed Goose – 650 were recorded moving over the reserve on the 1st, with birds largely heading east, north-east. 550 flew south-east through Bank Island during the morning of the 3rd, whilst two flocks totaling 120 birds went south on the 4th. 200+ headed south in two skeins on the 6th with 30 at Bank Island on the 7th. 1630 flew south over the reserve on the 8th. 1580 flew south in several skeins on the 11th with at least 350 additional birds commuting locally around the north end of the reserve and fields behind Wheldrake village. 180 passed over Melbourne on the 13th. Up to 500 roosted and fed locally thereafter, with 330+ south during the day on the 16th, when 500 were also noted moving from the Humber onto the Wolds after dawn. 1000+ were roosting on the Low Grounds on the 18th with 1120 in the area on the 19th. 200 flew south-east over Thorganby on the 21st with 600 roosting at Bank Island on the 22nd/23rd. 7000+ were observed distantly from Bank Island on the 24th – birds were appearing to move over the Spaldington area and onto the Wolds. 1320 were present in or over the Wheldrake/Bank Island area on the 25th. Up to 2000 ‘local’ birds were present from the 26th to month end, whilst dawn and dusk roost flights were observed distantly from Bank Island – up to 13,000 on the 26th and 16,000 on the 27th/28th.
Egyptian Goose – A pair were present at Bank Island on the 17th with one at East Cottingwith on the 25th.
Shelduck – The first returning bird appeared at Bank Island on the 16th with three there on the 22nd. A single at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th was followed by four over the pool on the 29th.
Wigeon – 550 were present across the reserve on the 1st with numbers reaching 800+ by the 8th and 1000+ by the 11th. 1100 were present at Thornton Ellers on the 16th with 2300 counted throughout the NNR on that date. The first individual was colour-ringed as part of a new UK project on the species – please keep an eye out for these marked birds (blue rings with two letters on).
Teal – 450 were present throughout the reserve on the 1st with 700+ by the 8th. 1200 were recorded throughout the site on the 16th.
Mallard – 1000+ were present at Bank Island on the 11th – a good count for the autumn.
Gadwall – 21 were present throughout the site on the 8th.
Shoveler – Numbers started to gradually increase with 18 at Thornton Ellers on the 16th and again on the 25th - a total of 33 were recorded across the whole site on that date.
Pintail – 19 were present across the reserve on the 11th followed by 23 on the 16th.
Tufted Duck – A single was present at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th.
Pochard – Three were present on floods at Stamford Bridge on the 10th.
Goldeneye – The first returning bird, a single female, was present at Thornton Ellers on the 21st.
Common Scoter – A flock was picked up on nocturnal passage over South Duffield on the 14th.
Little Egret – Two were present at Bank Island on the 11th with occasional singles encountered throughout the site thereafter, until five appeared on the 25th - three were then present daily until month end.
Great White Egret – A single was found on farmland outside Wheldrake on the 1st/2nd, followed by one at Wheldrake Ings on the 27th, 29th-31st. A single was also present at Thornton Ellers on the 31st.
Cattle Egret – A single was present with two Little Egrets at Bank Island at dawn on the 28th (AF, DB, CSR, MFJ).
Marsh Harrier – Three were still roosting at Bank Island on the 1st and 2nd with four there on the 8th and 11th – at least two juveniles, an adult female, second year male and wing tagged bird D3 were all present during this time. Away from the core area, a single was at Thornton Ellers on the 20th whilst four were still roosting at Bank Island on the 22nd.
Hen Harrier – A ringtail was present at Wheldrake Ings on the 21st.
Osprey – An immature flew south down the River Derwent at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th (MR).
Peregrine – An immature female which had been rehabilitated, was ringed and released at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th, with another seen on the 8th wearing an orange/red darvic – possibly an individual from York Minster. An immature female was present at Bank Island on the 11th, followed by a single near Wheldrake village on the 21st and Bank Island on the 22nd. Single at North Duffield Carrs on the 25th.
Red Kite – Singles were at Bank Island on the 6th and 11th, followed by one at Hagg Bridge on the 16th, Escrick on the 21st, Bank Island on the 22nd and two at Wheldrake Ings on the 23rd. A single was then present at Bank Island on the 26th and 27th.
Hobby – A single rehabilitated juvenile was ringed and released at Bank Island on the 6th (JT).
Merlin – A single immature bird was present at Bank Island on the 21st.
Water Rail – Two were still present on the pool at Wheldrake on the 3rd with one remaining on the 4th - five were then recorded in the reedbed by Swantail Hide on the 6th.
Grey Partridge – 11 were recorded at Bank Island on the 9th with 19 in fields near Wheldrake village on the 11th.
Golden Plover – 50 were present on arable near Wheldrake village on the 2nd with 100+ in fields by Cheesecake Farm near Bank Island on the 3rd. Up to 450 were recorded throughout the wider area on the 11th. 300 were at Bank Island on the 23rd with up to 400 in the area from the 26th and up to 500+ on the 29th.
Lapwing – 100 were at Bank Island on the 11th with up to 350 in the surrounding area at this time. Up to 600 were present in the Bank Island/Wheldrake area on the 29th.
Snipe – 27 were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th with 19 at Wheldrake Ings and 17 at Bank Island on the 8th. 30+ were present at Bank Island on the 11th with 60 recorded after dark at North Duffield Carrs on the 18th.
Jack Snipe – The first returning bird was at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th. The next known individual arrived high from the east into Bank Island on the 12th, with one caught and ringed after dark on the 18th at North Duffield Carrs. Two were at Bank Island on the 19th when three were also present at Wheldrake.
Woodcock – A single was feeding after dark on the main meadow at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th, followed by one on the 28th when another was feeding on arable fields near the village.
Curlew – The first returning wintering birds were two at Wheldrake Ings on the 23rd. Three flew over Bank Island on the 27th.
Dunlin – A single was recorded on nocturnal passage over Elvington on the 8th, with five at Bank Island on the 25th and one over Wheldrake Ings after dark on that date. Eight were at Bank Island on the 26th with six on the Low Grounds on the 29th.
Ruff – The first returning bird of the winter was present at Bank Island with a flock of Lapwing on the 11th - three were then recorded there on the 25th.
Green Sandpiper – A single was still present on the pool at Wheldrake on the 3rd, and occasionally thereafter until the 8th. Other single records followed with one at Bank Island on the 12th and one on a farm pond at Wheldrake village on the 14th and 15th. Single late in the month on the 25th at Wheldrake Ings, with singles at Bank Island on the 27th and nearby fields on the 28th.
Skylark – 130+ went south over Wheldrake during the morning of the 6th followed by 70 on the 8th. 70+ were present at Mask Lane, Newton Mask on the 16th. 80 were present in fields at Hagg Lane, East Cottingwith on the 26th.
Redwing – Two over Bank Island at dawn on the 6th were the first of the autumn. Birds were recorded moving west during the night of the 6th/7th with 110 over Bank Island after dawn on the 7th. 350 flew over Bank Island on the 12th. Small numbers of grounded birds were present around the site from the 16th. 144 passed over Bank Island on the 24th followed by 50 on the 25th.
Fieldfare – A single flew over Bank Island on the 8th – the first of the autumn. The next individuals to be recorded were two over Bank Island on the 26th and two over Wheldrake on the 27th.
Wheatear – A late immature bird was caught and ringed after dark on arable fields near Wheldrake village on the 5th.
Stonechat – Three were present at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd with four at North Duffield Carrs on the 5th. A single male appeared in the NNR base garden at Bank Island on the 7th. Two were still present at Wheldrake Ings on the 16th with four there on the 17th and three on the 23rd. Five were recorded at Wheldrake on the 25th with two at Bank Island and three at North Duffield Carrs. Two were present at Ings Lane East Cottingwith late in the month, with a pair also recorded at Thornton Ellers on the 31st – total of at least 15 wintering birds across the site.
Swallow – 200 were at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st with 35 there on the 2nd. 90 were present on the 3rd followed by 23 on the 4th. 50 went over Bank Island on the 5th followed by 28 on the 6th. 12 headed over Bank Island on the 11th with three there on the 15th.
House Martin – 23 were at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st with two there on the 4th when a flock of 17 passed south over Bank Island. A flock of 10 went south on the 5th.
Starling – 1113 flew west at Bank Island on the 25th – following large numbers arriving ‘in-off’ at the north-east coast. 2600 passed through in the same direction on the 26th followed by 800 on the 27th.
Cetti’s Warbler – A single flew across the reserve base garden at Bank Island on the 1st, with one calling in the reedbed at Wheldrake Ings by Swantail Hide on the 9th.
Blackcap – Three were still present at Bank Island on the 2nd with four there on the 3rd. Singles were caught and ringed at Bank Island and Wheldrake Ings on the 9th with two at Bank Island on the 11th. Two were present there again on the 15th followed by one at Wheldrake Ings on the 17th.
Chiffchaff – Four were at Bank Island on the 4th with one caught and ringed there on the 8th. Small numbers continued to be logged daily with one still at Wheldrake Ings on the 17th.
Marsh Tit – One was present in the Wheldrake Ings car park lane on the 17th.
Nuthatch – A single was present at Melbourne on the 13th with two in an Elvington garden throughout most of the month.
Hawfinch – A single flew west over the base at Bank Island shortly after dawn on the 7th.
Brambling – Singles passed over Bank Island on the 1st, 3rd, 11th and 16th. One was also present there on the 23rd, two days later a first year male was caught at Bank Island, having been ringed at Filey Bird Observatory just thirteen days earlier on the 13th October.
Greenfinch – 30 were present at Thornton Ellers on the 25th.
Siskin – Up to 30 were present, moving over Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd and 3rd. 14 were recorded at Bank Island on the 25th.
Linnet – A large flock of 160 were recorded at Mask Lane, Newton on Derwent on the 16th, with 130 at East Cottingwith Hagg Lane on the 26th.
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