Lower Derwent Valley NNR - August Sightings
Numbers of returning wildfowl (from moulting sites in the UK or breeding sites elsewhere), increased during the month with around two hundred Teal, four Wigeon and small numbers of Mute Swans and geese noted, as well as three Pintail (26th). Two Great White Egrets frequented the reserve, including a wide ranging British bred bird dispersing from the natal colony in Somerset, whilst three broods of Water Rail and two late calling Quail were noted. Raptors showed well with evidence of two family parties of Hobby, probably the result of local breeding, whilst up to five Marsh Harriers also lingered with a single Osprey and Goshawk reported and the first returning Peregrine.
Wader passage was, as usual, dominated by Green Sandpipers (up to nine present), although two more Wood Sandpipers continued the good run of records this year. One or two Little Stints appeared from the 26th with a Curlew Sandpiper on the 28th – both representing records of species less than annual in the LDV and scarcer than experienced previously.
The regular passer warbler ringing study suggested numbers were down on previous years, with Blackcaps appearing at only 20% of the usual 10 year average. Sedge Warblers were the only species to appear in average numbers. Passerine highlights included a handful of Redstarts, more locally bred Grasshopper Warblers, a mere three Whinchat and a late juvenile Cuckoo.
Many thanks as always to everyone who contributed records and counts during the month, especially to members of York Birding and regular patch birder Duncan Bye.
176 bird species have now been recorded since 1st January 2021, with the addition of Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper this month.
Mute Swan – Several non-breeding birds started to appear in the last week of the month (returning from moulting sites), with six over Wheldrake Ings on the 31st. Usual local families parties remained throughout.
Greylag Goose – Numbers slowly increased throughout the month with up to 150 returning to the local area by the end of the month.
Canada Goose – The first 12 returning birds from the summer moulting sites were at Wheldrake Ings on the 19th.
Pink-footed Goose – The lingering adult remained at Wheldrake having finished moulting on the 1st, and was present regularly thereafter to month end.
Egyptian Goose – Up to 14 remained in the East Cottingwith area.
Wigeon – The first two returning birds were present on the pool at Wheldrake on the 22nd with four at North Duffield Carrs on the 30th.
Teal – Eight were on the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st with 12 there on the 2nd. Numbers had built up to 30 by the 7th and 40 by the 8th. 52 were present on the 14th, increasing further to 82 by the 18th and 135 by the 22nd. 190 were present on the 29th and 30th.
Pintail – The first returning and rather early birds were a group of three at Bank Island on the 26th.
Gadwall – A single brood of five unfledged ducklings remained at Wheldrake Ings early in the month. Thereafter up to 15-20 were present throughout the site.
Shoveler – A single brood of five finally fledged at Wheldrake Ings on the 28th with up to 15 throughout the site at month end.
Pochard – A single was at Wheldrake Ings on the 28th.
Little Egret – Seven were present on the pool at Wheldrake on the 3rd with up to three daily thereafter.
Great White Egret – A single was on the pool at Wheldrake on the 3rd, with another appearing on the 17th, wearing a red colour-ring (AAU) - showing its origin to be of the British breeding population on the Somerset Levels. Several days later it reappeared at Bank Island on the 20th (commuting to Staveley near Ripon in between).
Coot – Up to 14 were scattered throughout the site at month end.
Marsh Harrier – An adult pair and two juveniles remained on the reserve, particularly around the southern end from the 1st. An adult male and female were still in the Wheldrake/Bank Island area on the 8th, with three roosting at Bubwith on the 15th. Last year’s wing-tagged bird ‘D3’ was present again at Bank Island on the 20th. An adult pair and two juveniles (untagged) were at Wheldrake Ings at dawn on the 25th with four to five present daily to month end.
Osprey – One was reported from Crockey Hill on the 17th.
Peregrine – The first juvenile of the autumn was seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 11th.
Red Kite – Reported regularly from the Melbourne and Thornton area during the month with occasional sightings from elsewhere around the wider area.
Hobby – Two or three birds were present at the Wheldrake hirundine roost on the 4th with one seen catching and killing a Swallow. A single was present there at dawn on the 6th with one observed carrying another Swallow on the 15th. A single was present at North Duffield Carrs on the 16th with singles at Wheldrake on the 10th, 20th, 22nd, 25th and daily thereafter. A recently fledged juvenile was watched being fed by an adult at Melbourne Ings on the 28th – presumably the result of local breeding. Equally, two adults and three juveniles were at North Duffield Carrs Top Pond on the 30th. Another was present at Wheldrake Ings on the 31st.
Goshawk – An adult male was seen in the wider area on the 28th.
Water Rail – Several were present and showing well on the pool at Wheldrake early in the month, with seven there on the 6th and two juveniles on the 25th. Four juveniles (two broods) were present on the 28th with six young (three broods) on the 30th.
Quail – Two were singing from adjacent cereal fields by Sutton Wood on the 4th (JC).
Little Ringed Plover – A single at Wheldrake Ings between the 6th – 8th with one at Bank Island in addition on the 8th.
Ringed Plover – A single flew into the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 31st in a mixed flock of Ruff and Dunlin.
Snipe – Numbers increased with some passage towards month end with 40 between Bank Island and Wheldrake from the 20th. 25 were on the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th.
Curlew – Three flew west at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th.
Whimbrel – Three went south over Thorganby towards dusk on the 24th.
Dunlin – A single on the pool at Wheldrake on the 18th with one over Elvington on the 23rd. One at Thornton Ellers on the 28th with four at Wheldrake Ings on the 31st.
Curlew Sandpiper – One showed well at close range at Thornton Ellers on the 28th, feeding with a Little Stint, Dunlin and Green Sandpiper.
Little Stint – Juvenile at Thornton Ellers between the 26th-28th with another on the pool at Wheldrake on the 31st.
Ruff – Two at Bank Island on the 23rd with two different birds there on the 25th. One flew through Wheldrake Ings on the 30th with 11 briefly there on the 31st.
Black-tailed Godwit – Two were present on the pool at Wheldrake on the 29th and 30th with a single there on the 31st.
Common Sandpiper – Single at Wheldrake Ings on the 30th.
Green Sandpiper – Nine were at present on the pool at Wheldrake on the 1st, followed by seven on the 3rd/4th and six between the 4th-9th. Eight were present thereafter, with one at North Duffield Carrs on the 15th and ten at Wheldrake the following day. Up to nine remained daily thereafter with seven remaining on the 26th and five thereafter to month end. Singles were also present at Thornton Ings towards month end.
Wood Sandpiper – A single was on the pool at Wheldrake between the 1st-4th with another there on the 23rd/24th.
Greenshank – A single was present on the pool at Wheldrake between the 1st – 8th with two on the 11th and one briefly on the 21st. Single at Melbourne Ings on the 23rd.
Lesser Black-backed Gull – Large numbers continued to pass through the area with up to 100 found in surrounding fields on the 30th.
Yellow-legged Gull – Two adults were present with loafing gulls near South Duffield on the 28th. Five adults and a juvenile were present there on the 31st.
Little Gull – A moulting adult flew south along the River Derwent at Thorganby on the 30th.
Cuckoo – A juvenile was present on the Pocklington Canal near Melbourne on the 6th.
Swift – Still present in Wheldrake village until month end with small numbers reported daily over the Ings.
Raven – A single over Wheldrake Ings at dawn on the 25th.
Tree Pipit – Three flew south at Menthorpe on the 19th with one over Bank Island on the 20th. A single was recorded during nocturnal passage over Elvington on the 31st.
Whinchat – One was present on the riverbank at North Duffield Ings on the 11th with one at Wheldrake on the 25th, Thornton Ellers on the 27th and North Duffield Carrs on the 28th.
Common Redstart – The first returning bird of the autumn was a single immature caught and ringed in the Swantail reedbed on the 2nd, with an adult male at Seavy Carr on the 6th (still present on the 9th), with another or the same remaining on the 20th and 30th. A single at Bank Island on the 23rd with another at Wheldrake on the 24th.
Yellow Wagtail – Up to 21 roosted in the Wheldrake reedbed until at least the 26th.
Swallow – Up to 1000 were present daily between the 1st - 9th at the Wheldrake roost, with ringing efforts at this time suggesting a high degree of turnover on a daily basis. Numbers then reduced with 200 at Wheldrake on the 16th and 400 on the 30th.
Starling – The Wheldrake roost continued to hold c2000 birds early in the month.
Spotted Flycatcher – A single pair at the Melbourne Arm were incubating a second clutch on the 5th, in the same location as to where they were observed feeding a brood on the 13th - a second pair were also reported to have bred in a village garden.
Sedge Warbler – Large numbers of juveniles moved through the site early in the month with 25 ringed on the 2nd and 20 ringed on the 3rd. Movement continued until the 12th but with very few in the following days, before further birds passed through the site from the 16th. 10 were caught and ringed at Wheldrake on the 19th followed by 21 on the 25th.
Grasshopper Warbler – A single male was reeling by Tower Hide at Wheldrake Ings between the 1st – 3rd, with a juvenile caught and ringed in the Swantail reedbed on the 3rd. The reeling male was still present but not reeling on the 9th when another juvenile was caught and ringed by Tower Hide.
Lesser Whitethroat – Small numbers moved through the site during the month including three at Bank Island on the 23rd.
Nuthatch – Two at Wheldrake Ings riverside track on the 29th.
Willow Tit – A juvenile was caught and ringed by Swantail Hide, Wheldrake, on the 25th with four nearby on the 29th. One was present with a large flock of 40 Long-tailed Tits in the car park at Wheldrake on the 31st.
Marsh Tit – A pair with two juveniles were observed at Skipwith Common NNR on the 1st.
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