Lower Derwent Valley NNR - September Sightings
The highlight of the month was a Pectoral Sandpiper present on the pool at Wheldrake Ings between the 21st-24th - amazingly the first for the reserve since a single record in 2012. Equally welcome was a Firecrest in a mixed tit flock on Wheldrake in riverside willows on the 23rd.
The changing of the seasons was first hinted at with a skein of 90 Pink-footed Geese on Skipwith Common NNR on the 7th, although the first large scale arrival took place on the 23rd with birds moving daily thereafter. Seven Wigeon on the 17th had increased to 200 by the 26th, with up to 400 Teal, 11 Pintail and a late Garganey towards month end. A flock of Common Scoter were picked up on nocturnal recording over Elvington on the 5th. Up to six Marsh Harriers, two Ospreys and several records of Hobbies provided ongoing raptor interest, whilst two late Quail were flushed from a game cover strip near Sutton towards month end. At least 11 Water Rail were scattered around the site, with good numbers of Grey Partridge throughout the local area. Wader passage continued during the first half of the month with a Little Stint (1st) and two Spotted Redshanks (12th) and the Pectoral Sandpiper (21st - 24th) the main highlights. Other notable counts were 73 Snipe and 12 Green Sandpipers on the pool at Wheldrake.
Highlights of the autumn passage included a late juvenile Cuckoo (4th), Turtle Dove (5th) and Nightjar (7th), along with the usual passage of Whinchats and the first returning Stonechat appearing towards month end. Single Wheatears, Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers were also recorded, with last dates so far including Garden Warbler (10th), Whitethroat (15th), Sedge/Reed Warbler (20th) and Lesser Whitethroat (24th).
A total of 177 species have now been recorded since the start of the year. Many thanks to everyone who submitted 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.
Greylag Goose – 130 were present in fields by Bank Island on the 1st, with 400+ in stubble fields surrounding Elvington on the 6th. 500 were then present at Thorganby Ings on the 23rd.
Pink-footed Goose – 90 circled Skipwith Common NNR on the 7th before dropping into the Wash Dykes. A large arrival into Northern England and along the East Coast saw 347 pass over the NNR, in small to medium skeins during the afternoon/early evening of the 23rd. 240 passed over Wheldrake Ings on the afternoon of the 24th with 80 over South Duffield later in the day and 40 over Melbourne. 40 flew south over Wheldrake on the 25th, along with 90 over Allerthorpe. c100 over Skipwith Common NNR on the 26th were followed by 74 south over North Duffield Carrs on the 29th and 121 on the 30th.
Egyptian Goose – Two between Elvington at Kexby on the 11th.
Wigeon – Seven arrived at Wheldrake Ings on the 17th, with a further arrival seeing numbers at North Duffield Top Pond increase to 50 by the 24th and 200 by the 26th.
Teal – Up to 200 remained on the reserve from the 1st, increasing to 286 by the 8th. 196 were present on the 13th increasing to 400 on the 18th. 200 were at North Duffield Carrs on the 26th.
Garganey – A single drake was present with Teal at North Duffield Carrs on the 26th.
Mallard – Up to 100 were present at North Duffield Carrs early in the month, increasing to 200 by the 26th.
Pintail – 11 were present in an influx of ducks to North Duffield Carrs on the 26th.
Tufted Duck – A single drake was at North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd and at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th. One at North Duffield Carrs on the 26th.
Common Scoter – A flock was recorded on overnight passage over Elvington after dark on 5th (AF).
Little Egret – One or two were present daily early in the month, with five recorded on the 6th-8th. Two remained on the 13th with three present between the 17th - 27th.
Great White Egret – A single was at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st and 3rd.
Marsh Harrier – On the 1st four individuals (sub adult male, adult female, juvenile and the wing tagged bird D3), were present in the Wheldrake/Bank Island area, with four seen again on the 4th and 6th. Six roosted on the reserve on the 13th with five or six throughout the site daily thereafter. Four roosted at Bank Island on the 27th with six throughout the NNR on the 29th.
Osprey – A single juvenile female flew low along the Pocklington Canal at Storwood towards the River Derwent on the 13th. Another flew south along the River Derwent at Aughton on the 24th.
Peregrine – Four were present over Thorganby village and Ings on the 7th – presumably a local family party. Single at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th.
Red Kite – One or two birds started to re-appear in the Wheldrake/Bank Island area from mid-month after a short absence.
Hobby – A pair with two young were hawking dragonflies at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st, with singles also seen on the 4th and 5th. One was present at Seavy Carr on the 1st, followed by a single at North Duffield Carrs on the 8th - on the same day two were at Wheldrake Ings. A juvenile was recorded at Elvington on the 11th with an adult at Hagg Bridge on the 12th. One was present at Wheldrake Ings on the 17th, 21st and 23rd, with a single at Thornton Ellers on the 28th.
Water Rail – Two were still on the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st with four there on the 4th and 5th. Up to five were recorded on the pool on the 8th, when one was also present at Melbourne on the Pocklington Canal. Up to seven or eight were spread across Wheldrake Ings on the 9th, when a single was calling from the Top Pond at North Duffield Carrs. Another was present at Storwood on the 12th, with five on the pool at Wheldrake again on the 13th and 15th.
Quail – Two birds were flushed from a game cover strip at Sutton on Derwent on the 27th.
Grey Partridge – 10 were at Bank Island on the 5th and 8th with two at Elvington on the 11th. Several were heard calling from Storwood at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th. Two were seen drinking from the NNR base pond at Bank Island on the 17th, when others were also present at Wheldrake Ings. Nocturnal thermal surveys located a covey of 23 on arable at Wheldrake village on the 28th, with 11 in arable adjacent to Bank Island.
Ringed Plover – A single was on the pool at Wheldrake on the 5th.
Golden Plover – 20 over Bank Island on the 11th with 33 over Wheldrake on the 18th. 30 were found feeding after dark in arable fields by Wheldrake village on the 29th, with four caught, including a control of a bird originally ringed in mid Wales in January 2014.
Snipe – Good numbers were present on the pool at Wheldrake early in the month, with 37 there on the 2nd and 3rd, increasing to 57 on the 4th. 47 were still present on the 6th with 63 on the 7th and 73 on the 8th. 50+ then remained from the 9th with 39 remaining between the 13th-14th. 27 were still present on the 23rd.
Woodcock – Two were located feeding after dark on arable near Wheldrake on the 28th.
Curlew – A single at Wheldrake Ings on the 5th. An interesting flock of 20 were then present near Melbourne on the 16th.
Little Stint – A juvenile remained on the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st.
Pectoral Sandpiper – A single on the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 21st (AF) was present again the following morning (first reserve record since 2012) - remaining there between the 22nd - 24th.
Ruff – Two were present on the pool at Wheldrake between the 1st - 6th with one remaining thereafter to the 11th.
Black-tailed Godwit – A single remained on the pool at Wheldrake between the 1st - 6th.
Common Sandpiper – Single at Wheldrake Ings on the 14th.
Green Sandpiper – Seven were present at Wheldrake on the 1st and daily thereafter until the 4th. Three were recorded at Skipwith Common NNR on the 6th when eight were present on the pool at Wheldrake, with up to seven daily thereafter until the 11th. 12 were seen on the 13th, nine on the 14th, eight on the 15th, with just four remaining by the 20th/21st. Two or three were then present daily until the 25th.
Greenshank – A single was on the pool at Wheldrake between the 7th - 11th. Two, presumed fresh arrivals, flew into the pool towards dusk on the 13th, with one remaining between the 15th - 19th. Two were then present on the 26th.
Spotted Redshank – Two juveniles were discovered at Thornton Ellers on the 12th.
Mediterranean Gull – An adult was feeding in local fields by Hemingbrough on the 9th. A second summer bird was present with c500 Black-headed Gulls near Wheldrake on tilled arable land.
Nightjar – One was seen hawking around the pool at Wheldrake at first light on the 7th before flying towards riverside willows.
Cuckoo – A juvenile was present at Elvington on the 4th.
Turtle Dove – A single juvenile was present in riverside willows between Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 5th before flying off towards Wheldrake.
Tree Pipit – One flew over Bank Island on the 2nd.
Meadow Pipit – Passage started with 50 south over Wheldrake Ings during the morning of the 13th, with small numbers daily thereafter. 100+ moved through the site on the 16th.
Skylark – The first significant movement of the year took place with 250 at Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 23rd.
Whinchat – Single was present on Swantail Ings, Wheldrake, on the 4th, with four there on the 5th and two on the 7th. One remained on the 8th and was caught and ringed, with two present on the 9th and 10th, with another there on the 17th. One was caught and ringed in poolside willows on the 18th, with another seen by Tower Hide on the 21st followed by one at Swantail Ings on the 25th-26th. Three were at North Duffield Carrs on the 26th with four on the 28th.
Stonechat – The first returning bird of the autumn was present with a Whinchat, on Swantail Ings, Wheldrake, between the 25th-28th. Single at North Duffield Carrs on the 26th.
Wheatear – One at South Duffield on the 9th.
Redstart – Single at Seavy Carr on the 1st.
Spotted Flycatcher – A single was present in the NNR base garden at Bank Island on the 9th.
Yellow Wagtail – 10 passed over Wheldrake and Bank Island on the 17th, followed by four on the 19th and three on the 22nd.
Swallow – A brood of two finally fledged under Tower Hide at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th. Small numbers remained throughout the month with 130 south at Wheldrake on the morning of the 25th. c100 were present throughout the reserve on the 27th, with 270 at Wheldrake on the 28th. 50 were at North Duffield Carrs on the 29th.
Raven – Two were present at Wheldrake on the 23rd with three over Thorganby Ings on the 29th.
Willow Warbler – Three were ringed at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th (MFJ).
Chiffchaff – Present on autumn passage in good numbers throughout the month. 22 were caught and ringed around the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th (MFJ).
Sedge Warbler – Large numbers continued to move through the site on passage with 20 caught and ringed at Wheldrake Ings at dawn on the 3rd, followed by 16 on the 4th. Five were caught and ringed on the 7th with 11 new birds ringed on the 12th followed by five on the 13th and three on the 14th. Singles were then present on the 16th, 17th and 20th.
Reed Warbler – 10 were caught and ringed at Wheldrake on the 3rd, followed by four on the 4th and 11 on the 7th. Two were caught and ringed in the NNR base garden at Bank Island on the 12th when five were still present at Wheldrake Ings. Three were recorded there on the 13th, followed by one on the 16th, two on the 17th and singles on the 18th and 20th.
Cetti’s Warbler – Two first year birds were caught and ringed at the NNR base at Bank Island on the 16th - the first returning birds of the autumn. A single was calling from the banks of the River Derwent at Barmby on the Marsh between the 25th – 27th.
Lesser Whitethroat – Three were at Wheldrake Ings on the 7th, followed by two on the 8th and a single on the 11th. A late bird was still present at Melbourne on the 17th with a single at Wheldrake on the 24th.
Common Whitethroat – A single was present at Melbourne on the 9th, followed by four at Wheldrake on the 12th with one remaining on the 13th. Singles were at Bank Island on the 14th and Melbourne on the 15th.
Blackcap – A small movement of passage birds were noted from early in the month with 20 alone at Wheldrake and 15 at Bank Island on the 8th. A total of 16 different birds were caught and ringed at Bank Island on the 9th with eight there on the 12th. Numbers ringed at the NNR base thereafter included 15 on the 13th, five on the 14th, ten on the 15th and eight on the 16th. Three were still at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th followed by six at Bank Island on the 26th.
Firecrest – A single was present in a mixed tit/warbler flock at Wheldrake Ings on the 23rd (CSR).
Nuthatch – Two at Wheldrake Ings on the 4th and 17th, whilst more unusual was a single at Melbourne on the 8th.
Willow Tit – Two at Melbourne on the 9th.
Siskin – Two were present by the canal at Melbourne on the 20th, with two at Wheldrake on the 21st and six over on the 26th.
Reed Bunting – A large movement into the site was noted on the 7th with 46 caught and ringed at Wheldrake Ings during the morning.
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