Lower Derwent Valley NNR - September Sightings
The first returning Pink-footed Geese were heard overnight on the 12/13th, with up to 10,500 moving from the Upper Humber to the Wolds - seen daily from Bank Island. Likewise, 1,100 Greylags had built up in the wider area, although scarce within the designated site due to the lack of water. Only 30 Wigeon and 300 Teal mirrored the dry conditions, although migrating Common Scoter after dark on the 20th were notable. A Bittern was present again near Hagg Bridge on the Pocklington Canal with two records of a Great White Egret.
There was a good showing of raptors to maintain interest, with up to two lingering Ospreys (1st - 29th), with birds favouring the Pocklington Canal area in Melbourne, and the River Derwent between Elvington and Wheldrake. There were also up to six Marsh Harriers, 7+ Hobbies and up to 50+ Buzzards throughout the wider area. The usual build-up of Golden Plover was observed around the site; however, passage waders were poorly represented - again reflecting the lack of suitable conditions - a Little Stint on the 10-12th was no doubt the highlight. Ravens on the 15th, 24th and 25th reflected increasing status of the species, whilst 7000+ Swallows streaming over and through Bank Island on the 6th was a welcome return to form, with numbers like that not seen for several years. The first returning Stonechat appeared during the month, whilst a departing Pied Flycatcher on the 12th was soon replaced with the first returning Redwing on the 20th.
Other last dates (so far) inc. Spotted Flycatcher (4th), Garden Warbler (5th), Whitethroat (13th), Willow Warbler (19th), Sedge Warbler (21st) and Yellow Wagtail (23rd).
Many thanks as always to everyone who contributed records 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).
Mute Swan – 18 flew into Wheldrake Ings on 13th – no doubt returning birds from the summer moulting sites, with other individuals arrived during the second half of the month - adding to the local population of family parties around the reserve.
Pink-footed Geese – The first birds of the autumn were picked up overnight moving over Elvington on the 12th/13th, with 32 south over Bank Island later on the 13th. 30 flew south over North Duffield Carrs with 80 over Wheldrake on the 15th, followed by 120 south over Bank Island on the 16th. 100 went high over Wheldrake Ings on the 17th with 370 over Skipwith during the day on the 19th. c400 went through the reserve on the 20th with c200 observed undertaking flights from the Upper Humber into the area around Spaldington and Pocklington. 1500+ were recorded on the 21st, with flocks noted to be moving in all directions - probably a mix of passage and local feeding flights. As in recent years, large numbers were seen distantly from Bank Island to the south of the core of the LDV - moving from the Upper Humber towards daytime feeding sites on the Wolds, with 10,500 recorded on the 24th and 9,700 on the 25th, when an additional 485 were observed in three groups moving locally around the reserve. 14 were feeding in arable fields by Bank Island on the 30th.
Greylag Goose – Numbers increased to c500 at Elvington Water Treatment Works by the 20th by which time 400+ were also present on Skipwith Common NNR with 200 scattered around other local water bodies.
Wigeon – A single was picked up calling on noc-mig over Elvington on the 4th with one on the pool at Wheldrake on the 10th. 30 flew south from Wheldrake Ings on the 21st.
Teal – 87 appeared on the pool at Wheldrake following an intense thunderstorm on the 7th. Up to 300 had built up on the usual local wildfowling ponds at Thorganby by month end - the only place with any water present.
Mallard – 323 were recorded at the Top Pond at North Duffield Carrs on the 19th.
Pintail – Three flew north over Bank Island and Wheldrake village on the 25th.
Shoveler – Up to 20 remained throughout the month.
Common Scoter – A flock passing over Elvington after dark on the 20th were picked up on noc-mig.
Bittern – Single was seen briefly on the Pocklington Canal at Hagg Bridge on the 8th.
Little Egret – Up to 12 were present early in the month with just one or two remaining at month end.
Great White Egret – Single was seen in flight heading towards Elvington from Bank Island on the 20th, with one at North Duffield Carrs on the 26th.
Osprey – A great month for records with one or two lingering throughout most of the month. Single was seen at Pool Bridge Farm fishing ponds on the 1st, followed by an immature fishing by the bridge at Wheldrake on the 4th - later seen following the river between Bank Island and Wheldrake during the afternoon. It was then present again at Wheldrake and Bank Island, between the 5th – 7th - fishing along the river. Either the same bird or another (juvenile female), appeared in the same place on the 9th, with two seen from Bank Island on the 10th and one showing well on the 11th. Two were present again on the 12th-15th, ranging between Wheldrake and Melbourne. A single was present over Wheldrake on the 19th and Melbourne on the 20th, 23rd and 24th. A single was seen fishing at Elvington Lock on the 26th, with one over Bank Island twice on the 29th as it commuted over Wheldrake village towards Raker Lakes fishing ponds.
Marsh Harrier – Four were present at Bank Island/Wheldrake on the 3rd and 4th with another four different birds recorded in the same area on the 7th. Five or six were still in the Wheldrake/Bank Island area on the 11th when two juveniles were at North Duffield Carrs. At least six individuals were present across the reserve on the 19th – similar numbers were recorded to month end, with ‘D3’ seen on several dates.
Red Kite – Two were in the Bank Island area regularly during the month with seven across the reserve on the 19th – from then on individuals were reported regularly throughout the month around the site.
Buzzard – Up to 21 were recorded in the Bank Island/Wheldrake area on the 20th, with 11 at North Duffield Carrs on the 21st - perhaps more than 50 were present throughout the local area at this time. 12 were at Wheldrake Ings on the 24th.
Peregrine – Single adults were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd and 6th and at Wheldrake Ings on the 11th, 21st and 23rd.
Hobby – Three were seen at Wheldrake and Bank Island on the 5th, associating with a large movement of Swallows, whilst a single was present at the Swallow roost at Church Bridge, Melbourne, at dusk on the same date. Seven were recorded in the same area (including a fledged brood of two) on the 7th. A single was again at Church Bridge Melbourne on the 8th. Two or three were then present daily at Wheldrake/Bank Island with four at North Duffield Carrs on the 11th. Three or four were seen at Bank Island on the 12th with six at dusk at Wheldrake Ings on the same date - six were seen again over Wheldrake Ings on the 13th. Three or four remained until the 21st with a single on the 27th at Bank Island.
Grey Partridge – 15 were present in fields by Wheldrake village after dark on the 6th.
Water Rail – Good numbers were present throughout the month at Wheldrake with a fledged juvenile caught and ringed there during the month.
Ringed Plover – Single at Wheldrake Ings flew over calling after dark on the 6th.
Golden Plover – Small numbers were recorded daily throughout the month increasing to 104 over fields by Wheldrake village on the 21st. 73 were present with a flock of Lapwing at North Duffield Carrs on the 23rd. 118 were recorded in the Wheldrake area on the 25th with smaller flocks encountered throughout the remainder of the month.
Lapwing – Up to 300 were scattered around the reserve during the month.
Snipe – Up to 30 were present at Wheldrake Ings with c60 scattered throughout the whole site.
Curlew – Single at Wheldrake on the 19th and 23rd.
Dunlin – Single at Wheldrake Ings on the 26th.
Little Stint – A juvenile was on the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th – 12th.
Greenshank – Six flew over Elvington on the 7th.
Ruff – A single was present briefly on the pool at Wheldrake on the 21st with another there on the 29th.
Green Sandpiper – Four were present on the pool at Wheldrake from the 1st - 4th with two daily thereafter until the 7th, three on the 8th and four between the 9th - 19th. Two remained thereafter to month end.
Common Sandpiper – Birds were recorded on nocturnal passage over Elvington on the night of the 9th.
Lesser Black-backed Gull – 200+ were present in fields near Escrick on the 26th.
Yellow-legged Gull – An adult was observed feeding with gulls on arable near Escrick on the 26th.
Mediterranean Gull – A second year bird was present on arable fields at Bank Island on the 8th.
Green Woodpecker – Single by the Wind Pump at Wheldrake Ings on the 28th.
Swift – Five moved south over Bank Island on the 6th with singles on the 12th and 15th.
Swallow – Up to 1000 went south at Wheldrake Ings during the day on the 5th, with 1500 at roost at Church Bridge, Melbourne on the same date – the first large movement of the autumn. A conservative 7000+ followed over Wheldrake Ings and Bank Island the following day with 2000+ on the 7th. Numbers had reduced to 300 at Bank Island on the 8th. Scattered individuals were then present throughout the remainder of the month.
House Martin – 600 were recorded at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th.
Skylark – Small numbers of birds started moving early in the month with 118 over Wheldrake village on the 25th - the largest movement recorded.
Meadow Pipit – 60 at Wheldrake Ings on the 8th was the first movement of the autumn. Numbers remained small until 450 grounded birds were present at Wheldrake on the 13th, with another arrival taking place on the 19th.
Yellow Wagtail – One or two were present daily early in the month with two at Bank Island on the 23rd.
Dunnock – As with the last species, numbers increased with two or three birds caught daily at both Bank Island and Wheldrake suggesting some kind of passage through the site.
Jay – A flock of nine were recorded along the riverside track at Wheldrake Ings at dawn on the 15th, with individuals more visible and frequent throughout the remainder of the month.
Raven – Single flew north over North Duffield Carrs on the 15th with individuals later recorded at both Wheldrake and Bank Island on the 24th, with a single at Bank Island again on the 25th.
Wheatear – A single at Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd and 7th followed by one Bank Island on the 14th.
Whinchat – Two were present at Wheldrake Ings from the 1st with four there on the 4th. Two were also on nearby farmland between Wheldrake and Thorganby on the 3rd. Four were at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th and 7th, with two in the NNR base garden on the latter date. Singles were present at Wheldrake Ings and North Duffield Carrs on the 13th, followed by two at Wheldrake and one at Bank Island on the 14th.
Stonechat – Three arrived at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th with two at North Duffield on the same date. Three were at Wheldrake Ings on the 14th when three were also present at Bank Island, increasing at the latter site to five on the 15th. Five were at both Bank Island and North Duffield Carrs on the 19th with four also present at Wheldrake Ings. Similar numbers remained to month end.
Pied Flycatcher – A single immature/female was present at Bank Island on the 12th.
Redwing – The first birds were heard calling over Elvington and Bank Island after dark on the 20th. 13 went west at Wheldrake on the 24th, with 12 over Skipwith Common NNR on the 26th and several over North Duffield Carrs. Birds were heard after dark at Bank Island on the 27th with small numbers present daily to month end.
Cetti’s Warbler – Daily records came from Wheldrake Ings early in the month with passage and incoming wintering birds arriving. Two vocal birds were present at Wheldrake on the 6th followed by three on the 7th. New un-ringed individuals were caught and ringed there on the 13th and 15th. Up to five were present on Wheldrake Ings from the 24th to month end with a single at Bank Island on the 27th.
Willow Tit – Three were at Bank Island on the 4th followed by two there on the 25th. Three or four were present daily throughout the month at Wheldrake Ings.
Nuthatch – Four were recorded in the car park lane at Wheldrake on the 6th with two/three then seen there regularly during the month. A single was heard along the riverside track on the 25th.
Sedge Warbler – Four were present at Wheldrake on the 13th followed by two on the 14th and 15th. A single was caught and ringed on the 21st.
Reed Warbler – Two were present at Melbourne on the 5th, with between four and six ringed daily at Wheldrake until the 13th – the same date that a juvenile carrying a Norwegian ring was controlled. Two were present on the 14th and 15th followed by three on the 19th. Four were recorded on the 21st including the Norwegian ringed bird. Six birds were present on the 24th.
Garden Warbler – Two were caught and ringed at Bank Island on the 2nd with one there on the 5th.
Blackcap – Large numbers continued to move through the site early in the month with 15 ringed at Bank Island on the 1st followed by 34 on the 2nd. 18 were recorded there on the 4th, followed by 25 on the 5th, 23 on the 6th and 18 on the 7th. Numbers continued to increase with 40 ringed between Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 13th, followed by 30 on the 15th, and 25 on the 19th. Numbers reduced thereafter with 11 on the 21st, 10 on the 24th, six on the 25th, four on the 27th and five on the 28th.
Whitethroat – Present daily early in the month with five at Bank Island on the 4th, followed by one on the 5th with two also at Wheldrake, and one at Bank Island on the 13th.
Lesser Whitethroat – One or two lingered daily at Bank Island between the 1st - 5th.
Chiffchaff – Passage increased early in the month with 17 across Bank Island and Wheldrake Ings on the 4th. Numbers increased with 18 at Wheldrake Ings on the 14th followed by 21 (ringed) there on the 15th. 40 were caught and ringed at Menthorpe on the 18th with 20 at Wheldrake Ings on the 19th. 11 were at Wheldrake on the 21st with 21 ringed there on the 24th. Smaller numbers present to month end.
Willow Warbler – Numbers decreased early in the month with just three remaining on the 16th followed a single on the 19th - the last to be reported.
Spotted Flycatcher – Singles at Bank Island on the 3rd and 4th.
Reed Bunting – Numbers increased early in the month with an impressive 200 ‘grounded’ birds at Wheldrake at dawn on the 13th.