A trip to the coast and first stop was Filey Bay. However it was very quiet with only 5 Sanderling, 2 Dunlin and 3 Purple Sandpipers on the Shore line and in the Bay only Great Crested Grebe, Shags and a solitary ♂ Eider.
Moving onto RSPB Bempton and the strong Wind put paid to any Shorties but on the cliffs the usual Stars are returning en-bloc with Fulmars, Gannets, Razorbills and Guillemots in large numbers
Today I thankfully ignored the weather forecast, which in general was pretty dire, and we headed off to the York area for a days birding.
First up was Skipwith Common and 2 Green Woodpeckers, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, at least 60+ Redpoll and the star species Woodlark, which despite my thinking it was to early, at least 2, possibly 3 singing ♂. These birds have one of the most melodic songs you are ever likely to hear and although today was dull their performance was majestic. We had great views of the birds and their song was still resonating on the wind as we left the reserve.
Moving onto Bubwith Bridge and North Duffield Carrs we saw good numbers of Whooper Swans to the South of the Road on the Corn Fields and as the showers arrived we headed into the hides.
Great views of both ♂ and ♀ Peregrine and at least 3 Common Buzzard kept the waders flighty. Wildfowl only ♂ and ♀ Pintail, Goldeneye and Shelduck were present and Waders included Golden Plover, Dunlin and large numbers of Lapwing present.
As the rain subsided we moved up to Wheldrake Ings and the first tower hide. From this elevated position we saw Ruff, Golden Plover and most Common Duck species. With large numbers of Wigeon which was by far the commonest species. Walking back along the path by the river, which is currently been Vandalised in the name of Flood Defence, as lots of the Willow Trees were been removed or pruned, we did see a single Willow Tit with lots of other common species. From the Bridge we found 2 Avocet on flooded fields and a small group of Barnacle Geese.
After lunch we headed to Dunnington and the opportunity to see the long staying Pine Bunting. This bird appeared in early January in a flock of Yellowhammers and seems happy in its temporary home. The bird is elusive to say the least and lots of other birders there were on their 3rd or even 4th trip to try to see the bird.
We did have to wait a short while for it to put in an appearance, but the wait was worthwhile as this stunning Bird appeared. It was with a mixed flock of Yellowhammers, Bullfinches, Tree Sparrows, Brambling and Corn Bunting, but it is a very pretty bird and well worth the wait.
So overall all target species seen and a great day had by all.
A Duck that has eluded me for many years is the Ring Necked Duck. A couple of weeks ago a ♂ was located on Lingham Lake at Nosterfield, however it had gone the following day when I tried to see it.
So with news of another (or the same) bird at Marfield Wetlands Nature Reserve, which is only a couple of miles West from Nosterfield, I ventured over on Saturday and was fortunate enough to see the bird, all be it somewhat distant. The Ring Necked Duck is predoninantly a North American Duck, very similar to our Tufted Duck, and its very easy to miss the bird when the views are not great. The Bird seemed to spend most of its time in the company of a pair of Pochard, however there were a lot of Tufties around. Also on the Lake were Goosander and Little Grebe.
Moving back to Flaske Lake at Nosterfield, an Immature ♂ Smew was present and although not yet in its finest plumage, shortly it will be.
Pochard, Ring Necked Duck and Tufted Duck (L-R) for comparison
Sunday remained dry and warming up a little, so a walk over Hawnby Moor produced 3 Common Buzzards, Golden Plover and a Peregrine chasing Skylarks.
This Winter, 3 species of birds that can be incredibly difficult to see, appear to be pretty common within the local forest area and that’s Crossbill, Redpoll and Brambling.
Sandale seems to hold many Crossbill and Redpoll and Wilton Heights holds a large flock of Brambling. With a few decent days of weather it has been possible to view these birds up close and particularly interesting is the Crossbill Male Song, which I’ve never really heard before in such detail.