Sunday, 11 February 2018

10th February

A bitterly cold day gave me thoughts of birds driven on to the river but in the end it was distinctly quiet. No Snipe or Redshank on the muddy margins although, in terms of waders, I spotted a flock of around 80 Golden Plover in the fields by the A684 and also ticked off my first Oystercatchers of the year…


These are the real harbingers of spring in the parish although these early birds usually move on up the Swale and over to breeding sites in the west. Our local breeding birds don’t tend to arrive until late March or early April.
The other year ticks were a total of three pairs of Goosander and a single Little Grebe on the river. Not a lot for near frostbite!
I also spotted more of the striking Willow Bracket fungus…


Earlier in the week I had Treecreeper in the garden, the first for quite a few years…


The other news this week was Chris had a Red Kite over Thrintoft and John reported a Cattle Egret on his land. No sign since but there were a couple of North Yorkshire records around the same time so who knows…   

Sunday, 28 January 2018

27th January

Bitterly cold wind yesterday and the recent rain had left some small remnant flooding in the Bottom Fields. As I was hanging out some washing (ah, the jet-setting life of a Yorkshire birder!) I could hear geese so I headed down that way.
A good sized Lapwing flock flew in, around 200 birds, but instead of landing in the flood field they did their flickering predator reaction and headed off south-east. The cause soon appeared, a cracking male Peregrine. The first I have had for a couple of years. It did one quick sweep over the fields and then powered off through The Gap between Ainderby & Morton.

On the floods and neighbouring fields there were a total of just over 50 Greylags…


75 Black-headed Gulls, six Mallard and eight Curlew…


The only other birds I added to my year list were a pair of Teal on the Magic Garden lake, a single Common Gull with the Black-headed Gulls and a handful of Skylarks in the Back Lane fields. A flock of 11 Siskin flew high east over the Magic Garden.

Late in the evening I saw seven smaller geese flying over, I didn’t have bins and it was almost dark but there were seven Whitefronted Geese at Scaling Dam today, I wonder…

Sunday, 7 January 2018

7th January

My final parish bird list for 2017 was a distinctly feeble 101 species, the loss of wader habitat is probably the main reason so waking yesterday to quite extensive floods in the Bottom Fields I was hopeful of kicking off the new year with one or two goodies.


In the end it was quiet, the only wildfowl were 22 Mallard and half a dozen Greylags. There were reasonable numbers of gulls on the floods with around 200 Black-heads but only half a dozen Herrings and a single Common Gull. There was also a nice, if mobile, flock of Lapwings.


The only other bird of note was a Grey Wagtail on Langlands…


The apple trees by the waterworks have now been virtually stripped of fruit but were still attracting  Fieldfares up to a couple of days ago…


The floods had receded significantly this morning…


But a walk in the Magic Garden turned up Kingfisher, Siskin, my first Treecreepers (two) since last summer…


And half a dozen Goldcrests in a large tit flock…



Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Boxing Day

The first chance this Christmas to get out – on a lovely bright but mild day. A walk along Greenhills Lane was depressingly birdless with a small flock of Long-tailed Tits, Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk the only birds of note.
I later went down to the apple trees near the waterworks where my wife had seen some thrushes feeding. Around twenty Fieldfares were here…




Interesting watching the different feeding strategies, the Fieldfares were in first.
Once the apples had been opened up the Starlings would move in…


And then later the smaller passerines including tits, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Robins and more surprisingly this…


That means this White-eye has survived the cold for at least a fortnight.

A number of Blackbirds were also here but they fed exclusively on fruit on the ground whilst the Jackdaws only went for fruit small enough to be carried away.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

10th December

The cold weather pushed lots of birds  into the garden this morning. My wife mentioned glimpsing a strange one and I had a few heart-stopping glimpses of it with thoughts of exotic rarities until this hopped into clear view….


A poor picture in bad light but obviously some species of White-eye, undoubtedly an escapee from someone’s aviary. Oh well…  It came back a couple more times through the day but a Robin acted very aggressively towards it each time and drove it off.
In addition to the usual sparrows, finches and tits other birds in the garden included Nuthatch, Great-spotted Woodpecker, four Jackdaws and at least six Greenfinches. The most I have seen for many months.


Yesterday I spent some time in the churchyard. There are four mature Yews in there and I had thoughts of finding Hawfinch. No luck but lots of bird activity including a handful of Bullfinches…


…A flock of 30 Long-tailed tits with a couple of Goldcrests tagging along, two Nuthatches, a Sparrowhawk, five Cormorants and buzzard over and lots of Starlings and thrushes feeding…




  

Sunday, 26 November 2017

26th November

Yesterday I walked along the river hoping the cold had driven birds off the local lakes. This pool to the north of Morton Bridge looked promising and might hold water for a few days…


It already attracted a Little Egret, Snipe, a handful of Lapwing, five Teal and four species of gull plus  a total of around 60 Curlews…


Along the river there were two more Snipe, two Goosander, another two Little Egrets, a pair of Little Grebe, a further four Teal and a Kingfisher…


Walking back along Potter Lane one stubble field held at least 50 Skylarks, 13 (very distant) Golden Plover were near Swalefields…


And a Grey Wagtail joined the Pieds on the good old muck heap...


Today was another very cold but beautiful morning. I popped into the Magic Garden, there were quite a few winter thrushes, mostly Redwings, along the ditch.
On the Bottom Fields the flood water was mainly frozen but as the sun melted it, large numbers of corvids, Starlings and wagtails moved in to feed,  following the shadow line westwards. There were a couple of Meadow Pipits with them and as I crept closer (to check for Water Pipits) I flushed a Woodcock. Quickly followed by two more that had all come out of a tiny area of damp willows. A Sparrowhawk and Jay were the only other birds of note.
A very quick look down Potter Lane this afternoon saw large numbers of Fieldfares near the river, 500+ in tight, nervous flocks which quickly dispersed and flew towards the village. On the farther bank six Wigeon had dropped on to the remnant floodwater.

During the last week Tracey Palmer spotted a Barn Owl hunting along Greenhills Lane. The first parish sighting for some months.

Monday, 13 November 2017

13th November

A walk along the river on a bright, but surprisingly cold, morning. Around 60 Curlew were in the beet field near the bridge…


There have been really good numbers of Curlews around the last few days including a flock of around 160 in the large open fields near the school and 40+ down Potter Lane.


The river itself was fairly quiet but I saw Kingfisher, three Snipe, two Little Grebe, a small flock of Golden Plover and my first Goosander since the spring…


And what, from a distance, I took to be an interesting wader…


but it was only an Oystercatcher (although the first I have seen since June).  

A flock of 200 Fieldfare in the Bottom Fields on Saturday were the first of the autumn, around three weeks later than usual. There were still good numbers around today…


I walked back via Langlands Farm flushing four Grey Partridge. A Corn Bunting was surprisingly in song here and a single Grey Wagtail was feeding around the field drains…



Sunday, 29 October 2017

29th October

Half term and a week away in Norfolk. Quiet by Norfolk standards, and the winds stubbornly stayed westerly all week, but even a quiet week in Norfolk has its moments.
Lapland and Snow Bunting…


20 species of wader…




Black Brant…


...Cattle and Great White Egret, Marsh & Hen Harrier, Water Pipit, Yellow-browed Warbler and woken each morning by new arrivals of geese…


You also notice the great birdwatching infrastructure and the impact that has on tourism. Something Welcome to Yorkshire should consider given the brilliant birding in the county.


Coming back to Ainderby today was a bit of an anti-climax but saw the first sizeable arrivals of Redwing, a covey of ten Grey Partridge in the top fields and 128 Curlew by the school.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

15th October

John came down for the last mothing session of the year last night. In the end it was colder than forecast but still a reasonable catch of 23 different species. The commonest were November moths and Red-line Quakers…


The total included five new ones for the parish. Blair’s Shoulder Knot, Acleris sparsana, Dark Chestnut, Brick…


And Sprawler…


On the birding front it has been a quiet week. Two late Sand Martins were seen over Ainderby last weekend along with at least 50 Pied Wagtails and the first Snipe since the spring. The first Redwings were seen on the 7th…


But they have remained very scarce, in fact significantly outnumbered by Red Admirals which are still around in exceptional numbers. Even more surprising was this Comma seen today, the latest I have ever had one in the village…


In fact birding at work was better than in the village this week with a Grey Wagtail in the car-park, three skeins of Pinkfeet over and a cracking adult Yellow-legged Gull on the playing field.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

24th September

A drake Wigeon on the Manor Pond today was the first I’ve seen this year and pushed the year list up to a measly 101 species. I am really missing the wader habitat of last year!


Yesterday the Manor Garden was alive with Blackbirds with at least two dozen around the lake. They were very jumpy and active so I assume they were fresh arrivals (from the continent?). They also spotted a Tawny Owl in a weeping willow on the island and eventually drove it out, sending it flying low across the water. They had all gone by today.
Other sightings included Woodcock over the Magic Garden, Little Egret, 200 Goldfinches and two Grey Wagtails by the river and a flock of 45 Meadow Pipits in the Bottom Fields. I also spotted this Stoat running along the railway…


Earlier in the week I went bat detecting with our neighbour Jim and friends of his, Phil & Lynda, from the Nottinghamshire Bat Group. Phil had a very sophisticated bat detector which recorded the calls. They were then put through a piece of software which turned them into sonograms. Not great pics but they were on my phone (and in the pub!)…


This one shows the ‘hockey stick’ shape of pipistrelle bats (in this case Common Pipistrelle)


Another pip but this time at a higher frequency (between 50 & 60khz) - this is a Soprano Pipistrelle.


This one shows some species of myotis bat (possibly Natterer’s) with a second species, Noctule, shown in the short straight sequence at 20khz. We also recorded another myotis bat but this time near the water so presumably Daubenton’s bat.


and this one shows  pip again but the effect of different habitats. The flatter, deeper (and therefore further carrying) calls are when the bat is in the open and the higher pitched are when it was hunting around the tree canopy (this was recorded at the top of Greenhills Lane).