Sunday, 21 March 2010

Local Heronry

Woodcock [archived pic]
Heron - just visible on the right of the nest
Largest Heron nest
Harrassed Roe Deer outpacing the Red Setter
Today I attended a special open day at a local organic farm with an active Heronry of approximately 20 nests. This is a venue the classes will be visiting after Easter, so I thought it was time I acquainted myself with the site. I arrived early and saw 3 Yellowhammers, Tree and House Sparrows, a Woodpigeon & a Stock Dove before the guided walk began. 5 members of the classes were present as were approximately 40 mainly less experienced birdwatchers – one of the highest turnouts they’ve had for these special events - including people from Harrogate & Leeds! After an introduction by YWT staff member Jon Traill on the YWT’s involvement with the site & a brief description by farmer Tim of the organic farming practices employed on the farm, the massive crowd was split into 2 rather unwieldy groups. The group I was with was led by Top Woodcock spotter and Dawn Chorus leader Tony Martin. The walk started on a gravel path alongside a paddock. This area yielded a couple of Yellowhammers, and some Long-tailed Tits. We were soon walking alongside a full stream, and Tony pointed out an Otter spraint, containing its fair share of shells! We saw courting Lapwings, hovering Kestrels, running hares, and single Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings, and a Fieldfare. As we neared the wood a couple of Herons flew over, as did 4 Cormorants; and above the wood 1 pair of Buzzards were being mobbed by local Rooks, whose rookery is adjacent to the heronry. A single Roe Deer ran along the edge of an opposite field, but where were the others? - we were soon to find out! Walking through the waterlogged wood we heard Wrens, Robins & Chaffinches, and Tony spotted his first Woodcock. There was at least 1 Heron perched on the edge of a nest, and others flying nearby, but we didn’t remain in the area long as some eggs have only recently hatched, and we didn’t want the chicks to succumb to the cold if their parents were disturbed. On the way back we flushed another Woodcock, but we were dismayed to spot 2 Roe Deer being chased across a series of fields at great speed by a Red Setter. Eventually, the deer escaped by being completely split up from each other. Overall, it was a very interesting introduction to a site which should garner even more species when we visit the site next month. I think the classes will be entranced with the location, and the organic home-baked produce by Caroline in her bakery.


animaloftheday said...

I have to ask where this site is? I didn't think there was any heronries in east yorkshire

Michael Flowers said...

Apparently, there are 2, but this one has only been there for 20 years. If you want to email me, I'll let you know where it is.

Bob said...

It's a private site but you can see it from a local side road - though the nests are surprisingly well hidden. The farmer occasionally has open days/walks.

20 heron nests sounds lower than usual, maybe they got hammered in the cold weather.

Michael Flowers said...

YWT said 20 nests is the usual annual total, but they haven't counted how many are occupied this season yet.