Today we ventured into North Yorkshire to a site we've only visited as a one off special in the dim & distant past. There was the call of a Bullfinch near the car park, but it remained hidden. Everyone arrived on time & we shared cars to the ultimate destination about a mile or so further up the road. After lunch the 3 at the front had a brief glimpse of a Kingfisher, as it took off on sight of us and headed away along the stream. This was quite well screened from the strong winds, so we could hear juv Willow Warblers & the alarm calls of Blackcaps, Robins & Wrens, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker called as it flew behind the hedge. Even the frog-like croak of a Gadwall carried against the wind to where we were standing. In the afternoon there was a massive flock of Long-tailed Tits with a few Willow Warblers, Blue Tits and Great Tits also part of the gang.
Looking through the gaps in the hedge we could see Mute Swans, Greylag Geese, with plenty of Lapwings accompanied by a few Starlings. Ducks included: Mallard, Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall. There were large numbers of House Martins flying high after insects with just a few Swallows in tow.
From the hide we had great views of a family of four Little Grebes, plus Herons, Cormorants, Lapwings & a single Redshank. John or Steve spotted a flock of Canada Geese coming in to land across the road onto some far pools. Then John spotted a very distant Great Crested Grebe, which remained long enough for everyone to find it. The only bird of prey was a distant hovering Kestrel.
Common Darter? [female]
Common Darter [male]
We carried along the path until the railway bridge, at which point we saw at least 3 Willow Tits, plus a few skulking Blackcaps and Whitethroats. On the way back a female Bullfinch was spotted, but she disappeared into the hedge pushed on by the strong winds. On the pool behind the path I spotted a tiny distant bird struggling against the wind - this was a Kingfisher. Luckily, it first landed on a stout, short post then flew high into a Hawthorn bush where it sat long enough for everyone to see it. This was a new location for Len & he was especially pleased as it was his first Kingfisher for 20 years.
A return to the Visitor Centre saw plenty of Tree Sparrows on the feeders, plus Greenfinches & Goldfinches, but the visit to a screen was less productive with nothing new to add apart from a pair of scruffy moulting old Pheasants. A Marsh Harrier drifted west of the car park at lunch time, but not everyone managed to get on to it before it disappeared. The day went quite well, and would have been even better without the awful wind!
In the afternoon we had a look at the Kingfisher Screen, but there wasn't a single bird of any description. However, it was a bit better for butterflies and dragonflies. We found a pair of Migrant Hawkers resting on a bare twig, and back at the dog muck walk we saw a pair of Commas. These didn't interact at all, so it was impossible to say if they were 2 males, 2 females, or one of each!