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Hares and Finches in Ripon 23rd February 2016

This should be re-titled as , ‘Signs of Spring in Ripon’………

Corn Bunting Peter Thomson

Corn Bunting Peter Thomson

A group of eight members, including Leader Colin, set off by car to scour the Ripon area for the target species. We were being guided by Colin’s intimate knowledge of the patch he has worked all his life. Starting at Skelton-on- Ure, we quickly came across Hares which were easily visible in the large rolling fields. Training our binoculars to follow the beautiful sounds that filled the sky we were delighted to find three Skylark. These birds continued to appear at nearly all locations throughout the day. Other species to be found here were flocks of Fieldfare and Yellowhammers. This location also gave us our first sighting of Buzzard – again a bird that seemed present all day- but this was a nesting pair!

Redpoll Peter Thomson

Redpoll Peter Thomson

Moving on to land near Marton-le-Moor we examined a muck heap ( apparently one of the few places a bird can find seed in today’s farm land – even if it has been previously digested by cows). We were rewarded by finding a small flock of Corn bunting along with Chaffinch and Yellowhammer (a Wren, a Greenfinch and two Robin were also present at this little oasis!). Nearby was another site with panoramic views to the west and north allowing us to see as far as the Dallowgill moors where the heather was being burnt. Here we had more close views of Hares and distant views of Buzzard, Lapwing and Gulls in large numbers on wetlands along with two Shelduck.

Siskin High Batts Jack Upsall

Siskin High Batts Jack Upsall

We had lunch on home territory at High Batts accompanied by Marsh Tit, Redpoll, Siskin and Great Spotted Woodpecker (as well as the usual suspects). On to Middle Parks (Mistle Thrush on the way) where Colin pointed out the effects of adverse land management and its impact on wildlife. Our final port of call was Middle Farm at Ripon Parks. The once thriving habitat of the lake is now surrounded by an Otter fence. However, we were able to find Teal and Tufted duck as well as Shelduck ,Canada Geese and Moorhen.  We were able to exercise our sleuthing skills in working out the architects of numerous old nests visible in the hedgerow ( with Richard’s guidance). An interesting log pile peppered with beetle holes and matching Woodpecker drills also captured our interest. The main species of interest however was a flock of Linnet , initially fairly camouflaged amongst the keys of an ash tree, but undermining this by the amount of chatter that the flock was making. Other finches were mixed with the flock – the most notable being a Brambling. As we made our way back to the cars, our departure coincided with the arrival of six Curlew and a Kestrel. To round things off nicely, as we said our goodbyes at Quarry Moor and thanked Colin for a brilliant delivery of all target species, a female Sparrowhawk flew over.

Sue Harrison

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BTO Curlew Appeal

The Curlew has declined in Britain to such an extent that it is the bird most in need of conservation action and is on the Red List of Birds of Conservation concern. The BTO are hoping to raise £100,000 in the first year to do extensive research in to the reasons for the decline of both breeding and wintering Curlew.

Nidderdale Birdwatchers are running a coffee morning on March 12th to support this appeal.

Click here for details

BTO message from Mike Brown Feb 2016

We have available copies of the Annual Review (2014) of the North of England Raptor Forum. This is essential reading for anybody interested in the fortunes and welfare of raptors in a massive area of the North of England and represents the work of ten study groups covering Northhumberland to Derbyshire and Lancashire across Yorkshire to the North York Moors. 114 pages of summaries, charts, tables and photographs in A4 format and “perfect binding”, so all in all a very professional product for £8.00 (cost of post and packing on enquiry).Available from the Chairman: Paul Irving email – 2bluetails@gmail.com or see contact on membership form.

Mike Brown,
BTO Regional Representative for Yorkshire-Central.
01423 567382
07900 301112


2014 HDNS Bird Report available

Front Cover 2014 photo-Jill Warwick

Front Cover2014 photo-Jill Warwick

The 2014 Bird Report is ready!  They can be purchased from Jill Warwick (contact details on the HDNS membership card  – Moth Recorder) at £5.00 plus £1.30 p&p. There will also be some to purchase at the next meetings.  Posted ones are on their way.

As usual; following the Introduction and weather summary there is a full systematic list followed by notes, articles, photographs, drawings and a list of species requiring a description if submitted to BTO Records Committee. Useful maps of the recording area are to be found within the covers.

Winter walk Roecliffe to Staveley January 12 2016

111007 Stavely Rainbow KatWoolley

Kate Woolley c/o Stavely Reserve

This was the driest, coldest day of the year so far but the recent deluge was evident in all the fields and on the paths. Setting off from Roecliffe, we walked through a small copse where Colin showed us a huge, active badger sett, unusual in it being on flat ground, not into a bank. On leaving the wood the six of us slithered and slipped our way round field edges and footpaths. It was very pleasing to see good numbers of Meadow Pipits, Yellowhammers, Skylarks, Chaffinches, Fieldfares and Redwings, along with a few Song and Mistle Thrushes feeding in stubble and sheep fields.
Raptors were limited to several Buzzards and a Kestrel but strangely, no Red Kites.   Yellowhammers, Tree Sparrows and Reed Buntings formed small flocks at the Staveley Nature Reserve, and on the feeders were Blue, Great and Willow Tits. By the end of the walk we had seen several Hares and a buck Roe Deer with three hinds.
Muff and Jack very kindly hosted us for lunch at The Paddocks and while eating our picnics in comfort and warmth, we watched Nuthatch and Coal Tit come to their feeders, amongst the Tree and House Sparrow flock.
Setting off after lunch we walked back through the reserve adding Long-eared Owl, more Goldeneye and a Kingfisher to our list. By the time we had reached Roecliffe again our bird count had gone up to 56 and we had evaded the wintry showers which had been forecast for the late afternoon. Our finale was a flock of about 200 mixed Fieldfares and Redwings, with a ratio of 75/25.
Excellent! Many thanks to Colin for a very interesting and informative look at farmland and ings management. It was clear that some farming practices can provide for, and allow for, wildlife while others completely disregard it. Thankfully there was some winter food to be had, but many, many fields were sadly bereft of all birdlife and lay barren and sterile awaiting another intensive crop to be sprayed and manicured. Colin’s recollections of times gone by, when copses and fields weren’t used for Pheasant rearing were only to be marvelled at.

Sue Coldwell

Nosterfield LNR and Nicholson’s Lagoon – December 15th 2015

On arrival Simon Warwick gave us a resume of recent conditions at Nosterfield. High rainfall had increased water levels and this had attracted huge numbers of Teal and Wigeon as well as good numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover.


View from the hide! Malcolm Jones

Due to foggy conditions, we more or less had to take his word for it!

i see no duck!

I see no duck!

We picked out three Goldeneye, a Little Grebe and a lot of ghostly duck/goose shaped shadows. One was singled out as a Barnacle Goose amongst the Greylags. A Sparrowhawk glided silently past the hide window and into the fog. Sadly, with no wind this fog was going nowhere. Passerines included Nuthatch, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Marsh Tit and Goldfinch. The weather wasn’t very Christmassy, but nevertheless, we retired to a local pub for a Christmas lunch and to await The Greatest Show on Earth! No, not Sue’s flashing Christmas tree hat, but Colin had received information about a Starling roost at Ripon Racecourse.

That hat.  Sue Coldwell

That hat. Sue Coldwell

HDNS members

Some of the group. Malcolm Jones

The birds certainly played their part, even though the visibility was a bit challenging. Some of the Starling flocks were so dense it was breathtaking. They arrived in their hundreds and merged from left and right building up to an ever bigger flock, interrupted briefly by a cruising Sparrowhawk which created a Starling-free zone for just a few seconds. No sooner had one flock plummeted to the reed bed than others came to replace them. This continued for a full 40 minutes. As the light fell over Nicholson’s Lagoon, a pair of Goosander flew in, followed eventually by several more. An easterly wind picked up and we realised the Starlings were proving to be noisy neighbours to the quietly roosting Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Wigeon and a Great Crested Grebe. Time for us to leave for home too.
Many thanks to Simon and Colin for a really interesting day and Happy Christmas to all our readers!

Sue Coldwell

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Nigel Heptinstall – Outdoors Again

Nigel Heptinstall used to write a very popular column in local papers. Recently these were cancelled by the editors. Nigel however is now active again via a website and will welcome contributions.. We received an email from Simon giving contact details and links to his twitter, website and blog at How Stean Gorge. Click HERE for the emails and the links.

Harrogate and District Volunteering Oscars: HDNS Members win Awards

Friday 30 October 2015

The awards, organized by former Mayor  Councillor John Fox, and the Harrogate Advertiser Series, celebrate the work done by volunteers in our community.

Audrey Summersgill won the Lifetime Volunteer award, and was also highly commended in the Wildlife Volunteer section.
Simon Warwick won the award for Environment Volunteer.

Congratulations to both.

Spurn Point 27th October 2015

This is always an eagerly anticipated trip. A full minibus, driven as usual by Colin, set off in good time from Harrogate, leaving behind the mist and fog.

Pallas' Warbler Peter Thomson

Pallas’s Warbler Peter Thomson

The weather at Spurn was cloudy with light south, south easterly wind. The Spurn Bird Observatory Website reported that recent arrivals had been Pallas’s Warbler, Firecrest, Yellow-browed Warbler and an American Golden Plover remained on Kilnsea Wetlands. On our arrival, there was more good news, a Jack Snipe at Canal Scrape. So, there was everything to play for as we set off to look for one or all of the above. The Pallas’s and the Firecrest showed very well, standing out, as they do, against the numerous Goldcrest. The Jack Snipe was very obliging and was conveniently feeding next to a Common Snipe, giving good comparison views. The Yellow-browed Warbler at the Crown and Anchor car park was a bit more elusive, but showed briefly in the end.
The sea watching was very disappointing, there was just nothing moving, so we wasted very little time in getting back to the Warren area, which was alive with birds. Winter Thrushes and Starlings were gathering, the latter systematically clearing the orange Sea Buckthorn berries. The incoming tide gave rise to a wonderful aerial display of waders, Golden Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin, Curlew and Grey Plover.
The well documented breach in December 2013, caused by the biggest tidal surge for 60 years has left the tip of Spurn cut off at high tide. However, there is still plenty of habitat at the northern end, and our visit was wholly rewarding.
While we were in the Kilnsea Wetland Area watching the American Golden Plover snooze the afternoon away, we got fantastic views of at least two Short-eared Owls, three Little Egrets, five grazing Roe Deer and later, a perched Merlin. What a finale! 75 species in total and many of us with one or more ‘lifers’. Click HERE for birdlist.
Many thanks to Colin for leading a superb day out and my fellow passengers for providing the onboard entertainment, while we were stationary on the M62 for an hour in the dark.

Sue Coldwell

Ian Wallace Tree Planting

Excellent Turnout for Ian Wallace Commemorative Tree Planting on October 20th 2015

Ian Wallace 003 Ian Wallace

More than 25 people turned out to celebrate the life of Ian Wallace by witnessing the planting by members of Ian’s family of a wild service tree in Seven Bridges Valley, Studley Royal.
The tree was planted close to the spot where Ian discovered a naturally occurring wild service tree whilst conducting a plant survey for the National Trust.
Ian Wallace 004The tree was delivered and the preparatory work undertaken by members of the National Trust Estate Management Team. They also erected a substantial deer-proof metal guard around the tree on completion of planting.
Colin Slator and Valerie Holmes represented HDNS Council, of which Ian was once a member, whilst Colin also attended in his capacity as Chairman of High Batts Nature Reserve Committee. Ian was for many years Mosses and Liverworts Recorder for High Batts as well as Botanical Recorder for HDNS.
He was also heavily involved in the Bilton Conservation Group which was represented by Keith Wilkinson, and in the University of the Third Age, many of whose members were present.
A stone inscribed with a replica of Ian’s signature was laid in the bottom of the hole and the tree was then planted by Ian’s widow Mavis, his son Nigel and daughter Fiona.Ian Wallace 005
The assembled company was addressed by Mike Ridsdale of the National Trust, who paid tribute to Ian’s botanical work over many years on the Fountains Abbey/Studley Royal estate. Mavis then thanked all those who had generously contributed to make the tree planting possible and Mike and his team for their assistance and for allowing the tree to be planted on the National Trust estate. She finished by thanking everyone for turning out in such good numbers.
For those wishing to see the tree, it is on the right-hand side of the valley just past the second bridge over the Skell when approaching from the Studley Royal car park.

Ian Wallace 008 Ian Wallace 006 Ian Wallace 007

Account and photographs by Will Rich.

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