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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.

Misty?

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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Redcar, South Gare and Scaling Dam. 8th September 2015

We arrived on Redcar seafront and immediately felt at home as we spied the ‘Stray Café’ . A Bettys by the sea, wonderful! But first things first, sea watching. High pressure over the UK was dragging in low cloud and drizzle from the North Sea and reducing the visibility with it.

Redcar and South Gare

Sea Watching Richard Bion

An hour’s watch saw Teal and Common Scoter flying north in quite large numbers, along with small groups of waders, Gannets, one Red-throated Diver, and one or two Arctic Skuas. There were Sandwich and Common Terns on the beach along with Turnstones and Ringed Plovers. Most skuas, shearwaters and divers were further out to sea with light winds, unlikely to push them inshore.
Next, we went to South Gare, which has its own charm. Conditions were ideal for the high tide roost at the tip. We picked out Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Curlew and Oystercatcher, but still very little was moving on the sea. The local fishermen were not having a very good day and commented that the water was dirty, presumably from a fuel spill. After lunch the River Tees tidal estuary was exposing estuarine mud as the tide ebbed away. There we found a Bar-tailed Godwit, a juvenile Knot and Whimbrel and more Redshanks, none showing any inclination to do anything but sleep. They must have had a long flight to get this far.

South Gare is an area of reclaimed land and breakwater on the southern side of the mouth of the River Tees.

South Gare

South Gare

It has a uniquely diverse habitat. The land is made of from thousands of tons of basic slag from blast furnaces. The high limestone content of the slag produces a base rich soil that is attractive to lime loving plants. The area consists of tidal mudflats, scrub, grassland, sand dunes, rocks, freshwater and salt pools. This is one for the botanists! The group quickly spread out to search the area. We found unusual species and some stunted versions of common plants. The plant list ( click HERE to view) was finalised by Muff Upsall and Sonia Starbuck. This vegetation can be very good for attracting migrants such as warblers and flycatchers. This day we saw a pair of Stonechats and small flocks of Linnets, Goldfinches and Starlings.
En route homeward, we called in at Scaling Dam on the A171. This is a shallow reservoir attracting both dabbling and diving ducks. We saw Tufted Duck, Mallard and Heron with Willow Warbler and another Stonechat on the moorland edge, bringing the total bird count to 53.
Many thanks to Colin for leading a greatly enjoyable trip with some really interesting places, birds and plants.

Sue Coldwell

HDNS FIELD TRIPS 2015/2016

The field trips for 2015-2016 are now on this website under Calendar , or click here. There is also a list (and booking forms for the bus trips) in the printed copy of the Autumn Newsletter. Or click HERE for the electronic copy. Colin Slator has done a sterling job arranging these for us and they are always worth attending. Reports of past excursions can be found on this website (under NEWS items).
Please note the usual precautions: Stout footwear and suitable outdoor clothing should always be worn. Unless otherwise stated a packed lunch is essential. Members take part entirely at their own risk and are responsible for their personal safety and the security of their belongings.
Colin gives the following message regarding this autumn’s outings:
Make sure you read the details about the outings especially regarding times and food! Of course the weather can’t be guaranteed, so some events may be altered slightly to work around any inclement precipitations!
Enquiries to Colin Slator: 0793535 2890

HDNS Newsletter Autumn 2015

Our Autumn newsletter is now published.  As usual it is an excellent read giving details of past and future events in our society. Well worth settling down on one of these rainy days to enjoy it.  All members will get a copy or to read it here follow the links – ‘About HDNS’ –>  ‘Reports and Publications’.  Or click this shortcut! 

This year we have included a list of the lecture evenings offered by High Batts  see page 71 in our newsletter.  For more details of the High Batts Society click here

Top Hill Low, Spurn and Hornsea, Tuesday 25th. August 2015.

Top Hill Low

Group in a hide Will Rich

We gathered as usual at Trinity Methodist Church and mounted a rather splendid nearly new minibus. Colin Slator, our leader and driver, welcomed us aboard. There was plenty of room for us as our party only numbered eight including Colin, unfortunately Sue Harrison and Jack and Muff Upsall were unable to attend.

Holly Blue Will Rich

Holly Blue Will Rich

  By the time we reached Top Hill Low Water Treatment Plant the weatherwas quite pleasant so as we walked to the first of the marsh hides we were able to enjoy plenty of insect activity. By the time we had visited all the hides we had recorded ten species of butterfly including Painted Lady, three species of bumblebee and numerous Common Darters one of which hitched a lift on Colin’s cap! On the HDNS visit to Top Hill Low in January 2011 we were obviously looking at a range of winter birds so the pools and scrapes were not of as much interest as at this time of year.

Common Sandpiper Peter Thompson

Common Sandpiper Peter Thompson

 A full morning in all the hides rewarded us with good views of three Green Sandpipers,
other wader species were scarce but brief views of a Kingfisher and Sedge Warbler added to our list which by then included Mallard, Shoveler, Shelduck, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Grebe and 85 Greylag Geese. Drama was provided by a female Marsh Harrier that put everything up several times.

 The “O” reservoir held 27 Great crested Grebes and the “D” reservoir had a good range of waterfowl including 37 Tufted Ducks and one Red-crested Pochard, one of our number said it “had a bill like a carrot”, a good description! Five species of Gull were also on the reservoir.

Pied Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher Peter Thompson

A change of plan took us to Sammy’s Point at Spurn in pursuit of a Red- footed Falcon, no luck there but we did pick up on the tail end of a big movement of Pied Flycatchers along with Redstarts, Whinchat, Wheatear and several Willow Warblers. Seven Swifts hurried southwards down the point whilst the estuary side provided us with 70 Golden Plovers and the calls of Whimbrel. There was a Spoonbill on the ponds at Kilnsea Wetlands.

Finally on to Hornsea, first the sea front, good numbers of Little Gull over the sea and better still two birds on the beach with Black headed Gulls. Common Tern and unspecifiable “comic” terns passing all the time going south.

Little Gull

Little Gull Peter Thompson

By the time we visited The Mere the light was failing but our glorious leader was determined to locate the reported White-winged Black Tern, plenty more Little Gulls but sadly not the elusive tern. Another Marsh Harrier was our final bird of the day, so into town for Fish and Chips with a check list total of 72 species of birds.

Thank you to Colin for an excellent day out.

Mike Brown

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