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Field Trip to Potteric Carr and Hatfield Moors – Tuesday 12th April 2016

Potteric Carr

Potteric Carr

Our party of thirteen set off from Trinity Church in overcast weather, hoping for a dry day.  In this, however, we were to be disappointed since, shortly after we arrived at the Potteric Carr Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve, the heavens opened and subjected us to a thoroughly miserable couple of hours weather-wise.
The birds brightened our spirits somewhat, especially when we heard Cetti’s Warbler singing and Bittern booming.  Later we had good views of a pair of Black-necked Grebes and a drake Garganey.

  Garganey  Potteric Carr    Peter Thomson

Garganey Potteric Carr Peter Thomson

A brisk march through the puddles took us back to the minibus for lunch, following which we set out for the National Nature Reserve at Hatfield Moors.  The hide near the entrance yielded little, which was not surprising given that a couple of yobboes in two cars were spinning their  tyres on the car park gravel and then let out a couple of barking dogs which were allowed to run free around the reserve.
The rain had abated somewhat by this time as we walked to the viewpoint overlooking the bleak expanse of peat bog which is the main feature of this Natural England reserve.

Hatfield Moors Viewpoint

Hatfield Moors Viewpoint

Unfortunately there was little to see apart from a drake Mandarin Duck which gave good views.  Barry got bitten by an insect, of which there were many.
Retracing our steps to the car park, Colin got wind of a Little Gull which was supposed to be present at a nearby lake.  However, by the time we arrived it had disappeared, which was our signal to turn for home.  After a brief coffee stop in Hatfield village we joined the motorway network and headed for Harrogate.
Sue totted up the species total for the day which was 66, surprisingly good considering the weather.  Many thanks to our driver and leader Colin for doing his best in trying conditions.

Will Rich

Spring Newsletter and Annual Report

The 2016 Spring Newsletter is now available.  Go to Reports and Publications from the Home Page or click here.
This is full of interesting facts and features including the latest programmes and reports of past outings.

Our 2014 Annual Report is also available ( members area only – you will need your password). This web version includes the photos from the report, collected towards the end.  Click here for the  members area.

Fairburn Ings and St Aidans – Tuesday15th March

A cold and slightly overcast day heralded our minibus trip to Fairburn where we hoped to find some wintering birds. At our first port of call we met up with two more members (so twelve in total) and walked to Charlie’s Hide on Village Bay where we heard that Smew had been reported. This diminutive Sawbill which breeds in Fenno Scandinavia and Russia over-winters in North West Europe. The bird was to prove very elusive but we were content with our views of Goosander, Snipe, Pochard and beautifully singing Song Thrush. Moving on to the Centre of the reserve, the Pontoon near the car park offered an opportunity to scrutinise the reeds more closely. There, we were lucky to find a Water Rail (thanks Barry) a bird which usually reveals itself only by its call but we had close views for quite a while.

Reed Bunting

Reed Bunting Peter Thomson

At the Centre Feeder, along with the more common birds, we enjoyed Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting and a resplendent male Bullfinch. Moving on to the Pickup hide we still had no sign of Smew but, following the line of flight of a Little Egret we found a large communal breeding colony which included Cormorant and Heron. Our final attempt with the Smew was at the Lin Dike Hide where we watched displaying Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe. However, as one member put it, we remained ‘Smewless’. Leaving the hide we were informed by a local that there were Peregrine on the two towers in the distance. It felt as if the three Peregrines sitting there were returning our gaze as we looked through the scopes. It was just then that persistence was rewarded as Colin announced that a distant, ‘Teal-sized’, red headed, white cheeked bird was indeed a female Smew. It revealed itself for at least ten seconds before disappearing behind the reeds. I subsequently learnt that they favour flooded landscapes (and Fairburn certainly qualified on this count).


Dragline St Aidan’s Will Rich

We also added Pintail to our list here and then set off to St Aidan’s – another reclaimed landscape but with more obvious signs of its industrial heritage. Here, we had been informed, we might find a Greenland White-fronted Goose if we were lucky. Looking at the vast expanse before us, the term ‘needle in a haystack’ came to mind. However, the weather brightened, Skylarks sang, myriads of Gulls screeched and we enjoyed a long walk through the wetlands adding Stock Dove, Wigeon, Gadwall and Lapwing to our growing list. After scanning the large number of Canada and Greylag Geese and almost losing the will to look at another goose, Colin found our quarry. It was on the brow of the hill with its back towards us, making identification as difficult as possible but, once seen, never forgotten!

Whitefronted, Peter Thomson

Whitefronted, Peter Thomson

The Greenland White-fronted Goose with its beautifully deeply scored underbelly and prettily white-edged bill, together with a slighter and darker appearance, enthralled us all. By the time we had left, we had 67 species for the day (which seems to be the magic number for recent trips) and Colin had certainly earned his stripes!


Sue Harrison


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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.

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