Monday 20 May 2019

Black Gold

Friday 10th May:  The last gasp of reconnaissance for our Yorkshire Big Day the following day - more to come on that later! With easterly winds and a little rain during the week, I initially headed out locally, to Bank Island and then onto Wheldrake Ings.

At Bank Island I was pleased to note the Pintail pair and a drake Garganey - these would both come in handy tomorrow as both are scarce Yorkshire birds. On to Wheldrake Ings, noting several Garden Warblers singing along the way down to Tower Hide, their chattering melodic ramble reminiscent of and yet different to the fluting notes of nearby Blackcaps. To the right of the Tower Hide, 25 humbug-headed Whimbrel were probing the meadows. This felt a little unusual; they usually frequent fields near Storwood, only flying to Wheldrake to roost. Perhaps the recent dry weather has meant foraging is more rewarding here in the damp herb-rich meadows.

Round to Swantail and I picked up the dusky form of an adult Spotted Redshank, tailing a Common Redshank, an elegant slender shadow. Spotshanks are a pretty scarce bird in the York area, with only a small handful of records every year, so this dusky bird was true patch gold.

Always distant, the Redshank's shadow.

After drawing a relative blank at North Duffield Carrs, I headed west to the Aire Valley to pin down some key species for the next day. Greenshanks flew over, Green Woodpeckers yaffled, Spoonbills bounced around in the trees and Bearded Tits flew in to greet me - I doubt it would be this easy in 24 hours' time!

Little Owl, St Aidan's RSPB. Little did I know how important this owl would be the following day...

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