England - Yorkshire__________________________________



Yorkshire 2015

...with Chris Bradshaw

May 28th - 31st

Our second spring break in North Yorkshire was affected by some difficult weather conditions. In an ideal world I’d order some light south-easterly winds and warm weather for this short tour, but late May 2015 was dominated by strong winds from the west, with a disappointingly large amount of rain on the second day and the final morning. Definitely not what you’d want! However, despite this we managed to find most of the expected specialities and there were one or two surprises. We were pleased to encounter late passage waders in the form of a Wood Sandpiper at Scalby Lodge Pond and a Greenshank at Potter Brompton Carr (a site Birdwatching Breaks have exclusive access to). A Whooper Swan and a Pink-footed Goose were surprising unseasonal sightings (for the second consecutive year) and we were most surprised to locate a singing Firecrest in the forests, a species not previously recorded in a likely breeding location in this area. The hoped for array of regional specialities included excellent views singing Whinchat and Redstart, plus Dipper, breeding Curlew and Golden Plover. We saw good numbers of Spotted Flycatchers and of course enjoyed the superb seabird spectacle that can be found at Bempton.

May 28th : Potter Brompton Carr, Wykeham Forest, Troutsdale, Forge Valley, Wykeham South Lake.

Weather: Bright and breezy.

The first morning of the day began bright and breezy. We started our exploration of this corner of North Yorkshire in The Carrs, a low lying area in the Vale of Pickering where a number of farms are involved in conservation initiatives to try and attract increased numbers of breeding waders. A walk at Potter Brompton Carr produced a migrant Greenshank, a smart Yellow Wagtail, drake Shoveler, a few Lapwings and a nice selection of warbler species that included Willow, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff. Blackcaps were vocal but elusive, whilst Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Reed Bunting and Linnet were also noted. From here we headed up into the Wykeham Forest where we searched unsuccessfully for Turtle Dove and had to make do with Long-tailed Tit before we headed to the raptor viewpoint for lunch. Here we enjoyed nice views of a Hobby (still fairly scarce in this part of North Yorkshire), Kestrel and several Common Buzzards.

In the afternoon, some pleasantly warm conditions prompted an exploration of the beautiful valleys of Troutsdale where a pleasant walk along the river yielded nice views of Spotted Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail, Garden Warbler, foraging Nuthatch and Treecreeper and a smart Dipper. A stop at some feeders in the Forge Valley gave some ‘easy’ birds in the form of Jay, a male Great Spotted Woodpecker, a smart male Siskin and the commoner tits.

We finished the day at a very windy Wykeham South Lake where a distant Little Ringed Plover left the group somewhat underwhelmed! More obliging was an unseasonal Pink-footed Goose that flew in with a group of Greylag Geese and afforded some nice views. We took dinner in a local pub where we enjoyed an excellent meal and finished off with excellent views of Barn Owl during the return journey back to the B&B.


May 29th: Willerby Carr, Scalby Lodge Pond, Wykeham Forest, Bempton Cliffs, Wykeham South Lake.

Weather: Wet and overcast morning, clearing later to sunny intervals with showers. Cool, although warmer during sunnier spells.

With westerly winds and an overcast and rather wet start to the day I decided that a change to the planned visit to Flamborough was appropriate. In such conditions I felt it was highly unlikely that any interesting migrants would be in evidence (and this view was subsequently proved correct), so we focused on some different locations in the Scarborough area. We began with a quick search for Corn Bunting, which was quickly seen singing from overhead wires at Willerby Carr. A search of some damp woodland for Willow Tit proved fruitless, but we did see Treecreeper, Whitethroat and Curlew and Lapwing on the nearby fields. A Wood Sandpiper had been seen the previous evening at Scalby Lodge Pond, so despite the now steady rain we headed off to see if it was still present. On arrival we quickly located it and we enjoyed nice views of it as it fed on the pool. A pair of Shelduck had a brood of ducklings. We had a short walk to the nearby Jackson’s Bay where a few Oystercatchers were present and a few Sandwich Terns flew past offshore.

After repeating the unsuccessful search for Turtle Dove, we again took lunch in the Wykeham Forest. The rain had stopped and although we saw some Common Buzzards, Goshawks were once again not in evidence.

In the afternoon we visited the fantastic seabird city at Bempton Cliffs. An amazing spectacle greeted us as thousands of seabirds went about the business of raising their young, and it was great to linger whilst we enjoyed wonderful views of Gannets, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Guillemots, Razorbills and of course the ever-popular Puffins.

After we’d enjoyed our fill of Bempton, we headed back to Wykeham South Lake where an unseasonal Whooper Swan had been found. We had nice views of this unexpected addition to the bird list before heading back to the B&B and again enjoying a fine meal in a local pub.


May 30th: Dalby Forest, North York Moors including Rosedale.

Weather: Sunny and bright with variable cloud, but with a moderate to strong westerly winds.

The weather had improved significantly this morning, although a stiff breeze was far from ideal. We began in the Dalby Forest where in a forest clearing we were able to study the finer plumage details of a Tree Pipit through the telescope. A short walk along some woodland edge produced some nice views of Grey Wagtail, smart male Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher and most surprising of all a singing Firecrest.

Heading out onto the moors, the rather windy conditions made it difficult to locate some of our targets although Stonechat and Red Grouse gave themselves up fairly readily and some nice Golden Plovers were found after a little effort. We took lunch near Rosedale, where a regular spot for Whinchat came up trumps once again with a singing male affording excellent scope views. A Snipe was heard chipping from the nearby rushes, whilst Curlew and Lapwing were more accommodating. A Northern Wheatear seen distantly was rather less obliging. After lunch we spent some time searching for Ring Ouzels, which unfortunately and most surprisingly proved elusive. Compensation was limited to further views of Golden Plover, Northern Wheatear and the spectacular scenery of Rosedale.

In the evening we had dinner in a pub to the north of Scarborough. Afterwards we headed across the road to try for Nightjars, which we heard immediately on getting out of the car, but they failed to perform. A Woodcock flew across the track roding and Tawny Owl was heard calling.

May 31st : Filey.

Weather: Wet and windy, clearing late morning.

A disappointing end to the trip as our final morning again dawned wet and windy. This was not Filey at its best, but a visit to Filey Dams at least meant we could birdwatch from the hides. Good numbers of hirundines were hawking over the pools here, with some Swallows affording the opportunity for one participant to practice his digiscoping skills. A pair of Shoveler were seen at close range. A visit to North Cliff Country Park allowed us to look across the bay from the shelter of the vehicle. Cormorant, summer plumaged Red-throated Diver and Sandwich Terns were seen here along with small numbers of auks and a few gulls which included Great Black-backed new for the trip list. With a break in the weather finally arriving we had a short walk at the old tip where we heard a brief burst of song from a Grasshopper Warbler. From the cliffs we saw cliff-nesting Cormorants, close views of Fulmar and our final encounter with the ever-popular Puffins. With no news of any interesting new arrivals elsewhere along the coast we decided enough was enough and we headed back to the vehicle.

Despite the difficult weather conditions we had nevertheless had a most enjoyable few days and managed to see an excellent selection of the birds that this beautiful corner of Yorkshire has to offer.

For details of the full species list or to request further information about the next time we will be offering this trip. Contact us at enquiries@birdwatchingbreaks.com.

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