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January 2006

1st, Wheldrake Ings - Visited this reserve on the River Derwent for the first time, and I was most impressed, largely due to its size but also for a sense of peace and quiet which was comparable to those reserves of the deepest fens. In many regards it is a fenland reserve, at least in parts, and I certainly look forward to future visits. The hides around the reserve are very good, with a new double decker one, and give fantastic all round views. However as this winter and indeed the past autumn have been fairly dry, the floods on the reserve were not very extensive, and the views of the abundant wildfowl were somewhat distant at times. However all the common wintering species were seen, and there’s nothing like the sound of distant Wigeon on a chilly day with the huge winter blue sky above. The reserve is also fairly wooded, at least along the river, with Willows and alike, and this means there is also a good passerine presence on the reserve, and I’m sure in spring and summer there’ll be an abundance of warblers and hirundines in the area. So all in all a most enjoyable visit, with hopefully more to come.

2nd, Bempton Cliffs - Paid a very brief visit to the cliffs at Bempton with Jenny and David Arinello. Not much about, as you would expect, bar the odd gull, dove, and Jackdaw. There was also a very cold and raw wind on the cliff tops.

4th - A male Bullfinch was seen in the garden this afternoon.

9th - A flock of Siskin’s observed in the Yews and Firs of the garden today, with about half a dozen seen searching for food amongst the branches. A new species for the garden, and Beverley list.

10th - This month has begun on a very dull note, and no sun has been recorded for over five days now.

15th, High Mowthorpe - Walked in this area of the North Wolds between Duggleby and Kirby Grindalythe on a cloudy and cool day. In the small reservoir there was a number of wildfowl, with Greylag Geese, and Mallards, but also a few Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, & Tufted ducks, not species I would expect to see here on the high Wolds. Just goes to show what even a small area of water such as this can attract, especially if it remains largely undisturbed. Also seen on our walk was a Bullfinch just outside the village of Kirby Grindalythe, where there were also large numbers of Fieldfares in the surrounding fields. A good walk, which also uncovered a balloon which had come from a school in Hartlepool. However the name was unfortunately unintelligible.

18th - A Magpie was seen carrying twigs up to the Sycamore’s today.

19th - A Sparrowhawk was seen plucking a Greenfinch on the lawn during the afternoon.

20th - The Siskin’s made a welcome return today, and a few were even seen to be on the Niger feeders, sharing happily with the Goldfinches.

22nd - Siskin’s again observed in the garden, and on the feeders today.

25th - The Song Thrushes have begun singing at dawn in the last week, and in the garden the Aconites and the Snowdrops are just beginning to appear. The other spring bulbs are still quite small, at least compared to last year, when they were up to 10 inches tall under the Hawthorn, whereas this year they are just 2 inches at the moment.

26th - A Black-headed Gull was seen in breeding plumage today, though all the others remain in winter plumage. The Siskin’s again observed.

28th - A Siskin was seen today, and feeding with it was a very handsome Goldfinch. It was indeed a beautiful day, with a crystal clear blue winter sky.

29th, North Cave Wetlands - Visited this compact little reserve for the first time and I was most impressed. Though not as peaceful, or indeed wild, as say Wheldrake it nevertheless appears to have a great diversity of species, and because of its compact size most observations are actually very close to the hides. It is also has the bonus of being just a short drive over the Wolds from Beverley. The reserve is particularly good for wildfowl, with ten species seen, including a few Pintails, a favourite duck of mine. There were also Teal, Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted duck, Gadwall, & Shelduck, along with more common Greylags, Mallards, and Mute Swans. Both Great Crested Grebes and Little Grebes were also seen, and a couple of Snipe were observed along the waters edge. The reserve also has plenty of scrub, and wooded areas, and is surrounded by fields, which means the reserve also has a good variety of passerines, these attracted additionally to a number of feeding stations on the reserve. There is particularly a large number of Tree Sparrows on the reserve, a species which is increasingly scarce. A good visit with many more to come without any doubt.

30th - At least two dozen finches were seen in the garden today, with a mix of Greenfinches, Chaffinches, and Goldfinches.