Champions of the Flyway!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

More from Nidderdale

Our ornithological surveys for the Nidderdale AONB way out west in the Yorkshire Dales continue, and while the 0330hrs starts may be a little unsociable (special thanks to The Clash for keeping me awake on the A64 many times of late), the variety of (ridiculously picturesque) habitats in close proximity and the range of species involved makes those early starts more than worthwhile.

One morning last week was particularly productive, with both transects coming up with the goods. The first was around a marshy, partially grazed field up on the moor on the edge of heather moorland, which fantastically contained no fewer than six species of breeding wader - Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Snipe, Curlew, Redshank and Woodcock - with chicks galore and mobbing parents doing their job admirably...

The second involved a route I'd surveyed last year with decent results, but this time it was even better. Starting off with a Ring Ouzel in full, melodic song and continuing along a ridge occupied by multiple, curious Wheatear families (the young of this species being particularly fearless and entertaining) and more breeding waders, a descent into a wooded river valley produced a suite of target breeding species including Redstarts and, most pleasingly, Pied Flycatchers. Of the latter, I found one breeding pair not in a secluded section of the woodland, but in a nest box right outside the front door of a farmhouse on a public footpath... so after we'd finished, we returned with cameras and a bit more time, and let the home owners know about their iconic tenants, which they were as stoked about as we were.