Champions of the Flyway!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

(Survey) Seasons in the Sun

Pied Flycatcher, Lapwing chick

As June makes way for July, our very busy, productive and enjoyable ornithological survey season is finally slowing down. It feels like between us (happily the majority of the work has been with my good friend and comrade Rich Baines) we've surveyed most of North Yorkshire over the last few months, and we've been particularly fortunate to cover a wide variety of productive habitats to keep us on the ball and on our toes - never a bad thing after 0330hrs starts and long drives in the inky pre-dawn twilight....

Tree Pipits on territory

Whinchat, Stoat

Much of our work was for the Wildwatch project, on behalf of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Our many transects cut through ancient woodland, in-by, pasture, marshland, moorland, farmland and more, and we were fortunate to find many target species breeding in what were often previously unsurveyed areas. I was also contracted to conduct Breeding Bird Surveys for the North York Moors National Park at Sutton Bank, which were also very productive and a pleasure to complete.

Turtle Dove, Willow Warbler

Fledgling Wheatear and Redstart

There were many highlights, often involving quite common species - being buzzed by just-fledged Wheatears at point-blank range before they were eventually shepherded away by their parents, finding nests of everything from Willow Warblers and Lapwings to Red Grouse and Oystercatchers, etc - but finding the scarcer target species breeding / on territory was a joy. Between us, these included such iconic species as Pied Flycather, Common Redstart, Hawfinch, Whinchat, Common Snipe, Ring Ouzel, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Turtle Dove, Tree Pipit, Golden Plover and many more.

Common Snipe, Grey Wagtail

So, back to several days a week at the Living Seas Centre means 'spare time' upcoming, which means addressing the mass of office-based work (including writing/editing the new Filey Bird Report, part of the next Yorkshire Bird Report, and lots of articles for the birding press) which has been metaphorically piling up recently.... and then, maybe even some local birding?