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Bird Report 2003 (records for 2002)

by Jack Watson

[Ed: You might like to compare Jack’s notes on the weather with the graphs... ]

goldfinch on feeder This report follows the pattern of last year’s with two main parts: the highlights of the year and a list of species reported within the Society’s area with approximate location and dates – 118 species for 2002. We also have a list of birds ringed at Pry Rigg by Jim Pewtress during the year. The goldfinch (right) was photographed by David Sutcliffe.


Early January opened foggy and cold with black ice in many areas. Birds were reported making good use of gardens for food. During this period I had 7 Blackbirds, 7 Tree Sparrows and a single Fieldfare plus a male Siskin, Mistle Thrush and the usual tits and House Sparrows on garden bird feeders.

A mild February encouraged Song Thrush and Blackbirds into early song, plus a Green Woodpecker calling in Gilling Woods. Skylarks were heard and seen singing on Caulkleys Bank in the Stonegrave area. In mid-February a Leach’s Fork-tailed Petrel was reported, found dying near Malton Bacon Factory!

mallard I keep up regular visits to the three small lakes in Gilling woods; very often coots are present in small numbers but occasionally other species turn up. A couple of visits during mid-March revealed 4 Greylag Geese, 2 Mute Swans, 3 Canada Geese, Great Crested Grebe, Mallard, Pochard and a single Goosander. (Mallard photo by I. Szymanski.)

My first summer visitor seen locally was a Chiffchaff singing in Gilling Woods on 19th March. The first week in April saw the arrival of Blackcap and Willow Warbler. On 13th April two swallows were seen but the main influx did not appear until the latter part of the month. During the middle of April large numbers of Fieldfares (approximately 300) were seen in the Gilling area gathering for departure.


House Martins were later than usual, the main influx not arriving until early in May. They did however appear to have had a good breeding season judging by the numbers seen gathering for their return journey to warmer climates in mid-September.

At the end of May (27th) an unusual bird appeared in my garden shortly after 7am, remaining in the immediate vicinity for most of the day before it was seen flying in a north-westerly direction in the early evening. Identification of it, confirmed by a colleague, and subsequently found in a book of Birds in India proved it to be a White Throated Laughing Thrush, undoubtedly an “escape” from some private collection. It was interesting to hear from Tom Denney some time later that an identical description fitted a bird he saw at Rudland a few days afterwards. The general assumption is that it was the same individual, but how can one be 100% certain?

The months of June and July were relatively quiet with most of the summer visitors busy nesting and egg-laying. I didn’t hear my first cuckoo locally until 4th June, and during the latter part of the month heard Turtle Dove calling in Gilling Woods.

Chaffinches appear to have had a good breeding season. I had up to 11 including a number of fledglings in the garden from mid-July onwards. I also had a pair of Spotted Flycatchers feeding three fledglings in mid-August.


Swallows were seen in Gilling gathering for departure in the second week in September, and following a strong wind from the north two or three days later most had left. House Martins lingered on a few days longer and by the beginning of October most had gone. Willow Warblers however were still heard singing in late September.

October and November saw the main arrivals of the winter migrants. One or two large flocks of Fieldfares have been recorded in a number of areas, but reports of Redwings indicate that far fewer seem to be about in fields and gardens.

December saw some of our resident birds returning to garden feeders regularly, particularly members of the Tit family. Marsh Tits I have noted absent during the summer months, normally returning in pairs during the month of October.

A fine ending to the year: I viewed a gull preening in a field behind my garden – a Fulmar!

Species list 2002

The birds are listed in the official BTO order.
G = Gilling area; H = Hovingham area; KMS = Kirkbymoorside area;
NPL = Newburgh Priory Lake; SL = Slingsby area; RU = Rudland area.

Little Grebe Regularly on Gilling Lakes
Great Crested Grebe Regularly on Gilling Lakes. A pair breeding
Fulmar A rather disorientated bird seen preening G 31st December
Cormorant Single bird on Gilling lake December
Grey Heron Regularly seen in Gilling area; one at KMS 21st Jan; seen occasionally in RU (from Sleightholmedale colony) and present in SL
Mute Swan Common throughout area
Pink Footed Goose Flock seen flying northwards 24th October
Greylag Goose Occasional visitor to G lakes (4 on 19th March); single bird December
Canada Goose Common throughout area; pair with 4 goslings G 10th May
Wigeon A pair on small pond RU December (a new bird for Rudland)
Teal Regularly seen on G lakes; also NPL
Mallard Common throughout area
Pintail Occasionally seen NPL during spring
Shoveler Occasionally seen NPL; also G lakes
Common Pochard Up to 3 on G lakes in early spring
Tufted Duck Fairly common NPL and other waters throughout area
Goldeneye Pair on G lake mid-Feb; also NPL mid-Feb
Goosander Occasionally seen on R. Rye (March/April); also G lake March
Goshawk Single bird at Pry Rigg 8th Sept
Sparrowhawk Fairly common throughout area. G regularly, H in January, resident at Rudland
Common Buzzard Single bird G 7th April; becoming more regular in RU; seen in Bransdale in April, Aug, Sept and Dec
Osprey Single bird in flight over Gilling
Kestrel Fairly common throughout area; one in G on bird table 30th Dec; common resident RU
Merlin Single female SL 13th Nov; seen RU and Bransdale Jan, March, Dec, but not seen in summer
Hobby Single H 27th Aug; single Pry Rigg 15th Sept
Red Grouse Common in moorland habitats
Red-legged Partridge One Bransdale 3rd June; present G, SL; seen regularly RU (birds released for shooting)
Grey Partridge One Bransdale 27th April; 5 G 26th July; Pairs in Gillamoor and Bransdale in spring; covey of 8 RU Dec
Pheasant Common throughout area
Moorhen Common throughout lower-lying area; pair on pond RU
Coot Common on G lakes and NPL
Golden Plover Seen and heard Lastingham area 30th May; 50 SL 12th Feb, 200 SL 9th April; 9 KMS 24th Feb; 19 Rudland Farm 27th May; 100 of northern race RU early April
Oystercatcher Single H 9th Jan; single calling G valley early April
Avocet Report of a single bird flying across road G 24th Sept
Lapwing 20 H 25th Mar; pair nesting SL 16th April; autumn flocks up to 100; common summer resident RU
Common Sandpiper One on R. Rye Helmsley 7th Aug
Common Snipe 3 Bransdale 3rd June; 2 G end-Dec; heard “drumming” in G and Stonegrave/Cawton areas in April
Jack Snipe Single bird with common snipe RU 4th January
Woodcock Seen and heard “roding” G 22nd April; present Pry Rigg 27th March, 15th and 29th Sept
Whimbrel Single bird flying and calling over Gilling in August
Black-headed Gull Regularly seen on lowland, following the plough – a common bird
Lesser Black-backed Gull Single birds seen with other gulls in arable land
Herring Gull Common throughout the area
Greater Black-backed Gull Seen in small numbers following the plough
Stock Dove Common in many lowland areas; scarce resident RU
Wood Pigeon Common throughout area; 500 KMS 26th January

Collared Dove Common throughout area, but less common on higher ground
Turtle Dove Pair G 31st May; pair SL 4th July; single Pry Rigg 30th June; 2 Pry Rigg 15th Aug; heard calling RU May and July
Cuckoo Single G 31st May, also 5th May mobbed by swallows; heard RU 25th April but scarce; singles at Pry Rigg 2nd June, Bransdale 3rd June
Barn Owl One G 12th May; SL 26th July carrying prey; single Nunnington 20th Aug; recorded during winter months at KMS, SL, Helmsley, West Ness and Welburn
Little Owl G 17th May; H 25th March; Welburn Grange 23rd Jan & 28th Sept; 1 East Ness 28th Sept; occasionally seen RU
Tawny Owl Common throughout area
Short Eared Owl Single bird Shunner Moor, Rosedale 16th May; rare in RU
Nightjar Scarce summer visitor, arrives mid-May; heard churring 2nd July c. 10:15pm RU
Common Swift Present in many areas from early May; breeding SL, over 100 over Slingsby village 2nd Aug; single bird over RU 8th Sept
Kingfisher Single bird G 1st January
Hoopoe Single bird Hutton-le-Hole 1st May
Green Woodpecker Seen and heard regularly in G; single Stonegrave 15th Aug and 11th Nov; not uncommon RU
Great Spotted Woodpecker Common in gardens and woods throughout the area; not uncommon RU
Skylark Not uncommon; singing G and H from end-Feb. 6 in KMS 24th Feb in song, also 19th Jan; uncommon RU
Sand Martin Few reports; 6 at Helmsley (R. Rye colony) washed out 5th August
Swallow First arrivals G 13th April; SL 17th April (nested in garage) 2 broods 17th July and 19th Aug; last departures 28 Sept; common visitors to RU (arrived 11th April left 30th Sept); 2 birds seen flying east over Gilling 1st Nov
House Martin Common in many areas from end April, but fewer than usual in SL; nearest nesting to RU in Gillamoor
Tree Pipit Single in G 31st May; 2 at Pry Rigg
Meadow Pipit Common in suitable terrain throughout area
Yellow Wagtail Scarce in many areas. One only reported, near NPL
Grey Wagtail Seen occasionally G on village stream; single Wath Beck SL; occasional visitor RU
Pied Wagtail Relatively common – nested in G; 4 KMS 27th Jan; common summer visitor RU but rarely seen there in winter
Wren Common in many woods and gardens; juveniles SL 16th June; now a common moorland bird at RU
Hedge Sparrow Common in many areas including RU
Robin Common in many areas including RU
Redstart Singing G woods 5th May; “family” group H 4th Sept; scarce summer visitor RU
Whinchat Single bird Ouse Gill Bridge 3rd June
Stonechat Pair at Ouse Gill Bridge 4th Jan
Wheatear Pair Rosedale 29th March; single Bransdale 27th April
Ring Ouzel 2 Ouse Gill Bridge 1st April; 3 Bransdale (including male and female) 27th April
Blackbird Common throughout area
Fieldfare Large flocks, max 450 at KMS 15th April; last seen G 18th April; common visitor RU early Sept–early April
Song Thrush More common in G than last year; an early singer 27th Jan; 2 juveniles being fed G 13th May; 2 KMS 24th Feb; uncommon in RU
Redwing Less common than previous year; flock of 220 KMS 26th Jan; common winter visitor RU September to April
Mistle Thrush Fairly common in lowland areas; singing early Jan G
Common Whitethroat Common in many areas; singing G 5th May; on passage RU but not resident
Garden Warbler Not common; single G 4th May; singing 30th April RU on passage
Blackcap Singing G and H areas early April
Wood Warbler Two singing males at Hawnby 17th May
Chiffchaff Heard G 19th Mar, Cawton 18th Mar; SL full song 5th April and again 8th October; 3 Pry Rigg 27th Mar; first at RU 7th April, last 4th October
Willow Warbler Singing G Woods 12th April; SL 18th April and 11th Aug; common summer visitor RU, singing 7th April
Sedge Warbler One, Pry Rigg
Goldcrest Common resident RU; occasionally seen G Woods
Pied Flycatcher 4 pairs at Hawnby raised 24 young
Spotted Flycatcher G pair of juveniles being fed in Aug; present Lastingham 23rd May; not uncommon visitor RU, arrived 16th May and raised two broods
Long-tailed Tit Common in G and H, flocks of 10+ in January; common resident RU
Marsh Tit A pair regular visitors to garden G from Nov to April when they return to the woods; resident RU
Coal Tit Common in many areas in woods and gardens; not uncommon RU
Blue Tit Common throughout area
Great Tit Common throughout area
Nuthatch Regular visitor in G garden; present in woods in a number of areas
Treecreeper Singles seen in G woods; H 24th Jan; single Bransdale 27th April; not uncommon RU
Jay Heard and seen regularly in G woods; one KMS; not uncommon RU
Magpie Common throughout area
Jackdaw Common throughout area
Carrion Crow Fairly numerous throughout area; breeding G, SL; not uncommon RU
Rook Common throughout area; large rookery G
Carrion Crow Fairly numerous throughout area; breeding G, SL; not uncommon RU
Starling Less common than previous years but still widespread in the area
House Sparrow Common in many areas
Tree Sparrow Becoming more common in many areas; up to 10+ on bird table SL, 7 in G garden
Chaffinch Common throughout area; 21 KMS 24th Feb
Brambling 60 KMS 9th April; up to 10 (3 at bird table) RU
Greenfinch Common throughout area
Goldfinch Regular visitor to bird table G and SL; common in many areas
Siskin Occasional visitor to garden bird feeders; 70 KMS 27th Jan; 50 Pry Rigg Sept; flocks G Woods; present throughout the year RU in flocks of 20–30
Linnet 23 KMS 9th April; not uncommon RU
Redpoll 10 Pry Rigg 15th Sept; occasionally seen G Woods
Common Crossbill 6 Pry Rigg Sept; occasionally heard in G woods
Bullfinch Few reports; seen in G from time to time; common Pry Rigg
Yellowhammer Very few reported sigshtings; small winter flocks G; present in SL and H areas
Reed Bunting Few Reports; male singing SL area; heard and seen in G lake area

Total: 118 species

[Ed: Since compiling this report I have received some more records, from Martin Hammond, set out below; some of his records are actually outside the Ryedale Naturalists’ area, but the Willow Tit and Corn Bunting bring the number of species up to a round 120.]

Grey Partridge present in breeding season at Welburn, Great Edstone, Sheriff Hutton Carr.
Jack Snipe 2 at Terrington Carr in early April.
Lapwing breeding territories at Welburn (several), Brawby, Terrington Carr.
Barn Owl bred Brawby.
Yellow Wagtail bred Eddlethorpe (S of R. Derwent - not in RNHS area).
Grasshopper Warbler one reeling briefly at Keld Head, Pickering in late April; another in a fenny field at Bulmer in July.
Willow Tit Present during the breeding season in scrub at Westgate Carr Lane, Pickering and in trees along Bulmer Beck.
Tree Sparrow Present during the breeding season at Allerston, S outskirts of Pickering, Old Malton, Kirby Misperton, Black Bull, Ness, Nunnington, Sproxton, Whenby, Slingsby, Brawby, Great Edstone, Great Barugh, Cartoft.
Reed Bunting recorded from Terrington Carr, nr Welburn.
Corn Bunting a few birds in March at Sheriff Hutton Carr and Terrington Carr.

Birds ringed at Pry Rigg by Jim Pewtress 2002

Species Full Grown Pulli Re-trap Total
Green Woodpecker 1 0 0 1
Swallow 0 5 0 5
Tree Pipit 1 0 0 1
Wren 12 0 0 12
Dunnock 15 0 4 19
Robin 30 0 6 36
Blackbird 14 0 0 14
Song Thrush 3 0 0 3
Sedge Warbler 1 0 0 1
Whitethroat 2 0 0 2
Garden Warbler 13 0 7 20
Blackcap 22 0 2 24
Chiffchaff 30 0 4 34
Willow Warbler 98 0 22 120
Goldcrest 23 0 0 23
Long-tailed Tit 14 0 1 15
Coal Tit 18 0 2 20
Blue Tit 27 0 6 33
Great Tit 7 0 0 7
Treecreeper 1 0 0 1
Chaffinch 3 0 0 3
Greenfinch 1 0 0 1
Siskin 1 0 0 1
Lesser Redpoll 3 0 0 3
Bullfinch 42 0 5 47
Totals 382 5 59 446

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