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Bird Report: Highlights of 2005

by Jim Pewtress


The year began slowly with  few reports in January, the only notable sightings being 11 Collared Doves in a Slingsby garden on 29th and a Woodcock at Gilling on 30th.


The month started with a report of a Snowy Owl in Rosedale but unfortunately this was not confirmed.

The first Mistle Thrush was in full song at Slingsby on 1st.

25 Bramblings were near Bransdale Church on the 9th with a male Hen Harrier on 15th. A Merlin at Slingsby on 20th, a male Stonechat on 22nd in Bransdale, 20 Snow Buntings at Blakey Pub and 30 Lesser Redpoll at Gilling on 27th with a Merlin on Rudland on 28th with a Buzzard on 29th.


Curlew back at Gilling on 3rd and Rudland by 7th when there were still a lot of Fieldfares around. The first singing Skylark at Slingsby  on 8th, a Great Crested Grebe at Gilling Lakes on 18th, with two female Goosanders on 23rd as well as first Chiffchaffs at Gilling also 15 Bramblings on 24th.  First Ring Ouzel at Shaw Rigg on 29th. 


First swallow of the season at Whitwell on 1st, a Great Crested Grebe at Newburgh on 3rd, Willow Warbler and Buzzard at Barkers Plantation, Bransdale on 5th, Cuckoo at Rudland on 22nd when Reed Bunting in full song at Slingsby, Swallows back at Summerfield Farm on 20th and Sykes House on 24th. Wheatear on Levisham Moor also on 24th. Dipper and Grey Wagtail on River Rye at Rievaulx on 26th. Pair of Stonechats feeding young on 30th on Rudland as well as sightings of Ring Ouzel, Reed Bunting and Wheatear on moorland edge at month end. Cuckoo at Summerfield Farm on 30th.


Wheatear and Ring Ouzel on Shaw Rigg on 3rd, Whinchat at Ousegill on 5th and Grey Wagtails were back at Gilling on 8th. Another pair of Stonechats were at Ousegill on 11th and yet another pair were found at White House Road on 12th.

Yellow wagtails back at Gilling, Nightjar at Rudland on 26th and Wood Warbler on 27th with one at Hawnby on 29th. An unusual record of a Nightjar hovering above the Slingsby – Barton-le-Street road on 27th with a report of a Red Kite in the area on the same date. Turtle Dove at Gilling on 30th. Buzzard, female Merlin and Wood Warbler in Lower Bransdale on 31st. Spotted Flycatchers were late back and there were 46 Tree Pipit territories in Cropton Forest.


Three pairs of Redstarts nested in boxes, two in Nettledale and one in Asheberry Wood. A Raven was reported around Gilling on various dates with a Ring Ouzel and Whinchat on Pockley Moor on 4th. No breeding evidence of Ring Ouzel this year. A Quail was calling at Rudland on 18th, a Kingfisher at Ryton Bridge on 19th and late returning Spotted Flycatcher arrived at Sykes House on 21st.

The Sand Martin colony was washed out in the floods of 18th but some were re-excavating holes the following week.

There were two pairs of Yellow Wagtails and one juvenile at Cawton on 23rd. Four singing Whitethroats were recorded at Gilling on 23rd and Slingsby on 26th.  On 29th Gulls were observed eating emerging moths on the moors. Good year for Skylarks at Summerfield Farm.


Breeding Whitethroat confirmed at Slingsby when adults feeding young early in the month. A Kingfisher at Gilling Lakes on 8th as well as a party of six Oystercatchers in area which may indicate local breeding. A lone Oystercatcher flew over Slingsby on 18th with six Cormorants over on 20th. A Hobby flew over Sykes House on 23rd and 11 Crossbills there on 25th with a juvenile Yellow Wagtail on 26th and 27th..

Canada Goose at Summerfield Farm raised 6 goslings.


A reported Red Kite from Bransdale on 19th, a Saker Falcon with jesses and two Buzzards on 24th and five Buzzards and three Hobbies (2 juvs) on 27th. An Osprey flew south over Kirkbymoorside on 30th.


Buzzard again at Gillamoor and Harland Moor on 11th with 2 Fieldfare at Rudland on 19th. Swallows were still at Sykes House on 29th when there were six at Slingsby. Two Buzzards at Rudland Rigg on 30th.


A Greenland Wheatear on 9th along Ings Lane, when there were 10 House Martins at Slingsby and the last swallows left Slingsby on 10th. 100 Greylag geese flew over Slingsby on 18th. On the 24th a remarkable find when a gun dog picked up a (dead) Little Auk at Hold Cauldron. This is a purely sea bird and what it was doing so far inland in a spell of reasonable weather will remain a mystery. There was one also at Tophill Low Res on the same day, this was swimming however.

Redwings arrived in good numbers with 150 at West Lund Lane on 23rd with possibly two Ring Ouzels but one was confirmed at Rudland. There was a Buzzard in Gilling on 27th.


Crossbills were again at Sykes House on 2nd and two female/immature Wheatears were on Shaw Rigg with a mixed flock of 100+ seed eaters. On 13th A Marsh Tit at Gilling was watched eating seeds from dead docken on 13th and a Great-Spotted Woodpecker was also present. On the same day Little Owl, Grey Partridge and Tree Sparrows were along Rudland Road and six Mute Swans flew north at Welburn Grange silhouetted against the dawn sky, plus a Little Owl. Later at Newburgh Priory there were six Teal, and two Mute Swans with 72 Greylag Geese in fields near Coxwold. A Merlin took a bird from the bird table at Summerfield Farm.

On 17th a Male Hen Harrier on Rudland and again at Bonfield Ghyll on 26th. Two Stonechats were on Wheeldale Moor on 19th with a Grey Wagtail and two Meadow Pipits at Howkeld Mill and two Nuthatches at Kirkdale Ford on 24th. A Merlin at Ousegill on 26th.


The month opened with a report of two Long-eared Owls at Slingsby on 1st, a male Hen Harrier at Rudland on 2nd December and a Great Grey Shrike was at Fylingdales on 7th. A Peregrine Falcon at Rudland on 14th, eight Lesser Redpoll at Slingsby on 18th and a Kingfisher there on 18th and 19th. Three Nuthatches, two Marsh Tits and a female Sparrowhawk in Douthwaite Dale on 20th and another female Sparrowhawk and more Crossbills at Sykes House on 23rd. 150 Lapwings during the month at Wombleton/Welburn area.

Venturing out in the snow on 27th produced 160 Lapwings and 120 Golden Plover at Gillamoor with three Bullfinch and 200 Jackdaws, whilst on the moor fringes a Merlin and three Twite, a species much looked for and appreciated by our Secretary. A female Hen Harrier (ringtail) was also flushed.

The following day despite the snow two male Bullfinches were feeding on heather seed on a snowy bank.

Barn Owls 

It was a successful year for Barn Owls in Ryedale. A pair successfully raised four young in a garden in Slingsby and 160 young were ringed as part of the Ryedale Owl and Hawk Trust scheme.

Kestrels were common at Summerfield Farm and at Nawton. Tree Sparrows slightly down at Summerfield Farm during year but Pied Wagtails quite common with up to 8 around when ploughing.

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