FLUTTER OF TREE SPARROWS ON A QUIET DAY @ STAVELEY (YWT)
On Thursday I visited Staveley Nature Reserve which is
located a couple of miles west of Boroughbridge at the edge of Staveley village. The reserve consists of two lakes and a few small areas of woodland. There are two hides overlooking East Lagoon, one of which is a members only hide and requires a key which can be obtained by e-mailing the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The other much larger hide overlooks the West Lagoon and a grass bank.
It was a warm but overcast day when I visited and I started off down the path towards the East Lagoon. After a couple of hundred yards the path turns left along a line of trees with grassland to the right of the path on the other side of a fence. On the grassland a couple of male Pheasants were chasing each other in amongst a herd of Highland cattle and a couple of pigeons flew overhead but it was otherwise very quiet.
After a couple of minutes the path turns back towards the East Lagoon through a small wooded area where in the past I have seen Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Wrens & Willow Tits but not today. Upon exiting the small woods the path splits in two with the right hand path taking you up the left hand side of the East Lagoon and the left hand path leads you around fields to the West Lagoon. I decided to take the right hand path, stopping at the members only hide, as I do not yet have a key I had a brief look through the screens to the left of the hide which allows you views of the feeders.
There was a lone Coal Tit and a group of at least 20 Tree Sparrows on the feeders and hiding in the reeds behind the feeders. I continued on the path round the lagoon, stopping to see what was on the lagoon. There were a few Mute Swans, Cormorants and in the distance a single Little Egret was wading through the shallow water. I carried on to the hide near the top of the East Lagoon. This part of the lagoon is surrounded by reedbeds in front of the hide with several feeders to the left of the hide that were very busy.
At least three Coal Tits were making regular visits to the feeders, perching in branches behind the feeders to consume the food they had taken. A pair of Greenfinches & Chaffinches also made several visits alongside a few Blue Tits & Great Tits, scaring off the Coal Tits in the process. A Robin and a Dunnock also sat watching the feeders in between the Coal Tits eating their snack. Two female Reed Buntings also kept emerging from the reeds and visiting the feeders, sometimes perching in the branches during their journeys to and from the reeds.
During the half an hour I spent at the hide at least ten Tree Sparrows visited the feeders, taking the total I had seen to more than thirty. I decided to make my way to the hide over looking the West Lagoon and to reach the hide from where I was at the top of the East Lagoon you can either turn right and follow the path up to the River Tutt and then along the banks of the river before it turns back over the river and round the lagoon to the hide or retrace your steps to where the path splits at the edge of the woodland.
I decided to retrace my steps to go back past the members hide, having a quick look through the screen at this side of the hide again. There were still several Tree Sparrows visiting the feeders and a lone Moorhen emerged from the reeds pecking at the scraps dropped from the feeders. Before I reached the path split a Wren was calling from the bushes hopping along to the next bush every time I got near before disappearing as I turned along the path to the final hide.
Before reaching the hide at the West Lagoon the path splits again with a path to right taking a short loop round a small group of trees, the path straight ahead taking you down to the River Tutt and path to the left, which I took, takes you down to the hide at the West Lagoon. Upon arrival it was sadly very quiet with just a few Crows, over 100 Lapwings and a pair of Starlings around the edge of the lagoon. As it was quiet I didn't stay long, but just before I left a Buzzard flew in scattering the Lapwings in a panic to avoid the Buzzard.
On the path back towards the car park I was able to see all the way to the White Horse at Sutton Bank which is a good fifteen to twenty miles away on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. As I reached the car park there was a Kestrel perched on telegraph wires but it flew off before I was able to get a photo. I have attached a few photos from my visit and my full sightings list.