BICKERING WOODPECKERS @ HIGH BATTS
On Wednesday I decided to head to High Batts Nature Reserve, a members only reserve just north of Ripon on the banks of the River Ure. Yearly membership for this reserve is just £11. There are three hides on site, one raised up overlooking a pond with the other two on the river bank. During the Summer months this reserve can be quiet but is still a very good spot for seeing Kingfishers.
It was a very cloudy and dark day when I arrived at High Batts and I went straight to the members hide which overlooks a pond and small wooded area with several feeders just in front of the hide and the other side of the pond. The feeders were currently awash with Blue Tits as well as a few Great Tits, Goldfinches and Chaffinches.
Blue Tits and Coal Tits were making regular visits to two thin tree trunks placed in front of the hide. These tree trunks had small holes in them which had been stuffed with bird food and before long they had attracted the first of three Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Over on a large tree to the right of the hide a second Great Spotted Woodpecker arrived closely followed by a third and these two proceeded to bicker over the feeder.
One of the Woodpeckers flew off with the other moving over to where the first Woodpecker was still feeding and after another argument they both flew off behind the hide. Over on the large tree one of the Woodpeckers had returned and on the trunk below the feeders a lone Goldcrest arrived before disappearing a few seconds later. The Goldcrest returned a couple more times, each time disappearing again before I could get a decent photo.
The feeders to the right of the hide were currently being visited by Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Marsh Tits and Goldfinches. As a group of Long Tailed Tits swept through the feeders, all three of the Woodpeckers returned to the large tree, arguing over the feeders again and then moving on to the bird food filled thin tree trunks before disappearing in to the trees again. The light was now beginning to deteriorate and I was about to head home when I noticed something in the nest box about fifty yards beyond the pond.
As I looked through my camera to get a closer look I discovered it was a Tawny Owl sat at the entrance to the nest box and as I watched it was joined by a second Tawny Owl emerging from its daytime slumber. I left the hide and moved along the path to try and get a closer look but unfortunately they had vanished. I decided not to go to the two river hides as the light was now fading fast and headed home. I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to High Batts.