GREAT WHITE EGRET PROVES ELUSIVE @ YWT STAVELEY
On Thursday I visited Staveley Nature Reserve which is
located a few miles west of Boroughbridge at the village of Staveley. There are three hides at the reserve with two overlooking the East Lagoon and one the West Lagoon with the River Tutt serving as the reserves northern border. The reason for my visit was the reported sighting of a Great White Egret which my search for would be unsuccessful although I have been lucky enough to see one at RSPB Leighton Moss & RSPB Fairburn Ings.
I left my car in the car park, which is located at the reserve's south eastern corner, and headed down the path which takes you along the edge of the South Pastures and into Willow Wood. As I walked through Willow Wood I saw and heard several Blackbirds, Robins and Wrens. When you emerge from Willow Wood the path splits in two and I took the left hand path towards the West Lagoon and I continued along the path that runs round the edge of a field which was full of Song Thrushes, Redwings and Blackbirds as well as a group of around twenty Fieldfares in the distance.
As I reached the opposite corner of the field the path splits in three with the central and left hand path being the start and finish of a loop round the West Lagoon and the right hand path being a small loop round a group of trees encroaching into the field. I decided to walk round the small loop to try and get a closer look at the Fieldfares but before I got anywhere near they flew off and as I completed the loop a small group of Starlings landed in the trees above me.
From here I now took the left hand path down to the circular hide overlooking the West Lagoon and Bankside Field. Upon my arrival I sat down and looked out over the West Lagoon and on the far side there was a flock of about fifty Wigeons as well as a few Mallards, Teals and Tufted Ducks. There was also a pair of Shovelers and Black Headed Gulls at the edge of the water and over to the right about twenty five Coots were swimming around a group of Greylag Geese and Mute Swans.
After about fifteen minutes I made my way back down the path all the way to Willow Wood and this time took the right hand path. The field was still full of Redwings, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes and as I approached the members hide I had a look through the screen to the left of the hide. Through here I could see several Chaffinches as well as a Dunnock, Coal Tit and Great Tit and on the ground a large rat was feeding on the scraps dropped by the birds.
I continued along the path to the final hide which gives you views over the top end of the East Lagoon and some feeders to the left of the hide. In a little clearing in front of the hide amongst the reeds a couple of Reed Buntings were searching the ground for food. The Reed Buntings were also visiting the feeders along with a group of Long Tailed Tits and emerging from the base of the reeds next to the feeders a Water Rail appeared.
The Water Rail moved along the edge of the reeds looking for food for a good few minutes before disappearing back into the reeds. Whilst I was in this hide a fellow bird watcher told me that the Great White Egret had been spotted fishing in the River Tutt above the West Lagoon. A few minutes later I left the hide and walked along the path through Upper Marsh to Carr Top Farm and crossed the River Tutt and turned left onto the path that follows the River Tutt.
The path was quite slippery in places but after walking along the edge of two large fields the path turns left over a narrow wooden bridge crossing the very narrow River Tutt. I walked right to the end of the West Lagoon following the River Tutt in search of the Great White Egret but sadly it had disappeared. It was now getting dark so I retraced my steps to the bridge and this time went to the left following the path back to Willow Wood and on to the Car Park. During my walk back several very large groups of Starlings flew over northwards.
I have added a full sightings list and a few photos of my visit to Staveley.