SPLENDID SISKINS @ 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 had been a cloudy morning but as I arrived at the reserve the sun started to break through the cloud. I parked in the top car park and headed down to the reserve entrance and to the Upper Pond Hide. The water levels on the pond were a lot higher than usual with all the melted snow filtering down the stream and into the pond. The feeders were busy as usual with Blue Tits, Great Tits, Tree Sparrows and Chaffinches making regular visits.
On the thin trees in front of the hide a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was pecking at the food that had been stuffed into the small holes in the trunks. As the Woodpecker moved round the trunk it was joined by Blue Tits and Coal Tits before they were all scared off by another Great Spotted Woodpecker. To the left of the hide several apples had been placed on the end of branches on a bush. The apples were currently being devoured by Blue Tits, Great Tits and Coal Tits.
On the ground were several Blackbirds, Dunnocks & Pheasants pecking at the scraps dropped from the feeders and anything else they could find. As I looked over at the large tree to the right a Goldcrest flew and landed on the trunk just below the feeders hanging off one of the branches. It was after the scraps that had dropped from the feeder onto a branch below, however it only stayed briefly before a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in and scared it off. Further up the tree a lone Starling flew in and landed half way along a branch and sat there for several minutes before dropping down to the feeder below.
The Starling flew off as two Great Spotted Woodpeckers flew in and briefly landed on the tree before flying off over the trees to the left of the hide. Out on the pond there were a few Moorhens and Mallards as well as a couple more Pheasants on the far side of the pond. I now moved to the right hand end of the hide and had a look at the feeders just outside the window.
The feeders were regularly being visited by Goldfinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Marsh Tits, Coal Tits and a group of four Siskins. The male Siskin is much brighter in colour and has a black cap on its head and three of these four Siskins were male. The Siskins kept flying in and landing in the trees next to the hide before moving onto the feeder. Whenever there was a Siskin on the feeder it would squawk at any other Siskin that came near the feeder whilst it was tucking in.
A pair of Robins and a Reed Bunting now visited the main feeders in front of the hide and after I had watched the Siskins for a few more minutes I left the hide and headed for the first river hide. The river here was very quiet and with no sign of the Kingfisher I moved on and walked up to the Hotel Hide further up the river. The river was no busier at this hide but the feeders were being regularly visited by Blue Tits and Great Tits and a few Long Tailed Tits.
After a few minutes a Grey Heron flew over the trees at the far side of the river and flew down the river before turning and flying back over the trees in the direction it had appeared from. I waited a little while longer but there was no sign of the Kingfisher so I headed back to the car and as I walked along the path to the car park a pair of Wrens flew from branch to branch through the trees before dropping to the ground and disappearing under the mass of Snowdrops that were still in bloom.
I have added a few photos and full sightings list from my visit to High Batts.