GLORIOUS GOLDFINCHES @ HIGH BATTS
On Sunday 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.
I had planned to go on Saturday to see a bird ringing demonstration by the East Dales Ringing Group at the reserve but due to bad weather on the day it had been cancelled. When I arrived on Sunday it was dry but still fairly grey and cloudy and after parking my car I headed for the Upper Pond Hide near the entrance. The feeders in front of the hide were very busy as usual with Great Tits, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Tree Sparrows and Long Tailed Tits.
There was also a large number of Blue Tits with a single Coal Tit hidden amongst them. On the ground, either side of the pond, were a group of about four very noisy male Pheasants and a few quieter female Pheasants. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew from the feeders on the left to the large tree just in front of the hide and inched its way all the way to the top of the trunk. After a couple of minutes of looking around it flew off towards the bushes at the other side of the lake.
I now had a look at the Owl box in the trees beyond the pond and sat at the entrance was a single Tawny Owl. Below the feeders in front of the hide, Blackbirds, Robins and Dunnocks were probing the ground for food. On the pond itself there were five male and one female Mallards alongside a couple of Moorhens. A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers now landed on the large tree in front of the hide, chasing each other up the trunk before one flew off.
As one of the Woodpeckers fed from the feeder on the large tree the other probed the thin tree in front of the hide looking for food. Both the Woodpeckers flew off as a group of Long Tailed Tits arrived at the feeders and then moved to the large tree searching for food. There was no sign of the Siskins that visit the reserve during the winter months which would suggest they had started to make their way back to Scandinavian breeding sites.
Over to the right of the hide I saw an animal dart along the grassy path through a gap in the trees. I saw it again moving through the trees beyond the pond and it turned out to be a Roe Deer and it continued to bound on through trees and out of sight. I left the Upper Pond Hide and headed along the path to the River Hide hoping to see the Kingfisher.
Sadly I would not see the Kingfisher, however, ferreting about amongst the tree that had fallen into the river was a pair of Common Redpolls. As the Common Redpolls moved further out into the open a Willow Warbler flew across the river and landed in the fallen tree and a Wren soon followed it. The Wren began to sing and another Wren responded to it and they began to sing back and forth across the river until a minute or so later the Wren on the near side flew across to join the other one.
I walked along the damp grassy track to the Hotel Hide which was just as busy as the Upper Pond Hide. The feeders were being frequented by Blue Tits, Great Tits and sat on the top of a broken branch was a lone Coal Tit looking down at the feeders before dropping down and tucking in. A Jay flew from the trees to the left of the hide and went across the river and was joined seconds later by another Jay and they continued on into the trees and out of sight.
A Nuthatch now dropped down from the trees to the feeder and then flew across the river as a second Nuthatch dropped down onto the feeders. A single Goldfinch was on the ground beyond the feeders, but just in front of the hide there was a group of around twenty Goldfinches feeding before they took off en masse a minute or so later. A group of about eight or nine Long Tailed Tits now descended on the feeders and the ground below them.
The Long Tailed Tits spent several minutes feeding on the ground before flying off and during this time a Treecreeper landed on the trunk of a large tree. It briefly made its way up the tree before flying off. Further up the river I spotted a male and female Goosander and after a couple of minutes the female Goosander started swimming down the river towards the hide. After a brief pause in front of the hide it continued down the river and out of sight.
As I walked back towards the Upper Pond Hide a pair of Greylag Geese flew round in a circle overhead and disappeared eastwards over the river. As I got closer to the hide I was able to see the Owl box which the Tawny Owl was still looking out from and as soon as it saw me it dropped down and hid inside the nest box. I made a brief visit to the Upper Pond Hide before I left and the feeders were fairly quiet apart from quite a few Blue Tits still visiting.
I left the hide and as I walked along the path to the car a Wren flew across and disappeared into the bushes. As I drove along the track back to the road a single Rook was in the ploughed field to my left and two Buzzards flew overhead.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to High Batts Nature Reserve.