On Sunday I visited Nosterfield Nature Reserve which is located north of Ripon and just a couple of miles north east of the village of West Tanfield. The main part of the reserve consists of one hundred and fifty acres of wet grassland and open water and has three viewing hides. The reserve was originally a quarry producing sand and gravel until the late 1980's and was designated a nature reserve in 2001.
It was a cloudy but warm day when I arrived at Nosterfield and I first headed for the Main Hide which is located right next to the car park. The water level in front of the hide was a lot higher than usual but there were several birds present. On the water and islands there were Tufted Ducks, Coots, Shovelers, Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Teals, Wigeons, Mallards and Greylag Geese. I left the hide and followed the path heading west to the far left end of the reserve where I could see a large group of Rooks on the grass banks.
From here I was also able to see Starlings on one of the islands and just in front of the hide a Great Tit landed on top of a tall wooden fence. It then dropped down onto a barbed wire fence before disappearing into a wooden nest box attached to the wood fence. After a few minutes I walked back along the path towards the main hide and in the hedges either side there were Dunnocks, Blue Tits and Great Tits.
I walked past the Main Hide and on the path to the third hide and in the bushes just to the left of the path there were Chaffinches, Reed Buntings and Long Tailed Tits. A little further along a Dunnock flew across and landed on a bush down by the edge of a lagoon. The path now turned northwards and as I approached a group of trees I saw Blue Tits, Great Tits and Blackbirds in the trees. I thought I heard a Blackcap singing in the tree and a few minutes later it flew to a branch higher in the next tree and I was able to get a clearer look and it was indeed a male Blackcap.
I could here Chiffchaffs singing in the trees as I continued towards the final hide, there was also a Skylark rising up as it sang. It was very quiet at the final hide with just a couple of Greylag Geese and a few Mute Swans in the water. As I made my way back to the car a pair of Curlews flew over the path heading towards the main hide. As I approached the car park a female Blackcap was moving from branch to branch in the hedge before briefly perching on top of the hedge and then flying off.
I got into my car to drive to the reserve's second site which is just the other side of the village of Nosterfield. I turned left out of the car park and then took the first left following the road through the village turning right when it reached the main road and parking in a narrow lay-by at the side of the road. Once parked I walked a few yards back down the road and headed north down a farm track to a wooded area. Here there is a path into the woods and after a hundred or so yards it splits in two and I took the left hand path heading for Kiln Lake.
The reason I had visited this part of the reserve was due to the sighting of a Red Crested Pochard being present on Kiln Lake. In the trees next to the path there was a lone male Bullfinch and as I came out of the woods it started to rain. The path now goes between Kiln Lake on the left and a larger lake on the right and once I was about halfway along the path between the two lakes I stopped to try and see the Red Crested Pochard.
Out on Kiln Lake there were Oystercatchers, Great Crested Grebes and Mallard with the Red Crested Pochard in the far distance. Sadly it was too far away for a picture but as I was waiting for it to come nearer the rain started to get heavier and heavier so I started to head back to the car. Over on the other lake I spotted several Tufted Ducks and Mallards as well as a male Goldeneye. By the time I got back to the car the rain was now torrential and I drove a few hundred yards further on to the Nosterfield Quarry.
Here there is a small information centre with tea & coffee making facilities and toilets to the left. Over to the right there is a viewing screen that looks over Lingham Water but I had to wait about a quarter of an hour for the rain to stop before taking a look. Once it had stopped I walked over to the viewpoint and from here I was able to see Goldeneyes, Canada Geese, Pied Wagtails, Mute Swans, Redshanks, Shelducks, Gadwalls and Cormorants.
After a couple of minutes a Little Ringed Plover flew in and landed on the sand and closer to the viewpoint a Sparrowhawk flew past chasing a Wood Pigeon. It was now approaching five o'clock and I went back to the car and drove back through the village of Nosterfield, spotting my first Swallow perched on a telegraph wire, and headed home.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to Nosterfield Nature Reserve.