SCRAPPING KINGFISHERS @ HIGH BATTS
On Saturday 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 cloudy and mild day when I arrived at High Batts and I headed first for the Upper Pond Hide. The feeders in front of the hide were busy with Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches and Tree Sparrows. On the far side of the pond a Grey Heron was stood on the grassy bank, staring patiently at a large clump of tall grass and weeds. In the water at the near side of the pond there were Moorhens and Mallards and the Kingfisher had apparently been just a few minutes before my arrival.
On the feeders to the right of the hide a Nuthatch was perched on a thick wooden pole for a few seconds before moving across to the feeders. Once the Nuthatch was finished on the feeder it flew over to a tree branch as Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits and Marsh Tits descended on the feeders. The Grey Heron had been staring at the same spot for at least fifteen minutes now and it suddenly darted forward with its beak.
When it stood up again it had caught a vole and when the vole started to wriggle about in the Heron's beak, the Heron took it down to the pond to eat it. To the right Blue Tits queued up to use the feeders by clinging on to rope holding up the feeders, as did the Nuthatches, Coal Tits and Marsh Tits. When the Marsh Tits had visited the feeders they moved across into the tree next to the hide to eat what they had procured from the feeder.
A Whitethroat made a brief visit to a tree in front of the hide as I left and headed along the path to the River Hide. It was fairly quiet with just a couple of Wrens in the bushes to the right, but after a few minutes a Kingfisher flew down the river and perched in a tree just to the right of the hide. After a minute or so it flew across to the perch just in front of the hide but only stayed for a couple of seconds before flying back up the river.
A couple of minutes later the Kingfisher again flew down river but this time it was followed by another Kingfisher and it proceeded to chase the first one through the trees and down the river. After a few minutes the Kingfishers returned, this time flying up the river, still arguing. It is at this time of year that this year's juvenile Kingfishers must find their territory and this will often see them bickering over patches of water to claim as their own.
I left the river hide and headed up the grassy path to the Hotel Hide which is further up the river. From the Hotel Hide I could see over to the left on the far side of the river a group of five Greylag Geese. Flying overhead were several Black Headed Gulls and visiting the feeders over to the left were a pair of Marsh Tits and a Nuthatch. One of the Kingfishers now flew up the river sounding its trademark call as it went before perching at the river's edge about one hundred yards to the left.
A minute or so later the Kingfisher flew down and across the river and landed on a perch about twenty feet from the hide. It spent a short time sat on the perch before it was chased off up river by the other Kingfisher and just a few seconds later back down river. It went and landed in the trees at the far side but the other Kingfisher followed it in and after a brief squabble in the trees they both flew off down river and out of sight.
I left the hide and headed back along the path to the Upper Pond Hide where the Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Marsh Tits and Tree Sparrows were still making regular visits to the feeders. A Robin flew in and landed in the tree just in front of the hide, a female Pheasant ran across the ground to the feeders and a Red Admiral butterfly fluttered across the front of the hide. Over to the right a Goldfinch appeared amongst the trees as I headed back to the car, attempting to visit the feeder before being beaten to it by a Nuthatch and flying off.
I have attached a few photos and full sightings list from my visit to High Batts Nature Reserve.