WOODPECKERS GALORE @ 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.
It was a cloudy and mild day when I arrived at High Batts and as I walked towards the Upper Pond Hide a Buzzard was circling overhead. The feeders in front of the hide had been moved from the far left hand side to just in front of the large tree which is on the pond's edge in front of the hide. Visiting these feeders were Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Chaffinches, Tree Sparrows and Marsh Tits. In the water there were a few Moorhens and round the edge of the pond there were several male and a couple of female Pheasants.
On the feeders to the right of the hide a trio of Goldfinches were squabbling over access to it. The Marsh Tits, Coal Tits and Blue Tits were also vying for access to it and as I was watching them a male Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in and landed on a branch that had been propped up against the large tree in front of the hide. It then moved round to the under side of the branch and began to extract the food it was looking for.
A second Great Spotted Woodpecker (female) flew in and visited a feeder hanging from the large tree. A Nuthatch now made a brief visit to the feeders in front as another Goldfinch arrived in the trees to the right of the hide. It sat there waiting for its turn on the feeder whilst over by the tree in front of the hide the Great Spotted Woodpeckers had noticed each other and they began to argue before the male chased the female off.
The Nuthatch returned for a while but a couple of minutes later all the birds suddenly flew for cover and a second later a male Sparrowhawk flew in over the hide and headed for the feeders at the far side of the pond. It then sat in a bush and flew off over the trees chasing a Wood Pigeon and at this point I decided to leave the hide and headed along the path to the River Hide. The river was very quiet with just a Buzzard being chased by a Crow overhead and a Cormorant flying across the river.
A few minutes later a pair of female Goosanders flew from right to left up river and out of sight and they were followed a minute or so later by a Grey Heron. The Grey Heron did not fly as far as the Goosanders and landed in a bush at the water's edge about one hundred yards to the left of the hide. I now walked along the grass path to the Hotel Hide a few hundred yards further up the river which was just as quiet as the River Hide.
A short time later a Great Spotted Woodpecker made a brief appearance at the feeders to the left of the hide, landing for only a couple of seconds before flying off again. Next a trio of Blue Tits descended on the feeders, followed by a Coal Tit and further beyond the feeder a Robin perched on the top of a wooden post whilst a Wren made its way through some small bushes at the river's edge. I waited for another twenty minutes but the usually reliable Kingfisher did not put in an appearance so I walked back to the Upper Pond Hide.
The Grey Heron had made the move from the river and was now sat at the far side of the pond slowly making its way into the water looking for food. The feeders were still busy and the Nuthatch now appeared on the trunk of the large tree in front of the hide and started to edge its way up towards the feeder hanging from one of the branches. The Nuthatch flew off when a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in and landed on the feeder it was trying to get at and the Woodpecker was busy consuming the food it had extracted from the feeder when it flew off.
The rest of the birds also suddenly disappeared and a couple of seconds later the male Sparrowhawk flew across the front of the hide and over the feeders with lightning quick speed and disappeared through the trees to the right. All was quiet in front of the hide for a couple of minutes before the birds decided it was safe to return to the feeders and a Collared Dove now flew across and landed in the large tree just in front of the hide.
A Coal Tit flew into the trees to the right of the hide with a berry at the end of its beak, perching on a branch, and started to consume it bit by bit. Once it had finished it flew off in search of more food and back on the large tree there were now three Great Spotted Woodpeckers in attendance. The Collared Dove dropped down from the tree to the feeders as a Jackdaw flew in and landed in the tree and a few minutes later two of the three Woodpeckers flew off chasing each other across the pond.
A Nuthatch flew in and landed on the branch that was propped up against the large tree as I left the hide and headed back to my car. As I drove back along the quarry track to the main road I saw several more Pheasants and a few Crows in the fields either side and flying from one tree to another was a lone Jay.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to High Batts Nature Reserve.