REED BUNTINGS GALORE @ YWT STAVELEY
On Sunday I visited Staveley Nature Reserve which is located afew miles west of Boroughbridge at the village of Staveley. There are three hides at the reserve with two overlooking the East Lagoon and one the West Lagoon with the River Tutt serving as the reserve's northern border.
It was a sunny and unusually warm day for February when I arrived at Staveley and as I walked down the path from the car park and through two gates I saw several Greylag Geese in the fields as the path turned to the left. I walked on along the path into the woods and followed as the path now turned right and just before I emerged from the woods there was a single Reed Bunting amongst the reeds of a small pond.
The path now splits in two with the left hand path taking you down to the West Lagoon and the path straight ahead taking you past the two hides overlooking the East Lagoon. I took the path straight ahead and as I passed the reedbed on my right I saw several Reed Buntings flying through the reeds and perched on top of the bulrushes as an Oystercatcher flew high overhead.
I now arrived at the first hide, which was originally a members only hide requiring you to have a key to access it but has now been opened up to the general public by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. As I sat down in the hide I could see several more Reed Buntings in the reeds in front of the hide and several more visiting the feeders to the left.
Also visiting the feeders were Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Greenfinches and amongst the Chaffinches and yet more Reed Buntings on the ground was a single Brambling. Out on the lagoon were several Tufted Ducks and around one hundred Black Headed Gulls. Over to the left hand side of the lagoon I spotted a female Goldeneye duck diving under the surface of the water for food as a group of Greylag Geese flew over the hide.
In front of the hide and a little to the left a Water Rail emerged from the reeds and made its way along the edge of a shallow pool of water looking for food. After a few minutes moving up and down the edge of the reeds it scurried back into the reeds and out of site. Meanwhile the Reed Buntings kept moving through the reeds and visiting the feeders in vast numbers as a couple of Moorhens and Mallards now visited the small pool in front of the hide.
Five minutes later the Water Rail emerged from the reeds again and as it moved along the edge of the reeds a little further up a second Water Rail appeared and moved across a short expanse of mud and looked for food under the bushes. The first Water Rail now moved away from the edge of the reeds and towards the middle of the small pool of water. After a couple of minutes it made its way back to the edge of the pool and then round its edge until it was under the feeders, just a few feet from the hide.
A Greenfinch flew in and landed on a branch just to my left before flying across to the feeders dislodging a Reed Bunting. I now left the hide and followed the path further round the East Lagoon and about one hundred yards further on a lone Mute Swan was swimming close to the edge of the water. A few hundred yards further on I reached the public hide which, like the former members hide, is raised off the ground and is reached via a set of wooden steps.
As I opened the shutters to look out of the hide I could see another Mute Swan as well as a pair of Mallards and Teals and more Tufted Ducks out on the lagoon, whilst on the reeds in front of me were several more Reed Buntings moving through the reeds. Over to my left, visiting the feeders, were Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Robins and a few Long Tailed Tits.
I had only been there a few minutes when I spotted, ferreting about on the ground below the feeders, not one or two but three Bramblings and this number would soon swell to seven. The Reed Buntings were still streaming through the reeds, occasionally pausing to look out through the reeds, whilst waiting their turn on the feeders. The Bramblings were now in the trees above the feeders and one by one they returned to the ground underneath picking up the scraps dropped from the feeders.
A few Greenfinches now flew in perching on the wire holding up the feeders as Tree Sparrows landed on the top of a bush a few yards away from the feeders. The Long Tailed Tits returned with one of them briefly perching on the wire like the Greenfinches before dropping down to one of the feeders. A couple of Pheasants and Moorhens emerged from under the trees behind the feeders, picking at the scraps and scaring off the Bramblings.
After watching the Reed Buntings on their regular trips through the reeds for a few more minutes I headed back along the path towards the former members hide as more Greylag Geese flew over heading for the West Lagoon. When I arrived back at the hide the Reed Buntings were still there in numbers and the Water Rail again emerged from the reeds.
This time the Water Rail moved further right and went in and amongst the reeds just in front of the hide to the right of where I had seen it earlier. After a couple of minutes the Water Rail turned round and headed back through the reeds to the small pool just to the left of the hide. It stopped almost in the middle of the water for a minute or so before scurrying back across the water and disappearing into the reeds.
Just before I left the hide a Coal Tit made a visit to the feeders as a Robin looked over from the branches of a tree. I walked back through the woods and turned to the left along the path towards the car park as a pair of Crows & Pheasants were feeding in the fields to my left and there were still a large number of Greylag Geese in the fields further out as I reached the car park.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to YWT Staveley Nature Reserve.