CRACKING CROSSBILLS & YELLOWHAMMERS @ HAW PARK WOODS & ANGLERS COUNTRY PARK
On Sunday I made the trip to Anglers Country Park & Haw Park Woods which are located close to Wintersett Reservoir just a few miles south east of Wakefield. It was a bright sunny day when I arrived and after a quick stop at the visitor centre I walked the short distance to the first of three hides at Anglers Country Park.
In front of the hide there were several feeders surrounded by bushes and with the land sloping down to a small expanse of water. Making regular trips to the feeders were Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches and Reed Buntings with a single Long Tailed Tit making regular visits to one of the feeders. On the ground there were Robins and Dunnocks feeding from the scraps dropped from above.
In a tree at the far side of the water I spotted a Yellowhammer and a short time later two more landed in the trees to the right behind the feeders. Two of the Yellowhammers now flew down and landed on the ground behind the feeders and moved into the bushes as the other one flew down and landed at the waters edge. It then moved along the ground towards the feeders but it was scared off by a male Chaffinch.
The Yellowhammers returned to the trees on the right before dropping down to the grass between the feeders and the water. A male Reed Bunting perched on a branch a few yards in front of me waiting for its turn on the feeders. The Yellowhammers made several more visits to the grassy area by the water before I left and headed along the path towards the next hide.
As I reached a large lake the path splits in two to form a loop round it and from here I took the left hand path. After a hundred yards or so I arrived at the second hide which, apart from a few Canada Geese flying overhead, was very quiet so I left and continued to follow the path round the lake. A little further along there was a gate in the fence to my right with a sign pointing to the third and final hide which looks out over the lake.
Around fifty yards into the water there was a line of rocks parallel to the grass banks between the hide and the lake. On these rocks were more than twenty Lapwings and a pair of Oystercatchers and further out into the water there was a trio of Goldeneyes with the two males trying to impress the female with their courtship display. In the water over to the far left hand side there were several Pochards & Wigeons as well as a few Mute Swans, Mallards, Cormorants and Canada Geese.
Over to the far left hand side there was a small spit of land extending out into the water where three Snipes were feeding at the water's edge. In the water close to the banks of the lake a female Goldeneye was diving for food as a large number of Gulls landed on the water beyond the line of rocks. I now headed back along the path to the first hide where there was a Blue Tit perched amongst the blossom and the Yellowhammers were still very active.
From here I walked back through the car park and turned right along the road to where it turns into a muddy track along the edge of a field. A little further along I reached the entrance to Haw Park Woods where I was hoping to see Crossbills for the first time. I followed the path round to the left and after around two hundred yards I turned to the right and in the trees above me I could see a trio of Coal Tits. I continued along the path to a clearing in the woods from where the Crossbills had been seen in the last few weeks.
A quarter of an hour had passed and I was beginning to think I would not see them when I spotted a pair of birds landing right at the top of a large Larch tree. They were the Crossbills with both of them being the greenish coloured females and they were joined soon after by a reddish coloured male. I stood and watched the Crossbills for several minutes before making my way back up the path and as I neared the edge of the woods I saw around half a dozen Lesser Redpolls moving through the trees.
I walked back to the car park and before I headed home I made another visit to the first hide where the number of Yellowhammers had risen to four whilst there were now two Long Tailed Tits on the feeders. One of the male Yellowhammers now perched in the trees just to the right of the hide before the arrival of a Magpie caused it to fly off and at this point I left the hide and headed home.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to Anglers Country Park & Haw Park Woods.