A TRIO OF WATER RAILS @ YWT STAVELEY
On Sunday I visited Staveley Nature Reserve which is located a few 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 cloudy day when I arrived with the sun just beginning to break through. I followed the path through three gates to where the path turns to the left and goes through another gate. Before I went through the gate I noticed a pair of Thrushes close to a fence about one hundred yards away. They moved a little closer and through my camera lens I was able to identify them as Mistle Thrushes, but their progress towards me was halted by a pair of Crows.
I now followed the path through the gate to where it entered a small area of woodland and turned to the right towards the Eastern Lagoon and the first hide. As I was walking through the woods I heard a Chiffchaff singing and after a couple of minutes I was able to locate it right at the top of a tall tree. A little further along I emerged from the woodland and continued straight on to what was originally the members only hide but has now been opened up to the general public.
From the hide I could see several Reed Buntings and Greenfinches making regular visits to the feeders, there were also a few Chaffinches as well as Blue Tits and Great Tits. Out on the water there were Coots, Mallards, Tufted Ducks, Canada Geese and Greylag Geese. On the ground below the feeders there was a brief visit by a Yellowhammer and Brambling before they were scared off by an approaching female Pheasant.
A little to the left of the hide a Water Rail emerged from the reeds, slowly creeping round the edge of a small pool of water towards the hide. It continued on until it reached the edge of the pool and disappeared back into the reeds before reappearing a couple of seconds later. It climbed over some reeds and made its way back along the edge of the reeds before it was attacked by a Moorhen causing it to fly off and land in the reeds over to the right of the hide.
A male Pheasant now strutted into view trying to impress the two female Pheasants below the feeders as a second Water Rail now emerged from the reeds chasing off the Moorhen. Once the Pheasants had departed a pair of Yellowhammers landed on the ground just in front of the hide, closely followed by a trio of Bramblings. In a tree over to the left of the hide there were around ten Greenfinches and several Reed Buntings queuing up to visit the feeders.
Out on the water, a pair of Greylag Geese started to make their way towards the hide and then navigated their way through the reeds. They stopped just short of the small pool and began to peck at the reeds before one of them stopped to look up at me. I now left the hide and followed the path round the lagoon where again I could hear and then spotted a Chiffchaff at the top of a tree just off the path.
At the next hide there were several Reed Buntings feeding both on the ground and visiting the feeders. On the far side of the small clearing to the left of the hide there were a few Chaffinches and Bramblings feeding on the ground. Visiting the feeders were Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long Tailed Tits and a single Coal Tit. I had been there a few minutes when a Water Rail appeared from the reeds moving around the shallow water and then onto the exposed mud banks before being scared off by a couple of approaching Mallards.
In a bush to the left of the feeders a male Yellowhammer landed before moving from branch to branch until it reached the feeders. Near the bottom of the bush there was a Robin and a Dunnock whilst out on the lagoon there were more Greylag Geese. One of the male Bramblings now perched near the top of the bush, spending a couple of minutes looking at the feeders before flying down and landing on the ground. As the sun came out the Water Rail re-emerged from the reeds probing the shallow water and mud for food.
I left the hide and retraced my steps along the path to the first hide where a Sand Martin flew over the water from right to left. The Reed Buntings & Greenfinches were still visiting the feeders in large numbers whilst a couple of the Reed Buntings were attacking the tops of the bullrushes, pulling chunks out of them with their beaks. One of the Water Rails made another brief appearance as did a pair of Jackdaws on a small island on the far side of the lagoon as a group of Canada Geese flew overhead.
It was time to head home so I left the hide and headed along the path back through the wooded area and as I emerged at the other side a Buzzard soared overhead and a group of Mallards were swimming along a narrow channel of water. I now made my way through the series of gates to the car park and headed home.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to Staveley Nature Reserve.