FABULOUS YELLOWHAMMERS @ STAVELEY NATURE RESERVE
After a month of really wet weather it was finally a dry day last Sunday so I headed up to Staveley Nature Reserve which is located just a few miles west of Boroughbridge at the village of Staveley. There are four hides at the reserve with three overlooking the East Lagoon and one the West Lagoon with the River Tutt serving as the reserve's northern border. The sun was trying its best to break through the clouds as I arrived and from the car park I followed the path through three gates before it turned to the left.
In the field to my right were numerous Greylag Geese as well as a couple of Teals dotted amongst them. There had been a report of a Greenland White Fronted Goose amongst the Greylags but after looking for a few minutes I could not see it so continued along the path. After a couple of hundred yards the path turns ninety degrees to the right and heads through a small wooded area where at the other side the path splits in three. Once I reached the end of the woods I turned to the right and headed down the path to the new hide which looks out over the lower end of the East Lagoon.
On the water I could see more Greylag Geese as well as a few Mute Swans and Mallards. Out in the middle of the water were a trio of Goldeneyes constantly diving under the surface. Over to my right I could see a pair of Oystercatchers at the water's edge and beyond them in the fields were several Jackdaws and Crows. The sun had now come out and I headed back along the path and this time took the path heading straight on towards what was originally the members only hide. The usually busy feeders just in front of the hide were quite quiet when I arrived with just a single Reed Bunting on the ground below them and a Moorhen in the small pool of water to the left.
Out on the water was another Goldeneye and a few Tufted Ducks and after a few minutes I spotted a Wren flitting through the reeds in front of the hide. It stopped just in front of the hide and began to inch its way up and down a reed whilst singing away. The Wren spent several minutes singing from this reed before dropping down amongst the reeds and out of sight as several Reed Buntings now flew over the reeds to visit the feeders. The number of Reed Buntings swelled to more than a dozen as Blue Tits, Great Tits and Chaffinches also now appeared along with a lone Robin.
A Greenfinch now appeared in the tree just to the left of the hide and along with the dozen or so Reed Buntings it was queuing up to visit the feeders. The sun was now coming out at regular intervals so I left the hide and headed further along the path to the final hide where I have regularly seen a Water Rail. This hide also has several feeders just to the left of the hide and they were busy with Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Reed Buntings and Tree Sparrows.
There were several more Reed Buntings moving through the reedbed in front of the hide and emerging from the reeds next to the feeder was a Water Rail. It spent a couple of minutes probing the mud under the feeders before scurrying off back into the reeds. A Coal Tit flew across to one of the feeders before it was scared off by a group of Tree Sparrows who were soon joined by a Long Tailed Tit at the base of the feeder. In a small bush just behind the hide I spotted a female Yellowhammer moving from branch to branch before flying across to the feeders.
Soon after a male Yellowhammer arrived at the bush behind the feeders and in a big tree beyond the feeders two more Yellowhammers appeared. The Water Rail made another appearance but this time it was brief as the birds suddenly scattered from the feeders, with most of the birds returning a few seconds later, but not the Water Rail. A Robin began singing from a small bush, low to the ground and after a few minutes flew across to the feeders. I left the hide after around an hour with the Reed Buntings still visiting in vast numbers and the Yellowhammers had now departed.
I walked back past the hides I had previously visited and through the woods where I saw Dunnocks and Blackbirds as well as another Robin and Wren. The Greylag Geese had departed from the field but in the field beyond I spotted in the distance a pair of Mistle Thrushes and in the pools of water left by all the recent rain I could see several Teals. As I drove home between the villages of Staveley and Minskip I spotted two Hares in the field just off the road and after stopping briefly to get a picture I headed home.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to Staveley Nature Reserve.