Zenfolio | Chris Downes' Focus on Birds | 13th-21st April 2018

13th-21st April 2018

April 23, 2018  •  Leave a Comment


Bad news and good news...

Harmonia axyridis spectabilis has arrived in York! Probably Europe's most invasive insect and better known as the Harlequin Ladybird, it may well spell disaster for many of our other ladybird species. It turned up on our landing windowsill. Apparently they like to overwinter in buildings. Don't we all?

It has been logged on the Harlequin Ladybird Survey website as sightings are still wanted from ''up north'' - many parts of the south no longer need sightings as the insect is well-established. The advice is don't kill them: scientists are concerned that people may start killing off our native ladybirds by mistake!

April 14th - afternoon visit to Blacktoft


Two bearded tits in the next photo - very distant at Townend lagoon. Male on the right - can you spot them? Zooming in a bit...male only this time. Wrens galore. Cetti's seen but I wasn't quick enough! A couple of butterflies.

April 15th: Kildale; Scaling Dam; Lockwood Beck reservoir; South Gare - a grand day out!

Looking for wheatears at Kildale: no sign but 5 ring ouzels seen...and an obligatory red grouse. On to Scaling Dam to see a common sandpiper -very distant.

Camouflage! Spot the bird!

Here it is - an LRP. View from the hide at Scaling Dam. Now for an excellent session at Lockwood Beck. Siskin. It's a female brambling. Lots of redpoll action! ...and a goldfinch!

Next stop South Gare. Parking can be tricky when it's busy. I had to park on a shed roof! At Paddy's Hole       - better known [to me at least] as the little harbour. Unbelievably windy. Triplet of shags heading out into the estuary.

Wheatear seen fleetingly. Big surprise was a second close encounter this year with black-necked grebes. This time just one in the Hole! Remember those 'Spot the Ball!' competitions? Well, here's my version: Spot the BNG! Not too hard. I don't think.

April 17th: Wykeham Lakes; Kildale [again] and South Gare [again]

 It's taken me years to discover where the permissive view screen actually is located. First visit drew a blank looking for a black-throated diver. Second time lucky.

From Wykeham I drove to Kildale again. Still no wheatears!! How about more ring ouzels? [male and female]

Plus an obligatory red grouse [again!!] But I like this image. Just outside Twiggy - from the car. Very repetitive! back to South Gare. 

Eider Linnet on a fisherman's hut roof. Common scoters on the estuary.

April 19th: Saltholme and a Ring-necked Duck

Kestrel on the walk back to the VC.

April 21st: Saltholme and a new woodland site...

It just keeps drawing me back...

A rather large Chinook helicopter flew over the reserve.

Blackcap near Phil Stead hide.

A friendly kestrel perched in a tree near the entrance to the reserve. I walked closer. I walked closer and closer and closer. It didn't mind at all. 


Finally it took off. Uncropped full frame image.

Next stop Bowesfield reserve. No sign of gropper or warblers: wheatear showed for me on abandoned building. I decided to visit a site I'd heard about near Helmsley. Rumours of wood warbler and redstart. Met a guy there and we walked together. He heard redstart. I saw 2 pied flycatchers and marsh tit, chiffchaff and willow warbler plus tree creeper, nuthatch, song thrush and a mixture of tits. Here's a chiffchaff.


Oxalis acetosella or wood sorrel. Tastes of lemon but poisonous in very large quantities. It's fine to nibble a couple of fresh tasting leaves. [I hop----------------------------------------------------------------! In a YWT wood...somewhere...

184 UK 2018


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