To kick start the 2017 survey season and give us a helping hand with some of our trickier surveys we worked with Richard Baines (Wold Ecology) to carry out our bird surveys. He found some really interesting stuff and you can find out a bit more below.
The Wild Watch bird surveys were conducted this year between early April and late June. The fine weather in spring enabled us to make a great start to the project. In early April we found a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker near Otley and a couple of days later three Hawfinch at Fountains Abbey! Both of these resident species are now considered as UK rare breeding birds so these records are very significant. This was also a very productive time for breeding waders. We found a lot of Curlew in a wide range of lowland and upland squares. On the moorland and in-bye land Lapwing and Snipe were found alongside small numbers of Redshank, and on higher altitude survey plots a few Golden Plover.
Towards the end of April many of our summer breeding birds returned from Africa. The good weather continued and we were soon recording lots of Redstarts and smaller numbers of Pied Flycatchers and Spotted Flycatchers in our woodland survey squares. In late May the first Lapwing chicks fledged on lowland pasture. In the woodland squares resident species were feeding young. At this time and active Marsh tit nest was found in Hackfall Woods with parents very busy bring food to the nest. Some of our best days were full of great birds one memorable survey in the Scarhouse Reservoir area produced Redstart, Ring Ouzel, Pied Flycatcher and four species of breeding waders!
The excitement of spring settled down a little in June dampened down by the onset of poor weather. Despite this many birds were feeding fledged young including the surveys only breeding Whinchat. There were two pairs feeding fledged young late in the month in one survey square.