Trip reports

Yorkshire 10th - 13th June 2017.

Yorkshire 10th - 13th June 2017.
Margaret Rusbridge

Saturday, 10 June 2017

This was the group's eagerly awaited return to Yorkshire following our successful visit in 2015. When the coach left Bexleyheath you would have been excused for thinking that there was an excited group of school children on board our coach instead of a group of keen birdwatchers.
Our journey northwards was in the main mostly dry with a few showers. Our halfway break was taken in the town of Stamford. After breakfast we travelled onto our first reserve at RSPB Blacktoft Sands where in 2015 we had seen the rare Montagu's harrier. Our hopes of seeing it again had been lowered this year as on the reserve's website it had been reported that she had flown off to try and find a mate elsewhere and this was confirmed by the reserve staff when we arrived. With this news the group dispersed in different directions and it was while we were watching the marsh harriers perform their food passing that another raptor was spotted in the distance. This led to many people scrabbling for their bird ID books whilst photographers tried to photograph the bird. A cry of "it's the Montagu's harrier" was heard and sure enough for the first time in over a week the harrier had returned to the reserve and the sighting was confirmed by the reserve staff. This news soon spread to other members of the group and fortunately the large majority were able to see this elusive raptor. The group saw 58 species of bird at this reserve.
We then settled back on the coach for our drive to our base, the Expanse Hotel in Bridlington which was situated on the promenade thus giving people the option of an evening stroll into Bridlington or some sea watching. On this walk the following birds were seen: turnstone, barnacle goose, sanderling , a flock of dunlin and many gulls including kittiwakes.
After breakfast we set off for RSPB Fairburn Ings which is in the Castleford area of Yorkshire and was to be a first visit to this reserve for most of the group. On our arrival we were met by a reserve volunteer who was able to give us information about the reserve. It was a cloudy start to the walk and yet again the group dispersed in different directions with five different walks. It appears that all the walks had been covered by the group. In the afternoon the wind did become stronger which made walking into the wind somewhat strenuous and meant that many birds where hunkered well down. Despite the wind a total of 78 birds were seen by the group with the highlight being the black necked grebe and the willow tit which along with bullfinches was seen on the feeders outside the visitors' centre. On our return journey to Bridlington we travelled along the sign posted scenic route and enjoyed views of the Yorkshire Dales and some picturesque villages.
On Monday we had a short drive, made longer by an eccentric sat nav, to RSPB Bempton Cliffs. This popular reserve did not fail us and sightings were soon made of gannets, puffins, razorbills, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes. Bempton although famous for its seabirds also has spectacular views towards both Filey and Flamborough Head. Following lunch at Bempton we made the short journey to Flamborough Head where more sightings were made of puffins and all the other seabirds. The wind had gathered in strength and many people sat or laid down to peer over the cliff edges as it was unnerving being so close to the cliff edge with strong winds blowing. We were treated to a flypast by two peregrines and amongst other birds seen were meadow pipits, skylarks and a kestrel. In all 48 species were seen at the two reserves
On our last day we said our goodbyes to the staff at the hotel and set off for our final reserve of the holiday Potteric Carr, which is in Doncaster and is run by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. On our arrival we were given a brief history of the reserve by the warden. There are 13 hides on this reserve but we needed more time to do it justice. Because of its size many people were not stopping to look for
the singing birds alongside the paths but were intent on reaching the farthest hides which is where we had been told that we could see black necked grebes. Among the birds seen by the group apart from the black necked grebe were bittern, hobby, sparrow hawk and kingfisher. In total 56 species of birds were seen at this reserve and the total for the group over the four days was 104.
Yet again the weather, apart from a strong wind, had been kind to us with mainly dry conditions for the four days. We were also entertained on the coach by our driver Graham with his anecdotes and indicating birds that were visible from the coach as we were driving along. As we arrived back in Bexleyheath at the end of our journey the main talking point was bring on the trip to Lancashire in 2018