Please let organiser know to assist in getting access through forest drive barrier.
8 people managed to get up to hear the dawn chorus at 0500hrs over the weekend. Birds seemed slightly different to last year, such as more Blackcaps and fewer marsh tits. A brief view was had of a Tawny owl again and Grey wagtails put on a splendid show as we got back to the car park. It was then off to ‘The Kennels’ for coffee or tea and bacon butties splendidly put on by Louise.
What an evening. After and inauspicious start with a gusty wind and mist occasionally rolling around it did not seem likely to be god for nightjars. Standing in the wind we had one brief ‘hear’ of a Woodcock only and by 9.35 it looked bleak. Walking further down the track into a more sheltered area we soon heard the ‘cwick’ of a flying bird on the clearfell to our left partly hidden by trees. Some of us ventured across some heather and brash to get a better view the other side of the trees and were soon rewarded by a male streaking low across the clearfell and ‘bouncing’ a second bird. The light was still good at this stage. There was quite a bit of churring then from at least two birds and one flew up from the heather between the two groups, possibly a female. We all gathered again on the track and had some good views of flying males. A lot of cwicking from the clearfell caused some of us to venture back through the small band of trees only to have a male bird come to rest on the ground some 10m away, fluffing out its tail and wings showing its white spots. The light was good enough to see all the details of its cryptic markings. To make things better it then did a quick flit right past us and settled on a log some 6m away completely unphased by our presence. Still flicking its tail and wings it then moved from the log to a small twig above still flicking away its wings and tail. After some 2-3 minutes it took flight and did some nice low passes over the whole group. While this was going on another male was giving the goup left on the track some really good views as well. Re-uniting on the track the birds continued to fly about and chur from various points around the enormous clearfell. On at least one occasion there was three birds churring at the same time. It was good to hear a lot of display flight wing clapping and its ‘clockwork toy running down’ chur. Mapping all the churring there are at least 4 males on the site and possibly 5.
It was sad there was only 5 of us there to see it.
Harland Mount is a small YWT reserve on the outskirts of Scarborough. Rob Stark has been doing a breeding birds survey on it this year and vey little is known of the bat usage of the site. A muster of 7 people turned out and the bat survey was completed successfully. The top meadow was largely Common and Soprano pipitrelle with an odd pass of a Noctule and Myotis species. The lower meadow was much more productive with a good number of both pipistrelle but also several Myotis feeding at the southern end of the meadow where the hedgerow meets the woodland. There is also clearly a major Noctule roost somewhere to the south-east of the reserve as in one 20min spell a total of 16 were recorded, all flying fairly high and all heading north-west. Below Stepney Hill Farm ihere they were heading is a nice valley with a pond and may be a good feeding area. We did not add any nocturnal birds to Rob’s survey although owls were in the neighbourhood.
Louise, Colin and myself, with the help of Geoff Wilson and some other EYBG volunteers, managed to cover three points across the two cemeteries. We met Jan Cleary of the Cemetery Volunteer Group at the start and set off on something other than bats. The cemetery volunteers are keen to survey for hedgehogs and wanted some advice on where to start. In the absence of a number of trail cameras a quick lesson in the identification of hedgehog scat was the order of the day, samples being brought from the garden where we regularly have hedgehogs visiting. Scat could be looked for at any time of day by the volunteers and would give a good indication of hedgehog usage.
It was then a walk for the teams to get to the sites in the Manor Road cemetery for an 8.50pm start, leaving one team by the chapel. The bats started early with Common pipitsrelle being recorded at all three points soon after dusk at 8.55. Common pips were feeding at all three sites almost continuously during the recording sessions with a few scattered records of Soprano pipitsrelle. Three passes of Myotis bats were recorded late in the session but could not be identified further. The ‘chapel’ team had to move a little away from the site as the security lights appeared to be deterring bats. A thought for the chapel upgrade would be better shielded lighting.