Many thanks as always to everyone who has contributed records throughout the month - especially members of the YOC and the regular valley birders, and thanks also to the following for the use of their photographs - Duncan Bye (Dunlin), Ian Harrison (Waxwing) and Terry Weston (Kingfisher).
Bewick’s Swan – Two adults were present on the 16th (TD) – the first returning birds of the winter.
Greylag Goose – Large numbers remained throughout the month with 1000+ at Wheldrake on the 1st and 2nd, followed by 1200 near Elvington on the 4th. 800 were present at Bank Island on the 12th with 700+ there on the 25th.
White-fronted Goose – Up to 38 were still in the Wheldrake/Thorganby area on the 1st, with 44 there on the 2nd and 53 at Elvington on the 4th. 31 flew NNE over Bank Island on the 7th, with 33 at Wheldrake Ings on the 8th and 16 there on the 13th. 53 flew north over Wheldrake on the 16th with a single at Bank Island on the 20th. 21 were present at Ellerton on the 22nd while three flew over North Duffield Carrs on the 23rd.
Tundra Bean Goose – A single was present at Thorganby on the 1st (AF) whilst nine flew over Bank Island on the 2nd heading east (CSR). 15 were present with a flock of Pink-footed Geese at Bank Island on the 6th (CSR, FM) with up to eight near Thornton Ings (YB, NC) and a single at Wheldrake (DB) on the 7th. Five were still near Thornton Ings on the 8th (DB et al) followed by three at Bank Island on the 12th. A single was then present at Bank Island with Greylags on the 22nd, while two flocks (11 and 7) were seen at Wheldrake on the 25th - although some of the same birds may have been involved (CSR, FM).
Canada Goose – Up to 350 were present throughout the site during the month.
Barnacle Goose – Three were present at Storwood/East Cottingwith on the 21st and again at Wheldrake from the 25th to month end.
Egyptian Goose – A single pair were present throughout the month on the usual farm pond at East Cottingwith along with three at Wheldrake on the 20th – 22nd.
Shelduck – 65 were present at Wheldrake on the 4th with 56 there on the 7th. 69 roosted at Thorganby Ings on the 10th.
Wigeon – A monthly maxima count of 9800 was recorded on the 25th followed by an estimated 11,150 on the 30th.
Teal – Good numbers were present throughout the month with a monthly maxima of 4650 on the 25th.
Pintail – 113 were present at Wheldrake on the 3rd when a total of 131 were counted throughout the site. 164 were recorded across the valley on the 15th followed by 176 on the 22nd. A full count on the 25th produced a total of 203 throughout the site with an estimated 250+ present on the 30th. A total of 30 were caught and ringed at Bank Island during the month - doubling the total ringed over the last 20 years.
Gadwall – Numbers increased during the month with 62 at Wheldrake on the 22nd, when 29 were also present at Bank Island – with a total of 113 throughout the site on this date. 123 were recorded on the 25th.
Shoveler – 88 were present at Wheldrake on the 3rd followed by 97 between Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 15th. A total of 139 were present throughout the site on the 25th with an estimated 159 on the 30th.
Tufted Duck – A single pair were at Bank Island on the 4th when three were present at Wheldrake – a rather low total following freezing conditions and a large clear out just before the New Year. Two were at Bank Island on the 8th with numbers increasing to 21 at Wheldrake on the 15th, 27 on the 21st and 63 on the 25th.
Scaup – A single adult drake remained at Wheldrake on the 3rd whilst an adult male and first winter male were present there on the 21st. A single adult drake was present on the pool on the 27th.
Pochard – Five were present on the 1st with four remaining on the 15th, numbers then increased to 22 by the 22nd. 54 were present at Wheldrake on the 25th when 16 were also at North Duffield Carrs on the same date – a monthly maxima of 70 on that date.
Goldeneye – Three were present at Wheldrake on the 2nd when a single was also feeding on the river at North Duffield Carrs. Numbers then increased with seven present on the pool at Wheldrake on the 21st and 10 (seven drakes) on the 25th. Five females and three drakes were present on the River Derwent in the Thorganby area on the 30th – a minimum of 12 individuals but possibly up to 18 birds involved.
Goosander – Two drakes were present at dusk at Bank Island on the 8th followed by a single fly over there on the 9th. 15 flew into roost at Bank Island on the 10th with two drakes present again on the 12th and 15th.
Red-breasted Merganser – A single drake was present briefly at Bank Island on the 18th.
Grey Heron – Small numbers were present throughout the month.
Little Egret – Two were still present at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st with a single over Bank Island on the 9th and one near Elvington on the 12th. A single was still present in the Bank Island area on the 18th and again on the 25th and 27th. A single was at Wheldrake on the 29th.
Cormorant – The Wheldrake roost held 24 on the 2nd and 4th with 23 remaining on the 21st.
Goshawk – Two sightings came from Wheldrake Ings during the month.
Marsh Harrier – A single cream-crown was present throughout the month, along with a male at Skipwith Common on the 26th and 27th when two cream crowns were also present in the valley, both remaining to month end.
Peregrine – Up to four wintering birds were present throughout the valley during the month.
Merlin – A single female was present at Bank Island on the 16th (CSR, FM) with possibly the same bird seen in the Wheldrake car park area on the 20th (EB).
Coot – Numbers increased slowly in the month with 37 at Wheldrake Ings by the 25th– still much lower than the usual mid-winter counts of recent years.
Water Rail – Up to four calling birds were still present early in the month from the river bank at Bank Island, with up to four in the reedbed at Wheldrake Ings and two from the riverbank there – at total of 10 calling birds in that area. Other birds were reported from the Pocklington Canal at East Cottingwith, along with two at North Duffield Carrs, five in the Melbourne area and three at Thornton Ellers – at least 23 birds involved.
Grey Partridge – Five at Aughton on the 31st.
Golden Plover – 2000+ at Wheldrake Ings on the 7th increased to an impressive 3150 there on the 8th, when a further 700 were present on arable fields near Sutton on Derwent – giving a maximum count of 3850 on that date. 1500 were present over Bank Island on the 16th followed by 2500 still in the Bank Island/Wheldrake area on the 20th/22nd.
Ruff – 48 were present in the northern half of the valley on the 3rd with 40 between Wheldrake and Bank Island on the 7th and 72 there on the 8th. 58 were still present there on the 30th.
Black-tailed Godwit – Up to 11 birds remained in the valley from the 1st, favouring Wheldrake and Bank Island, with numbers up to 14 by the 3rd. Nine birds remained thereafter between Wheldrake and Bank Island, followed by twelve at Wheldrake on the 20th and Bank Island from the 24th to month end.
Jack Snipe – A single was present at Skipwith Common on the 4th with another at Church Bridge on the Pocklington Canal on the 16th and Wheldrake on the 25th.
Common Snipe – Small numbers were scattered throughout the site with 100+ at Wheldrake and 31 at Bank Island on the 11th. A minimum of 83 were counted on Melbourne Ings on the 14th with a further 210 on Thornton Ings, when a conservative estimate for the whole valley was around 480.
Woodcock – Three were present at dusk on several evenings early in the month at Bank Island – apparently coming onto the meadows from day time roosts to feed. Four were seen over the Wheldrake Ings car park on the 7th at dusk, while three individual birds flew over the road between Bank Island and Crockey Hill at dusk on the 25th. A single was seen at North Duffield Carrs on the 27th and over the Wheldrake Car park lane on the 29th.
Dunlin – 169 were present at Wheldrake/Bank Island on the 3rd, followed by 210 between Bank Island and Wheldrake Ings on the 7th with 150+ present thereafter.
Redshank – Up to 15 birds were present throughout the month – this species still remains at a low ebb, although numbers increased slightly towards month end with 30+ on the 30th.
Green Sandpiper – Two were present at Bank Island at dawn on the 30th with one remaining on the 31st.
Mediterranean Gull – An adult was present at the Wheldrake Ings roost on the 21st (DB) followed by a first winter bird sat on the ice at Bank Island on the 23rd (CSR).
Herring Gull – Up to 15,000 were present at the Wheldrake Ings roost throughout the month.
Greater Black-backed Gull – Up to 5000 were present at the Wheldrake Ings roost throughout the month.
Glaucous Gull – A first winter bird flew over the pre-roost at Bank Island on the 2nd (CSR), and was present at the Wheldrake roost on the 3rd and 4th, followed by two seen at the day time feeding area around Rufforth Tip on the 4th. A single, originally taken into care at Flamborough, was ringed and released at Rufforth on the 6th after a week’s rehabilitation, where it joined three un-ringed birds present in the area on that date. At least six birds were present in fields around Rufforth Tip by mid-month with birds possibly attending the Wheldrake roost, although coverage was reduced later in the month. However, one or two birds were recorded most evening roosts to month end – a total of four or five individuals.
Caspian Gull – A first winter bird was present at the roost on the 5th with up to three present in the wider area during the month.
Tawny Owl – Up to five were calling around Wheldrake Ings on the 7th with plenty of activity throughout the site during the month.
Little Owl – A single was calling in the Wheldrake Ings area on the 8th.
Kingfisher – A single at Melbourne on the 4th and Wheldrake on the 8th were the first records of the year. Two were seen at Wheldrake on the 16th.
Skylark – The first singing birds were heard at North Duffield Carrs on the 22nd followed by singing birds at Aughton Ings on the 30th.
Meadow Pipit – A wintering flock of 50 birds were noted at Aughton Ings on the 30th.
Grey Wagtail – A least one bird was present at Bank Island throughout the month, along with four coming in to roost at the water treatment works on the 20th (CSR).
Waxwing – A single was present at Canal Head on the 2nd (CSR), followed by three in Wheldrake village on the 7th (IH, SH) and a single there on the 8th (CSR et al). Two or three lingered at this site throughout the week with occasional sightings of a single at Thorganby, along with five in Wheldrake village on the 15th when another flew over Wheldrake Ings. Five were then present at Thorganby again (these sightings all possibly involving the same individuals), whilst a single was at Dunnington on the 20th, 25th and 27th.
Stonechat – A single was present in front of the Geoff Smith at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th when two were also in the reed bed by Swantail hide, Wheldrake. A female was present again at North Duffield Carrs on the 16th.
Chiffchaff - An over wintering bird was present on the canal near Church Bridge, Melbourne on the 8th.
Marsh Tit – A single was present throughout the month at the Bank Island feeding station.
Willow Tit – Still present around the stronghold of Wheldrake Ings with up to four birds seen there early in the month.
Brambling – A single male was present at the Bank Island feeders on the 18th, with 80 near Escrick on the 19th and several near Dunnington on the 20th to month end.
Yellowhammer – A total of 20 were present at Thornton on the 8th whilst up to 200+ were found near Dunnington on the 19th to month end– an impressive flock.
Pine Bunting – A single adult male was found wintering with Yellowhammers away from the valley in the nearby village of Dunnington (CG) on the 20th, remaining to month end. The first record for the York area.
Corn Bunting – Nine were present at Thornton on the 8th whilst the usual reedbed roost at Church Bridge, Melbourne increased to 50+ by the 16th.
Bullfinch - Up to five females and four males were present on the Bank Island feeders throughout the month.
Muntjac Deer – A single was photographed in the East Cottingwith area on the 5th – the first confirmed record for the area.
Brown Hare – Up to two were present daily at Bank Island with three there on the 8th. Three were seen on the flood bank at North Duffield Carrs on the 23rd with four there at dusk on the 30th.
Red Fox – A single was present at Bank Island on the 12th with presumably the same individual there on the 16th and again on the 26th.
Wood Mouse – Two were found in the reserve base wood shed on the 15th.
Bank Vole – Several were present in the reserve base garden on the 16th.
Winter Moth – A single at Bank Island on the 8th and 21st.