Weather: Sunny with light breeze after heavy early morning rain
Observers: Ian, Janetta
The heavy rain, which lasted until 9.30 am probably put some people off coming along, but Janetta and Ian enjoyed a bright sunny morning and the emerging Autumn colours. With there being just two of us, we decided to defer the monthly Winter Thrush Survey and just do our normal round, with Janetta concentrating on plants, and Ian on birds.
After the heavy rain, both becks were flooded, Tang Hall Beck particularly so, with the downstream sluice being completely under water. We started off along Osbaldwick Beck, which was just as well, otherwise we might have missed the “blue streak”…
Birds: Along Osbaldwick Beck we saw a few birds, including Mallard and Moorhen. Then, Ian had a 1/4 second view of a blue streak, heading upstream towards Hull Road Park: Kingfisher! This is the first sighting on the reserve since early May, and it was a welcome sight. It’s possibly the same bird that Ian saw earlier in the week on the Beck at Osbaldwick, just 2 km upstream from St Nicks. Kingfishers hold a river territory at least 1 km in length, and sometimes as much as 3 km.
We saw plenty of birds on our walk – most of them Blackbirds! They seemed to be everywhere, enjoying the abundance of berries. Robins were also in song throughout the reserve.
Goldfinch numbers seem to be building up, with a “charm” of at least 9 birds in the air near the Dragon Stones. Views of them feeding showed that a high proportion are young birds. We encountered a couple of small tit feeding flocks, with both Blue and Great Tits being seen. The only other small birds we saw were House Sparrow and Bullfinch, a couple of the latter heard only near the Environment Centre. Flying over were a number of Herring Gulls, both adult and juvenile birds, and Carrion Crows. Numerous Woodpigeons and Magpies completed our modest total of 14 bird species.
Plants & flowers: Janetta decided to concentrate on cataloguing plants which were still in flower, and she identified 20 species. These included Great Mullein (still some straggling flowers at the end of the Tang Hall Beck Path), Yarrow (both white and pink flowers), Chicory (along the Cycle Track), Smooth Hawks-beard, Smooth Sow-thistle, White Campion, Mugwort, Yellow Vetchling, Bellbine (a.k.a. Hedge Bindweed), Nipplewort, Ragwort, Goat’s Rue, Sedum, Herb Robert, White Dead-nettle, Tansy, Hogweed, Bramble, Red Clover and still a few flowers of the invasive Himalayan Balsam.
Insects: A few Speckled Wood butterflies were still flying near the Environment Centre. At the far end of the Tang Hall Beck Path there were several varieties of Ladybird, along with a couple of Shield Bugs. We really ought to call this spot “Ladybird Corner” since it seems to be very popular with these species.
Mammals: None seen.. unless one counts the regular addition to our group – “Ginger”!