Weather: Overcast, occasional light drizzle, fresh breeze
Observers: Linda, Ian
The skies might have been grey, but St Nicks still had plenty of colour! And it wasn’t just the birds, but there were still a few flowers lingering on.
Both the becks had a good volume of water, flowing strongly with a brown, muddy appearance.
And there were signs that, eventually, Spring will arrive – see below.
Birds: A fair number of winter visitors were around. At the “Kingfisher Culvert”, Linda spotted a single Redwing (but no Kingfishers) and earlier, Ian saw a couple of Siskins just outside the Environment Centre fence. Some of the Blackbirds and maybe a few of the Wood Pigeons were winter guests, but all of the Robins we saw and heard were marking territories with their song, so were probably resident birds.
The bird of the morning had to be Bullfinch. They were everywhere! On the Environment Centre feeder and bird table there were up to four birds at one time and, down Osbaldwick Beck, we saw five birds (male and female) in one small bush. They certainly added a splash of colour to the otherwise grey morning.
The feeding flocks took some locating, but eventually we found the gregarious flock of Goldfinches, some of them feeding on Teasel heads in the Environment Centre. Down Tang Hall Beck we encountered a group of Long-tailed Tits (but still no sign of “Stumpy”, the no-tailed tit!). Elsewhere, we encountered small flocks of Blue and Great Tits, but we have still yet to find Kaye’s “Holy Grail” – Willow Tit. Maybe she’ll have to go to Askham Bog in York, where there are both Willow Tit and Marsh Tit. But we’ll keep on trying at St Nicks!
Another common bird seen today was Magpie, with up to five seen at one time. We also encountered two pairs of Mallards on Osbaldwick Beck, a few briefly-glimpsed Wrens (Linda’s favourite bird after Kingfisher!), Song Thrush, seen and described by Linda, and a creeping Dunnock, also along Tang Hall Beck. Just a couple of Greenfinches were briefly seen near the Dragon Stones.
Completing the round-up of 19 bird species seen were Black-headed Gull (a few flying over) and House Sparrow and Collared Dove, both at the Environment Centre feeding station.
Mammals: Just the one – a few sightings of the ever-present Grey Squirrels. We found a couple of small holes dug by a small animal (definitely not Rabbit). which might have been Squirrel caches.
Flowers, plants and fungi: Without Kaye’s expert knowledge, we were struggling to ID some plants and flowers. Fortunately, Ivana was able to identify Yarrow from Ian’s photo. We also saw one Dead Nettle flower and, Gorse, of course! Linda spotted, on the path up from the Environment Centre to the Bund Path what looked like a Primrose plant. The leaves, close to the ground, certainly looked familiar. One group of fungi on a dead branch along Osbaldwick Beck was one that we’d seen before Christmas, but it was certainly past its best.
But, yes! There are signs that Spring will definitely arrive soon! Catkins were everywhere, and the Ash trees were sprouting their black buds
Footnotes: Expect better plant reports over the next few weeks, when Kaye returns. But Ian is off to warmer climes until mid-February, so this blog might not have many (or any!) photos.
We wish all Members of the Wildwatch Group, and all Friends, employees and volunteers at St Nicks a Happy New Year – and one filled with good feelings about our wonderful environment at this gem in York 🙂