The new seating area overlooking the Village Lake at this Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve is a good place to meet up and have a coffee while looking for our first sightings of the day, other than any birds seen en route to East Yorkshire.

A large flock of Wood Pigeons wasn’t our favourite view! Several Dabchicks, also known as Little Grebes, were far more interesting but had always just dived as we tried to point them out. An occasional Gadwall was just about recognisable, its black tail feathers were visible as the moulting process was finishing and the winter plumage emerging from the eclipse. The other large collection was of Greylag Geese which suddenly, with great noise, took flight and left.

The East Hide was out of bounds as volunteers were giving it a new coat of paint, we passed on to the Turret Hide where we had considerable success.
Here we had chance to compare Common Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper as they obligingly fed near to each other, the former having a noticeable axillary notch, the latter having a dark speckled back and white underparts with quite a smooth dividing line between. The Green Sandpiper is larger than the former. Water Rails are usually hiding in the reeds but today two or three were seen out feeding on the mud. As were Common Snipe.
A helpful Twitcher from Durham pointed out an unusual starling sized bird at the very edge of the distant reeds and was kind enough to allow us to look through his telescope at a Spotted Crake. We could just make out a speckled bird with a grey head and brownish back, with the help of a picture and imagination but especially the scope.

Full of glee we returned to the now accessible East Hide and settled in for lunch, a Kingfisher perching on a wooden post for some time was a great bonus. A debate followed about a young Grebe which was small but seemed to have a long neck, the final agreed answer was a young Little Grebe but there was a Great Crested Grebe nearby too.

A walk up Durham Lane revealed little except lots of Hawthorn berries and crab apples.
A large number of Little Egrets were seen from Crosslands Hide and again Green Sandpipers. On the return walk Damselflies and Dragonflies followed by 2 Pochards were the only rewards but a really interesting day’s birdwatching had been had by all.

Including Red Kite seen on the journeys we saw 26 species.

Leader Josephine Drake