With over 200 species of birds, Nosterfield Nature Reserve on the site of old sand and gravel quarries, is recognised as North Yorkshire’s best wetland grassland site for birds. It has 150 acres of wet grassland and open water situated between the Rivers Ure and Swale, and between the villages of West Tanfield and Nosterfield, about 6.5 miles north of Ripon. Over 50,000 native trees and shrubs and 3 hectares of reed beds have been planted which have become a haven for permanent and seasonal birds. The foliage from the planting has made it difficult in parts to view the water birds and pruning of sections would have been most appreciated. Some of the species marked for conservation at Nosterfield include Reed Bunting, Curlew, Skylark and Yellow Wagtail.

On our visit we recorded 37 species of bird during the day, including a rare visitor, the Pectoral Sandpiper. As is often the case, most of the interesting birds were either on the far bank or high in the sky, so photography was challenging.

At the Quarry site, the shoreline nearest to Tanfield was flanked with colonies of Greylag, Curlew, and Lapwing creating a cacophony of bird call. A sighting of a Sparrowhawk was followed by that of a Hawk T2 Mk167 jet trainer much to the consternation of all those in earshot, bird and human! A raptor-like drone taking measurements for the quarry and a buzzard circling were also unwelcome visitors to the waterfowl. Workmen present in the vicinity of the Reed Bed viewing screen thwarted our success at viewing Bitterns or Reed Buntings.

At the main hide, the presence of Dunlin, Ruff, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwits and Greenshanks, combined with the glorious weather all made the visit a most successful day for the 8 members that were able to join us. The highlight of the day was seeing the Godwit, Pectoral Sandpiper and Greenshank wading together along the shoreline.

Black-tailed Godwit, Pectoral Sandpiper and Greenshank

Report: Stella Hughes, Photos: Ian Hughes