East Yorkshire RSPB Local Group Field Trip to the Lower Derwent Valley 14 April 2024

We should have been going to Blacktoft Sands, but that was inaccessibly flooded due to exceptionally high spring tides, so we met at Bank Island instead and started off at Wheldrake Ings.

Wellies were deemed to be essential, but those of us without, managed to circumvent the flooded areas by using extremely muddy alternative routes and we made it to the Tower Hide along with everyone else!

Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers were everywhere along with Blackcaps and Cetti’s warblers. The wild garlic was flowering along Ings Lane, as were English bluebells. We had Treecreeper, Bullfinch, Song Thrush and Wren on the way down the lane, together with Speckled Wood butterflies. Arriving at the bridge over the extremely high river, a Curlew was calling.

We made our way to the Tower Hide and from there we saw an impressive flock of hundreds of Black-Tailed Godwit, Whooper Swans, a single White-fronted Goose and several Pintail among the more usual wildfowl.

But the bird we were looking for was a Slavonian Grebe in summer plumage, which we found and which didn’t disappoint, despite being rather distant.

There were Sand Martins and Swallows, Little Egrets and on leaving the hide, a first Sedge Warbler of the season. On the walk back, we had a couple of Orange Tip butterflies, a Willow Tit (great to see) a Goldcrest and more views of the Treecreeper. There were also good numbers of bumble bees, a Dark Edged Bee Fly and various hoverflies.

We had lunch in the garden at Bank Island and were delighted to see a Holly Blue butterfly and a Peacock. There was just enough sun to bring the butterflies out, but it became a little windy later in the day, when we moved on to North Duffield Carr.

There a close Little Grebe was impressive in its summer plumage and there were Gadwall and Goldeneye as well as more Curlew, Black-Tailed Godwits, Shoveler and Whoopers. Plus a cracking male Reed Bunting.

A skein of Pink-Footed Geese flew right over our heads, which was nice to get so late in the season and lots more Pintail, this time all quite close. They are such a striking duck. We were looking for a reported Greater Scaup, which Barry found and there turned out to be three.

Raptors at both sites included Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and a very distant Red Kite.

It was great to spend the day surrounded by the sound of summer migrants, telling us that spring is really here at last. And my bird count for both sites was about 60 species, but I’m sure I missed a few!

Sue Leyland