Roe Deer and Wild Life in Danger From Dogs?

Roe Deer - Steve Tomlinson.jpgRoe Deer – Steve Tomlinson

All the support I am getting is great news and I am very appreciate of all your emails, etc, you send me and especially all the lovely comments you all make, thanks ever so much. I have however a problem – I am getting more and more stuff to write about and worry about taking up too much space. What do you think is an optimum amount, please. I like to mention everyone who writes in but also reckon three photos and 2000 words are enough. I will try to give a mention for you all but cannot promise to do so, nor to print verbatim everything you say, and it may be a few weeks before I include your message, sorry. Let me know what you think, please.

Important Message

Rich and Trisha Brewis have reported prints of a roe deer and fawn around Bilton and Nidd Gorge. They make the following very important request, “Have just seen prints in the mud of a Roe doe and fawn – little prints that will fit into a normal thumb nail! Thought far too early for this but it has been mild. Please remind all dog owners to keep them on a lead through the woodlands.” Also if you see a dog off the lead in these areas then ask them politely to respect our wildlife. Fawns are particularly vulnerable at this time, a strange scent and the doe will abandon them and of course they don’t run away, or at least to the last minute, so are easy prey for dogs. Ground nesting birds are equally vulnerable, so give them a chance, dogs can run free and wild on that 200 acre wildlife desert Harrogate is famous for.

Dunnock2 - Roger Litton

Dunnock – Roger Litton

Spring Sightings

Malcolm Jones emailed me to say, “Signs of spring! In spite of the two recent snowfalls there are distinct signs of the change in our wildlife. Dunnocks are normally a secretive bird, deep in bushes or on the ground, but in spring they perch high in bushes and pour out their song. This chap was on a bush at Staveley reserve. Like Malcolm I am fascinated by the way these dark, sulking, secretive birds choose to announce spring from the highest vantage point they can find. Well at least the males do. Incidentally some female dunnocks are polyandric, they mate with many males, whilst others are monogamous. Mike Toms of the BTO tells us, “male and female Dunnocks maintain their own, largely independent, territories during the breeding season. Since male territories are larger than those of the females, you might expect a single male to have access to more than one female, giving rise to polygyny (having more than one wife). However, what makes the social complexities all the more interesting is that some male territories are shared by two males. One of the two males (termed the ‘alpha’ male) will be dominant over the other (the ‘beta’ male). The beta male manages to secure his position within the territory of the alpha male through sheer persistence, something which provides him with a degree of access to any females. However, access is not guaranteed, since the alpha male spends a great deal of time guarding his female, especially as she approaches the egg-laying period.” Confused, visit Mike Toms report for more info.

Ann Snelson tells me she “heard a curlew flying over when we opened the bedroom window this morning to feed our blackbirds.” Ann lives in Middlesmoor up t’dale.

Doug Simpson tells me, “I had a walk down the Scargill track this aft (19-3-16). Curlew back on the moor and a kite overhead. Had hoped for an early Wheatear but nothing doing.”

John Wade writes, “I have just made my annual pilgrimage to New Lane near Almscliffe Crag, to see returning curlews. I don’t know when they arrived, but they are back now, 1 March. I saw three, a pair and one in the air. I truly love to see them, knowing that spring is on its way.”

Nature Reserves

RSPB Fairburn Ings, In past few days Avocet 12, ChiffChaff 7, Hen Harrier 1, Marsh Harrier 1-2, Smew 1 still present, Short-eared Owl 1

Nosterfield Nature Reserve, recent sightings include a comma butterfly plus ruff, redshank pintail, goldeneye, little egret, several buzzards, avocets , little owl, red-necked grebe, black-tailed godwit and pintail.

Robert Brown tells me, Farnham Gravel Pits, Harrogate Naturalist Society’s private nature reserve, had a chiffchaff on 19 March and three sand martins on 20 March.

Frog Spawn News

Judith Fawcett‘s sightings, “we had a couple of unusual frogs and spawn sightings this week. A crow eating a frog on a neighbour’s roof. Frog spawn on the doormat and car bumper! I wonder if the two are connected. Haven’t seen a Jay in the Saltergate area for a few weeks. We usually have a few visiting the garden. Has anyone else noticed a decline? A few colourful Siskin on the feeders, a flock of Longtails are now a pair, Redpoll still about. Lots of Blackbirds and Starling, Goldfinches regular visitors and a Greenfinch seen recently too.” Wow, some interesting birds. I agree with Judith, the crow must have caused the frog to abort, hence the frogspawn.

Paul Irving tells me, “spawn appeared in our tiny garden pond a couple of weeks ago but has been frosted since so viability may be an issue. The “White” crow at Morrisons is the same bird that has been around for some years, interestingly it is not really white but very very pale cream and has normal eye colour as far as one can tell so not albino.” Interesting regarding the crow, I thought it must be the same one, but it has lived a long time, I thought white/leucistic creatures were more vulnerable in the wild, although I guess urban crows have few predators.

Janice Scott from Padside writes, “I have read the frogspawn sightings in your blog with interest. You have wondered why frogspawn is late this year, but just to be different, ours has been earlier than usual – the first spotted on 3 March and it carried on coming until 17 March. I think the sudden cold snap and snow interrupted proceedings. Another sign for us that spring is around the corner is the first bee to appear in the garden. This is usually later than lower down the dale (I saw my first bumblebee queen of the year at Daleside Nursery on 3 March). It took until 20 March to spot a bumblebee in our own garden, feasting in the sunshine on helleborus foetidus. We did have a brief visit from some of our neighbours’ honeybees sampling our snowdrops on 17 March, but I haven’t seen them since. I won’t believe it is truly spring until I find my gardening can be accompanied by the reassuring buzz of bees.”

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North York Moors, draining into York!

Moorland – a Drain Into Our Rivers and On Our Pockets

Charles Gibson writes, “Good luck with your campaign Nigel, I agree entirely with your comments. There is too much emphasis laid on the protection of the Grouse. I would like to see more done. Have we had any prosecutions for poisoning of our Raptors too?” There are periodic prosecutions for poisoning of our raptors, rarely a sufficient deterrent and no doubt it continues to go on undetected. Places to look for more information include Raptor Politics and a look here should provide access to other interested groups. I also know that the Yorkshire Red Kite project also looks at the poisoning question. We are also fortunate to have in our area PC Gareth Jones, a Wildlife Crime Officer, and there are others around Yorkshire, visit North Yorkshire Police for more information. Charles later says, “I am our local Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator, Gareth is one of my contacts in Rural Watch Campaign. I get all the crime updates on ringmaster from NY Police almost daily but have not seen any prosecutions for illegal shooting or poisoning, which is a shame because we know it goes on.” I have delved a little further into this and can say that whilst a lot of these crimes may well occur the difficulty is obtaining evidence. Given that it may take two months or more to confirm that a bird has been poisoned and that they are rarely found at the bait anyway, there is little chance of getting anyone into court. If these crimes are taking place it’s probable that as few as a fifth of poisoned carcasses are recovered so it’s difficult. This means we need to be vigilant, so if you do find anything you consider troubling you need to contact the appropriate authority including the Police, RSPCA (Harrogate and District Branch) and if it’s a red kite then the Red Kite folk. Another useful number is the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) and you may wish to add their Freephone number, 0800 321600, to the contacts list on your mobile phone – just in case!

Someone calling themselves NorthernDiver replied via my website to the Moorland Myth issue by saying, “It’s a shame that Harrogate News didn’t post your reply to Amanda Anderson. Such twisted facts put out by Ms Anderson shouldn’t be the last word. Please try again. Do you think you have been blacklisted by Hg News? Is there anyone else who could post your reply? The truth needs to get through to the general public or things will get no better for our persecuted wildlife and damaged moorlands.” Do you agree? What are your views? Can you help spread the word?

Doug Simpson contacted me on the issue of grouse and asked me to mention a petition to protect mountain hares, why is that an issue related to grouse? Well, thousands of mountain hares are shot and snared in Scotland because they allegedly carry a disease which reduces the number of grouse available to be shot for “sport”. In some areas where mountain hares were previously abundant they are now rare or extinct. This is a national scandal. Scottish Natural Heritage is appealing for “voluntary restraint” from the grouse shooting lobby, but they have already had years to put their house in order. The time has now come for robust properly enforced legislation to protect the mountain hare, which is an important part of Scotland’s biodiversity and a revenue earning tourist attraction.

Paul Brothers writes, “I am particularly interested in the moorland debate as I used to work in the Water Industry and have modelled flood risks for land. I strongly believe we should be planting trees and blocking off some drains/build up dams to slow down the egress of water off the land. This is a lot more important in my opinion than dredging rivers which increases the speed of the water and all the solids it is carrying, with the likelihood of creating erosion and more damage to infrastructure. Planting a few trees is a very cost effective and long term solution to the problem that we currently face.” Thanks Paul for this, very interesting, especially from someone who “really knows”. I do wish we could get a proper debate on these issues at a proper level where the right action can be determined. What is best for the country, a few less grouse to kill or homes and lives not wrecked by avoidable flooding?

Carole Turner asked me to mention the Petition For A Ban On Driven Grouse Shooting. Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which increases flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions, relies on killing Foxes, Stoats, Mountain Hares etc in large numbers and often leads to the deliberate illegal killing of protected birds of prey including Hen Harriers. Please do sign it.

Outdoors Events

See website for full details of these events and to confirm no changes.

Nidderdale Bird Club

Saturday 26 March Richmond and the River Swale

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Grey Squirrels – Cute and Cuddly or Vermin?

4 March 2016

Grey squirrel2 - David UffindallGrey Squirrel – David Uffindall

Helen Watkison writes, “last year we had one grey squirrel daily in the garden, we called him Cyril, he had his own monkey nut feeder, though of course he also helped himself to the birds’ too. He liked to cache acorns and beech nuts from our trees. This year he brought along his girlfriend Muriel (any idea how to sex squirrels?) and provided more amusement by chasing along our fence and up and down the leylandii. I wondered if they were a pair, and if and where they might breed, as I gather dreys are both rare and high. Alas, my son found one dead in the road outside our house (I didn’t get to see it); however, another squirrel (yet to be named) has appeared and the antics continue. I know most folk think they are vermin, rats with tails and can do damage to houses, what do you think?” Grey squirrels (greys) certainly divide opinion. I don’t know if squirrels cause damage to your house. I guess they can damage wood and get into your false roof, plastic may prove more difficult for them. Many people despise grey squirrels because they have deposed the reds and because the greys will take young birds from their nests. Reds do exactly the same and each has to survive. They are also, especially the greys, accused of damaging commercial forests. I don’t particularly like grey squirrels because when they visit my feeders they keep all the birds away and eat prodigious amounts of seed, which isn’t cheap. I chase them away for this reason but would never hurt them. So to answer Helen’s question. Grey squirrels are here because someone introduced them to the UK, from the USA, in the late 19th or early 20th century. Probably Sir Henry Courtney Brocklehurst, Bt. They certainly didn’t choose to come here and surely by now should be considered part of our native fauna. I know they displace reds with their pox and better foraging skills (they can eat hazelnuts for example before they are ripe enough for reds to eat). But we ought to embrace them, because reds aren’t coming back, they fill the same niche and who are we humans to say what creatures we shall or shan’t share the earth with. Squirrels do prefer to build their dreys high up, it keeps them and their families well away from predators and I never call them rats with tails, tree rats is my preferred sobriquet. Now I also know that many folk enjoy the antics of squirrels in their gardens, Roger and Pauline Litton are a couple who enjoy the greys visiting them and I guess many others do also so let’s live and let live. What do you think?

First Frogspawn of the Year

Roger Graville writes, “Your various correspondents have had a race for a few years now for sightings of the first frogspawn. Well here’s my entry for 2016. Today, 24 February, two lots of spawn in our garden pond.” Great, Roger is 2016’s champion unless of course you know better. I checked out the pond on Bachelor Gardens, Bilton, Harrogate recently and was dismayed to find a shoal of goldfish had taken it over. I fear for the tadpoles and spawn, when it arrives. Roger Litton saw his “first (and only!) batch of frogspawn – but no frogs (26 February). This was in their usual pool – the one above the boating pool where the pool is created behind the metal plate.”Neil Anderson, Bilton, had his first spawn arrive on Wednesday 2 March, the day of the snow. Bad timing there then on the frog’s behalf. I reckon frogspawn is very late this year. Have you seen any? When did it arrive, What do you think?

Funny Coloured Rabbit Update

Paul Brothers, “Spotted quite a few black ones at the top of Swinsty Reservoir near to the dam wall with Fewston Reservoir here in Yorkshire. There were at least three or probably four of them sunning themselves a couple of years back”.

Congratulations to Oatlands Junior School

They have made it to the Shortlist of 20 for the 2016 Saatchi Gallery/Deutsche Bank Art Prize for Schools with their art work ‘Conserving our Biodiversity’. The inscription to the artwork says:

“Conserving Our Biodiversity is a whole school inclusive art project inspired by artist Ai Weiwei, and looking at climate change and its effects on our biodiversity. All children have each created a clay sculpture from their individual illustrations of a study of a plant or flower, which is on the Red Data List for the British Isles, focusing on their form and details, which could be lost forever. Clay sculpture installation measures approx. 5 m x 2m.”

Wildlife Politics

Have you signed the petition, “Make planting trees a priority to reduce flooding by improving soil and drainage”. If you haven’t please do so now. I won’t provide the whole Government response I received, if you sign I imagine you will receive the same response. Here are a few selected Government comments however. “Trees can slow the flow of water down and reduce the impacts of floods; we are currently exploring the increased role that this could play in flood risk management.” That seems pretty unequivocal to me. They say later, “Defra continues to support a number of leading research and demonstration projects to better understand the role that land management changes in our landscapes and catchments, such as tree planting, peatland restoration and habitat creation, could have in reducing flood risk. These include the Forest Research led ‘Slowing the Flow Partnership’ in Pickering, North Yorkshire … These projects indicate that woodlands can slow the flow of water through smaller catchments and reduce the impacts of some floods. We will continue to support such investigations, gathering further evidence into the potential benefits that land management changes, such as tree planting in catchments, could have on reducing flood risk, in addition to the wider environmental and economic benefits that they could provide.” Sign the petition and maybe public opinion will make a difference!

Signs of Spring

Barn Owl - Nigel HeptinstallBarn Owl (Tyto alba)

Janice Scott from Padside/Thornthwaite wrote, “We thought you would like these signs of spring for your blog: Our first curlew calling was heard at Padside on 17 February and has been heard several times since. Travelling to Parceval Hall late morning Wednesday 24 February we saw several large flocks of peewit between The Stone House and Greenhow, then none once we were over into Wharfedale. On our return mid afternoon it was the reverse – large flocks around Wharfedale and none after Greenhow. We couldn’t help but wonder if it was the same birds heading out to breeding grounds during the course of the day. At Parcevall Hall we heard our first drumming great spotted woodpecker of the year. We also surprised four mandarin ducks over the lake. The previous evening I had been reading that they are threatened in their home country of China and their best chance of survival is with feral populations in Europe. I wonder how they are doing in our area? From our window at home we have seen blackbirds busily collecting nesting materials and tree sparrows investigating nest boxes and staking their claim. We have also had a nuthatch visiting a peanut feeder right outside our kitchen window on several occasions recently – what a beautiful bird! On the barn owl front, we saw one near The Stone House pub last Thursday (18 February) and friends have reported recent sightings at Heyshaw, Dacre, Clint, Heathfield and Huby.” It’s good news regarding the curlew and barn owl. I saw a barn owl on 26 February hunting around Grimwith reservoir. I’m getting worried because they are out during the day, it may suggest there is no food. Some peewit 26 February probably on territory between Greenhow and Grimwith, no large flocks. I would suggest large flocks are returning to their breeding grounds, which could be in Scandinavia or Northern Russia. Mandarin can be found locally mainly on the river at Bolton Abbey, Strid Woods, (in fair numbers 10/20) but certainly as far upstream as Burnsall. They first nested in Harrogate District some probably 10 years ago near Beckwithshaw. They have been seen in the Nidd Gorge occasionally. They are tree hole nesters. Mandarin status is increasing slowly I would say.

Wendy Binns wrote, “This morning (25 February) as I stepped out of the car at Tadcaster Grammar School a woodpecker was drumming away in the woods surrounding the school and the sound echoed all round. Is this a little early to hear this? I actually ‘spotted’ the woodpecker but it was far away and couldn’t quite see what type it was.”

Yes many of our resident birds are forming territories and prospecting for nest sites and partners. I hope they don’t start laying too soon. Have you any reports of Spring, please?

Notes For Your Diary

Harrogate and District Biodiversity Action Group are holding their AGM on Saturday 12 March 2016 13:30 – 15:00 at Horticap, Blue Coat Nurseries, Otley Road, Harrogate, HG3 1QL. After the (usually) very short business meeting there will be a couple of guest speakers, sharing the visions of two newly established groups that are all about community and environment: Chris Beard of Hookstone and Stonefall Action Group (HASAG) and Catherine Baxter from Woodlands Community Garden. HDBAG works actively with the community to maximise the environment for local wildlife It raises awareness of the needs of wildlife affected by growth and change in the Harrogate District. They support and encourage community involvement in maintaining and improving green spaces and enthuse young people through working with schools and community hubs.

Curlew Appeal

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Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)

Nidderdale Bird Group are holding a fundraising event at the Glasshouses Methodist Church, Broadbelt Hall (HG3 5QY) on Saturday 12th March. The Curlew has declined in Britain to such an extent that it is the bird most in need of conservation action and is on the Red List of Birds of Conservation concern. The BTO are hoping to raise £100,000 in the first year to do extensive research into the reasons for the decline of both breeding and wintering Curlew. Nidderdale Bird Club’s fundraising will take several forms, this is the first. As well as providing coffee and tea there will be T-shirts and cards and cakes for sale.

Harrogate and District Naturalists’ Society See website for full details.

Wednesday March 9 19:30 – 21:30 lecture ‘RED KITES IN YORKSHIRE’ Doug Simpson

Harrogate RSPB Group See website for full details including costs and to confirm no changes.

Monday March 14 7:30pm Indoor Meeting – Tom Lawson “Birding in Iceland”

Through Your Window

Doug Simpson, Red Kite Man, “We have a steep embankment behind our house. It faces roughly south-west and there’s quite an updraught when the wind is from that quarter. My daughter came for lunch on Friday and had pride of place at the dining table – looking straight out of the patio window across the garden. Suddenly she asked ‘What’s that?’ Looking up, I saw it was a Common Buzzard which was hanging motionless on the updraught. It was there for several seconds before flying off to the west. Buzzards are by no means unusual here, but we’d never previously seen one at such close quarters. The previous day we’d had a Red Kite over the garden whilst today, Saturday, the big birds in view are Grey Herons, no doubt looking at the pond between us and Saltergate Beck to see if the toads have arrived yet.”



Curlews, Squirrels and Butterflies

17 December 2015
Happy Christmas from Jackie and I, see you again in the New Year.

Holly

News

RSPB Fairburn Ings has had another flood, a big one, the reserve has been closed but Fairburn Ings Visitor Centre open again today (15/12/15), some paths still flooded and part of Newton Lane towards Ledston, access from Fairburn or Back Newton Lane.

Visit How Stean Website for my monthly wildlife blog . December issue now out.

Please keep those sightings and questions coming in and do also spread the word, much appreciated.

Nigel

Curlew - Brian Scarr

Curlew – Brian Scarr

Help Prevent a Curlew Catastrophe

Surely one of the most evocative wildlife signs is the call of the curlew, loved and recognised by everyone. It seems that the bird might well be on the decline. A large bird with its long curved beak, it’s unmissable and what’s more it breeds on our Nidderdale and North Yorkshire hillsides. Sadly, however, it has just been added to the British Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern, the highest conservation priority. This is because its numbers declined by 46% between 1994 and 2010 and by more than half in Wales and Scotland. What’s more, even if our local birds are doing comparatively well, that’s no reason for complacency because we must hang on to what we have for the bird’s national well-being. It’s not just Britain where the problem exists; our curlews represent approximately a third of the European population and therefore it is now listed as near threatened and on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Strictly speaking we are talking about the Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata, but you all know which one I mean. Curlews are considered to be fully migratory amongst most of their range, in the UK they tend to be partially migratory in that they leave their breeding grounds, our upland moors, peat bogs, damp grasslands and meadows, and migrate to local gravel pits. Nosterfield Nature Reserve is a good place to spot them, and when the ground gets frozen onwards to the coast. However, this can lead to confusion because they are joined here by fully migratory birds from the colder north and east. This wintering population has also declined, this time by 20% in the past 15 years. Also our area, for example Haverah Park, is probably on a curlew migration route with flocks of as many as 300 seen in early spring. These are probably foreign migrants because they can still be there when our breeding birds are back on territory.
There is an extremely urgent need to identify the causes of these Curlew declines so that we can help guide potential conservation interventions. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is a charity at the forefront of providing impartial scientific evidence to conserve the nation’s birds and has launched a fundraising appeal to fund the world class research that will inform how we can reverse the fate of this iconic bird – before it’s too late. If a world without curlews concerns you, download the BTO appeals leaflet. The reasons thought possible for this decline include increases in generalist predators reducing breeding success, afforestation of marginal hill land, changes in farming practice reducing habitat quality and climate change. One of the objectives of the appeal is to find out exactly what the problem is, before it’s too late.

Grey Squirrel3 - Dr Roger Litton

Grey Squirrel – Roger Litton

Squirrel Watching

Roger Litton, Harrogate, writes, “We do get squirrels in the garden (we’re just across the road from the Pine Woods) and we do like watching them. They’re attracted by the bird feeders and the nut feeders. There is a definite pecking order among the squirrels and it can be amusing to see the posturing and chasing which goes on. Violent tail-wagging is a sure sign that there’s another squirrel in the offing and one will almost certainly end up chasing the other. There’s even a pecking order with the various feeders. The dominant squirrel will always bag the preferred feeder and chase others off, although it may be prepared to tolerate a subordinate squirrel on one of the other (less-preferred) feeders.” People watching, squirrel watching, it seems there’s not much difference. Words like greedy, bully and class system come to mind.

Sightings

Last week at RSPB Fairburn Ings there was a Peacock Butterfly on Monday (7-12-12), a male Marsh Harrier is regular and still two Little Egrets, Siskin and Brambling. On 1512/15 there were lots of Goosander about today 30+ at the eastern end of the reserve and 2 Water Rail.

Another recent butterfly sighting comes from Colin Slator, “I saw a male Brimstone butterfly patrolling the ride in the High Batts Nature Reserve.” Some recent sightings from Alan Croucher, “It was a bit wet today to venture out birding but we did go out last Thursday – to Saltholme – and although we didn’t have a lot of time we had a lovely morning with around 38 species. The highlights were a female Smew (that had been around for a while), a couple of Whooper Swans, a Pintail, quite a few Barnacle Geese, some Black-tailed Godwits and at least two pairs of Stonechats that showed really well and were visible on several occasions. There had been reports of Snow Buntings in the area (though not on the reserve, I don’t think) and Red-throated, Black-throated and Great Northern Divers off the coast but we didn’t go in search of them. There were also several seals hauled out and visible from the road. More locally, we have seen both Fieldfares and Redwings, though not many of them so far.” I suspect, sadly, with the lack of berries we may not see many winter visitors.

Andrew Dobby thinks he may have seen an osprey “in our village, Marton Cum Grafton. I have looked through my books and the internet and I am sure it was an Osprey by looking at the shape, wings and the way it was flying. Do we get many Ospreys in the area?” The answer is, yes, we do get ospreys locally, on migration to and from their breeding grounds in The Lakes and more probably Scotland. All ospreys should be in Africa by now and that creates a problem because Andrew seems to have done his homework and I guess you can get the occasional late leaving bird but if not what else can it be? The all white underneath and size is fairly distinctive. Maybe it was some type of harrier, marsh or even hen. Did you see an unusual raptor around Marton Cum Grafton the last two weeks in November? If so let us know.

Shirley Dunwell reports, “Nice sighting today (9-12-2015) – near Fountains Abbey – flock of about 40 lapwings in flight.”

Max Hamilton, Bilton, Harrogate, “had a really good week so far on my feeders at Gordon Avenue, Gold Finch, Blue, Great, Coal and Willow Tit, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Sparrow, Sparrowhawk (one less sparrow), also Blackbird, Dunnock, Collared Dove, Rock Dove and a couple of heavy weight Wood Pigeon all hovering up at ground level. Sadly I have not seen any Greenfinch for a long time now, the last one I saw was not in good shape.” Do you get greenfinch visiting your feeders, if so let me know?

Sue and Lawrie Loveless, Fellbeck, wanted to know “what caused a group of mild mannered sheep to cross the stream and huddle together. No, not a dog, a plane, truck, a quad bike……. Actually a gang of about 400 Starlings! Sadly they had left the scene by the time I had collected the camera. They were part of a much larger flock that is in our neighbourhood right now. Good quantities of lapwings around at the moment too.” Beware marauding starlings, sheep know best. Jill Warwick tells me, “A couple of weeks ago, there was quite a good murmuration over Ripon Marina, coming into the little reedbed at Nicholsons Lagoons – might be worth trying a walk down the Ripon Canal footpath? There were at least 5-6,000 which was quite impressive and they did some swirling for the admiring crowd of boat owners (I was there trying to catch a young Mute Swan to ring)!” If you know if they are still there or of any other starling murmurations please share it with us.