Three visits to the local patch since I've been back from Australia. Not a lot doing on Thursday evening, although I was surprised by the amount of wintering wildfowl still present at YWT Wheldrake Ings. At least seven Pintail were among well over a hundred Wigeon and probably 150 Teal, along with six Pink-footed Geese. A Peregrine was hunting over the marshes, adding to the wintery feel. My first Blackcaps, Sedge Warblers, House Martins and Whitethroats of the year had other ideas though!
Yesterday, headed down to Wheldrake Ings again during the afternoon and one of the first birds I picked up from Tower Hide was a Wood Sandpiper, walking about in the wet grassland out front. After a few minutes, it took off and calling repeatedly, flew towards Bank Island. A great start! I walked round to Swantail, where ten Whimbrel dropped in mid afternoon, and a Hobby hunted over the pool, picking off insects. One of the Whimbrel was colour-ringed; I will see if this individual is known. A Marsh Harrier went through, flushing the Whimbrel briefly, and putting up two Snipe out of the marsh. A Red Kite hunted over the Low Grounds and Reed Warblers sang from the recently restored reedbed.
Today, the freshening southeasterly wind was full of promise, so I headed east to Flamborough early. The wind was too fresh on the coast, sadly, and after a walk round Old Fall, all I saw was a first summer Mediterranean Gull that cruised past along the cliffs, and a Yellow Wagtail flying west. Lee found a male Redstart near where I parked, so I headed back there and after a few moments got good views as it dived out of the hedge to pick insects from the ploughed field. Lee and Andy seemed fairly disconsolate, so with a heavy passage of terns and waders going on inland, I decided to turn tail and head back to the LDV.
Went clockwise round the LDV. The refuge looked good from East Cottingwith, but was devoid of birds. Aughton was virtually dry apart from the scrape which held a solitary Redshank. North Duffield Carrs proved to be better, with three Greenshank cavorting around on the remaining patches of flood water. I headed to Bank Island to stake out the large patch of water there, and after half an hour a tern suddenly appeared. It looked promising for Arctic, so I switched to my scope and sure enough it was. It circled the flood for a moment then headed off high over the Low Grounds towards Wheldrake. Shortly, a message came that there was a Black Tern at Hes East! Back in the car and off I went. The Black Tern was still present on arrival ten minutes later, in the company of a group of Sterna terns. In the bright light I was fooled in to thinking they were Arctics and announced this to Jan and Mike who were present. Most headed down to the raft where they rested. I got my scope on them and was still convinced some were Arctics - at least they should be - but with better views I realised that remarkably, they were all Commons.There were 16 in all. I did see one bird briefly that could have been an Arctic, with long tail streamers and very silvery upperwings, but I didn't pin it down. The Black Tern showed really well, hawking up and down until about 12.05 when it went and joined the terns on the raft. Really cool that York got in on the big movement. It makes me wonder how many Common Terns were involved along with the Arctics as only the latter were reported.