A rather pleasant month turned wild and windy during the final week. This change brought a huge influx of waders and ducks to the Aire Valley with Cononley Ings being the recipient of 720 Wigeon and 530 Curlew (25th). A day later, six Shelduck had gathered there and during this time, two Little Egrets were occasionally seen near Hawkcliffe Farm. Of further note was the arrival of 30 Oystercatchers, with an even bigger flock of 80 at Thruscross, a regular passage location for these attractive waders. Earlier in the month, 750 Lapwings had congregated on Cononley’s flooded meadows prior to dispersal to breeding grounds.
At Fewston Reservoir, 81 Teal were seen displaying (17th) and at Lindley Wood Reservoir, 57 Mandarin Ducks were similarly engaged. Up to seven Pochards spent a few weeks on Yeadon Tarn and a female Shoveler was there later in the month (24th).
Dippers were located on the Wharfe at Ikley, Aquaduct Bridge (Barden), Myrtle Park and at Hirst Wood Weir where they were seen nest-building. A pair of Stonechats were feeding at Birch Close Lane, Glovershaw (3rd) and nearby, at Dobrudden Farm, up to four Tree Sparrows were attracted to the feeding station. Eight Waxwings were seen in roadside sycamores at Yeadon Tarn (17th) and a single Brambling visited a Riddlesden feeder (12th).
Surprise birds during the month included a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the Washburn Valley, and a second-winter Iceland Gull which was seen during its brief stay at Cullingworth Fields (25th). Peregrines were reported in Upper Wharfedale, whilst a couple of Hen Harriers were seen from the watchpoint at Barden Scale, and a Red Kite flew over Holmewood (Bradford).
It was reported that a Black-headed Gull seen at Harold Park Lake (Low Moor) on the 23rd January and again two days later, was first ringed at Stavanger (Norway) on 22nd April 2016. photo: Nigel Priestley