Swift, Kingfisher, Woodpeckers

Swifts, Kingfishers and Woodpeckers 2015
KINGFISHER    Alcedo atthis    Fairly common resident breeder.
Once more, the reports reflect the widespread distribution of this popular species. Many birds were seen along the Wharfe, with breeding activity reported at Addingham, Gallows Hill (Otley), Knotford Nook, Ilkley Tennis Club and Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits. Opposite this last location, a nest was washed out on 26th May, but the pair successfully raised a second brood of six young by the end of July.  Only a quarter of the records were from further south, with only two within the breeding season. One of these was a bird thought to be breeding near Marley Works (MS) and the other, a bird in Newsholme Dean.

Kingfisher in Oxenhope                                   Photo: Brian Vickers
SWIFT    Apus apus   Migrant breeder and passage visitor.
The first arrival was on 24th April, a bird flying north over Otley Chevin. During early May the numbers steadily increased, but reports remarked on the relatively low numbers, and in some areas the lateness at which the species became established. A third of the 175 reports concerned counts of more than 10, with five of these reaching above 200. These were all recorded around Warley Moor Reservoir, with other large post-breeding parties screaming around Queensbury and Otley on warm summer evenings.   There were only a few breeding records where nests were located. These were mostly in Wharfedale, where Burley, Otley and Addingham featured.   Birds began to leave the area at the beginning of August and late sightings included a single feeding with hirundines at Redcar Tarn on 14th September and, the final record, a bird passing Oxenhope Watchpoint on 18th September.
GREEN WOODPECKER    Picus viridis   Fairly common resident breeder.
The first yaffling was heard in early February and subsequent reports during early spring confirmed that birds were present around moorland fringes and on the edge of woodland. Pairs were active and breeding took place in Shipley Glen, Marley Hall Farm, Hewenden and probably at Low Snowden, Otley Chevin and Harden Moor, where adults were seen during June.  In the Worth Valley, at Newsholme Dean, and Slippery Ford, there was also evidence of breeding. At Keighley Moor Reservoir, a juvenile was watched at the same spot that one had been seen in 2014. Along Lady Lane (Bingley), where the species hasn’t been reported previously, a fresh juvenile corpse was found.

GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER    Dendrocopus major   Common resident breeder.
There was a 20% drop in reports, which may indicate that some under-recording is occurring due to the widespread nature of this, our commonest woodpecker. In March and April birds were seen and heard establishing territory, chasing through trees and actively involved in breeding in many woodlands.  Breeding was confirmed at Denton, Dob Park, Low Snowden and Middleton Wood, where young were ringed. Adults and juveniles were also reported at Shipley Glen, Newsholme Dean, and Hazlewood. At a private site in the Washburn, a pair was watched during the whole process, from excavating a nest hole through to feeding juveniles away from the nest. An immature was feeding in bushes near the quarry at Whetstone Gate in July and another was at Slippery Ford in August. The owner of a garden nest box was surprised to find that he had inadvertently saved a clutch of Blue Tits from a woodpecker which was determined to break inside!

LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER    Dendrocopus minor   Uncommon and erratic resident breeder.
Just two records, both from the same private woodland. On each occasion a bird was heard calling: the first on 6th April and the second on 20th November.
A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker
Photo: Roger Nelson
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