Stockbridge Reserve

Stockbridge Nature Reserve was the first area acquired by the group. This is a wetland site in the valley bottom adjacent to the river Aire and has a scrape and small shallow lake. Good views are obtainable from our large hide over-looking the site. Warblers breed in the vicinity, Kingfishers use the site daily and Water Rail are regular winter visitors. Keys to the hide are provided for all members and a daily log is kept on-site.
Stockbridge Nature Reserve Newsletter Spring 2017

Once March arrived, the Reserve started to wake up. The last record of Water Rail was on 16th when the bird was heard calling from the reedbed. It is a shame the species does not stay and attempt to breed but returns in the autumn. On the same day, the first Chiff-Chaff was heard singing. By the end of May, a family was observed moving about the small trees and being fed by the parents.

Back to March and by the end of the month, a female Goosander was seen peering out of the Stock Dove nest box situated next to the river. She was seen quite regularly over the next two months, coming to the lake to freshen up before returning to the box. It’s difficult to determine whether breeding takes place until the box is checked in the winter. Last year, 10 abandoned Goosander eggs were removed.

April brought records of flight displays by Woodpigeon whilst a visiting Kingfisher caught a stickleback and took it away to offer to the female, probably waiting on the river. By mid-month, Blackcap & Willow Warbler are singing whilst House Sparrows come onto the Reserve to collect nesting material. The first sighting of Sand Martin was on 1 April. Two more arrivals were Reed Warbler on 23rd and Common Sandpiper on 30th. The Sandpiper only stayed for a day whereas the Reed Warbler was still singing from the reedbed at the end of May. A pleasant surprise was of a singing Lesser Whitethroat on the same day. The bird was situated in a thick hawthorn bush next to the gardens and although it sang for 40 minutes, it was too well hidden to be seen. The bird moved on but Common Whitethroat was also on the Reserve and later two singing males took up territories and could be clearly observed. A pair of Moorhen had two chicks despite the arrival of two pairs of Coot who appear to enjoy chasing everything including Canada Geese. Swift sightings were on the late side on 7 May but during this month, the Reserve had now two Sedge Warblers singing at either end of the Reserve.

It has been interesting to watch regularly the Roe Deer who come out in the evenings with up to four seen. Butterflies sighted – a yellow butterfly on 23 May probably a Brimstone, Orange-tip, Speckled Wood and Comma.

If you wish to visit the Reserve you will have to be a B.O.G. Member. Please contact me on 01274 770960 or e-mail at shaun.radcliffe@btinternet.com for further information.

Will let you know how Summer goes.
Shaun Radcliffe
I should like to thank the members who have worked at Stockbridge in 2015 namely – Keith Allen, Mike Bloomfield, Alan Cooper, Penny French, John Ogden, John Preshaw, John Tyson (pictured), Thomas & Susan Simcock.

Working parties usually occur on Thursday & Sunday mornings. If you are interested in helping out, please contact me for further information.             
As the birds should not be disturbed during the breeding period, there are always other jobs which can be done. The hide was erected in 1990 and has stood the test of time. Repairs have taken place such as the roof recovered and a replacement of the front boards. These jobs were ably arranged and done by Peter Riley (Baildon) who is a retired joiner. Others did help but it was Peter's know how which BOG benefitted from - so many thanks Peter. This year, the hide was weatherproofed again and the workers captured on camera!


Stockbridge Nature Reserve Newsletter Autumn 2016

Over the last few years I have noted a change on the Reserve. At one time, Sedge Warbler was an annual breeder but this species failed to show this year. In 2014, a bird was recorded singing on 1st May and again on 18th of that month. No further records were received but a Reed Warbler was on site on 29th May. This would seem normal as Reed usually arrives after Sedge. However Reed was again seen on 22nd June and a week later food was being taken to a nest site. A juvenile bird was then noted on 13 July so breeding took place. In 2015 a Reed Warbler was singing on 21st June and on 5th July. The bird sighted on 20th August may have been a migrant passing through but breeding was not proven in 2015. Sedge Warbler was not recorded.

This year, the site, i.e. the reed bed, has been dominated by disturbance as a nearby bungalow has been almost rebuilt which included knocking parts of it down. The noisiest work took place during May with the reed bed quite close by. A Reed Warbler turned up on 22nd May singing but was not recorded again until 16th June followed by no other records until 25th June. I believe the noise may have been a factor so will this bird remain? Again Sedge Warbler has not been seen. By the time this article was written (end of July), Reed was seen on 7th & 21st of July, an adult feeding in the willows in front of the hide. Sadly, there is no evidence of breeding but live in hope for next year when the Reserve might be a little quieter.

Walking around the Reserve is very pleasant especially if you take your time and watch out for birds during the breeding season. There are two male Whitethroats singing from their territories, each at different ends of the Reserve. During June, I walked carefully along the embankment to study one pair as they appeared to be feeding recently fledged young. I almost jumped out of my skin because about 20 feet in front of me and well-hidden was a male buck Roe Deer. I didn’t see it but it saw me and let out an extremely loud bark which took me by complete surprise. The deer then broke cover and took off barking as it went. I later read that this was a typical way in which Roe Deer show their alarm. After getting back my breadth, I enjoyed seeing the Whitethroat attending to their young. Whitethroat take advantage of the area dominated by Meadowsweet which by July is tall and is very attractive with its "frothy"head. The birds build their nests in the plant and search amongst it for insects to feed the young.

On the 4th October, a special visitor was at the Reserve. A small bird was spotted at the far side of the willows as it worked busily looking for food. The constant movement and fluttering at it searched made the observer consider it to be a Goldcrest but it looked slightly larger. Fortunately the bird continued towards the open area of the willows where the sun was shining and when it could be viewed completely, a clear pale stripe was seen over the eye along with two creamy wing-bars on the wings. The size of the bird was about in line with a Chiff-Chaff but those wing bars proved the species to be a Yellow-Browed Warbler. Amazingly, this warbler breeds in parts of eastern Russia, China and other parts of Asia. It spends the winter in India and south-east Asia.
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