A couple of great bird records for the York area, both new to me.

May - always a good month for unusual birds passing through and whilst the coast usually turns up most of the interesting stuff, it was within the confines of the York recording area that produced a couple of new birds for me. 

I've seen flocks of Glossy Ibis numbering well into the 1,000s over the wetland areas of Andalucía and the Ebro Delta in Spain but always contrived to miss them when they crop up here (which they have been doing in increasing numbers over the past decade). So I was well chuffed to hear about not one, but three turning up on my doorstep at Wheldrake Ings on the 8th.

Walking down to Swantail Hide where 2 of the Ibis's were still present on the 10th I got lucky with a flight shot of one of 2 Cuckoos (presumably a pair) flying around the riverside trees.

Cuckoo, Wheldrake Ings, 10/05/2022

Not a sniff of a chance with the Glossy Ibis's however but at least I got a sighting. Close on 2 hrs in Swantail Hide, me and a few other local birders got 2 minutes worth of the head & neck of one that decided to show itself briefly in the long wet grass of the 'refuge area' between the Ings and the Pocklington Canal. I was happy of course to add another bird to my UK list but there was no disguising that 'could have done better' feeling I get whenever I fail to get a photographic record. By all accounts they weren't particularly flighty birds so no way was I going to get any pics from Wheldrake, but given where they were I reckoned on getting a better view from a spot I knew about on the other side of the the Pocklington Canal. Made my way there the next day and saw both birds (albeit still a distance away) feeding away in the margins of a pool that was completely hidden from the Ings side. Ok, nothing more than record pics but at least they were in clear sight. Job done, get in!

Glossy Ibis, Wheldrake Ings, 11/05/2022


Glossy Ibis, Wheldrake Ings, 11/05/2022


Glossy Ibis, Wheldrake Ings, 11/05/2022


Check this out for more information about the modest spread of the Glossy Ibis in the UK - Glossy Ibis and global warming 

My 2nd new bird was another wetland species and much scarcer in the UK, a Ferruginous Duck on the Great Lake on the Castle Howard estate. Plenty of these get rejected as escapees from wildfowl collections, especially at this time of the year, so it remains to be seen if this is a truly wild bird. Added it to my list though!

Access to the lake at Castle Howard is restricted to say the least, you've got to gain permission from either the estate security guys or the lakeside holiday park, and even then you can only walk a section of the northern bank. The 'fudge' was tucked away in the south east corner and in the company of Tufted Ducks, quite a distance from me but even at range the characteristic bright eye of the male of the species was obvious. 

Ferruginous Duck, Great Lake, Castle Howard, 16/05/2022


I can easily see how these might be missed in amongst a raft of Tufties so it was nice to see this one side by side with a female Tufted Duck. That chocolate head and generally deep russet plumage a dead give away...

Ferruginous Duck with Tufted Ducks, Great Lake, Castle Howard, 16/05/2022

 To my surprise and great fortune a passing Red Kite spooked all of the ducks on the lake and instead of cursing my luck I was overjoyed to see the Ferruginous Duck plop down not 30 yards away! It soon swam away as soon he saw me but not before I was able to snap a few closer range shots.

Ferruginous Duck, Great Lake, Castle Howard, 16/05/2022


Ferruginous Duck, Great Lake, Castle Howard, 16/05/2022


Ferruginous Duck, Great Lake, Castle Howard, 16/05/2022

With only 20 or so of these ducks accepted by the BBRC (British Birds Rarity Committee) this could turn out to be a feather in the cap for the York bird area, although whilst doing a bit of prep for this post I notice that there was one that dropped in at the same location in October 2011. 

Further info on Ferruginous Ducks in the UK if you're interested - 

The Probable breeding of Ferruginous Ducks in Avon

Identification of Ferruginous Duck & status in UK


Leave a Comment