THORNE MOORS BIRD REPORT 2011
Compiled by Martin Limbert and Bryan P. Wainwright
1. Recording area. For bird documentation, the Thorne Moors recording area is deliberately interpreted somewhat loosely. It comprises the whole of the peatland, contiguous unfarmed areas, the Thorne Colliery curtilage, and peripheral farmland and drains. The limit to the north is defined as the line of the old Axholme Joint Railway. Otherwise, a field width or so is a practical rule-ofthumb.
2. Place-names. In broad terms, the name Thorne Moors is used to embrace both the peatland and other areas under study. The surviving peat is divided by parish limits, the parish names being Thorne Waste, Snaith & Cowick Moor, Rawcliffe Moor, Goole Moor and Crowle Moor. Thorne Waste (except now the Yorkshire Triangle) lies in South Yorkshire, and the other parishes lie in East Yorkshire, except Crowle Moor and the Yorkshire Triangle, which are in North Lincolnshire. That part of Goole Moor situated north of Rawcliffe Moor is designated as ‘Northern Goole Moor’ for recording purposes. Within the parish framework, numerous place-names are employed for bird recording. Virtually all these names were included on the place-names map issued with the Thorne Moors Vertebrates Report 2005. This is now superseded by a place-names map on the website of the Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum.
3. Current sources of nomenclature and species sequence
• The British Birds list of Western Palearctic Birds, British Birds Ltd. See www.britishbirds.co.uk/bblist.htm (accessed 11th February 2012)
• G.T.D. Wilmore, J. Lunn and J.S. Rodwell (2011) The South Yorkshire Plant Atlas. Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union and Yorkshire & the Humber Ecological Data Trust, no place
4. Descriptions. For nationally rare avian taxa, descriptions and visual evidence should be made available in accordance with the requirements of the British Birds Rarities Committee. At county level, material should be prepared in compliance with the lists issued by the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union Birds Section Adjudication Panel or the Lincolnshire Bird Club, as appropriate. Advice can be given upon request.
5. Rare breeding birds. In addition to Natural England, records of rare breeding birds may be accessed by the county organizations, and via them the Rare Breeding Birds Panel. Records may also be obtainable by bona fide specialist study groups.
6. Daily Counts. In the species accounts that follow, there may be references to “daily counts” and “counts”. It is emphasized that these are not full site totals, but counts made by an individual observer or group on a particular date. It is possible to have more than one count on a single date, when the highest will be used if they cannot be united. The recording area is very large, and site populations are difficult to establish with certainty, except for the scarcer species. However, for some wetland birds, it is possible to visit the most likely places to seek these species, thus attaining a relatively accurate moorland total for them. It is acknowledged that such reported daily counts may sometimes be regarded as vague, but they are broadly comparable over a period of years.
7. Recording in 2011. During the year, 148 species of bird, and seemingly one additional race, were reported from Thorne Moors, as defined. Many of the records were received via the Thorne Moors bird blog (www.birdingsiteguide.com), although a significant number still arrived as paper records. All formats are welcomed. Less positively, and not for the first time, important records were lost through inadequate or no supporting descriptions being written. Most notably, a potential first for Thorne Moors was a claimed female/immature Blue-winged Teal Anas discors on 15th October.
Although no new species were conclusively reported, there were several site rarities, including White-fronted Goose, Egyptian Goose, Little Egret, Red Kite, Osprey, Arctic Skua, Sandwich Tern, Great Grey Shrike, Common Redpoll, Arctic Redpoll, Common Crossbill and Snow Bunting. As breeding species, European Nightjar and Grasshopper Warbler were relatively numerous, established from nocturnal fieldwork by Middleton Ecological Consultancy. Other birds that nested or possibly did so include Black-necked Grebe, Coal Tit, Woodlark and European Stonechat. Species that had relatively large numbers of records during 2011 might also have bred somewhere, as varied as Marsh Harrier and Eurasian Treecreeper.
Record counts were obtained for Pink-footed Goose, Goosander, Great Cormorant, Yellowlegged Gull, Arctic Tern, Carrion Crow, Common Redpoll and Common Crossbill. Four of these species occurred in new months: Yellow-legged Gull (May), Arctic Tern (April), Common Redpoll (March/October) and Common Crossbill (May). Of interest, a Hobby on 9th April is believed to constitute the earliest ever arrival date for Yorkshire. Other good dates were obtained for Osprey (9th November), Black-necked Grebe (18th March), Ruff (22nd October), Whimbrel (2nd September), Grasshopper Warbler (3rd April), Sedge Warbler (9th April), Reed Warbler (13th April), Redwing (23rd September) and Northern Wheatear (27th October).
By contrast, a number of species did not have a good year. The hard winter of 2010-11 hit some, most obviously Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. For different reasons, Blackheaded Gulls failed to nest successfully, with low water levels at least a contributory factor. Other birds cause longer-term concern. For example, Common Coot is vanishing, Willow Tit is in slow decline, and Common Nightingale – an iconic Thorne Moors species – was absent altogether. Finally, it is pertinent to observe that 2011 was the third year to lack any trace of Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis. The national cull of this species is all but complete.
Mute Swan Cygnus olor. There were two records in May, on 21st (one) and 31st (two). The only other sighting was one on 19th September.
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus. In the first part of the year, records extended from 28th February (one) to 6th April (one), mostly involving the flooded workings. Counts reached 50+ on 7th March, with 33 next day and 11 on 18th-19th March. No other counts in that period exceeded three. Later records commenced with seven on 19th October and three on 20th, then c.40 on 2nd November, decreasing to four on 12th. Again, the flooded workings were favoured.
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus. The only birds in the first two months were in January, on 18th (c.650 north) and 29th (150+). On 1st March, 250+ flew north and c.310 (in three skeins) headed west, though there is a possibility of overlap in these sightings. Subsequent early counts were 18 on 26th March, 12 on 2nd April and 17 on 4th April.
What was described as a feral Pink-foot was with Greylags on 14th September, and next day 15 Pink-feet were seen. Numbers then rose in mid-October, with c.40 north-west on 15th and 430+ on 19th-20th (including c.250 flushed by a Peregrine Falcon on 19th). Then on 22nd, 2664+ were recorded (PA, PH), a site record. Counts diminished during the remainder of October, maximum c.400 on 26th. Totals peaked again early in November, with significant records on 3rd (c.1200), 5th (c.2500), 6th (c.2550), 8th-9th (c.1600) and 10th (c.1000). Many of these geese were associated with Goole Fields. There was only one Pink-foot on 12th (the putative feral individual?), but 74 on 16th and up to three subsequently in the month. December counts involved c.100 on 12th, c.300 on 26th, and c.60 and 33 (possibly different birds) on 27th.
White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons. In December, 21 flew west on 3rd (RJS), with four southwest next day (CN) and 14 west on 26th (RJS). Presumably all were A.a. albifrons. The third to fifth records for Thorne Moors.
Greylag Goose Anser anser. Records began in February, with c.40 on 22nd and 30+ on 26th, one of the latter being a white bird. There were up to 16 Greylags thereafter. In March, 30+ on 5th and c.20 on 11th were exceeded by 36 on 26th. The April maximum, on 16th, involved 40+, including two adults and four young at Will Pits Scrape. On 21st, there were 18, including the family at Will Pits Scrape. On 4th May, six young were reported; and on 13th there were c.20, “and one brood” partially hidden in dense vegetation. On 27th May five adults and three young were observed, and on 31st May there were two pairs, “both...with juveniles”. Other counts May-July only achieved double figures (12) on 20th June, with the exception of c.80 on 16th July. One of the geese on 16th was a Greylag Goose x Canada Goose hybrid. Counts in August occasionally reached c.70, but with 193 on 3rd, 500+ on 6th, c.300 on 7th and c.100 on 15th/29th. September opened with three on 2nd, then 20 on 9th, but these were eclipsed by several counts of 500 or more from 10th (including two white birds), maximum 564 on 11th. Numbers diminished to 80+ on 17th and only two by 24th. October totals occasionally exceeded 20, namely 60+ on 8th, c.200 on 15th and c.60 on 19th. In early November there were 20 on 1st and c.500 on 6th; with c.80 on 27th December.
Canada Goose Branta canadensis. First recorded on 25th February (two). Bred in the Will Pits Scrape area, a pair with four young being seen on 22nd April and 7th May. There were isolated counts of 14+ on 3rd April, 13 on 21st May, 23 on 7th June and 96 on 14th September, with other counts of one or two to the last on 17th November (two). A hybrid Greylag Goose x Canada Goose appeared with Greylags on 16th July.
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca. One was with Greylags at ‘Thousand Acre floods’ on 11th September (RJS, BPW). The second record for Thorne Moors.
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna. The first were recorded on 27th February (two), with odd birds on 18th/26th/27th March and 3rd April. Records during the period 16th April-2nd July reached five on 16th/22nd/30th April, but mostly only amounted to one or two. A juvenile occurred on 29th August, with a final bird on 19th November.
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope. Records in the early months comprised eight on 18th January and 24th February, a pair on 27th March and three on 9th April. Lone records were of singles at Will Pits Scrape on 9th July and 29th August. September occurrences comprised 11 on 2nd and five on 13th. Records in October involved singles on 8th/15th/22nd, 10+ on 18th and five on 28th. Two occurred on 2nd November, with three on 9th and 20+ on 12th.
Gadwall Anas strepera. Reported in January only on 18th (three), although with up to six in late February. March counts reached c.20 on 1st, 21 on 6th, 23 on 26th and 20+ on 27th. May counts included c.10 on 13th and 11 on 31st. Apart from one on 2nd July, there were no other JuneSeptember reports, and only two in October (two on 15th/18th). November totals exceeded five+ on 9th (10) and 17th (seven). Late in December, there were five on 27th, nine on 28th and eight+ on 31st.
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca. Recorded throughout the year, monthly maxima being January c.180, February c.80, March 104, April 29, May 42, June 26, July 35, August 164, September 246, October 200+, November c.400 (at Will Pits Scrape on 12th) and December c.300. On Crowle Moor, a c/7 was found on 27th May. Bred at Will Pits Scrape, where two broods (eight and six) were seen on 5th July. Also, a brood of six was on Blackwater Dike (near Will Pits) on 12th July.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos. Monthly maxima were January c.90, February c.120, March 131, April 34, May 81, June 70+, July 27, August 200+, September 350+ (on 3rd), October 150+, November 300+ and December 232. Broods were reported from Will Pits, Will Pits Scrape and Green Belt Scrape.
Pintail Anas acuta. Only recorded towards the end of the year. A male on 20th August was followed by three males on 14th September and a female/immature overhead on 10th November. At Will Pits Scrape, there was a pair on 12th November and two males and one female on 13th December.
Shoveler Anas clypeata. Not recorded in January, but February counts reached six (22nd/24th). March-April numbers peaked at c.26 on 27th March and, in April, 16+ on 3rd and 20+ on 16th. Double-figure totals in May involved 15 on 21st and 26 on 31st. No June counts bettered 10 on 7th. There were only two sightings between 17th June-19th August, confined to July: two on 2nd3rd, and a female with two young on Blackwater Dike on 12th. August-September counts reached five on 9th September and 20+ next day. Double-figure totals were obtained in October (10 on 20th, 14 on 22nd, 17 on 28th) and November (20+ on 1st and 20 on 2nd). There were December singles on 17th/31st.
Common Pochard Aythya ferina. Two pairs were present at Will Pits Scrape on 15th October.
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula. Records during January-March began with nine on 18th January, followed by more regular sightings from 8th February. Three counts of 10 spanning 22nd-27th February, were exceeded in March by 13 on 6th and 16+ on 27th. Fewer records in April included 10 on 6th and 20+ on 9th. Totals in May-June did not exceed six, except 16 on 31st May. During July, almost all records concerned breeding. On 16th, a female had eight young at the Southern Canals; on 26th, a female had eight young on Mill Drain; and on 31st a female had eight young on Thorne Waste Drain. The only later records were obtained on 15th October (10), 18th October (eight+), 22nd October (three), 2nd November (two) and 28th December (three).
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula. There were single birds on three November dates, all at Will Pits Scrape. They comprised an adult male on 8th/10th and a female/immature on 12th.
Goosander Mergus merganser. Twenty-three at Will Pits Scrape on 18th January was a record count. February totals reached 15 on 8th/22nd and 17 on 25th. Similarly, in March there were maxima of 17 on 1st, 15 on 14th/18th and 21 on 26th-27th. April records comprised 21+ on 3rd, four on 6th and 12 on 9th. Frequently reported in late November-December, beginning with two on 27th November and with a maximum in that month of five on 28th. December counts sometimes reached seven, with 14 on 27th. Virtually all records were obtained from Will Pits Scrape, exceptionally the flooded workings.
Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa. Recorded on 12th March (one along Fisons’ Road), 19th March (one in a field along Jones’ Cable), 11th May (two at Red House Farm), 7th August (one in the southern fields) and 24th August (one at Top Moor Farm). The year’s maximum was seven, at Fillingham’s Gate on 9th November.
Grey Partridge Perdix perdix. In the first half of the year, noted on only five dates. Each record involved one-two birds, the first being one in a field along Jones’ Cable on 7th March. More frequently noted July-December, again one-two but with five higher counts. These were on 17th September (10+ in Chadwick’s Field), 24th September (eight), 21st October (25 in the southern fields), 7th December (12 in farmland near Creyke’s) and 12th December (seven again near Creyke’s).
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix. Single birds were heard on 7th May (Southern Canals), 22nd May (‘Middle Moor’ near the site of Blue Bridge), 28th May (western end of Mill Drain Marsh) and 2nd July (junction of Middle Moor Tram and Elmhirst/Pony Bridge Trams). During the annual European Nightjar survey, two Common Quail were located, “one just off site” (Middleton Ecological Consultancy).
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus. No counts exceeded c.30 recorded on 12th December. Five young were seen on 20th June.
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo. On 1st January, single(s) flew south in the morning and north in the afternoon. One was reported on 27th February. On 2nd May, 11 flew east, constituting a record total. These were followed by a single going north-east on 1st June. September records involved one overhead on 2nd and five (three SW and two east) on 14th. A final bird was overhead on 27th December.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta. On 10th November, one was seen perched in a tree along Middle Moor Tram towards the site of Blue Bridge. It flew off to the south-west (WHP). There have now been seven Thorne Moors records, plus others from nearby.
Of interest, one flew east over Moorends on 24th August (WHP), and one was present along Durham’s Warping Drain (west of Black Drain/Moorends Road) from 4th-9th October (WHP).
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea. Recorded 11th May-15th November, one-two except three on 26th June.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis. Recorded from 19th March-23rd July at Bell’s Pond, flooded workings and Will Pits Scrape. ‘Whinneying’ birds were heard at these locations, especially Will Pits Scrape. Also one at Bell’s Pond on 1st/8th/15th October.
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus. On 13th April, a pair was at Will Pits Scrape.
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis. Most records were obtained during 2nd April-1st June. There were very few sightings outwith that period, and no evidence of successful breeding. There was an isolated March record, of a single bird at Will Pits Scrape on 18th, the earliest ever by a day. Many of the subsequent sightings were from the flooded workings, always to the south of Fisons’ Road.
On 2nd April, two were seen at these workings, with four on 9th; “courtship display” was witnessed on the latter date. On 14th/16th/21st-22nd, two were watched at the flooded workings, with the addition on the latter date of a further pair at Will Pits Scrape. The year’s maximum count was obtained on 23rd, with six in total. This involved pairs at the flooded workings, Will Pits Scrape, and at further flooded workings near this scrape, the only record from there. During the remainder of the month, there were occasional reports of single grebes at the flooded workings. No May sightings were notified until 11th, when one was at the flooded workings. On 14th, single birds were encountered at the flooded workings and Will Pits Scrape, and on 20th-21st singles were observed at the flooded workings. Towards the end of the month, one was at Will Pits Scrape on 27th, and two were at the flooded workings on 28th/31st. In addition, the flooded workings held two on 1st June. There were three later dates, 9th/20th June (singles at Will Pits Scrape) and 2nd July (one at the flooded workings).
Red Kite Milvus milvus. An adult flew low to the west on 20th June (BPW), and one headed north-east on 15th September (RJS).
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus. Present throughout the year, with fewest dates in January, June and July. Records peaked in April-May and from August onwards. Age/sex are given as reported. During January-March, recorded in the former month on 1st (immature male) and 18th/25th (‘creamcrown’). The immature male was again noted during 3rd February-3rd March, with an adult male on 14th February and occasional records of unspecified males in the same period. Single females/‘creamcrowns’ appeared 25th February-25th March, with two ‘creamcrowns’ on 26th March. Also on 25th March, “a calling male [was] in display-flight, seen over the Green Belt Scrape. A female was nearby”. Specified birds in April were an adult male, male, female and two ‘creamcrowns’, with daily counts reaching five on 17th and four on 30th. During April, on 7th a “displaying male [was] seen over Will Pits Scrape, where a female [was] also seen”. On 13th, a pair was at Will Pits Scrape, “the male bird again calling in display flight”.
“Apparent nesting behaviour” on Goole Moor was reported on 20th.
In May, five were counted on 4th and six on 14th, these latter comprising an adult male, immature male and four ‘creamcrowns’, with other reports in May including male and female harriers. There were no reports of display. The maximum in June was four (11th), though with no other details beyond a male and female. At least three in July included a male and two ‘creamcrowns’. Numerous August records, of one to three birds, peaked at five on 31st. During the month, specified birds were a male, female, two ‘creamcrowns’ and two juveniles. Up to four in September were eclipsed by six on 23rd, these comprising an adult male, immature male, two adult females and two “brown birds”. Two males were reported on 11th September, presumably the foregoing. Harriers described as juvenile were observed on 2nd/14th. On 17th, four landed in a tree on the northern edge of Goole Moor in a pre-roost gathering.
October records included two totals of four, on 15th/22nd, both involving single adult and immature males and two ‘creamcrowns’. Other reports included single juveniles on 20th/28th. In November, there were numerous counts of one-three, specified birds including single adult and immature males, female, ‘creamcrown’ and immature. The latter may perhaps be equated with reports of a juvenile on 2nd/9th/27th. On 16th November, three were reported as roosting at the flooded workings. December totals exceeded three on a single occasion, 27th, when at least six, and possibly as many as 12, roosted at Green Belt floods. Specified December birds were single adult and immature males, female and three ‘creamcrowns’. In addition to the events of 27th, roosting was also noted on 12th (single male and female at the flooded workings) and 26th (two unspecified also at the flooded workings).
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus. Age/sex are given as reported. In the early months, noted on 10 dates 20th February-17th April, mostly involving reports of a female/‘ringtail’, but also a male on 27th February and 5th-6th March. Records recommenced in October, with a juvenile on 19th, then a male and ‘ringtail’ on 22nd. Frequent sightings in November-December involved a juvenile, female and up to two ‘ringtails’, the latter on 12th November. Reported males/adult males were around on nine dates, plus a second-year male on 13th/26th December.
Evidence of roosting was as follows. On 16th November, one roosted at the flooded workings. Subsequently, on five December dates, harriers were seen to roost, almost always at the flooded workings. These were a juvenile on 7th, a male and female on 12th, a female on 14th, two (including a juvenile) on 26th, and a male on 27th. The latter was specified as roosting at ‘Middle Moor’.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus. Monthly maxima were generally of one or two birds, but with four in April, and three in May and December. Breeding was proved in the Green Belt area in August, including two juveniles on 14th. Other interesting observations involved displaying birds over Durham’s Garden and Woodpecker Wood on 3rd April, a pair over Collis’ Tram on 27th May, a male mobbing a Common Kestrel on 19th August, and one attacking thrushes on 12th November.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo. Watched on five dates during January-February, all single birds. Relatively frequent from March-June, again involving singles except four on 26th March, three on 4th April and occasional counts of two. In the second half of the year this pattern was essentially repeated, with one-two per date, but four on 13th September and 7th October, five on 15th September and three+ on 21st September.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus. There were five records, but possibly only three or fewer birds. The first concerned one moving west over Will Pits on 28th August (PA, PH, BS). On 4th September, one was perched in a dead tree at ‘Middle Moor’ (BSt). A few days later, on 9th, one was perched in a dead tree along the Canal Towpath before heading off south (RJS). On 22nd October, one flew out of Swinefleet Warping Drain at Red House Farm (PA, PH, BS), and farm workers there claimed sightings on other dates. The latest ever was an adult low over Green Belt, heading north, on 9th November (BPW).
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus. The highest total was six on 22nd October. On 19th March, a pair was seen in display-flight over Snaith & Cowick Moor.
Merlin Falco columbarius. Present on a mere four dates, with only female/immatures specified. The dates were 22nd October, 19th November and 25th December, plus one at Top House Farm on 20th December.
Beyond the study area, a female/immature chased Barn Swallows at Moorends on 29th August.
Hobby Falco subbuteo. One on 9th April (RJS) was apparently the earliest ever recorded in Yorkshire (Yorkshire Birding). The next were on 22nd (one), 23rd (two) and 29th (six). In early May there were two on 2nd and six on 4th, these latter including a pair in display-flight. Counts throughout May-August mostly comprised one-two, occasionally three or four, with six on 4th May, five on 29th June and seven on 23rd July. A bird on 9th July was described as a juvenile. Singles occurred in September to 21st, with two on 9th/24th.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus. Age/sex are given as reported. Encountered in each month January-July, but on only 13 dates. Specified birds were a male and female on 3rd January, an adult female on 3rd February, an immature male on 6th March, a male on 9th April, a male and female on 30th April, a second-year male on 25th June, and a male on 23rd July. Together with one on 31st May, these latter were the only records in the period May-July. Other records of two were obtained on 5th March and 17th April.
In August, up to two were seen, including a juvenile. September records probably comprised four birds, namely single male and female and two juveniles. In October there was an adult male, female and immature. In November, records comprised a male, apparently two females (these latter on 6th) and apparently two juvenile/immatures. The juvenile seen on 10th/12th was described as “large”, that on 19th was “not large”. December sightings comprised a male, female and juvenile.
On 19th August, a juvenile Peregrine Falcon unsuccessfully pursued a Northern Lapwing, and on 10th November a female chased a Pink-foot and struck it to the ground.
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus. Records of singles spanned 6th March-27th July. There were one or two calling from the Southern Canals on 13th May; three on 31st May included two on Goole Moor. During the year, other locations were the Rhododendron Path, Southern Boundary Drain, flooded workings, the Viewing Platform, and the Will Pits/Will Pits Scrape area.
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus. Unreported in January, November and December. Counts reached three on occasion, with five at Elmhirst on 7th September.
Common Coot Fulica atra. Now rarely reported, although an unusual record was one at Bell’s Pond on 9th/16th April. At the flooded workings south of Fisons’ Road, seen on 23rd April (two), 27th May (two) and 31st May (one).
Common Crane Grus grus. A separate account is being compiled.
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus. Three records, all of singles. The dates were 30th April (at the flooded workings), 7th May (overhead), 7th June (flew east) and 12th August (over Thorne Colliery).
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius. Reported from the flooded workings, the first (two) on 11th May. In July, a pair had three fledged juveniles, with the young trio last certainly seen on 19th August. Four were present on 31st August/2nd September, which may have included the same juveniles.
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula. After one on 22nd April, records in May began with three on 2nd, peaked at 11 (on Goole Moor) on 14th, and with five on 21st also notable. There were three on 31st May and two on 23rd July. August records were obtained on 17th (two) and 31st (five). Records from the first part of September included five juveniles on 4th, peaked at 15 on 9th, and with subsequent counts of five-nine, the latter on 14th. There were October singles on 1st/15th.
European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria. Logged on three April dates, namely 2nd (c.100 north), 6th (nine north) and 8th (c.30 overhead). There were two isolated summer dates: 27th July (one at the flooded workings) and 3rd August (one at Green Belt floods). In September, one flew west with Whimbrels on 2nd, with others overhead on 14th (one) and 19th (three). There were further records October-December, involving one-three, except 26 on 14th November, c.70 on 27th November, and c.150 on farmland near Creyke’s on 7th December.
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus. Occasional records in the early months included 23 on 25th February, and notable March counts on 11th (20), 22nd (c.50) and 26th (29). Also in March, four were holding territory on 18th. Totals in April-May exceeded 12 only in the latter month, with 17 on 20th and 34 the next day. On 31st May 47 were present, with June counts peaking at 24 on 7th. Two young were found at Green Belt floods on 26th June, and were also seen on 2nd/9th July. Additionally, bred on Goole Fields. One hundred and twenty-two on 2nd July were mainly at Will Pits Scrape, with other July-August counts reaching 14 on 27th July. There were no September reports, and only one in October (32 on 22nd). November-December records were irregular. They exceeded 11 on 16th November (c.40) and in December on 13th (c.180) and 18th (44).
Red Knot Calidris canutus. One was at Green Belt floods on 13th September.
Little Stint Calidris minuta. A juvenile occurred at Green Belt floods on 17th August. In September, one was at ‘Thousand Acre floods’ on 2nd, singles were at Green Belt floods on 3rd/10th/13th, and two juveniles were present at the flooded workings on 4th.
Dunlin Calidris alpina. In May, after two on 7th and eight on 14th, records of one-three were obtained on several dates. There were four August records: one west on 6th, five+ on 13th, two on 17th, and another west on 20th. Reports from September spanned 2nd-19th, involving up to five, except eight on 13th. There were also four on 1st October.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax. Mostly present in August (6th-29th), maximum five on 19th/27th. Also singles on 4th September and 22nd October, the latter being the latest ever.
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus. One was flushed along Middle Moor Tram on 26th February.
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago. Virtually unrecorded until late April: only singles on 27th February, 11th March and 9th April. From 23rd April until early July there were occasional reports of ‘chipping’ and ‘drumming’ birds, including five ‘drumming’ in the ‘Middle Moor’ area on 31st May, and three ‘drumming’ over flooded workings and the Viewing Platform on 2nd July. Next day, three passed north. Apart from two on 7th August, there were only singles in that month. After seven on 2nd September, records involved one-three until 17th November, the exception being 12+ on 8th October.
Woodcock Scolopax rusticola. Met with in the first part of the year on 22nd February (three), 25th February (one) and 4th March (two). ‘Roding’ was reported in the Will Pits area, and here a c/4 produced three young. One was at Bank Top on 3rd July. During the annual European Nightjar survey, two Woodcocks were located (Middleton Ecological Consultancy). Recorded again from 1st October, mostly singles but two on 22nd October and 31st December.
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. Three headed off east on 9th July, and two were seen on 20th August.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus. Five with a Golden Plover flew low to the west on 2nd September, another latest ever date.
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata. Recorded singly on 22nd/24th February. There were several records of one-two from 2nd May-25th June. The next was one south on 3rd July, followed by singles on 12th/17th August, three (possibly five) on 20th August, one on 3rd September, and one east on 6th November.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. One was at Will Pits Scrape on 29th August.
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus. After one on 2nd July, one-two were recorded from 23rd July-29th August, plus four on 26th July (Bell’s Pond) and 10 on 29th August (Leonard’s Drain). Also one on 9th September and two on 14th September.
Greenshank Tringa nebularia. Singles were present on 30th April, 2nd/7th May and 9th July. Regular in August, maximum three+ on 6th and four on 24th. September dates were 2nd (two) and 9th/11th (one).
Common Redshank Tringa totanus. One was seen on 2nd March. Reported fairly frequently 26th March-2nd July, with a pair in residence at the flooded workings. Display and territorial behaviour were witnessed, but there was no evidence of a successful outcome. Counts exceeded two on five dates in May (three, except four on 7th and six on 31st) and on 20th June (four). On 2nd July two were seen and “others heard”. There were two August records, both of singles, on 12th/24th.
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus. On 28th May, a dark phase individual headed west over Goole Moor with four Herring/Yellow-legged Gulls (WHP, BPW). The third record for Thorne Moors.
Common Gull Larus canus. Infrequently reported in January, March-May and then September onwards. Notable records involved eight north-east on 1st January, an adult with territorial Blackheaded Gulls on 26th March, an adult on 31st May, and seven on 20th December.
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus. Apart from an adult north on 18th March, not encountered until another singleton on 4th May. To the end of June, daily counts were low, except 32 on 20th May and 94 on 20th June, these latter mostly roosting gulls at the flooded workings. Also notable were 87+ at ‘Thousand Acre floods’ on 2nd July. Of 18 on 23rd July, an adult was moribund and taken into care, probably another victim of botulism. The highest counts in AugustSeptember involved Lesser Black-backs roosting or flying to roost, with c.300 on 15th August, 268 on 21st August, c.220 on 4th September and c.245 on 14th September. Also notable were 121 in the southern fields on 9th September. Fields at Woodpecker Wood attracted 200+ in early October, though with other totals in that month exceeding 19 only on 22nd (c.40). There were also five on 9th November.
The 87+ examined on 2nd July included two+ adults that appeared to be referable to L.f. intermedius (BPW).
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis. For the first time, reported in May. There were two second-summers on 21st and a single second-summer on 28th. On 25th June, five second-year birds (in various stages of moult) were identified (a record total), and others in first-winter plumage may have been missed. On 2nd July, five second-year birds (again of varied moult) were present. The total on 14th September was one third-winter and three probable first-winters (all BPW).
Herring Gull Larus argentatus. From January-August, sightings were infrequent, with over half being in August. On 1st January 208 flew north-east, on 18th March two were down with territorial Black-headed Gulls, and on 28th May four (Herring/Yellow-legged) flew west with an Arctic Skua. The first reported roosting birds were four (Herring/Yellow-legged) on 20th June, peaking in early September (c.220 on 4th as maximum). Counts of birds (at roost or flying to roost) in October-November reached c.250 on 22nd October, c.100 on 2nd November and 81 on 9th November. The modest counts in December (including roosting birds) peaked at 17 on 1st.
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus. Until August, the only reports were 64 north-east on 1st January, a third-summer bird on 24th June, and four+ on 2nd July. This latter number was also the August maximum (on 20th). Subsequent counts, mostly of roosting birds, occasionally reached c.40, maximum c.50 on 4th September.
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus. Territorial birds were reported from 5th March (10), with figures March-June only occasionally exceeding c.100: 160+ on 12th March, 227 on 18th March, c.300 on 9th/16th April and c.180 on 20th May. However, breeding – at the flooded workings south of Fisons’ Road – was a failure. “The Black-headed Gull colony not looking good, no real activity there. As others have also noticed, they seem to have totally abandoned any attempts at breeding this season, very odd” (BSt, 1st June). It is believed that no chicks were raised to fledging.
From 28th August to the end of the year, counts (including in Chadwick’s Field and the southern fields) twice exceeded c.100, both times in September: c.200 on 9th/24th.
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis. One passed east over Green Belt floods on 2nd May (WHP). The second Thorne Moors record.
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea. Thirteen+ passed east on 29th April, a record total, as did five the following day. All previous certain records have been in May.
Rock Dove Columba livia. Very few records of feral birds received, with two reports in July the only ones of any note: eight at Thorne Colliery on 2nd and six on farmland to the south of the colliery on 31st.
Stock Dove Columba oenas. Reported in most months, including on adjacent farmland. Maxima were 10 on 1st January, 10+ on 5th February and 20+ on 26th February. Bred in a shed at Bank Top.
Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus. Monthly maxima to June did not exceed 20+, rising to 131 in July and c.220 in December, but peaked in November at c.300 on 9th/23rd.
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto. There were occasional totals of one-three during FebruaryApril and September-October, perhaps almost all in the Red House Farm/Top Moor Farm area. The known exception was three over Durham’s Garden on 19th March. More notable were 32 at Red House Farm on 11th March, and six on 11th May at both farms. There was a nest in a shed at nearby Bank Top in late May, success unknown.
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur. The first and last dates were 29th April (four+) and 8th August (two). Daily counts of up to six were bettered by nine at Green Belt on 26th June. Locations (presumably all involving ‘purring’ males) were Durham’s Garden, Rhododendron Path, Green Belt, Limberlost Tram, Pony Bridge Marsh and Crowle Moor. Perhaps for the first time, none was recorded as occupying the former stronghold of Will Pits.
Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus. After the first bird on 21st April, reported regularly to 1st June, maximum six on 27th May and 10 on 31st May. There were four on 20th June, singles on 24th/26th June, and one on 2nd July.
Barn Owl Tyto alba. Noted in each month July-December in the area of the southern fields/Limberlost, where an occupied nestbox is located on farmland.
Little Owl Athene noctua. On 1st January, one was calling from Hybrid Black-poplars Populus x canadensis at Moorends recreation ground. In July, one was heard at Thorne Colliery on 10th, with singles near Limberlost on 11th and near Woodpecker Wood on 12th. Two were heard towards Inkle Moor on 21st. Also noted from the southern fields and southern edges of the moors on 16th September, 4th/10th November and 7th December.
Tawny Owl Strix aluco. During the year, records were obtained from several locations, although in the breeding season only from Durham’s Garden (one calling on 21st May) and Will Pits (one young bird calling on 2nd July). On 11th August, two were between Elmhirst and Limberlost. There were other records from Will Pits, including two on 17th November. Further locations were Durham’s Garden, the Rhodendron Path, the Pony Bridge Wood area (two on 11th November), Bank Top and Goole Moor. During the annual European Nightjar survey, five pairs of Tawny Owl were located, three of which had young (Middleton Ecological Consultancy).
Long-eared Owl Asio otus. Two were reported on 31st May on Rawcliffe Moor, and in July young birds were calling in the Elmhirst-Woodpecker Wood area. An adult was south of Whitaker’s Plantation on 12th July. Records in August concerned singles at Limberlost on 8th-9th, the latter an adult bird. On 4th September one was in the southern fields. During the annual European Nightjar survey, three pairs of Long-eared Owl were proved by locating juveniles (Middleton Ecological Consultancy).
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus. Encountered on nine dates, beginning with one on 27th October. Two were reported on four November dates, plus three on 17th. In December, there were singles on 2nd/24th and two on 12th. Most of the owls were hunting, locations cited being Goole Moor, the area of Shoulder o’ Mutton/Shoulder o’ Mutton Tram, Pony Bridge Marsh, the southern fields, and other flooded workings. At these latter, two on 16th November were mobbed by six Carrion Crows.
European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus. The first was a male on 27th May, with 10 on 31st May-1st June. The annual survey revealed 47 territories (Middleton Ecological Consultancy). A female and juvenile were seen on 14th August.
Common Swift Apus apus. The first date was 30th April (seven+), with 100+ on 2nd May. Later May counts achieved c.150, although with c.300 on 14th and 300+ on 15th. June totals reached c.90, except on 24th when “several hundred” were reported. In August counts attained 60+, and were higher on 15th (c.60 west + 15), 16th (c.70) and 23rd (c.80). In September, 11 were counted on 2nd, and on 14th, during a morning of hirundine passage, one passed west, being the second latest ever.
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis. One was seen at Will Pits Scrape on 23rd September, with presumably the same bird at Bell’s Pond on 1st October.
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis. Following the severe 2010-11 winter, Green Woodpeckers were infrequent. Singles were found or heard on 21st/31st May, 26th July, occasionally during August-October, and on 1st November. In addition, on 21st July two called on Crowle Moor and a juvenile crossed to Will Pits.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major. Not as badly hit by the severe winter as Green Woodpecker, but nevertheless relatively infrequent in 2011. There were records of singles on 1st January, 26th February, 11th/14th March, 23rd March (one ‘drumming’ at Will Pits), 6th/14th/22nd April, plus two on 25th February. After one on 2nd July, occasional singles occurred subsequently, and two on 21st September.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor. A male was at Will Pits on 25th February. In the same area in March, on 18th a ‘drumming’ bird was watched, and one was calling on 23rd. In April, a male was reported from Will Pits on 3rd, but there were no further records until 12th December, when one flew over ‘Middle Moor’.
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor. On 3rd January, one was discovered along Fisons’ Road, subsequently flying to the Canal Towpath (BPW). The next observation was on 29th January, near the Viewing Platform and along Eastern Boundary Tram. In February, the bird was near the site of Blue Bridge on 14th, along Fisons’ Road on 16th, and at Pony Bridge Marsh on 27th. It was again near the Viewing Platform on 1st/3rd March.
Magpie Pica pica. Monthly maxima reached 16 (18th January) and 22 (11th March). No other monthly totals exceeded 10+.
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius. In the first half of the year, singles were reported on 2nd/6th April and 20th June, with two on 18th March and 9th/22nd April. Maximum was three on 28th/31st May. In July, there were three on 3rd and two on 9th. Reported regularly from 7th August, with the year’s maximum of nine later that month, on 24th. Other counts included five on 11th September, five+ on 23rd September and 8th/15th October, and four on 1st November.
Western Jackdaw Corvus monedula. Two passed overhead (singly) on 5th March, and one headed west on 9th April. Others overflew on 20th October (one) and 6th November (two).
Rook Corvus frugilegus. In November, two flew over the edge of Goole Moor on 6th (not with the Western Jackdaws), and a singleton headed south-east over the Shoulder o’ Mutton on 19th.
Carrion Crow Corvus corone. The October maximum was c.400 on 22nd, with other daily counts not exceeding c.60. In November, totals reached c.200, plus c.400 on 17th. The December maximum was c.200, on 13th. These high counts were associated with a roost, with totals in previous years never exceeding c.260. Bred at Will Pits (two pairs).
Goldcrest Regulus regulus. In the early months, recorded on 1st January (three), 22nd February (one), 28th February (four), 1st March (four) and 25th March (one). Encountered again from 23rd September (two). During October-November, counts of one-six were bettered by seven+ on 1st October, 10+ on 8th November and eight+ on 10th November. There was a slight December showing, one on 10th.
Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus. The maximum of 25 was on 25th February, with no other counts exceeding 18 on 2nd-3rd July. Young birds were seen on 31st May and 2nd-3rd July.
Great Tit Parus major. Monthly maxima reached six on occasion, but with nine on 25th February, 10+ on 12th March, and eight+ on 8th October and 19th November. On 31st May, there were four adults and also young birds. Additionally, a pair bred in a nestbox on Crowle Moor.
Coal Tit Periparus ater. Present (singles unless indicated) on 4th April (two), 23rd April, 22nd May, 28th May, 31st May (two), 2nd July, 3rd September, 1st November and 15th November. Virtually all were at Will Pits, including those in May and July. Also in July, on Crowle Moor, a family party of three+ was seen in birch Betula on 2nd, and one was present on 30th.
Willow Tit Poecile montana. Daily counts were often merely one-two, occasionally slightly more, maximum five on 26th March. A pair may have bred at Will Pits.
Woodlark Lullula arborea. Only recorded in March. On 18th, two males were singing – one of which was paired – on the edge of the Thorne Colliery spoilheap. A male was recorded again, in the same area, on 19th/26th, with a pair on 25th.
Skylark Alauda arvensis. Monthly maxima only exceeded seven during September (11), October (140+) and November (17). For the October maximum, on 1st, one observer had 90+ flying southwest, while a second observer counted 51, mainly in Chadwick’s Field. Later in the same month, there were 23 on 20th (also mainly in Chadwick’s Field). A juvenile was seen on 23rd July.
Sand Martin Riparia riparia. Unrecorded until 31st May, except in April on 2nd (two) and 9th (four). There were occasional records in June, maximum six on 20th. Infrequent in July, although
35 passed south and east on 2nd. Counts in August-September sometimes reached four. Exceptions in August were 10+ on 7th, c.50 on 15th, c.168 west on 27th and 15 on 29th. Also notable were 59 on 2nd September. The last one headed west on 14th September.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica. The first date was 1st April (one), and until July daily totals did not exceed 12. From 27th July, counts reached c.70 on occasion, and bettered this on several dates. On 15th August c.140 were counted, with c.770 passing west on 27th and c.200 present next day. On 31st August c.150 were logged. Totals were also notable in mid-September, with c.300 on 11th and 177 west on 14th. Beyond 14 on 24th September, the only records were singles on 1st/21st October. Bred at Bank Top.
House Martin Delichon urbicum. “Several” on 30th April, with the next on 20th May. The only notable May count was 14 on 26th-27th. Records in June-July and much of August were unremarkable, maximum six on 21st July. On 27th August c.24 passed west, with c.200 reported next day. Seven September counts ranged from four on 19th to 283 west on 14th. The other four reached 18 on 9th and c.150 on 11th. The only record after 19th September concerned three on 1st October.
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus. Monthly maxima reached 27, eclipsed by 31 on 25th February and 32 on 4th December. Bred at Will Pits, Will Pits Scrape, Pony Bridge Wood and on Crowle Moor.
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita. The highest counts were 30+ on 2nd April and 25+ on 9th April. Other notable totals were 21 on 26th March, 20 in April, 22 on 20th June and 21 on 23rd September. The first and last dates were singles on 11th March and 24th November. Bred at Will Pits.
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus. The maximum counts were obtained in April (50+ on 16th/22nd) and May (62 on 31st). First and last dates were 2nd April (10+) and 24th September (one). On 24th May, a pair was seen food-carrying at Durham’s Garden.
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla. The highest counts were in April: 28+ on 16th and 25 on 22nd. Other good counts were 21+ on 22nd April, 23 on 31st May, 24 on 20th June and 20 on 2nd-3rd July. The first and last dates were 2nd April (10+) and 1st October (one male). Bred along Jones’ Cable and at Will Pits.
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin. The maximum count was 11 on 7th May (= seven at Will Pits and four at Durham’s Garden). First and last dates were 21st April and 29th August, a single bird on each occasion. Two nests were found near Will Pits Scrape, on 17th May and 9th June.
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca. The first, in April, were a male along the Rhododendron Path on 22nd and two males on 30th along Jones’ Cable. Single males were along the Rhododendron Path on 2nd May and at Green Belt on 10th May. In addition, single males were reported on 27th/31st May and 1st/25th June, the only location specified being the area around Thorne Colliery.
Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis. The maximum counts were 37 on 31st May and 33 on 20th June. The first and last dates were 9th April (two) and 19th September (one). Bred at Jones’ Cable, where there was a c/4 by 30th April. Also nested at Will Pits, Will Pits Scrape, along Fisons’ Road and on Crowle Moor.
Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia. After one on 3rd April, the earliest ever, maximum numbers were 19+ on 22nd April and 17 on 31st May. Bred at Durham’s Garden. On the last date, 6th August, an adult was feeding a youngster along Fisons’ Road. During the annual European Nightjar survey, 36 singing Grasshopper Warblers were located (Middleton Ecological Consultancy).
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus. One on 9th April was again the earliest ever. Counts over 15 were 18+ on 16th April, 35+ on 22nd April, 22 on 31st May and 19 on 2nd-3rd July. Bred near Mill Drain. The last record was one on 11th September.
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus. The maximum counts were 27 on 31st May and 21 on 20th June. The first was one on 13th April, another record early date. The latest date submitted was 8th September, when a juvenile was still being fed along Swinefleet Warping Drain.
Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris. In total there were an unprecedented 28 records, scattered throughout much of the year. However, only those listed below occurred 16th April-10th September. The ten months of occurrence were January (one on 1st), February (including three on 25th), March (including two on 26th), April (including one on 30th), May (singles on 22nd/28th), June (singles on 7th/11th), September (including two on 3rd/10th), October (one on 22nd), November (including two on 16th) and December (one on 10th). Most specified records were from the Will Pits area, including 22nd/28th May and 11th June. The record of 30th April was from Pony Bridge Wood, that of 7th June from Crowle Moor. Other locations were the Alder Woods and Durham’s Garden.
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes. Monthly maxima occasionally attained double figures, the maximum being a modest 20+ on 16th April and 18 on 20th June. Bred at Woodpecker Wood.
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris. For much of the year, the only reports were of one on 1st January and c.200 at Moorends recreation ground on 3rd March. Following seven on 22nd October, much more frequent, with counts in excess of 55 on 28th October (c.70), 9th November (c.120), 15th November (c.150) and 20th December (c.60).
Blackbird Turdus merula. Monthly maxima were January 12, February eight, March four+, April two, May 10, June eight, July 18, August one, September two, October 20+ (on 8th), November c.20 (also on 8th) and December 12.
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris. During the period January-April, the peak counts were in February, with c.100 on 3rd/8th. A notable late record was 80+ on 27th March, with the last being 42 on 4th April. Fieldfares returned on 8th October (seven west), with counts reaching c.300 on 15th (flying west) and 22nd (passing south-west), plus c.665 on 20th. In November, totals peaked at c.800 (to roost) on 9th and 424 (also to roost) on 15th. December figures attained c.320 (on 29th), plus c.660 on 31st.
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos. Recorded in all months except August-September, with daily counts reaching three on 1st January, 3rd April, 27th May, 1st October and 31st December. Six were at Will Pits on 2nd July.
Redwing Turdus iliacus. Recorded January-March, maximum 50+ on 29th January, and last seen on 3rd April (four). Two were at Durham’s Garden on 23rd September, the earliest return by a day. The highest October count was 80+ west on 15th, with totals peaking in NovemberDecember. November totals (including roosting birds) occasionally reached 100+, with c.200 on 10th and c.250 on 19th. The December maxima were c.100 on 4th/18th and 100+ on 6th.
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus. Most records during the year emanated from the western moor edge, including Inkle Moor, Long Meadow, Chadwick’s Field and the area around Thorne Colliery. Dates in the first half of the year were 3rd February (seven), 12th March (one), 22nd March (one), 27th May (two in Long Meadow) and 1st June (three on Inkle Moor). Reported on nine dates September-December, mostly one-four, but eight on 19th September and five on 21st October.
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata. One was along Fisons’ Road at Green Belt on 31st May.
Robin Erithacus rubecula. Monthly maxima only reached double figures in March (10+ on 12th) and June (11 on 20th). A juvenile was seen on 29th August.
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus. One was glimpsed along Jones’ Cable on 17th April. An adult female and a first-year male were along the New Cross Drain on 24th September.
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra. There were only four records. Five female/juveniles (three locations, including three along Fisons’ Road) occurred on 27th August. Singles were present on 4th/14th September, with two on 15th September.
European Stonechat Saxicola rubicola. Following the severe 2010-11 winter, virtually unrecorded until late September, but fairly regular thereafter. The first record was obtained along Fisons’ Road on 1st July, when a male and two female/juveniles were encountered. On 14th July, a female and two juveniles were near the Viewing Platform, confirming breeding despite the dearth of earlier records. From 21st September, most sightings concerned single male and/or female/juvenile birds. However, a male and two female/juveniles were present on 21st September and 26th October.
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe. The first were singles on 17th/27th March. Two were seen on 8th-9th April, with singles on 21st April and 2nd May. A pair on 4th May was the last of spring. Records in September began with two on 2nd, followed by three on 9th and occasional singles thereafter. A male on 8th October was only the year’s third specified male. One on Goole Fields on 27th of that month was the latest ever.
Dunnock Prunella modularis. Few records, many of them from the Durham’s Garden-Thorne Colliery area. The maximum was only two (on several dates), and included juveniles.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus. Only recorded at the end of Grange Road, Moorends, around the horse paddock, with up to four present.
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus. Four were in the Red House Farm-Top Moor Farm area on 24th/27th February. In the same area, one was seen on 11th June and three on 31st August.
Of interest, four+ were seen along Moorends Road near to Moss Terrace on 16th October.
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava. Extreme dates were 9th April (two) and 17th September (six+ on Moorends recreation ground). In the intervening period, there were many totals of up to six, occasionally up to ten. Higher counts were obtained in July (18 on 27th), August (12 on 3rd and 21 on 24th) and September (15 on 4th and 60+ on 10th). These records included birds feeding on adjacent farmland.
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba. There were no reports until 11th March, with singles on that date and two subsequent March dates. The only April record was three+ on 29th, but with a continual presence May-December. Most daily counts did not exceed five, the exceptions being 16 on 27th July and 11 on 31st August. Breeding proved, including “round colliery buildings” and at Bank Top.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis. The first date was 16th April (one near the Viewing Platform), followed by 22nd April (singles at the Shoulder o’ Mutton, the Viewing Platform and Bank Top, and two singing males on Crowle Moor). At the latter location, also reported on 4th May (four singing) and then 13th (two or three singing). Other locations from May-June were (maxima in brackets) the Paraffin Cuttings (one), Green Belt (one), Northern Canals (one), Shoulder o’ Mutton (one), the Viewing Platform (one), Collis’ Tram (two) and ‘Lonesome Pine track’ (two). In July, on 21st a nest was discovered on Crowle Moor, and a single bird at Green Belt on 27th was the last reported.
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis. Unrecorded in January. Subsequent monthly maxima were February three, March c.40, April 15, May 12, June 15, July 10, August 16, September 429, October 15+, November 12 and December two. Only March and September held any numbers. In March, the maximum was on 26th, with no other count exceeding eight. In September, the maximum of 429 comprised small parties passing south on 14th. Other records from that month included 92 on 13th and 70+ (including c.40 south-west) on 21st. The only evidence of breeding was food-carrying seen on two dates.
Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs. Monthly maxima were January six, February 38, March 10+, April 12, May 16, June 26, July three, August three, September eight, October 172, November 208 and December 336. The larger totals in the latter part of the year concerned roosting birds. Thus the October maximum involved such activity on 21st. The counts in November reached 208 on 14th and 185 next day. The notable December totals were on 1st (c.290), 14th (203), 20th (336) and 31st (226). Bred along Jones’ Cable, at Will Pits and on Crowle Moor, the latter involving a nest in a birch discovered on 17th May.
Greenfinch Chloris chloris. Not recorded every month, the maxima being January two, February two, March one, April three, June one, August three, October five, November six and December c.100. The December maximum was an isolated count, over Green Belt on 26th.
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis. Monthly maxima were January one, February c.20, March 20, April c.30, May 10, June two, July 20, August c.90, September c.145, October 70+, November c.70 and December c.100. The key dates were 17th August (c.90), 2nd September (c.145) and 12th December (c.100). It is of interest to note that no other September total exceeded 22. Probably bred along Jones’ Cable.
Siskin Carduelis spinus. In the early part of the year first seen on 26th February (two+), then in March on 5th (two) and 11th/26th (singles). The first to return was noted on 29th August (one), with early September records following on 8th (20+), 9th (one) and 10th (five+). Subsequent counts reached 20 on 14th September, 11 on 23rd September and 12 on 8th October. Occurrences extended marginally into November, with two on 1st/3rd.
Linnet Carduelis cannabina. In the first half of the year, records from the moors and peripheral fields (especially Chadwick’s Field) were occasionally notable. Counts of c.100 were overshadowed on four dates: 3rd February (c.150), 8th February (c.200), 14th February (c.190) and 11th March (c.180). One hundred in Chadwick’s Field on 21st/27th May was unusual. Counts during September-December sometimes exceeded c.40, maxima c.160 on 8th October and c.60 on 29th December. Breeding was reported from Green Belt, Goole Moor and Crowle Moor.
Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret. Counts in the first three months of the year reached c.50. Higher figures, all in February, were obtained on 25th (150+), 27th (c.70) and 28th (c.110). After four on 18th March, the last records in the early months were obtained in April. These were on 2nd (eight+) and 7th (10 on Crowle Moor and “several” at Will Pits). Will Pits again attracted c.30 on 2nd July. Regularly reported from 10th September (two+), with numbers exceeding 50+ on 8th October (c.160) and 9th November (c.60).
Common Redpoll Carduelis flammea. A notable year, with records on 12 dates (including the first ever in March/October), as follows:
1st January: Two at Green Belt.
22nd February: In the area of the Alder Woods, a flock of c.200 redpolls feeding on the ground was regarded as at least 75% Common Redpolls.
24th February: 40+ at the Alder Woods.
25th February: Eight+ at the Alder Woods, but “probably many more” amongst the redpolls.
27th February: Of c.100 redpolls seen in bad light at the Alder Woods, many were this species. 28th February: c.100 at the Alder Woods and Durham’s Garden.
18th March: Two at Green Belt.
19th October: One at the Alder Woods.
20th October: 12 at the Alder Woods.
26th October: Four at the Alder Woods.
28th October: Two at the Alder Woods.
2nd December: One at Fillingham’s Gate, bathing with other finches.
Arctic Redpoll Carduelis hornemanni. Two were at the Alder Woods on 25th February (BPW), with many Lesser Redpolls and eight+ Common Redpolls. The second Thorne Moors record, subject to acceptance by the YNU Birds Section.
Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra. The first ever May occurrence involved 11 (a record number) on 27th. They flew over Elmhirst Tram, at the junction with Limberlost Tram (BPW).
Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula. Monthly maxima were January seven, February 10+, March 10, April six, May seven, June eight, July five, August two, September five, October nine+, November six and December c.20. The maximum was on 26th December.
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis. One was along Fisons’ Road on 2nd-3rd November (MEO, IMcD, JGH, RM).
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella. Rarely more than six, maxima 22 on 27th February and nine on 27th May. Food-carrying was witnessed on Crowle Moor on 9th June.
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus. Monthly maxima were February six, March 10+, April 20+, May c.30, June 27, July 37, August 20, September c.40, October c.40, November 25 and December 32. The counts of c.40 were obtained on 23rd September and 1st October.
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra. One was at Longthorp’s Strip on 4th April.
Green Pheasant Phasianus versicolor. Five males of released stock were observed at Will Pits on 23rd November (BPW).
Falcons. Some reports of falcons during the year were puzzling, and were probably all attributable to captive birds. One falcon, which seemed to have several features of Saker Falcon Falco cherrug or a hybrid, was being flown by an unseen falconer on 4th September (BSt). A “huge sandy coloured Peregrine type” was also about at that time, and may have been the same (BPW). A “Lanner [Falco biarmicus] type” was observed on 19th November (WHP).
2001 Hobby. Four on 21st May.
2002 Gadwall. Ten on 25th December.
Mallard. c.350 on 26th August.
Marsh Harrier. One female on 13th March. Also five on 26th August and 2nd September.
Hen Harrier. Two ‘ringtails’ on 13th March, with further ‘ringtails’ in December on 23rd (one) and 31st (two). An adult male (and an adult female) on 7th November.
Common Buzzard. One on 2nd September.
Merlin. One on 2nd September.
Hobby. Two on 2nd September.
Peregrine Falcon. One on 2nd September.
Grey Plover. One on 18th August.
Dunlin. Two on 31st December.
Ruff. Seven on 18th August, with five next day.
Whimbrel. One on 18th August.
Common Sandpiper. Two on 18th August, with one next day.
Green Sandpiper. Two on 17th October.
Sand Martin. On 12th August, 250+ headed west.
Fieldfare. c.40 on 17th October.
2003 Pink-footed Goose. On 27th November, c.60 flew west.
Marsh Harrier. One female on 30th April.
Hen Harrier. Extra singles on 12th March (‘ringtail’) and 27th November (female).
Hobby. One on 27th April and two+ on 6th June.
Peregrine Falcon. One took a Wood Pigeon on 22nd December.
Little Ringed Plover. Three on 29th April.
Ringed Plover. Eight on 28th April.
Grey Plover. Two overhead on 3rd January.
Woodcock. Four on 2nd April.
Greenshank. Three on 17th/28th April.
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola. Two on 1st May.
Common Swift. In April, four on 27th and c.280 next day.
Garden Warbler. First date 27th April (two).
2004 Marsh Harrier. One male on 13th May.
2005 Tree Pipit. First date 16th April.
Yellow Wagtail. First date 16th April.
Red Kite. The Yorkshire Bird Report 2006 lists a record from 13th October. This may be a new date, but it could also be an error for the record of 26th October, which was missed from the Report.
Little Egret. On 5th June, three were present that eventually flew off south.
2008 Whooper Swan. Nine overhead on 18th October.
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta. Two were at the flooded workings on 10th May.
Black Tern Chlidonias niger. Four were at the flooded workings on 5th May.
Whooper Swan. In March, 30+ at Moorfields Farm on Goole Fields. Five on 18th October.
Pink-footed Goose. In October, 2000+ overhead on 8th, and c.2000 fed in a field near to Swinefleet Warping Drain on 27th.
Canada Goose. On 8th August, 110+ in north-western fields.
Common Quail. Singles were reported from Moorfields Farm on 29th May, 14th June, 13th July and 10th September (JJ). The latter bird was photographed, and is the latest ever date.
Black-necked Grebe. In May at the flooded workings, there were two pairs on 24th-25th and three birds on 27th. Singles were present at these workings on 9th/12th June. At Will Pits Scrape, there was one on 26th May, and – two months later than all the other records – one on 13th August, that might have been a passing bird.
Marsh Harrier. On 15th January, one was seen with a half-grown Brown Hare Lepus capensis at Moorfields Farm.
Hen Harrier. Single ‘ringtails’ on 24th February and 9th October, and a male on 14th December.
Common Buzzard. One was “following plough” at Moorfields Farm on 20th October.
Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus. The first-summer male was present 14th-16th June, usually in the area of the Viewing Platform.
Common Coot. Singles were recorded April-May.
Oystercatcher. Six flew over Will Pits Scrape on 30th April.
Dunlin. One at flooded workings on 4th January. Later maxima were five in August (30th), eight in September (25th) and five in October (8th).
Jack Snipe. On 8th January, one was in a dike at Moorfields Farm.
Turtle Dove. One at Moorfields Farm on 5th July.
Western Jackdaw. The birds on 24th May were only seen overhead.
Blue Tit. Bred on Crowle Moor, the nest in an old birch.
Great Tit. Bred on Crowle Moor.
Coal Tit. Bred on Crowle Moor, the brood being fed in some birches. They had left the nest “very recently” when seen on 20th May (RB).
Grasshopper Warbler. One at Moorfields Farm on 15th June.
Eurasian Treecreeper. The bird on 27th March was on Snaith & Cowick Moor.
Spotted Flycatcher. Nested in the farmyard at Moorfields Farm; the young fledged on 13th July.
Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos. “...one at Crowle Moor on May 23rd...” (Lincolnshire Bird Report 2009).
Yellow Wagtail. One on 1st April at Moorfields Farm, equalling the previous earliest record.
Goldfinch. Nested on Crowle Moor in birch.
Snow Bunting. The bird on 18th October was along Fisons’ Road North.
Black-necked Grebe. From this year, records at the flooded workings extended to both north and south of Fisons’ Road. These observations are, however, not differentiated here, but united as the flooded workings. Black-necked Grebes may have been present at Will Pits Scrape on 26th April. However, all certain records were from the flooded workings, where two were recorded 7th May18th June. At a location to the south of Fisons’ Road, two young were observed from 2nd June, but on 18th there was only one well grown young bird, with no subsequent records of the adults or juvenile. Of related interest, a juvenile Black-necked Grebe picked up in Moorends was released at Thorne Delves fishponds. Here it was present 5th-9th August.
LIST OF OBSERVERS
Thanks are offered to all who have obtained 2011 records, or furnished retrospective records for earlier years (with apologies for any omissions).
Paul Adams, Robert Adams, Bev M. Baxter, Robert Broch, Stuart Beeby, Kevin Bull, Carl Cornish, John Durrant, Christopher Evans, Melvin Grasby, Pat Heath, Janet Heath, David Hinchliffe, James Hinchliffe, Steve Hiner, John G. Hitchcock, Peter Hinks, Jack Hollingworth, Jim Johnson, Peter Kendall, Helen R. Kirk, Paul Leonard, Simone Maw, Ian McDonald, Ron Moat, Colin Neale, Michael E. Oliver, David Parker, Justin Parker, William H. Priestley, Adrian Scutt, Julian Small, Brian Smith, Jim Snowden, Ben Steel (BSt), Richard J. Sprakes, Brian Thompson, Graham Todd, Bryan P. Wainwright, Colin Wall, Robert Watson.
Middleton Ecological Consultancy (A. Cawthrow, D. Little, P. Middleton, W. Middleton, D. Pearce).
Other sources of records/information were Yorkshire Birding, Lincolnshire Bird News; Birdguides.
The following citations are additional to those in ‘The Birds of Thorne Moors. A Guide to Literature Sources’ (THMCF Technical Report No. 18):
• Anon. (1930) Nightingales. Doncaster Gazette, 30th May.
[Mooredges and New Zealand]
• Anon. (1931) “Times of their lives”. Doncaster Gazette, 18th September
• Anon. (1932) Nightingale at Thorne Moorends. Doncaster Gazette, 16th June
• Anon. (1934) The Cuckoo. Doncaster Gazette, 19th April
• Anon. (1962) A Nightingale sings on Thorne Moors. Doncaster Gazette, 26th April
[“...this one is braving the noises of the traffic on the busy main Doncaster-Goole road”]
• ‘Bill Teale’ (2010) Nightingales fall silent on Thorne Moors. Yorkshire Post Country Week, 31st July [p.15]
• Casci, M. (2010) Food production works alongside wildlife. Yorkshire Post Country Week, 3rd April [pp.6-7]
• Croxton, [R.] (2009) Meeting to Crowle and Thorne Moors – 27 June. Sorby Newsletter 503: 13
• Middleton, P.  Breeding Nightjar Survey – 2009 – Humberhead Peatlands NNR, SAC, SSSi, SPA (Thorne, Goole and Crowle Moors). Unpublished report by Middleton Eco Consultancy, Barnsley, to Natural England
• Middleton Eco Consultancy  Breeding Nightjar Survey – 2010 – Humberhead Peatlands NNR, SAC, SSSi, SPA (Thorne, Goole and Crowle Moors). Unpublished report by Middleton Eco Consultancy, Barnsley, to Natural England
[Download from website of Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum]
• Middleton Ecological Consultancy  Breeding Nightjar Survey – 2011 – Humberhead Peatlands NNR, SAC, SSSi, SPA (Thorne, Goole and Crowle Moors). Unpublished report by Middleton Ecological Consultancy, Barnsley, to Natural England
[Download from website of Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum]
• Saunders, H. (1899) An Illustrated Manual of British Birds. Second edition. Gurney & Jackson, London
[Eurasian Curlew breeds on “Thorne Waste”]
• Wainwright, B.P. (2010) The Birds of Thorne Moors. An Annotated Checklist. THMCF Technical Report No. 19