Thursday, 22 February 2018

Yorkshire Arboretum

A cold, sunny day for my first visit to this large site, with the promise of some Hawfinches, which have been resident in the area since their irruption last October. The Hawfinches did not disappoint, about a dozen flew over before we left the visitor centre and they show a few more times about the place, mostly atop trees, but also one feeding on the ground, with a mixed flock of Greenfinches, Redwings, Brambling and Chaffinches. Finches are indeed plentiful in the site, particularly Greenfinches and Chaffinches, probably taking advantage of the abundance of tree seeds on the ground. Two Buzzards called, soaring above the trees.
The arboretum occupies 120 acres on the grounds of the Castle Howard Estate, and is now managed as a charity together with Kew Gardens and comprise over a large collection of trees from several regions of the world, many mature, which started growing since the late 1970s. The trees are well labelled, with a card attached to a branch in the tree. The grounds also have ancient trees, especially oaks. Some of them are now kitted with owl nests on the top. The landscape is undulating and with wooded areas and extensive meadows, allowing for expansive views. Some areas are quite wet and there are ponds and a lake recently restored. There are two marked walks on the map provided at the visitor centre.
The visitor centre has a small shop and a cafe and there is outdoor sitting space right next to well topped bird feeders. Something to take into account is that dogs are allowed on site, on leads nearer the visitor centre.
 I will definitely visit again, even if the Hawfiches leave.
Jackdaw. Many pairs investigating the holes in the old oaks.
Winter Aconite.
This and the following two photos are the usual, distant treetop views of the retiring Hawfinches.

Goat willow buds.
Ancient oak with owl box.
A Hawfinch feeding on the ground.
Tame Chaffinch by the visitor centre.
Mash Tit.
Sunbathing Kestrel.
Another ancient oak.
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