The Buckton area is one of the undisturbed jewels of the Headland, with a mouth-watering track record of national rarities to its name as well as some quality farmland habitat for a range of breeding and wintering species.
The area around the village pond consists of the medium-sized shallow water pond itself, a small scrape with controlled water levels adjoining it, and an area of paddock grassland and a line of mature Sycamore trees. This area has produced rarities including Black-bellied Dipper, Temminck’s Stint, Bittern, Bluethroat and Black-throated Thrush.
The trees around the village pond act as a migrant trap, holding birds that have arrived on the cliff top and filtered down Hoddy Cows Lane. This is one of the easiest sites in Yorkshire to see Yellow-browed Warbler, with annual records in late September and October.
The pond is on the western outskirts of Buckton village on the B1229 and access is straightforward (parking is limited and please don’t block residents access). A purpose-built viewing screen overlooking the pond and scrape is positioned 50m up Hoddy Cows Lane, giving a good panorama over the scrape.
Continuing up Hoddy Cows Lane, after about 400 metres you reach the main dell – an area of Gorse, Hawthorn and Blackthorn scrub on the left of the public footpath. This area is great for holding migrants with previous records including Red-backed Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Barred Warbler, Pallas’s Warbler, Firecrest, Siberian Chiffchaff and Isabelline Shrike. Ring Ouzel, Long-eared Owl and Yellow-browed Warbler are annual. The dell is private and fenced so please view from the perimeter and resist any urge to enter.
Continuing further, the public footpath then turns towards the cliff top. Just before reaching the cliff an area of scrub can be found 200m to the east. This area is known as the cliff top dell, and contains a large Heligoland ringing trap. This entire area is open access and the surrounding field can be very good for Short-eared Owls, and Lapland Bunting in particular.
The scrub around the trap has produced Little Bunting, Wryneck, Icterine Warbler, Siberian Chiffchaff and annual Yellow-browed Warblers. Please do not enter if ringing is taking place – make your presence known and the ringers will gladly show visitors any birds caught. An isolated dell just to the west (containing mainly Gorse scrub) held the UK’s 4th ever Brown Flycatcher in September 2010.
Top tip – the best time to visit this area is mid morning, when the light is from the east and the sun has reached the cover in the dell.
Access and directions – Access all the above areas on foot from the B1229 at the western end of Buckton village. Note that parking is very limited here, and the road narrow (and often used for farm vehicles).
Contributed by Mark Thomas. Mark’s excellent Buckton Birder blog can be found here