From lush edge-of-town parkland, to a most iconic building
AS WELL AS being a working cathedral, York Minster is a major tourist attraction. For the last couple of years, a new spectacle has been pulling in visitors – a pair of Peregrines, now known as Mr and Mrs Minster. In 2015, the birds appeared to have nested on the North West Bell Tower, where they are often seen perching on gargoyles, but no chicks emerged. Will there be a Baby Minster in 2016? This walk offers some of York’s best urban birding, taking in the Peregrines, the nearby Museum Gardens, a stretch of the River Ouse, and my favourite lunchtime birding patch, the Homestead Park. During spring and summer, the call of Chiffchaffs is rarely far away, and the meadow area, with a small wooded section, is a good place to look for Goldcrests, Treecreepers and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and Jays are possible. Other parts of the park that can be fruitful include the Backhouse Pond, where I’ve seen occasional Kingfisher or Grey Wagtail. There are often Bullfinches here, and Sparrowhawks are common. On the way out of the park, near the pedestrian entrance on Water End, it’s worth looking for Nuthatches. From the park, the walk follows the River Ouse, where there’s a good chance of Goosander in the winter, and Sand Martin, Blackcap and Whitethroat in the spring and summer. It’s also worth looking out for Kingfisher and Great Crested Grebe. The Museum Gardens offer quiet corners where plenty of parkland birds can be found.