I often joke about school getting in the way of birding. However, if I want to do well in life school is necessary, and Filey School is a good place to find birds. The best bird I have ever had on the school grounds was a Yellow-Browed Warbler in a tree on the edge of the field in 2013 while I was playing Rugby. This made me realise that just because I was at school didn’t mean I couldn’t look for birds.
I am fortunate enough to have been able to see Herring Gulls rear chicks on the roof. In 2015, two chicks were raised and eggs are currently being incubated for this year (2016). I am lucky in that I can see passage from my school; on a misty winter morning I have looked up and seen Fieldfares and Redwings moving overhead, as well as wintering Pied Wagtail on the ground. I believe Pied Wagtail breed in the school somewhere but I cannot tell where exactly. The field attracts many birds due to the vast numbers of worms on offer; Oystercatcher, Herring Gull, Black-Headed Gull and Lesser Black-Backed Gull frequent the field.
With the school being quite close to Filey Dams, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose and Mallards often fly low over the school and I once had a flock of what seemed like high flying Aythya or some other diving ducks moving north. Kestrels often patrol the school field along with soaring Buzzards from nearby farmland (and sometimes on migration). Summer sees the arrival of Swallows and Swifts on the field as well as passerines actively finding food for their young.
I have seen many species of bird in the hedge around the school during my time including Tree Sparrow. These are a bird of conservation concern. To have them breeding in and around the school is fantastic. However, I obviously have no optical aid when at school, thus meaning things at the far side of the field are tricky to ID, especially when I am working in a classroom! I have twice suspected a gull of being a Yellow-Legged Gull but they were both just too far away to tell.
I only have a couple of weeks of my time at Filey school left whilst I am writing this and still haven’t got two birds that I had at my primary school in Scarborough; Mediterranean Gull and Redshank. Both of these would be nice but I suppose a Yellow-Browed Warbler makes up for this. I believe that schools are often under-recorded bird-wise and therefore if something rare does turn up we may never find out about it… So lets encourage more young birders.
All words and pictures by Will Scott