The Patch

Thrintoft Patch Boundaries

The parish of Thrintoft lies to the west of Northallerton and stretches between the larger villages of Ainderby Steeple and Greater Langton. Boundaries of the parish are neatly marked by the Swale to the west, the A684 to the south and the B6271 to the East.

For the sake of the patchwork challenge however, it is simply too large and when I refer to the parish in this blog, I will specifically refer to the accessible areas as follows:

Terrain and Habitat

As can be seen from the satellite image above, the area is predominantly intensively cultivated arable farmland. However, many of the local farmers are sympathetic to wildlife and the area holds good numbers of nationally scarce farmland species. Tree sparrow, yellowhammer and curlew do especially well, and there are good numbers of other typical species such as corn bunting, yellow wagtail, lapwing and grey partridge. On the whole the patch is flat, but it rises to the north some 20-30m above the river.

The Swale runs notoriously quickly and where flood defences have not been constructed is a very dynamic river, with an ever changing route. Indeed, the largest area of standing water in the patch is an ox-bow lake (circling the square in the middle of the patch map above). The lake and surrounding trees have been largely unexplored by myself, but I aim to change that this year and hope to add some interesting new records.

To the south of the patch, the Swale meanders and carves through farmland, creating high earthy banks. I estimate there are more than 100 pairs of sand martin that regularly nest in this small area alone and kingfisher and little egret can be seen here and along the length of the river. To the north, the river is more akin to a typical upland river, flowing fast and shallow past expansive gravel beaches. Grey wagtail, oystercatcher and common sandpiper are regularly sighted, while redshank turn up less reliably. Last year I recorded osprey in both Spring and Autumn and added my first green sandpiper and greenshank.

The patch is a strange shape and necessarily so! There is very little tree coverage in the area; most being dark coniferous stands for pheasant to roost. I had to include the grounds of St Wilfrids at the very north of the patch, an 11th century church situated picturesquely in its own little wood, a thin peninsular of a larger woodland that runs along the Swale for 1km or so. The bird-life in this area is completely different to elsewhere in the parish with good numbers of marsh tit, greater spotted woodpecker, treecreeper, goldcrest, spotted flycatcher and nuthatch.

The village of Thrintoft dates back to the 17th century and contains a mix of modern and old property with a handful of barns and accessible roof-spaces. This makes it attractive to house sparrow, swift, house martin and swallow that all nest in the buildings in good numbers. In addition to the commoner garden species, the village attracts many owls. Little owl and tawny owl provide a noisy, year-round soundtrack while sightings of barn owl have increased in the last few years. In fact there are unconfirmed reports of breeding in one of the older barns.

Finally, the southernmost tip of the patch is a small flooded copse bordered by a small open pond, boggy ground and areas of thicket. A magnet to breeding warblers in the summer, this small area has also thrown up snipe, teal and one brief sighting of water vole.

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