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Trip Report - 2013

Clumber Park
5th January 2013

The New Year was off to a fine start for 10 club members with a total number of species in the mid-50s on what proved to be a mild, calm and sunny day. One lucky member caught glimpse of a Hawfinch while the others were getting ready in the car park; unfortunately, our later efforts to find Hawfinch around the chapel were unproductive. Many woodland species were nonetheless present, including Marsh Tit, Treecreeper and Goldcrest. On the lake, the water birds included Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Shelduck, Pochard and Goldeneye. Around Hardwick, a surprise Tree Sparrow was spotted in a hedgerow, as well as Buzzard, Fieldfare, Lapwing and Yellowhammer in the fields. At the Carburton end of the lake, where much of the surrounding banks had become submerged, several Mandarin Ducks and a few Teal were seen.

Carsington Water
26th February 2013

The weather was a bit murky as we set off but it was even worse when we arrived. The seven members making this trip arrived at the Sheepwash car park to find it quite misty and dank. This persisted all day making visibility quite poor. The number of wildfowl was probably the lowest we’ve seen there for many years. There were neither Gadwall nor Pochard and we only found half a dozen Wigeon and even fewer Teal. Quite a few Goldeneye were just visible through the murk! The bird feeders were quite busy and we had excellent views of several Bullfinches and a couple of Willow Tits. We spent the morning at the Sheepwash and Paul Stanley Hides before a good lunch at the Miners Arms. Later we all walked to the heated hide near the visitor centre. Some of us pressed on to the visitor centre and one hardy soul  walked on through a freezing breeze to the far side of Stones Island. He was rewarded with fine views of a couple of Great Northern Divers, which were also calling. He was also the only one to spot a Kestrel or a Sparrowhawk too. The rest of us had to be content with seeing around 200 Lapwings, a Redshank and three pairs of Oystercatchers. As we called in at Lane End hide on the way back, large numbers of gulls were coming in to roost. There must have been a few hundred of both Black-headed and Common Gulls but the visibility made it impossible to see clearly what was out on the water. If we include the Buzzard which almost collided with one member's car bonnet as they left Sheepwash, we recorded 44 species today – not so bad considering the conditions we faced!

Derwent Dale
30th March 2013

Six of us set off on the walk from Fairholmes up to Howden Dam in bright sunshine. It was, however, still freezing and the track along the eastern shore of Derwent Reservoir was very icy. We were rewarded by a glimpse of a Peregrine as we reached Derwent Dam. We had to fight our way through deep snow to our usual watch point by Howden Dam. It was really peaceful there but, sadly, the hoped for Goshawks failed to put in an appearance. On the way there we spotted a Buzzard being harassed by a couple of Ravens. At the dam we had distant views of Sparrowhawk and Buzzard. On the way back we saw a Kestrel and later realised that there was a nest box occupied by Kestrels on the western tower of Derwent Dam, in which was another bird. Noticeably absent were regulars on this walk such as Wren, Goldcrest, Carrion Crow, Song Thrush and Cormorant. No doubt, this was because of the very unseasonable weather conditions. Even the usually raucous Canada Geese numbers were much lower than usual. Luckily the worst of the ice had melted for the return journey. At Fairholmes, around lunch time, as we dodged the crowds of Mallards and visitors, we noted a pair of Goosander near the far bank of the reservoir. The species total of 27 was quite low but we all enjoyed an excellent walk in the bright and crisp conditions.

Burbage
23rd April 2013

A sunny but windy St George's Day saw 21 people set out on the walk. Almost straightaway a pair of Stonechats were seen across the road from the car park and a Ring Ouzel could be heard giving its 3-note piping call. After a little searching among the rocks, a couple of male Ring Ouzels were located. Continuing down the valley, further Ring Ouzels were heard and a couple of Wheatears were seen. Meadow Pipits and Red Grouse were low in numbers. Altogether 15 species were recorded.

Clumber Park
27th April 2013

Just two members ventured out for the early start on a day that was colder than on the walk in January. We were soon spotting the summer visitors: Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin and Cuckoo, but no Garden Warblers or Swifts. A surprise on the lake was a male Goldeneye, who seemed rather defensive of a female Tufted Duck! Our search for Woodlark was unrewarded but we did track down a couple of Tree Pipits. A lovely sight along the Hardwick hedgerows were Yellowhammers; it looks like the new hedgerows are now mature enough for them. In total, we observed 64 species.

Whisby Nature Park
11th May 2013

Six of us made the trip in cloudy and cool conditions which as expected proved less than conducive to much Nightingale song. The lack of sunshine and warmth meant that the warblers were rather more quiet than usual but we still managed to get reasonable views of Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler and heard Chiffchaff and Lesser Whitethroat well enough. One member chased down and photographed a Lesser Whitethroat. Notable absentees were both Reed and Sedge Warbler. The Nightingale song was quite weak but between us we managed to record at last 4 singing males and some of us had reasonable (if very wet) views of a pair during heavy rain in the afternoon. Some lengthy searching provided welcome sightings of Yellowhammer, Lapwing, Grey Partridge and Black-necked Grebe. Om the wildfowl front, it was unusual to find Pochard and Wigeon here in May. Other absentees included Sand Martin and any other waders. Even so we recorded at least 56 species on the day before we were driven out by heavy rain mid-afternoon.

North Cave
1st July 2013

Five members made the trip to North Cave and after a cool and dull start, it gradually improved and we had a hot and sunny afternoon. The reserve here continues to grow as areas are restored after sand and gravel extraction. It is clearly a good spot for breeding wetland birds and there were several hundreds of juvenile Black-head Gulls. Other youngsters included Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Common Tern, Avocet, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Greylag Goose, Mute Swan and Shelduck. Apart from the Avocets and Lapwings, other waders were very few and we only found a couple of Little Ringed Plovers and a single Redshank. For the second year running, we failed to find a Corn Bunting although the local records suggest they are still around in the surrounding fields. We had seen 50 species. After lunch we made our regular 10 minute drive over to South Cave to look out for a Red Kite. The patient members were rewarded with a fine fly-past with the bird showing really well against a dark sky after about 45 minutes - a fine end to a pretty good field day.

Tansley Dale
16th July 2013

Only 3 members braved a hot, sunny and windless morning to spend a few hours strolling the dale. As expected, birds were few and far between and we only recorded 14 species but we had some excellent views of juvenile Swallows. The lack of birds allowed more time to study the many butterflies on the wing this morning. Most were Meadow Browns but there were Common Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper and Small Skipper. The highlight however were a number of performing Dark Green Fritillaries, in particular a pair getting very excited on a thistle head! There were also a number of Chimneysweeper moths flying this morning.

Blacktoft Sands
14th August 2013

Six members made the trip to the RSPB reserve at Blacktoft Sands on a bright and sunny day with little wind. The timing of this trip is aimed at finding a few of the waders returning from their breeding grounds to the north, and we weren’t disappointed. We recorded 10 wader species – being Lapwing, Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Ruff and Dunlin. The normally reliable Black-tailed Godwits were missing this year. Despite the unwelcome attentions of a large number of tiny but very irritating flies, it was an excellent day. Other highlights included several Bearded Tits, a Peregrine fly-by which caused considerable panic in the wader flocks, brief views of a Water Rail and a Yellow Wagtail. In total we recorded 40 species – a not unreasonable figure for this time of year.

Potteric Carr
12th September 2013

Only two members managed the trip today and had the reserve very much to themselves with most of the hides empty of other folk. Sadly the place held few birds too. The weather was warm and bright with very little wind and although we only recorded 39 species it was an enjoyable visit. Joining the large number of Lapwing – over 850 – were a few other waders. There were a couple of Black-tailed Godwits, two Green Sandpipers, a solitary Greenshank and half a dozen Snipe. The flocks of wildfowl were clearly building but were still quite low. Wigeon, Shoveler and Pochard were there in relatively small numbers but the Teal and Gadwall were both well over 100 birds. Other highlights were limited to finding at least four Little Egrets moving regularly around the pools and a Willow Tit calling not long before we left for home. There were quite a few dragonflies active today, many of them busy mating before the cold weather arrives!

Old Moor Wetland
16th October 2013

Heavy drizzle greeted the four members this morning, but it improved later on what was always going to be a blustery and damp day. The garden feeders were all but deserted and there was no sign of the usual Tree Sparrows. Waders were represented by about 100 Lapwings, 20 Black-tailed Godwits and around 50 Golden Plover but all were easily disturbed and very mobile. The highlight of the day has to be the all too brief views of a Barn Owl being harassed by a posse of magpies. The wildfowl numbers were relatively low with Wigeon being by far the most numerous duck at approaching 300 birds. A total of 40 species were recorded.

Martin Mere
22nd December 2013

Apart from the blustery wind the day was pleasantly sunny until the short, sharp hailstorm that occurred at about 3PM. Surprisingly, there were no rare or scarce wild birds on the reserve, nor has there been for many weeks, but those species that were present did not disappoint. There were about 1500 Whooper Swans, 2000 Teal and several hundred Pink-footed Geese, Shelduck and Pintail, and fewer numbers of Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck. A solitary Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank complemented the numerous Ruff and Lapwing. The blustery conditions made smaller birds difficult to see but we did manage Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Robin and a few others. Both Lesser and Great Black-backed Gulls were present together with a couple of Ravens, scavenging on carrion. Several Buzzards were seen as well as a Peregrine and Marsh Harrier. About 45 species were recorded by the members.