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Trip Report - 2016

Clumber Park
10th January 2016

Five of us made this trip, delayed a week because of the rain last weekend. The weather was really good with bright sunshine and a cold breeze. Everyone enjoyed the exercise but many of the usual birds were missing. We did manage to spot a couple of Marsh Tits! The total for the day was a very low 40, possibly influenced by the huge numbers of visitors and dogs wandering the estate - it was probably the first dry Sunday for many weeks.

Linacre Reservoirs
23rd February 2016

Eight of us met in the car park at Linacre in near perfect weather for a morning walk. It was bright and sunny without any wind, although it was icy cold to begin with! We walked around all three of the reservoirs and recorded Mandarins and Tufted Ducks with the Mallards on the first reservoir. There were also a couple of perched Cormorants. On the middle reservoir we spent a long time trying to identify a cormorant-like bird which was diving regularly quite a long way from the shore. After watching for some time we concluded that it was certainly a Shag. Some video evidence checked later confirmed this. There were a few Little Grebes around and a Great-Crested Grebe on each of the top two reservoirs. A pair of Grey Wagtails were busy on the smaller of the two brooks entering the top reservoir. Birds in song included Chaffinch, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Dunnock and Goldcrest. Spring is almost upon us. A flock of over 100 Lapwings circled as we neared the end of our walk. We recorded a respectable total of 34 species.

Hathersage & Grindleford
23rd March 2016

Another good turnout, with 8 members meeting up at Leadmill Bridge on an overcast but relatively warm morning with no wind. It was good birding weather and we found some good stuff, although a little disappointing that no chiffchaffs seem to have arrived as yet. It seems to me they are late this year. Mandarins outnumbered Mallards on the river, and there were several Dippers with at least two active nests. There were a lot more Pied Wagtails than Grey, but no doubt the greys are too busy nest building and well ahead of their cousins. It was well after 11:00 by the time we reached the Station Cafe at Grindleford, where most of the party were unable to resist the fare on offer. Well fed and watered, we returned along the higher track, returning through Coppice Wood before dropping down near Kettle House to re-join the riverside near Harper Lees. Highlights of the walk included a flock of Siskins with at least one Lesser Redpoll at Upper Padley where there were also a pair of Buzzards soaring. On the river were a male and female Goosander (some distance apart). On the "official walk" we recorded 35 species, but we recorded 3 further species on the walk from our house to and from Leadmill, including a couple of Meadow Pipits. We also found a completed Long-tailed Tit nest in Hathersage on our way home – always a pleasure to see.

Derwent Dale
2nd April 2016

Four of our less sensible members convened in the rain for a stroll up to Howden Dam in a most unrealistic attempt to spot a Goshawk. We didn't expect the rain to stop so we weren't disappointed when it continued all morning. It wasn't quite as bad as last year (when we had a strong wind as well as rain) and we managed to record 4 more species than 2014 - with a total of 21. Highlights were a Grey Wagtail at Howden Dam and at least 3 Chiffchaffs in song. It was no surprise when no raptors were seen at all, let alone a Goshawk! Maybe we'll have better luck next year.

Carr Vale
13th April 2016

A record low of only 3 members made the trip to Carr Vale on a glorious warm and sunny day. We were greeted by the song of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap around the car park. On the way to "the mound" we had good view of Bullfinch and Yellowhammer around the feeders but there was no sign of the usual Willow Tits. We spent an hour or so on the mound where the recently built Sand Martin wall was being well used. The locals pointed out a Peregrine perched on a pylon, a tiny dot well over 1/2 mile away! Several Buzzards were enjoying the warm weather. No Little Ringed plovers were there, although they had been recorded earlier in the day, as had a Whimbrel. Maybe we should start earlier than 9:00? On the feeder by the mound were several Bullfinches and Reed Buntings with the occasional visit by a Yellowhammer. The good weather also brought out some butterflies with Orange Tips, Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks and Brimstone all noted. Although there were no rarities like last year's Garganeys, we spent an excellent morning there recording 52 species.

Whisby Pits
7th May 2016

Four members enjoyed wonderfully fine weather for our annual visit to hear the Nightingales. It was hot and sunny with little wind all day. One was singing beautifully within a few hundred yards of the visitor centre, and we located 3 in the first 1/2 hour although we decided not to spend much time trying to see one. They were very deep in the scrub. Although there were no Lesser Whitethroats found and only a handful of Whitethroats, there were large numbers of Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Garden Warblers. The biggest surprise was the lack of hirundines with no martins at all and only a single Swallow to join the single Swift. The Sand Martin bank was totally deserted, possibly because of the nearby devastation of the island where the two hides have been removed to make way for a bigger children's play area. A Little Egret was found on the far side of the A46, which is now the best lake for waders and terns. We also had good views of Reed Warblers there. After a visit to the cafe for refreshment we were on our way home having recorded a total of 49 species.

Padley Gorge
19th May 2016

Seven of us spent an excellent morning in Padley Woods. The weather was just perfect and we started with views of a Whinchat as we crossed the moor from Surprise car park. Meadow Pipits seemed to be fewer than usual but there were plenty of Tree Pipits in full song as we approached the woodland edge. On entering the woods we immediately had good views of Pied Flycatchers. We seated ourselves at a point where we had good views of a singing Wood Warbler not long after we had found a Spotted Flycatcher and a Goldcrest. This turned into a lengthy coffee stop and we had plenty of birds passing through. The woods seemed to be heaving with Treecreepers and there were plenty of singing Redstarts too. More Spotted Flycatchers followed. A pair of Stonechats (clearly feeding youngsters in a nearby nest) greeted us at the moorland edge as we entered the woods, and were still around as we left, but were a lot more agitated by then. The constant stream of birders passing their patch was taking its toll! 29 species were recorded even though some of the commoner regulars were missing. We found all our our target species with ease.

Northumberland Weekend
21st-22nd May 2016

Saturday saw us all convene at the harbour at Seahouses to get our tickets for the day bird watching on the Farne Islands. The N.T. landing charges had increased considerably (£5.75 to £8 per island) and we were warned that we may be unable to land on Staple Island because of the wind. We were on our way in fine sunshine and a stiff breeze by 10:00 and were soon surrounded by sea birds as we approached the outer islands. It was a little choppy but we had good views of rafts of Puffins and Guillemots on the sea. After watching the grey seal colony for a while we approached Staple Island but our captain decided against landing. Getting on would have been OK but he was concerned about being able to take us off later. The decision was made to return us to harbour for lunch and then to return to Inner Farne for the afternoon. On the return journey we came across a pod of bottle-nosed dolphins so we stayed with them for quite a while before returning to harbour. The forecast rain didn't arrive and although the sea was even more choppy in the afternoon because of the tide, landing on Inner Farne was no problem. We spent a magical 3 hours on the island surrounded by the usual nesting birds. After running the gauntlet of Arctic Terns, we were soon having just as close encounters with all the others: Shag, Common tern, Sandwich Tern, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Kittiwake and Eider Duck. Whilst there we heard about a pair of Roseate Terns at the landing stage. I think we all managed to get good views of them. Some of us also saw a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers. It was a memorable day. Sunday saw most of us convene at Cresswell Pool at 9:00 in warm sunshine. As we parked the car we were greeted by Whitethroats and Skylarks and on the walk to the hide, we saw Tree Sparrows and Stock Doves. On the pool was a variety of waterfowl including Coot, Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Gadwall, Shoveler, Mallard, Goldeneye and Moorhen together with the inevitable Canada and Greylag geese. We were also delighted to find a surviving drake Ruddy Duck. Before leaving the hide we were treated to a fly-by from a Barn Owl - a surprise addition to our list at 10:30AM! As we wandered along the side of the pool we could hear numerous Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats, Linnets, Reed Buntings and Skylarks. By the time we left at 11:00 we'd recorded 38 species. We moved on a mile or so further north to check the pools and fields at Druridge Bay. There are Swallows nesting in the hides there although none had so far produced any eggs. here we added the likes of Sandmartin, Stonechat, Redshank, Wigeon, Whimbrel (at least 8 with dozens of Curlew), Little Grebe, Pochard and Snipe to our day list, The highlight was probably the Little Gull helping us to record 46 species here. We finished the day off another mile or so north with visits to a couple of hides at East Chevington. The weather had stayed fine for us throughout and everyone seemed to enjoy our time on the Northumberland Coast. A further 32 species were recorded here making the total for the two days 84.

Attenborough N.R.
4 June 2016

Only four of us managed to make it to Attenborough Nature Reserve on what turned out to be quite a memorable day. The weather was warm and sunny and we arrived to be greeted by the explosive sound of a couple of Cetti's warblers competing with each other from opposite sides of the car park. As we sorted ourselves out, we could hear a Lesser Whitethroat from a nearby hedge. The day just got better and better. In time we saw both of these birds and recorded no fewer than 17 Cetti's and another 3 Lesser Whitethroats. Warblers were in song all day and we recorded a further 7 species before we left - Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Garden Warbler. On the way to the visitor centre we passed Egyptian Geese and Red-crested Pochards, another two of our target species for the day and we'd only been there 5 minutes! We made sure we had the lock number to open the bird hide at the delta and spent an excellent morning around the pools and the banks of the Trent before having our lunch in the hide, which we had to ourselves. We were treated to good views of a Kingfisher there and saw two more later in the day. After some further refreshment at the cafe, we continued our meander and towards the end of the afternoon encountered a group of twitchers watching a superb male Red-backed Shrike. On reflection, maybe we shouldn't have tried to see the pair of Mediterranean Gulls before we left. Our failure to see through the thick vegetation on the island where they were nesting was our only disappointment. It was almost 5:00 by the time we set off for home, after recording a good total of 69 species in our 8 hours at the reserve.

Burton Mere
11 June 2016

Only two members managed to make this trip, a first for the club and hopefully not the last. We arrived to find that the reported Spoonbills were still around and soon had two of them in a scope view – high up in some trees. The visit was memorable for the variety of juvenile birds to be seen. We only recorded over 100 Avocets and were told that there were 76 chicks there! Wildfowl were well represented with broods of both Shoveler and Teal present. Only a few wader species were to be seen but almost 300 Black-tailed Godwits, mostly in breeding plumage made up for that. There were also plenty of warblers present, with 3 Grasshopper Warblers with Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler. In the Heronry there seemed to be more Little Egrets than herons. The forecast rain held off until just before we left, by which time we had recorded a total of 56 species.

North Cave
30 June 2016

Four members enjoyed an excellent day at this reserve, which continues to improve each year. Although the water level seemed higher than usual, the bird list continues to get better and better. Waterfowl are doing well at this site with breeding Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Shelduck joining the Mallard and Greylag Goose broods. Waders were well-represented with Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Wood Sandpiper present. The Avocets and Ringed Plovers both had young. The massive numbers of Black-headed Gulls breeding here (estimated around 400 pairs) were this year joined by a pair of Mediterranean Gulls, which had two well-developed offspring. We eventually found the elusive juvenile Black-necked Grebe that had been reported but was spending most of its time well under the water or behind one of the islands. A Red Kite paid a visit during the morning and another passed over just before we left. The warblers were relatively quiet and although we managed to see Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat we could only hear Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat. Hirundines were noticeably absent with only a few Swifts joining singles of Sand Martin and Swallow. Butterflies and dragonflies are another reason to visit this site but they were few this year. We did manage to see an unidentified skipper together with a few 4-spotted chasers and an Emperor dragonfly. By the end of our visit we had recorded a decent total of 59 species. Sadly, the hoped for Corn Bunting wasn't among them.

Burbage
12 July 2016

18 members and one guest met at Toad's Mouth to walk into the Burbage valley in our annual quest to see Nightjars. It was a near perfect evening with a light cool breeze to keep the midges under control. It was very quiet on the walk into the cleared woodland with only a few Swifts, a Reed Bunting and several Meadow Pipits showing, with distant Blackbird and Whitethroat singing. By 9:30 we were in position and watching the sunset over Higger Tor as we waited. We'd seen no Woodcock on the walk in but quite a few soon started roding as it got darker. It was almost 10:00 before a Nightjar was heard and we soon spotted a distant bird churring from one of the dead birch trees. We were treated to a couple of very close fly-by encounters and a bird was later seen churring from a nearer dead tree. We left soon after 10:30 well-pleased with our new and local site for Nightjars. Hopefully this location will have Nightjars for many years to come.

Blacktoft Sands
16 August 2016

Five members braved the fantastic warm and sunny weather for a thoroughly enjoyable visit. It felt as if there were fewer waders than normal but there were in fact 9 species present: Lapwing, Avocet, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Ruff, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Spotted Redshank. Marsh Harriers continue to do well here and we recorded at least 6 and noted that there were no fewer than 10 nests this year with 12 young fledging. There appeared to be more ducks than usual with Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Shelduck and Shoveler all present - with at least 250 Teal. Other highlights included a juvenile Water Rail and 3 Yellow Wagtails. A few Sedge Warblers and a Reed Warbler were also spotted. In total we recorded 47 species.

Norfolk Weekend
17-18 September 2016

Eight members and a few guests met at 9:30 at the Cley visitor centre on the first day of our weekend in Norfolk. After a very wet Friday, it was a relief to find it dry but the strong wind persisted all day. We started our visit at the central hides in the middle of the reed beds, where there were together with the usual large numbers of Teal and Wigeon and the resident Mallard and Gadwall. After a brief call at the visitor centre we continued our walk around the reserve past the sea watchers on the shingle. The strong winds were bringing many passage birds closer to shore and we heard that all 4 skua species had been around with several different species of Shearwater. To finish the day we visited the new easternmost hide overlooking Watling water where a flock of over 20 Egyptian Geese were spotted in a nearby field. By the end of the day we had added Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Little Stint to our wader counts. Swallows and House Martins were still around and raptors included Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and Kestrel. By the end of the day we had recorded a total of 45 species.

The wind had dropped entirely by Sunday, and we were hopeful of getting good views of Bearded Tits. On the walk to the first hide we could here them pinging and some of us had brief glimpses. Even before we reached the first hide, some of us were surprised to see a Swift flying over the reserve - a very late bird indeed. Cetti's Warblers were singing but as ever, we failed to see any all day. On the freshwater marsh we had excellent views of a couple of Water Rails and once more some glimpses of Bearded Tits. There were hundreds of snoozing Bar-tailed Godwits and a few Black-tailed, quite the opposite to what is normally present on the freshwater side – maybe it's not so fresh these days. At least 20 Turnstones were also on that marsh with many Ruff and several Avocets. Before visiting the Parinder Hide we walked to the coast where the tide was low. We had lunch there while checking for the usual shore birds. Here, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Curlew and Knot were added to our tally. After visiting the central Parinder hide we headed for the hide and screen on the eastern trail which now takes you all the way to the eastern end of the freshwater marsh. Some of us finally had excellent views of Bearded Tits at the end of the trail. By the end of the day we had recorded 64 species.

Old Moor Wetland
10 October 2016

Six members met at Old Moor in the Dearne Valley on a cool but pleasant day, at least until some showers arrived after lunch. After a short visit to the garden hide, where it was good to see that both Tree Sparrows and Willow Tits are still around, we continued with our visit by starting at the Wath Ings hide. The water level was low and perfect for waders. Several were there in addition to large numbers of Golden Plover and Lapwing. Snipe, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Dunlin and Wood Sandpiper were added to our tally. After a visit to the Wader Scrape hide we called in the Family hide on our way back to the visitor centre. Here was the highlight of the day - a pristine Jack Snipe bobbing around in full view for a while, right in front of the hide! Before leaving, we walked over to the reed bed hides where we had to dodge some heavy rain showers. On the way, a Peregrine was spotted high up on one of the electricity pylons within the reserve. As we watched it flew off, clearly carrying something that looked very white. It looked very much like a smallish wader. It landed on the next pylon, again very high up. There it proceeded to pluck the victim's feathers and a cascade of very white feathers followed. We noticed then that the wing of the prey was turquoise? On getting a scope on to the bird, it was clear that the entire underwing of the prey was turquoise. No-one was able to think of a British bird whose feathers were largely white but has a turquoise underwing. We eventually concluded it might be an exotic escapee? Despite spending five hours at the reserve, we failed to catch up with the Great Egret which we knew was wandering the place but did see up to five Little Egrets. The species count for our visit was a respectable 52.

Before wending our way home we spent almost an hour at Broomhill Flash where the new two-storey hide is very much to our liking. The increasingly lonely drake Ruddy Duck is still in residence. Another Peregrine was lunching, sitting at the top of another pylon. In the recently harvested wheat field at the back of the pool we spotted up to 6 Red-legged Partridges with the Woodpigeons, Stock Doves and Lapwings and a Yellowhammer in the hedgerow too. There were few waders with only half a dozen Snipe, a Ruff and a Little Egret present. 32 Species were registered during our short visit.

Potteric Carr
8 November 2016

Only 3 members managed to make the trip to Potteric Carr, re-arranged because of disturbance at Ogston. After fighting our way through the heavy Sheffield traffic we arrived there on a crisp and bright morning. At the hide Willow Pool hide we were pleased to find the Willow Tits are still around. Piper Marsh was very quiet but there was much to be seen on Huxter Well Marsh where a Bar-headed Goose (probable escapee) was snoozing. Waders were noticeably absent with only a single Lapwing in residence. There were lots of wildfowl present as expected with Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Wigeon, Pochard, Shelduck, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose present in good numbers. A Marsh Harrier was hunting in front of the Loversall Bank hides. An excellent walk around this reserve provided views of Treecreeper, Bullfinch, Siskin and Goldcrest in the woodland. By the end of our visit we had recorded 52 species.

Martin Mere
18 December 2016

Only four members managed the trip to Martin Mere this year on what turned out to be a bright and sunny day. A big plus was that it wasn't as cold as usual. The place was remarkably quiet and we seemed to have most of the hides almost to ourselves, at least until the 3PM feeding session. The replacement hide for the old Swan Link hide is now completed and is a big improvement. It seemed to us that there were a lot fewer Whooper Swans and Pink-footed Geese this year although the numbers of Shelduck and Pintail were as big as ever, and there were dozens of Ruff as usual. Other waders present included a number of Snipe, hundreds of Lapwing and a single Black-tailed Godwit. We had good views of a Kingfisher from the United Utilities hide overlooking the marsh - it was fishing in a nearby pool. Another (or maybe the same one) was fishing near the Ron Barker hide towards the end of the day. From there we also had fair but distant views of a Green-winged Teal - the American cousin of the hundreds of others present. We also recorded a Little Egret, the first we've found there. The feeding session was as spectacular as ever and by the time we departed we had recorded a total of 57 species.