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Trip Reports - 2017

Clumber Park

7th January 2017

Five of us made the annual pilgrimage to start our year list at Clumber once again. The weather was fine and not too cold for a change. The first hour was excellent and we soon had good views of Goldcrest and Treecreeper which often prove quite elusive. On reaching the lake we saw quite a few Goosanders fly through which were later found loafing about near the weir. Graham introduced us to a new hide overlooking some feeders in the woods which provided a very welcome place for a coffee. The walk back to the cars in the afternoon was disappointing after such a good start. There were unusually large numbers of Shoveler and Moorhen but we failed to find such common regulars as Starling, Pheasant, Collared Dove, Kestrel and Buzzard. As a result we only managed to record 48 species to start our year.

Carsington Water

6th March 2017

We were blessed with fine and sunny weather for this trip after what has felt like weeks of rain. Four of us started as usual at the Sheepwash car park and heard Willow Tit on the way to the first hide; the first of several heard today. The feeders by the hide were filled while we were watching and we soon saw our first Willow Tit of the year there. The water level was surprisingly low considering the level of the Derwent at present in the Hope Valley. Duck numbers were quite low but there were still a few Goldeneye, Wigeon and Teal to be found together with the resident Mallard and Tufted Ducks. Pochard and Gadwall were both absent. Numbers of both Great-crested Grebe and Little Grebe were very high. All three of the large gulls were present in small numbers together with around 300 Black-headed and 70 Common Gulls. The only waders present were Curlew (7), Redshank (2), Oystercatcher (4) and about 20 Lapwings. From Sheepwash Hide we had great views of a male Stonechat. Other highlights included several Goldcrests and Bullfinches and a single Pink-footed Goose (apparently now resident although quite fit). Sadly, we failed to connect with the Great Northern Diver which is still wintering there. We all enjoyed an excellent walk recording 55 species along the way.

Derwent Dale

2nd April 2017

Seven of us enjoyed a good walk in sunny and almost warm weather looking for raptors along the east-side of the reservoir as far as Howden dam. Sadly, we failed to find any Peregrine or Goshawk, although there were at least 4 Buzzards, 2 Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk. A few of us walked further on and a little way up Howden Clough where we found a pair of Ring Ouzels and a Skylark singing. We recorded a total of 35 species but some were noticeably absent and others were very few. There are normally over 100 Mallard but numbers were well below that. Siskin were missing too as were Pied Wagtail and Great Spotted Woodpecker. On the plus side there were at least 2 pairs of Mandarin, a pair of Teal and a pair of Ravens flew over the dam. There was a Greylag Goose with the Canada Geese whose numbers were still very high. The weather was fine and the views over the still water early on were stunning.

Carr Vale

20th April 2017

Five members enjoyed a fine walk around this DWT reserve. Most of the expected warblers had arrived and there were record numbers of Chiffchaff and Blackcap in song. There were quite a lot of Willow Warblers and a few Sedge Warblers but only single representatives of Reed Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler and Cetti's Warbler, which all remained unsurprisingly unseen. The feeders gave grand views of Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and Bullfinch. The artificial Sand Martin wall was very busy and it appeared that almost every hole was in use. The only waders seen were Lapwing, Oystercatcher (on a nest), Snipe and Common Sandpiper. The hoped-for Little Ringed Plovers were still absent. Other absentees included Yellow Wagtail, Whitethroat and Willow Tit, which are found most years. Despite that, we still managed to record a very respectable 56 species.

Whisby Pits

6th May 2017

Only four of us made our annual pilgrimage to record Nightingales. The weather wasn't promising with overcast sky and a keen and cold easterly breeze. The day started well with a quick spot of a Mediterranean Gull on the first island where there were over 1,000 Black-headed Gulls too! It also ended very well with a Little Ringed Plover seen from the cafe balcony as we supped afternoon tea. Sadly, we struggled to hear any Nightingales and it was almost lunch time before we heard the song very briefly. That wasn't so surprising as the weather wasn't great and there are only 4 singing males on site this year. The remaining cast really made up for that with record numbers of several species recorded - being Black-headed Gull, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Robin, Chiffchaff, Canada Goose, Moorhen, Magpie, Reed Bunting, Swift, Gadwall, Song Thrush, Skylark, Goldfinch, Teal, Common Gull and Egyptian Goose. We also saw several birds for the first time here in 14 years' of visits. These were Lesser Redpoll, Grey Wagtail, Garganey, Common Sandpiper and Mandarin Duck. The main highlight of the day was the large numbers of singing warblers, despite the lack of sun and warmth. No fewer than eight warbler species were present. Other highlights included both Grey and Red-legged Partridges, Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow. A memorable day with 68 species recorded.

Padley Gorge

18th May 2017

Eight early risers met near Grindleford station at 5:00 am for our first local dawn chorus walk. The weather was very kind to us with the first dry start to the day all week. There was plenty of bird song as we walked up into Padley Woods, but once there the song seemed rather muted. The usual woodland birds were there in good numbers including Treecreeper, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart and Nuthatch. After an hour or so in the woods, we climbed up onto the moor and walked across to Surprise corner. Up there we were rewarded with a family of Stonechat and fine views of a Cuckoo - that was being severely harassed by several Meadow Pipits. We also recorded Whitethroat, Linnet and Tree Pipit up there. Five of us stayed longer in Padley Woods on the return trip where we caught up with a few Spotted Flycatchers, more Pied Flycatchers and views of a perched Buzzard well-inside the wood. We managed to delay our return to the cars until almost 9:00 by which time the station cafe was open to supply a very welcome breakfast! We recorded 33 bird species in total.

Suffolk Coast Weekend

20th-21st May 2017

We were blessed with really good weather for this trip. Thirteen members and one guest convened at Minsmere for an excellent Saturday. We split into two groups to avoid overwhelming the hides. Both groups had several sightings of Bittern in flight. Hobbies were hunting over the reedbeds, as were Marsh Harriers. Warblers were in full song all over the reserve and seven species were recorded including several Cetti's Warblers. Highlights included a significant colony of breeding Mediterranean Gulls (at least 10 pairs), Little Terns and Sandwich Tern, in addition to numerous Common Terns, a number of loafing Kittiwakes, lots of Avocets (some with young), Water Rail (squealing but unseen), Stonechat, Turnstone and Grey Plover. Both groups recorded over 72 species, but it was clear that between us the count for the day was over 80. On Saturday evening we enjoyed a remarkably good meal (for all 14 of us) at the Kings Head in Yoxford. Everyone enjoyed their meal and the service and quality was excellent. On Sunday we set off for a walk around Dunwich Forest, which had chances for a wide variety of bird according to "Bird Watching" magazine. The planned walk was cut considerably short by the deficiencies of our leader's navigation skills and we only covered around 1/3 of the area by lunch time. We only recorded 26 species but the undoubted highlight was finding a family of Dartford Warblers which gave decent views to all. Other highlights included sightings of both species of partridge, Yellowhammer, Green Woodpecker and a Tawny Owl calling. After lunch, those staying for the full day returned to wander around Minsmere for the rest of the day. We hunted in vain for Nightingale and Stone Curlew and recorded 41 species, some of which were missing from Saturday's list.


3rd June 2017

Only two of us managed to make this trip on what turned out to be a very hot and sunny day. We were greeted by the song of Cetti's Warbler in the car park and had recorded Egyptian Goose and Red-crested Pochard on the way to the visitor centre as usual. The warblers were in good song as ever with large numbers of Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Blackcap. The others were Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat but Willow Warblers were absent or at least silent. Two distant Little Ringed Plovers were hard to spot. There were huge numbers of both Canada and Greylag Geese present in addition to the growing number of Egyptian Geese (two pairs had goslings). Several pairs of Common Terns were making use of the protected rafts for nesting. Swallows and House Martins were both absent but we had excellent views of Sand Martins in good numbers. A Cuckoo was still calling and we also recorded a singing Goldcrest for the first time here. The hot weather brought in lots of Saturday visitors, and seemed to slow us down and tire us too. We left soon after 2PM but still managed to record 63 species.

Burton Mere

11th June 2017

The weather for the scheduled visit here was wet and windy so we postponed it for one day. It was still rather too windy but at least we managed to dodge the rain showers. Only two of us managed the trip and were informed about a pair of breeding Cattle Egrets when we arrived. It turned out that they were nesting in the heronry where there are now many more Little Egrets than Herons. We started the visit in the woodland, which was rather quiet, until the visitor centre opened. The usual warblers were in song despite the wind - Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were all recorded. Once again there were many Avocets with chicks and the wildfowl also had good numbers of young. There were broods of Shoveler, Gadwall, Mute Swan and Little Grebe in addition to the Mallards. A few Teal and Wigeon were still around. A pair of Oystercatcher were feeding two chicks amid over 100 pairs of Black-headed Gulls, many with juveniles at all stages of development. Other waders present included 60 or more Black-tailed Godwits, many Lapwings and a few Redshank. There were also good numbers of Swallows, Swifts and House Martins feasting at low levels on abundant insect life. Other highlights included a pair of Great White Egrets, a Mediterranean Gull and a Barnacle Goose. Despite the windy weather, we managed to record 56 species, exactly the same number as on our first club visit here last year.

North Cave

29th June 2017

Five of us ventured north hoping that the showers would be less than forecast. As it turned out we needn't have worried, it was dry for the whole time, although cool and overcast. As a result there were very few damselflies or dragonflies and even fewer butterflies that are normally so numerous on this trip. The birds didn't disappoint, and from the first hide it was clear that the Avocets had done well with some well-grown chicks in view. The Black-headed Gulls with their incessant raucous cries were everywhere as they looked after literally hundreds of chicks. Coots, Grebes, Moorhens, Tufted Ducks, Mallards, Common terns and Greylag Geese also had broods at various stages of development. Warblers were well-represented and we had excellent views of Reed Warblers from the new hide on the north side. The others were Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat although most of these were heard rather than seen. Highlights included the song of a Corn Bunting, a Marsh Harrier (a first for us here) and a Yellowhammer. Despite the cool and dismal weather, we still recorded 60 species - a record for us on this site. Before leaving the area, we called in at South Cave to see if the Red Kites are still to be found there. We only had to wait a few minutes before one arrived and then promptly disappeared before everyone had seen it. Luckily another turned up within a few minutes together with a nearby Yellowhammer, which some had missed at North Cave.

Blacktoft Sands

15th August 2017

Seven of us made the trip to Blacktoft Sands on a warm and sunny day. We were rewarded at the first hide by the presence of a Spoonbill and a small group of Spotted Redshanks busily feeding, not to mention a hunting Barn Owl! The site was busy as far as waders were concerned, with 9 species present - Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Snipe, Lapwing, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew. At least three Marsh Harriers were present together with a high-flying Buzzard and a hunting Sparrowhawk. The usual Tree Sparrows were on the feeders, some clearly still feeding young in a nest box. Other highlights included at least 20 Little Grebes, some with young, and a Water Rail just before we left. In total we recorded only 44 species, but had excellent views of what we did manage to find.

Old Moor Wetlands

21st September 2017

Only four of us ignored the dire (wet) forecast and managed to access the reserve at 9:15, earlier than normally allowed here. We were rewarded by a dry and warm morning with rain only turning up a few minutes before we left after lunch. The wader scrape area was disappointingly quiet but the water level at Wath Ings was perfect for them and 7 species were recorded - Lapwing, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Ruff, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper and Greenshank. Both Redshank and Snipe were surprisingly absent. As usual the wildfowl numbers were building up although Wigeon were surprisingly thin on the ground. There were 6 Little Egrets present and a similar number of Grey Herons, one of which entertained us for some time as it caught, killed and devoured a huge eel, considerably longer than the bird's neck. Other highlights of our morning included Kingfisher, Water Rail, Bullfinches including a bird in juvenile plumage and a very busy Sparrowhawk. The rain arrived around 1:30 by which time we'd recorded 51 species. We then moved on to Broomhill Flash. We spent an hour or so there and despite poor visibility from the hide because of the heavy rain, we still recorded 29 species. Here we added Jackdaw, Pintail, Snipe and Kestrel to our day list.

Somerset Weekend

21st-22nd October 2017

The forecast was not very encouraging for our weekend field trip to Somerset, gale force winds and heavy rain were forecast. We started the weekend at Slimbridge and 8 of us were there by 10:00. We started by walking over to the hides overlooking the river and were quickly rewarded when 15 Common Cranes flew in and started feeding directly in front of us. The wind was really strong but the day started bright and sunny. We managed mostly  to dodge the heavy showers, few of which were prolonged until late afternoon. The birds were hunkered down for shelter and we struggled to find any waders at first. By the end of the day however, we'd recorded 10: Curlew, Lapwing, Dunlin, Ruff, Avocet, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Golden Plover and a distant Semi-palmated Sandpiper! The Bewick Swans and White-fronted Geese were yet to arrive but there were large numbers of both Greylag Geese and Barnacle Geese. In with the Barnacles was a Red-breasted Goose. The ducks were well represented with Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall. Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Pintail and Pochard all present. At the end of the day we'd recorded 53 species, a remarkable total considering the strong winds and the lack of small birds visible.

On Sunday we convened once more at Ham Wall and set off along the Glastonbury canal. From the first platform we were rewarded with our first Great Egret of the day and a Glossy Ibis, It seems the Ibis has been resident for a few years now. Once again it was very, very windy but the rain was much less frequent than Saturday. This made finding smaller birds difficult but Cetti's Warblers and Chiffchaffs were still singing. Some of us managed to catch a glimpse of both Kingfisher and Bittern. Raptors included Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and Kestrel. By the time we moved across the road to Shapwick Heath we'd recorded only 39 species. There were few more birds recorded at Shapwick but there were frequent fly-pasts of groups of Common Snipe from one of the hides.

Despite the very strong winds, on balance the weekend was a great deal better than we might have expected when setting off on Friday.

Leighton Moss

7th November 2017

Five members met up at the reserve to find the forecast strong wind was missing and the very heavy rain was more a gentle lengthy shower. That cleared before lunch and we were treated to a splendid sunset as several thousand Starlings flew over our heads to roost. Sadly, there was no murmuration and they roosted off the reserve. We started the day as high tide approached at the hides overlooking the Saltmarsh and Morecambe Bay. The pools were strangely quiet, however we were treated to very close views of a female Red-breasted Merganser, which posed neatly for photographs! A Great Egret was present once again but waders were few. Only Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Curlew, Snipe and Lapwing were recorded. There were a number of Pintail present. The afternoon was spent watching the freshwater pools where some of us had views of Kingfishers and Water Rails were heard. Among the usual finches and tits on the feeders were a few Marsh Tits. A new tower has been built affording brilliant views across the reserve and the surrounding countryside. We stayed until sunset and recorded 59 species before leaving for home.

Martin Mere

28th December 2017

Only two of us made this trip, re-arranged after bad weather before Christmas. As usual it was very cold but the light was special, with the low sun showing the birds well. The usual feast of wild geese and swans with almost as many ducks never disappoints. There were also many more gulls than usual, although no gull rarities. Much of the larger water bodies were still somewhat frozen so Teal and Wigeon numbers were lower than expected but there were the usual large numbers of Shelduck, Pintail and Mallard. As ever there were lots of Ruff present but only two other waders Black-tailed Godwit (3) and a single Redshank. Other highlights included good views of Brambling, Kingfisher, and Stonechat. Raptors were represented by Buzzards, Marsh Harriers and a Kestrel. We recorded an excellent total of 60 species before treating ourselves to scones in the cafe before our drive home!

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