Trip Reports - 2023
Four of us eventually ignored the poor weather forecast and met up in light drizzle at 9:30. We were fortunate in that the rain cleared away within minutes and we stayed dry for the rest of our visit. The usual wildfowl were present but goose numbers seemed quite low with very few of both Canada and Greylag. Duck numbers seemed quite normal and in descending order of abundance we recorded Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Goosander, Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall. The bird hide, with full feeders once more, was welcome for our first coffee stop. The bridge by the ford remains closed for the 3rd year but we were able to follow a new diversion to get to the wooded area to the south of the main lake. Birds were really thin on the ground there but we managed to pick up a small Long-tailed Tit flock and a Treecreeper. There was a huge flotilla of gulls in the middle of the lake of mostly Black-headed, but there were good numbers of Common and a couple of both Herring and Lesser
Black-backed too. As we approached the west end of the lake we spotted two birds which (to me) were new for this site. There was a Little Egret, perched quite high in a lakeside tree and then beyond the ornamental bridge was a Great Egret. Despite the absence of regulars such as Wren, House Sparrow, Little Grebe and Pheasant we still managed to record 41 species and enjoyed a much more pleasant walk than we might have expected.
Beeley Moor & Chatsworth
Seven members met up for a walk across Beeley Moor to Stand Wood and the day started well with the call of Ravens by the car park. We soon spotted Red Kite and Buzzard and as we walked along the bridle track we had a good view of Crossbills. This was followed by our first sighting of a male Hen Harrier that had been in the area for a couple of weeks.
As we entered Stand Wood we hoped to see the Harrier again but were happy with Nuthatch, Fieldfare, Coal Tits and Mistle Thrush to name a few. The woods were generally rather quiet for small birds but we did see two Goosanders, Mallard and Coot on Emperor Lake before setting off back towards Beeley Moor.
We hadn't gone far out of the woods before we were rewarded with another view of the Hen Harrier quartering along the fields and could really appreciate the beauty of this raptor. After much scanning of the skies above Harland Edge we were finally rewarded with a view of a Goshawk, with thanks to Doug Aston for his id expertise. The day ended adding a Kestrel to our raptor count and a total of 29 species. Many thanks to Will for keeping the list of birds.
Six members met up at Tapton Lock before 9:00 and set off towards Staveley along the Chestefield
Canal. It was dry for a change but the tow path had many puddles after yesterday's day of rain. Chiffchaffs,
Willow Warblers and Blackcaps were in full song but were especially difficult to see. We had good
views of a Song Thrush tackling a rather large worm for breakfast. The water birds were few with
only a handful of Mallards, a couple of Moorhens and a single Coot and Canada Goose. A pair of
Sparrowhawks were spotted circling but they were rather too high and on our return we had better views
of a Buzzard. Some of us saw our first Swallow of the year. Other highlights included a couple of Linnets
and a Treecreeper in our total of 35 birds.
As we left our house in Hathersage the dawn chorus was in full swing and it augured well for our visit to Padley Gorge and the adjacent moorland.
A dozen of us eventually convened on the roadside between Longshaw and Padley soon after 5:00. We had discovered that our planned meeting place at Surprise View car park had gates locked which prevented us getting into it. It was a rather cool and murky morning. It seemed very quiet when we parked and sadly didn't improve. The woods were eerily quiet with only Wren and Willow Warbler singing strongly and in any number. We only heard one each of Pied Flycatcher, Song Thrush and Redstart singing. Blackbirds were silent and even Robins seemed subdued and thin on the ground. We did get decent views of a few Pied Flycatchers and a couple of male Great Spotted Woodpeckers were a welcome sight. They were having a bit of a barney as we climbed up to the moorland where we hoped for better action. If anything that was even quieter. A single Tree Pipit was heard singing rather feebly and we saw neither Meadow Pipit nor Stonechat. A distant Cuckoo was heard but generally the walk was very disappointing. We struggled to record 25 different bird species and my personal highlight of a couple of fighting woodpeckers tells its own story. As we got back to the cars around 7:30, mist was descending once more.
Ten members and a guest started the weekend on Saturday morning at Titchwell. The weather was dry but there was a very cold northerly wind which was frustrating. We started the day in the Island Hide which was quite productive. It was good to find so many Avocets present, at least 100, with many active nests. There were surprisingly large numbers of Brent Geese still around the reserve - at least 200. In addition to the Avocets, other waders present were Common Sandpiper, Curlew, Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Ruff and Turnstone. Missing was Lapwing! On the shore were Sanderling. The cold northerly wind kept our visit to the shore rather short! Wildfowl included Canada Goose, Coot, Gadwall, Greylag Goose, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Shoveler, Teal, and Tufted Duck. Several Warblers were recorded including Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler (at least 6), Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat. Other highlights today were splendid views of a perched Sparrowhawk, at least 4 Marsh Harriers, 3 Spoonbills and a Water Vole. By the end of the day we had recorded 70 species although only two of us saw the pair of Stonechats present.
Sunday saw our group increased to 13 for our guided tour of Wild Ken Hill starting at 9:30. Our guide turned out to be Les Bunyan, a well-known wildlife photographer based in Snettisham. After a welcome hot drink we set off first across some of the Regenerative Farming fields to climb up into the central woodland area. On the way we crossed some of the area being left to itself in a rewilding project. Small numbers of pigs, ponies and cattle are left to do all of the management here. In the woodland some trees are being cleared to provide more light into small areas to allow more plant species to thrive. We were then taken into the
beaver enclosure. Les explained that the beavers here are almost entirely nocturnal so we weren't surprised to see none. We did however see the result of their handwork with many felled trees, some dams and areas where short lengths of thin branches have been stored by them for future use. The water table has been raised by several feet providing wetter areas allowing a significant increase in the biodiversity there. Everyone enjoyed a fascinating three hour tour. Most of us retired to have lunch at Snettisham beach nearby. The cold wind of Saturday had gone and it was warm and sunny all day. Les had told us that we were guaranteed to find Turtle Doves there, and we weren't disappointed. We had a short walk from the car park and got good views of birds on the wires.
Most of us then spent Sunday afternoon at RSPB Snettisham where we recorded 47 species. We'd expected a high tide but the sea was still well away from the beach and the masses of waders were quite distant. There were however good
'scope views of 50 or more Grey Plovers in breeding plumage. Highlights here included many Common Tern and Mediterranean Gull nests in with the Avocets and Black-headed Gulls. There was a pair of Barnacle Geese and a pair of Egyptian Geese too. Some of us found a pair of Turtle Doves foraging on the path. As we left, another Spoonbill flew into the reserve, a fine finish to a very enjoyable weekend trip.
Seven of us met in the car park at North Cave on a very hot and sunny day. The day
started well at the first hide where we had views of a splendid male Yellow Wagtail on
the shore of the pool. We were surprised at the low numbers of nesting Black-headed Gulls
which was later explained when we met a local volunteer. The colony has suffered from a very
nasty outbreak of avian flu. Once the outbreak had run its course, over 1100 dead gulls were
removed from the site which included both adults and chicks. We only recorded about 50 gulls in
total with less than a dozen chicks. Other breeding birds seemed to be unaffected and there were
juvenile Coot, Moorhen, Greylag Goose, Lapwing, Mallard, Little Grebe, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher
and Avocet in reasonable numbers. Despite the warm weather numbers of butterflies seemed much lower than
usual, as was also the case for Damselflies and Dragonflies. The water levels were higher than expected after the hot and sunny
weeks we've had recently. Other waterfowl present included Tufted Ducks, Gadwall together with small numbers
of Pochard, Teal, Shelduck and Shoveler. Warblers were represented by Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Cetti's Warbler,
Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Raptors present were Marsh Harrier, Red Kite
Kestrel and Common Buzzard. We eventually found the female Common Scoter reported earlier in the week and
finished the day with a very respectable 60 species, despite the absence of the hoped for Corn Bunting.
Eight of us met up above the Robin Hood near Baslow for 9:00 and enjoyed a walk under Birchen Edge crossing over
towards Baslow Edge past the Wellington Monument before returning beyond Gardoms Edge back to our starting
point. The weather wasn't great but after some early drizzle we managed to stay dry. The bird life was largely
invisible and silent so there were no memorable sightings. It was good to see a decent number of Swallows hawking over
a field full of cows near the Wellington Monument where there were also a pair of Ravens. Towards the end of the walk a few of us
saw a Green Woodpecker, a bird becoming increasingly hard to find in north Derbyshire and seemingly absent from
our recording area for 3 or 4 years now. We were back at the car park having recorded only 16 birds, the lowest count ever recorded
on what was the 5th time this walk has been in the calendar.
Only four members arrived at Langsett Barn for today's walk around the reservoir.
The weather on the way was very misty but the morning turned out to be warm and sunny without
any wind and we had an enjoyable walk. As we crossed the dam we heard a Raven calling but
it wasn't seen. Before entering the woods we noted a good number of House Martins feeding
over the fields with a much smaller number of Swallows. The water level was quite low and a number
of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were loafing on the shore along with single Lapwing. Much larger numbers
of Greylag Geese were on the water with a single Black-headed Gull. The highlight of the waterfowl was to
be the four Common Scoter out in the middle together with a lone Wigeon with the Mallards. On the moors
were the usual Meadow Pipits together with a few Stonechats but unusually we neither saw nor heard any Red Grouse.
We were surprised to find that we had recorded 36 bird species despite not finding regulars such as Chaffinch, Goldfinch
and Greenfinch and no thrushes other than a few Blackbirds. Before setting off for home we enjoyed a pleasant
lunch in the sun in the garden at the 'Polka Dot' cafe - officially called the Bank View.
Saturday 16th September
Seven members made the trip and started the weekend at Saltholme RSPB. The forecast wasn't promising with lots of rain, but luckily that never materialised. It was however quite cool and windy. Some of us were early and were rewarded with a Marsh Harrier from the Phil Stead hide by the car park before the reserve opened at 9:30. After checking the bird feeders where there were Tree Sparrows, Greenfinch, Goldinches, Chaffinches and Stock Doves (and a family of Rattus rattus!) we headed for the main Saltholme Pools Hide. There were good numbers of waders present including Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Curlew Sandpiper and Golden Plover. Both Temminck's Stint and Little Stint had been reported earlier but we failed in our quest to see them. Highlights from that hide included a drake Common Scoter which gave us a fine fly-past, a very elusive Russian White-fronted Goose and a Barnacle Goose. Wildfowl numbers were not huge but Canada Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon and Shelduck were recorded in addition to those already mentioned. We then went to view Paddy's Pool where we had lunch before returning to the visitor centre. After lunch we spent a while trying once again to spot the stints which had been reported more easily found from the road overlooking Saltholme Pool, but once again without any luck. We finished the day at the hide overlooking Dorman's Pool where we added Green Sandpiper to the wader list and Pintail to the wildfowl totals. Also there was a Mute Swan family with 8 cygnets. We finished the day with a record of 55 species.
Sunday 17th September
We convened at the car park at Seal Sands where we started the day scanning the saltmarsh before walking along to a second viewpoint by Greatham Creek. It was low tide but there were still a few seals hauled out on the mud banks there. The weather was brighter and warmer but it was still very breezy. We continued along the creek to spend a while overlooking the large expanse of mud and sand. The birds were numerous but quite distant. There were large numbers of waders and 13 species were recorded, being Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Golden Plover, Greenshank, Knot and Curlew Sandpiper. We recorded 35 species before heading off to Hartlepool Headland. We had our packed lunches in a sheltered garden before venturing out onto the promenade. There were over 100 Eider Duck inshore and a good number of Guillemot feeding too. The tide was still out so the birds on the rocks were tricky to spot but highlights included at least 3 Shags loafing with the more numerous Cormorants, a small flock of Linnets on the pier, several Gannets feeding offshore and a rather late Common Tern. Sadly there was no sign of the hoped for Purple Sandpipers. Unsurprising really as there were only a couple of Turnstones present too. A further 21 species were recorded there bringing the weekend total to 70 species.
The weather was much better than expected for the delayed visit to Carsington. Five
members met at the Sheepwash Car Park and headed towards the hides. A brand new
sign for the Sheepwash Hide encouraged us to believe maybe it was now open, having been
closed for over 2 years now. It wasn't to be as the gate to the hide was locked and we later
discovered that the old hide had been removed but there is no activity on its replacement.
At the Paul Stanley Hide the feeders were almost empty but there was still much to see, including
a Willow Tit. Most of us managed a fleeting glimpse of the Kingfisher visiting the pond in front of the hide. The weather seemed to be getting brighter as we retraced our steps and continued towards the
main visitor centre. There was a huge number of Common Pochard present, maybe over 300 and
hidden within them were two pairs of Red-crested Pochards too. The water level was unsurprisingly at
its maximum after so much rain so apart from Lapwings, we didn't find any other waders. We had our
packed lunches on Stones Island where some showers and a strong breeze blighted the early afternoon.
By the time we left we had recorded 47 species including a second Kingfisher at Lane End Hide.
Five members met at 9:45 for this visit and were delighted to find that the forecast lack of rain was correct, although the strong wind still remained. We started our visit at the Discovery Hide. The number of Whooper Swans seemed lower than was usual but the opposite was true for Mallard; there must have been over 600 present. The bird feeders were quite active with the highlight being a male Brambling. A Great Egret was spotted from the United Utilities hide as were a few Marsh harriers and a Buzzard. Wildfowl were well represented as expected with Shelduck, Canada and Greylag Geese, a family of Mute Swans, Teal, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Shoveler and Pochard present. The elusive Red-breasted Goose, which we knew might well be present, stayed hidden until the swan feeding started at 3:00. The water level was rather too high for waders although there was a 400 strong flock of Lapwing. There were far fewer Ruff than normal with only 5 recorded and a single Black-tailed Godwit. There was probably a Peregrine around as the Lapwings regularly took flight but the only other raptor positively identified was Kestrel, of which there were two. At the Ron Barker hide we had splendid views of a Bittern as it battled against the wind on a long flight (for a Bittern) before dropping back down into the reed bed. We finished an enjoyable day with the swan feeding having recorded 50 species.