Monday, 19 April 2010

Sherwood Forest and Rufford Park, 11th april

Decided to go a bit further afield on sunday the 11th, as the weather was still good. Got a bus out to rufford park and thought that we'd be there for a while, as there weren't many buses back into town. As it stood, we only stayed for an hour or so, as there wasn't that much to see and we thought it would be bigger. There was some interesting wildlife, but there was a lot of people about so we decided to go and have a wander to sherwood forest NNR.

At rufford in the woodland there were plenty of birds about, especially as it was so quiet away from the crowds. The most abundant species were the Wrens which were often heard and rarely seen. There were a lot of the common woodland birds too, including a good number of Coal Tits some of which gave some very good views and plenty of singing Chiffchaff. Nuthatch were also common, along with various sightings of Great spotted woodpeckers and 4 Jay were seen in the trees and over the woodland ride.

The lake was a bit quiet, with no birds of any particular interest, just the common waterfowl, although there were a couple of Great Crested Grebes. A pair of Moorhen were seen nesting in a tree and the male kept jumping from the tree into the lake to get more nesting material. A group of mallards were seen mobbing a female, and eventually the battle was won by a larger domestic bird, all white in plumage. A distressing time for the female for sure, but its the circle of life eh?

Around the lake not much else was seen, although it was nice to get some good views of a pair of diving tufted ducks.
On leaving the park there were more Coal tit sightings, and i also got some nice shots of the woodland, with daffodils in flower.

The walk to sherwood forest took around 40 minutes, which was nice in the sun, and we got to the forest at around 2 30.

The forest was bustling with common woodland birds, with the most common being Blue Tits and definately the commonest being Chaffinch. There were again plenty of singing Nuthatch and a good number were sighted. Around the forest there were a lot of Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpeckers calling and drumming, but none were seen, and i suspect that some that i heard were the resident Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers too, but again none were seen.
We walked through the woods for a while and sightings of Great Tits were increasing. We chanced upon a woodland ride, with quite heath-like ground, and sat there in the sun for some time. There were some interesting lichens growing in the ground, which were identified as Cladonia fimbriata. While sitting there we mentioned how we hadnt seen any raptors, and within seconds were heard the telltale call of a Buzzard. We heard yet more woodpeckers calling too.

We made our way over to budby heath and spotted the Buzzard hunting over a field by the woodland edge. Budby heath was reasonably quiet, although in the scrub near the entrance, several Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were seen and heard. In the top of a fir tree in the middle of the heath was a singing Yellowhammer, and more of these lovely little buntings were seen further around the heath. It was a great experience to walk across this beautiful bit of countryside on such a nice day and i will surely be returning over the next few months. Before we headed back into the forest, more Chiffchaff and Willow warbler were seen in some trees.

We got a little lost on the way back to the carpark, but eventually found our way back, on the way seeing a lot more of the chaffinches and willow warblers as well as more woodpeckers drumming. Some Bilberry was seen coming into flower too.
I was very impressed by the nature reserve, having not visited since october 2008, and i'll definately go back soon! (especially for the nightjars!)

Friday, 16 April 2010

Clifton, 8th April

After coming back from leeds, i went for a walk on thursday afternoon in the sun at clifton. There wasn't a huge amount of birds around today, although the usual common birds were singing away in the woods.
On the weir field, the most noticable birds were the skylarks that were singing loudly. there were a good number of them, so hopefully they'll be boosting their numbers, securing a future for this threatened farmland bird! Also displaying were some Lapwing which are also nationally threatened. I counted around ten, although there could have been more laying low in the field. A couple of Grey Heron were seen flying over as well as a few geese. Also of note was a lot of Peacock Butterflies which were obviously enjoying the warm sunshine. There were plenty of wildlflowers popping up around the field too. An unidentified bird was also seen sitting on a small mound in the field, but it flew away as i got closer, it may have been my first Wheatear of the year, but i couldn't confirm it, so i'll have to wait!

Nothing much was seen on the way to clifton wood, although there were a couple of Wren around the yellowgate pond, and a male Pheasant was seen hiding in the verge. I looked over to the barn owl and little owl roosts, but couldnt see anything.
In Clifton wood, there were lots more birds singing, including a few i couldn't confidently ID, but there were a number of Chiffchaff singing, and my first Coal Tit of the area was also seen feeding in the trees.

Holme pit was reasonably quiet, with the usual mix of common waterfowl. A friendly Mallard paid us a visit as we sat by the water, allowing me to get some reasonable shots, and the was a territorial Mute Swan, bullying a male Canada Goose. In the reeds on an island there was the goose's mate, sitting on a nest.

While sitting by the lake, there was a lot of action in the skys. A male Kestrel flew overhead, and over the woods a couple of Buzzard were gliding on the thermals. These birds were showing a lot, with one being mobbed for some time by a group of Carrion crows, but he managed to hold his ground. Out of nowhere, there was some sudden activity further down the treeline, as a Sparrowhawk gave chase to an unfortunate pigeon, the pigeon escaped with its life, and as the hawk flew above the trees, it got mobbed by a Buzzard and had to make a hasty retreat. Also heard were a couple of Green Woodpecker calling from the trees.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Attenborough Easter Sunday

Clocked off work early as the sun was shining and hopped on the bus to Attenborough Nature Reserve, probably my favourite patch, as the diversity of habitats means an array of species. It has a habit of producing some county rarities every now and again too.

The first thing of note was a male chaffinch loudly singing in a hedge next to the railway track before you get to the reserve. He looked so majestic singing in the sun, i had to get some shots. Unfortunately as i got closer he ducked into the trees so i couldn't get the shot i wanted, but he still looks great!

At the visitor centre, the usual collection of waterfowl was present, busy as ever. Got some shots of the Ruddy Shelduck and an Egyptian Goose, and there were also several Red Crested Pochard and a pair of Gadwall present. Having a peak through my bins produced a bried sight of a Kingfisher as well as a wild Greylag. Next to the boardwalk was a pair of coot, one sitting on a nest of around 7 eggs while husband was busy getting more nest material. Spring is here! There were also several Grey Wagtail flying about too.

Over the bridge, i noticed a lot of Black-headed Gulls, and managed to get my personal best inflight shots yet.

On the tween pond there was mostly just gulls and other common waterfowl, but there were a couple of Shelduck which i got great views of before they flew off over my head, i just wish i could have got a shot! There was also a single lapwing sleeping on the drift, as well as two teal and one goosander present. Walking towards the main pond i heard an odd sound, and was treated to a lifer, 2 Oystercatchers flying past, got great views before they flew off into the distance towards the visitor centre. :)

I was in the kingfisher hide for all of about a minute before the warden came to lock it up, meaning i could only get a fleeting view of what was there, although i did manage to see a Tree Sparrow or two!
The tower hide was also locked, much to my disappointment, but i kept on going. In the scrubland i saw a Kestrel sitting next to the entrance to the raptor nestbox, very promising. Looking out towards the reedbed, i also got a reasonable view of a female Goldeneye, and around 10 Ruddy Duck, obviously survived the cull!
Had a walk to the delta hide, where on the way i bumped into a Grey Squirrel enjoying a feast of seeds that someone had left on a wall, and there were plenty of birds singing away and feeding. Lots of Long Tailed Tits, Chaffinch and Goldfinch.

There wasn;t much on the river, although i did see some Swallows overhead. There were lots of Chiffchaff singing away too. The delta hide didn't produce much more than a few mallard and tufted duck, but it was nice and quiet, although the sun was too bright to stay there too long.

The path back to the village was reasonably quiet aside from a few Chaffinch and more Chiffchaff, but a Reed Bunting was a nice addition to the days species list. There was little else of note all the way back to the village. Going back into the reserve next to the cricket pitch produced a few House Sparrow, and there were a few remaining Goosander on the ponds. There was also a very vocal Mistle Thrush singing, but i failed to locate it. I left the reserve with the final sight of another pair of coots collecting nesting material, and managed a final photo of a shaken Greylag goose, having recently been seen off by a pair of hostile Canada Geese.

Colwick April 1st

Haven't updated for a while as i've been quite busy... and lazy. I've had quite a few trips out over the last two weeks, as i've been off uni until the 12th. Seen some good stuff and the weather has been quite pleasant too.
On the 1st of april i had a late walk at colwick park for the first time since january, wasn't there very long due to the fact i had to get to work, but i saw some pretty decent wildlife and it was reasonably nice weather too. i seem to have lost my field notes for this walk though, so i'll just list the highlights!
The first thing i noticed was the profusion of small passerines singing as i entered the park, mainly blue tits and great tits, but also some chiffchaff, goldfinch and greenfinch. Also seen was a very light plumaged female mallard At the lakeside near the carpark there were the usual waterfowl, as well as a light variant Muscovy Duck and a sleeping Mandarin. There were several cormorants sunning themselves on the rocks too.

Walking around the lake further i noticed some movement just above the water... SWALLOWS!!! There were a lot flying over the main lake hunting midges and it was a joy to see them, first of the year! Also among the swallows, in even greater numbers were my first Sand Martins of the year too. Backed by the sound of more chiffchaff, it was like being in migrant heaven! The woods were quite quiet, with nothing of note, apart from some oyster mushrooms growing on an old birch tree.

The path between the two main lakes produced a nice surprise, around 16 pied wagtail feeding in the sodden grass, accompanied by several White Wagtail, a year and life tick, and 2 or 3 Meadow Pipit. There wasn't much else around on the lakes except the resident Black Swan. However, the feeders behind the marina supplied a good variety of species, with all the 'usual' passerines, as well as a Song thrush, several Goldfinch, a surprise Reed Bunting and more Chiffchaff. All in all a good day had with some new birds for the year, confirming the fact that Colwick Park is a valuable habitat for birds and a joy to visit (despite my friend Fred constantly badmouthing it!)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Ticklist Update

Wow..... march just flew right by. seems to have gone really fast, most probably due to the fact that most of it was spent stressing over my university dissertation. finally thats in, and now its april already!!!

Didn't go out too much in march, until the end anyway, been to wollaton twice, brackenhurst twice and clifton twice.... not too bad actually!!!

the year list has reached 84 species, it would have been 85, but i've omitted short eared owl from my list as i can't personally confirm a sighting, as i only heard it and wasn't sure of what it actually was!!!
The new species are
  • Raven (seen in bristol)
  • Coal Tit (wollaton)
  • Pergrine Falcon (Clifton)
  • Skylark (clifton, brack)
  • Chiffchaff (various)
  • Stock Dove (wollaton)
Skylark and chiffchaff are springtime additions, many more of which should be seen soon as they migrate back here over this month. Peregrine, raven and stock dove were lifers for me too!

Highlights, other than the lifers were
  • Lapwings in display in clifton
  • Singing skylarks
  • 1st buzzards at brack and wollaton
  • excellent views of yellowhammers
  • Huge starling roost at brack
  • nuthatches singing loudly
and non bird-wise, plenty of wildflowers, and my first ever experience of boxing mad-march hares!!

good month really, though it all kicks off in april....

now, i'm off to clifton again!