Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Netherfield Lagoons, 22nd feb

After finishing work at an early 1pm, i felt i ought to do something productive with my day, so despite the poor weather (again!) i hopped on my bike and headed for netherfield lagoons.

I'd been here around 10 days ago to see the Barn Owl pair which has taken to hunting in the area of late, but i didn't have it in mind today, unless i stayed until dusk.

On the way i go through colwick park, sometimes seeing something of interest. However today not much was about, apart from a large flock of gulls on the main lake, which mainly consisted of Black Headed gulls, with a few lesser black backs and commons mixed in. There were a couple of juveniles to, which looked interesting but they were too distant to properly study.

I moved on to netherfield, where en route along the trent, a male Sparrowhawk dashed out in front of me and quickly fled into some riverside trees.

I walked down the lower path, where there wasn't too much activity, just a few blue tits and great tits, along with a greenfinch and various gulls and corvids flying overhead. Normally its a lot busier down here, but it could have been due to the poor conditions. I walked up to the slurry lagoon path rather than going through the 'willow walk' path, although there were a notable number of singing Great tits down there.

On the slurry path, which was very muddy, due to recent contract work being done down here, i flushed my first confirmed Green Woodpecker of the year. Little else was about, which seemed the norm for today, until i had the pleasure of spotting a Little Egret flying overhead from the direction of the agricultural land. I got some great views before it flew across the treeline towards holme pierrepont. Its always a bit odd seeing these birds, they don't look too out of place in summer, but on a dull grey day in winter they look a little lost, i usually assosciate them with sunny days spent birding in spain!

As i walked towards the deep pit, a large bird flew down the bank towards the setaside land at the bottom, and i wondered if it were a raptor or something similar as it looked this way. I sat and waited for a while, but after seeing nothing but a song thrush and a few great tits, i decided it may have just been the pheasant that i eventually saw sneaking through the undergrowth. Darn!

I got the scope out and had a look over the Slurry Lagoon, where a Male shelduck was busily feeding away, along with a handful of Pochard, round 5o Shoveler, and hidden amongst the reeds, a large group of Teal. A couple of Water Rail were also heard calling from amongst the reeds.

Over on the Deep Pit, there were loads of Coot and Gulls, along with around 12 Gadwall, and 5 Goldeneye. I went back over for another look at the slurry lagoon, and several more Shoveler had arrived, along with a few Gulls. One looked particularly interesting, looking like a 2nd winter bird. I am terrible at Gull ID, so not sure what i was looking at, i took notes, but on getting home i was no closer to the identity of this bird. It was larger than a Common gull, had mottled grey/black wings, a very dark bill and eyes and black wing tips. Hmmm.... maybe it will be there next time.

A largely productive day on the lagoons, if a little bleak, no photos this time either. It was nice to see an egret and a Green woody, and the lagoons were nice and busy. Roll on spring though!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Attenborough 8th Feb

Not been to attenborough much recently, in comparison to last summer/autumn, where i was going at least once a week. Its been good down there, but i guess i got a bit tired of doing the rounds, and some days it seemed that seeing the same old birds was boring, even though i actually enjoyed seeing them.
Beeston Weir en route to Attenborough

Today though i returned, and it was an excellent day. The sun was shining brightly and it actually felt quite warm when in the direct light, although there was a ground frost which stuck round most of the day in shady areas. It was nice to bike down the trent, especially in the scrub by clifton bridge, where loads of birds were singing loudly, making it seem like a spring day , most notable were Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Song Thrush. Song thrushes were singing loudly and clearly down the whole river actually, sounding especially nice echoing around the trees in clifton grove. Spring is round the corner!
A Magpie near Clifton Bridge, look at that blue sky!

The reserve itself was a bustle of activity too. I stopped off in the delta hide first, hoping to see a Bittern, and after half an hour i managed to glimpse one, albeit for only a few seconds. In the meantime it was lovely to sit watching the wildfowl feeding in the sunshine, with the resplendent plumage of Wigeon Gadwall and Tufted duck looking all the better in the morning light. I could sit and watch wildfowl for ages, they are so entertaining in their social and feeding habits, as well as the noises they make. Lots of reed buntings were in the reeds opposite the hide too and most of the males were back in breeding plumage and were very active and starting to sing.
A sunny reflection at Attenborough

I left the hide happily at around 11 o clock and made my way around the reserve, taking the route round the tween pond towards the visitor centre. There were Grey herons nesting in abundance, and i counted 21 across the reserve today. I also stopped off on the path to take pictures of the main pond, and later again to photograph birds feeding on seeds placed on an old coppice stool - however there were lots of people about so it was difficult, i might go back on an early morning later in the year.
Over near the main entrance bridge were plenty of singing dunnocks, making it truly feel like spring. I went to look at the scrapes on the tween pond and found there to be a lot of black headed gulls there, along with 4 Teal and a Shelduck. Work has pretty much finished on the new wheatear field wet meadow/reedbeds, and now its just bare, but it will be interesting to see what happens over the course of the year here.

I went to the kingfisher hide, not really expecting much, but as soon as i went in, someone shouted 'Bittern!' and i rushed to the window to see my second of the day, landing in the reedbed closest to the hide. Despite sticking around for a while, it didnt reappear, but it was nice looking at the usual residents of the seed feeders, the tree sparrows and great tits being the star attractions.

Over at the tower hide, 4 Buzzards were the highlight, riding high on the thermals, as well as around 100 Lapwing wheeling over the reserve in a tight flock. It was very peaceful and it was nice to sit and count the wildfowl, although they were in lower numbers than usual. Another Shelduck was seen feeding near the island, as well as a few Goldeneye scattered about. The bittern didnt show itself again, and there was no sign of any snipe, but it was nice anyway. A herring gull provided a laugh or two, as it dived in to catch as crayfish, and while flying away its victim locked its claws on the gull's breast feathers. It refused to let go, despite multiple dives by the gull into the lake. Eventually it dropped off and was despatched of quickly, before being devoured - what a fighter though!

Eventually a group of canada and greylag geese flew into the pond, destroying what peace there was. I had a scan through to see if there were any wild geese there, but to no avail. Satisified i packed up, and walked back to my bike, getting some good views of a few more Goosander and Pochard along the way.

Good day!!!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Netherfield and Hoveringham, end of jan

I had a day of on the 28th, and was going to bike to hoveringham to see if i could pick up on any of the rarities which have been around recently (more on that later...). However due to problems in the morning, i didnt leave til late, so decided just to go to Netherfield Lagoons instead, as i haven't been for a while.

It was pretty cold, and while biking through Colwick park on the way, i almost turned back as it was VERY cold in the wind. However i pressed on after checking the gulls on the main lake in colwick and after seeing around 15 Pochard near the island to the east of the lake.

On the way down the trent to the lagoons, i noticed a bird of prey sitting atop a shrub by the river, and at first i thought it was a merlin as it seemed quite small and the colouring looked right, but after studying some photos it was quite obvious it was a female Kestrel. Great views though!!!

I walked down the lower path at the lagoons, which is a tree lined path with lots of scrub and some wet areas. There were loads of small birds about, mainly blue tits, long tailed tits and goldfinch. The highlight though was hearing two Willow tit, and eventually seeing one of them moving purposefully through the trees. There were a lot of redwings and blackbirds around too.

A Fox was seen on the slurry behind the reedbedsThe lagoons themselves were relatively quiet, apart from a large Black Headed Gull flock on the deep pit, and a good number of Herring and black-backed gulls on the slurry lagoon. As well as this were small numbers of Shoveler and Pochard, and a lone male Shelduck. Also of note were around 60 Teal.

On the way back there were over 250 Canada Geese feeding on the fields over the trent.

On monday after a long weekend at work, i got up early and prepared for a bike-ride to Hoveringham. 30 seconds outside the house and i realised it was far too cold for the 15 mile bikeride, so i hopped on a train instead. It was actually a really nice day despite the coldness, and there were plenty of people about, and with good reason, there were local rarities about!!!

I biked to the railway pit, through the lovely country roads in the area, seeing a Little Egret on the way, along with around 200 wigeon on the trent. As soon as i got to the railway pit, another Little Egret was spotted, but this wasn't what i'd come for, although i did get some amazing views of this lovely recent colonist. No, aside from the 2 Little Egrets on the far bank, what i had come to see was also over there, a Great White Egret!!! It was seen to fly in, and then spent some time feeding in the shallows, but the views were pretty distant. I decided to go round the lake for a better view, but not before taking in the view of 11 Pink Footed Geese, which were feeding under a pylon along with a lot of other geese. I got great views of these lovely birds, which was nice as its rare to see them in nottinghamshire, except when they're flying high in skeins en route to elsewhere.

On the way i saw a big flock of redwings and fieldfares, along with 2 Brown Hares. I totally overshot my estimation of where the egret was, going to the north side of the pit, and realising once i'd got there that the intended place was on a peninsula half way along this massive lake! I walked down the other side of the lake intending to get a better view, but a fellow birder told me that the light was impossible so i walked back down with him the way i'd come. On the way round i'd noticed a flock of geese in a field, so i went back to check it out. I set my scope on a large flock of greylags, and it didnt take long to train it on another species (and lifer!) that i'd come to see, Greater White Fronted Geese! I counted 9 of these interesting birds, with their strangely barred bellies and conspicuous white markings near their bills. I really think they are wonderful geese, probably my favourite now! The pinkfeet had also moved on to this field and were feeding amongst their fellow Anseriformes.

And to top it all off, about 50 yards further into the field was.... THE GREAT EGRET!!! I got astounding views of the bird as it stood and preened, clearly showing its yellow bill and very long black legs, every now and again stalking around the field in that classic heron-like way. I would have loved to have stayed but i was bloody freezing and the 13.12 from thurgaton was fast approaching, so cold and satisfied i decided to call it a day and go home.

what a day!!!!