Monday, 28 March 2011


After volunteering with the Wildlife Trust last thursday at Farndon Willow Holt, we stopped off at Ploughman's wood near Lambley on the way back. It was wonderful walking through the wood with lots of Wood Anenomes and other woodland flowers carpeting the ground. We checked out the small pond on the southern edge of the wood on our way out, and was greeted with a huge congregation of mating toads. There must have been hundreds of toads in the pond making a massive racket and fighting against each other to attatch themselves to the females. It was a true spectacle to behold, with the toads allowing us to get ridiculously close to observe them.

The next day i finished work early so got on my bike and cycled to the reserve again with my camera, stopping off at another reserve in Lambley to see if there were any more amphibians there, but there weren't that many... At Ploughman's however, there were still many toads about and although the light was failing, i still managed to get plenty of shots.

Here's a selection of the best images.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

This week (march 21st-27th)

The weather this week has been absolutely fantastic, meaning that i've been able to get out and about on my bike, even wearing shorts and t shirts!

On monday, i went to wollaton with a few friends, but didn't really do a lot of wildlife watching, but i did bump into a wildlife photographer named Wolf ( who had spent the last few days down there photographing the local wildlife. He was most interested in photographing aggressive coot behaviour and i have seen some excellent results of his patience. We spent some time watching herons in their nests too. Otherwise there was still a few Gadwall on the lake, and lots of noisy geese, but little else was noted.

I left early(ish) on tuesday morning for a bike ride to Attenborough, the sun was shining and i had a great day. On the way down i heard my first Chiffchaffs of the year, probably counting around ten throughout the whole day. Also of note were a grey wagtail at Beeston weir, and over the river i could see lapwings displaying over the farmers fields.

I was going to spend some time in the Delta Hide today, but the padlock has been changed so i had to press on. I parked up my bike after glancing over to the main pond, counting a few Goldeneye and Goosander amongst the gulls. Walking round, it was clear spring was in the air as lots of birds were singing loudly and there was quite a lot of activity on the water. I got som swan photos that i'm pretty happy with, of an obliging bird near the path. Nesting herons were everywhere in their massive treetop nests, and there were lots of singing finches tits and thrushes.

I walked through the little wooded area next to the village green, where there were once again plenty of passerines, and it was here that i layed eyes on my first visible Chiffchaff of the year, it was flitting about restlessly on top of a willow tree, and was lovley to watch.

Moving on, i looked over the tween scrapes to see if there was anything of interest. There were handful of Lapwing and a few teal amongst a throng of gulls, as well as the trusty pair of Shelduck, and once again, feeding in the same place as last time, a Redshank. I then moved on to the kingfisher hide, where lots of birds were using the feeders, although no Tree Sparrows this time. A couple of Oystercatcher also passed through over towards the island on clifton pond, but were lost from view shortly after.

There were still a few ducks about when i sat watching out of the tower hide, mostly Shoveler and a few Gadwall, as well as a couple of Goldeneye. There were also plenty of Lapwing about amongst the masses of gulls. The highlight however came when i left the hide and heard the loud tell-tale call of a Cetti's Warbler, my first of the year, ringing out clearly from the brambles on the wheatear field, i heard another one too on my way through the wet marsh and back home.

On the way back i decided i'd go and have a look at the Lapwings displaying over the river at clifton. En route i heard even more Chiffchaffs singing in the sunshine, and even chanced upon 8 Goosander and 4 Goldeneye, clinging on near clifton bridge. The lapwings didnt disappoint, and i saw around 20 birds on the field, although viewing them was quite difficult. The farmer was ploughing the field so hopefully this has been done early enough not to deter them from breeding. While there, i did see a few birds in display, and even a few mobbing corvids, so this is encouraging behaviour. A small flock of Linnet passed overhead when i was there too.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent volunteering with the Wildlife Trust, on two absolutely stunning days in the sun. It felt almost like midsummer! Birding wise, i didnt get much done, but there were once again a lot of Chiffchaffs singing loudly, and on the thursday at fardon, 3 Buzzards were seen displaying in the morning, and then at dinner time we were treated to a displaying sparrowhawk, the first i've actually seen doing this. It was after this that we went to ploughmans wood, to see the toads breeding away.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Bristol Trip

Almost exactly to the day, i visited bristol a year ago. I went again for a long weekend, and have just come back. Socialising was the main point of going, but whenever we go down there, i always manage to get a little bit of birding done too.

On the friday i went to Clevedon with my friend as he works in a tattoo shop there. We had a wander down to the seafront to have a look for some coastal birds. The first thing i saw was a collection of gulls on the sea wall, with 3 Oystercatchers, my first of the year. Shortly after i had a scan of the rocks below the sea wall, where i found 7 Turnstone, a bird that is very much a bird of the shoreline, so not recorded very often in landlocked nottinghamshire! I also got myself a lifer down there, looking cross the rocks, i heard a pipit, and there standing on a large boulder was my first ever Rock Pipit. A wonderful little bird, and i saw another one a little later too.

I returned to the seafront when the tide had gone out, exposing the large mudflats. Wehad a good viewpoint across the mud, and there were a few birds about, including 2 Curlew, another year tick, and a bird i still haven't chanced upon back home.

Later in the weekend, we took the dog out for a walk at the National Trust's Leigh Woods reserve on the edge of avon gorge on the outskirts of Bristol. It was a beautiful day and the woodland was one of the best i've ever visited, with a good diversity of mature trees, and evidence of excellent forestry management, with a brilliant understorey dominated by coppiced hazel. The woods are known for ravens and peregrines, and while the former remained absent, a peregrine was seen to fly overhead at one point. 3 Buzzards were also seen riding the thermals above the gorge, looking wonderful as they turned in the sunshine. The commoner woodland birds were evident everywhere as well, singing away happily in the early spring sunshine. Found some delicious wild garlic too!

Apparently some spring migrants have already arrived in nottinghamshire including chiffchaff, swallow and sand martin, so i will be out and about later in the week, expect more to come!!!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Attenborough 8th march

FINALLY a bit of sunshine. its been glorious this week, and thanks to some half days at work i've been able to go appreciate it. I was going to go to Clifton on monday, but a friend was over, so we ended up walking to holme pierrepont instead, seeing a Barn Owl on the way back at dusk.

On tuesday i finished work at 12, got home and had some food and headed to Attenborough. It was still nice and sunny, but a little bit more windy,making it harder going on the bike. It also meant i couldn't hear much while cycling along. I stopped at beeston weir to see if much was about, and was treated to the sight of a couple of grey wagtails, which i dont see all that often.

I continued on to attenborough, not stopping at the delta today. I stopped to view over the main pond where a large flock of gulls were, and in the distance spotted a couple of Goosander flocks, numbering around 25 birds.

After locking my bike up, i walked round tween pond toward the visitor centre. It certainly felt like the transition of winter to spring was underway, as it was still a little fresh (cold) but the sun was shining and the birds were a lot more noisy and active. There was a lot of activity by the green bridge, where various tits and finches were singing loudly, as well as a few dunnock. I walked through the wooded area which leads to the church pond and car park, stopping to photograph birds at the ol' stump again (see last attenborough post). I couldnt take many as yet again it was very busy and people kept disturbing the birds. A glance through the trees resulted in a view of a Goldcrest, its bright yellow crest shining brightly in the sun. It moved through the trees and perched at eye level, and i missed photographing it in perfect light by a millisecond, before it flew off and everntually was lost from view.

I was excited/anxious to get to the tween scrapes and clifton pond, as there have been some good birds spotted around these areas of late. I checked the water around the scrapes and there was a huge colony of Black Headed Gulls. These birds breed in abundance at the reserve, and already there were displaying males and some aggressive behaviour being portrayed. The raucous sounds of these birds dominate the reserve all year round, but particularly in the breeding season. Also seen were a few Herring Gulls, birds which are not often seen here. On the far scrape was a pair of Shelduck, asleep amongst the noisy gulls, probably the pair which return here each spring, although i've not seen them with young. The highlight however, was when i got my scope out to check the teal which were milling about near the lakebank, and came across a Redshank, the first i've seen at the reserve. I was really hoping to see something special, especially a wader, so i was really chuffed to get such a good sighting of this red-legged bird.

I was keen to move on quickly as i wanted to get back before dusk so i could watch for the barn owl near holme pierrepont, so i decided against going to the kingfisher hide, and instead went straight for the tower hide. I spent some time counting wildfowl as usual, and obviously due to the time of year, many had departed. The main species were Shoveler, of which there were aroud 60 birds, closely followed by teal, which numebered around 30. Wigeon were completely absent, which is odd as they have been so abundant over the last few months, but i guess they have decided to depart back to their breeding grounds. I'll look forward to hearing their whistling once again in the colder months.

Otherwise there were yet more gulls, moslty on the islands, where the vegetation has been cut down. This is good for the breeding gulls and terns, but a little sad as the snipe always liked it in there, but it'll be covered again come autumn. There were also a good few goldeneye about, mostly females, but otherwise it was reasonably quiet. I'm looking forward to spring and summer to see what waders start dropping in on the ponds.

Over the other side, there was a male Kestrel in the nest box, for the second year in a row, hopefully the pair will once again raise young successfully. Most exciting however, was news from a fellow birder that there had been a Cetti's Warbler in the brambles in the wheatear field. I studied the area for a while, but all i saw were Long Tailed tits and was fooled by a wren at one point, but didnt hear a peep from the warbler. It wasn't until i was leaving the hide that all of a sudden, the bird exploded into its sudden burst of song, only a few metres from me, but i didnt manage to see it (as usual!)

On my way back, there were a few birds in the trees on the wet marsh path, and i thought i heard a marsh tit-like sound. However i located the bird, and it was another Goldcrest. Good to see that these birds have fared reasonably well through the winter, along with the Cetti's.

So in all a good day, i didnt, unfortunately, see the barn owl again in the evening, but as its only a few minutes ride from my house, i'll have plenty of oppurtunity to see it again hopefully.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Not Much Birding!

I've been so busy with work and volunteering of late, mixed in with some days of really cold windy weather, which has meant that i've struggled to get out and properly go birdwatching. Been to netherfield a couple of times but compared to a few months ago, i've barely been out at all, how annoying.

I had a failed trip to clifton last week, owing to the rain, i thought it'd be ok, and the ride down wasnt too bad, however the gloomy weather brought the mood with it, and while at holme pit, the weather turned for the worse and looking across the fields, visibility was very poor and it would have been almost impossible to see many birds, so i turned back.

A fine saturday evening led me to get on my bike and go to netherfield again, but the wind picked up when i got there, and it was particularly blustery, making views across the lagoons very difficult and the chances of seeing any interesting fly overs or a barn own very slim! i did see 4 Bullfinch which was nice, and there seemed to be plenty of Teal about too, their voices carrying on the wind from the other side of the reserve. After sitting cold on the bench overlooking the farmland to the north for about half an hour i decided it was not in my best interests and turned back to go home. The last thing i saw was a small group of around 20 Pied Wagtails flying home to roost somewhere from the river.

This week, after hearing of some interesting birds down at clifton, i was going to pop down. however the weather on monday was terrible, and then work on tuesday and thursday and volunteering on wednesday and friday has meant so far no joy! Hopefully i will be able to get out by saturday - if the weather holds out - and if so i will probably do clifton and attenborough all in one day. On another note, i did see a nice great spotted woodpecker while volunteering up at faith marriott, so at least thats something!!!