Friday, 21 October 2011

Golden Plovers

Just a quick update, last thursday i was working at Besthorpe, pulling up some pesky willow saplings which had established on the site of a future wet meadow when i saw a flock of golden plovers. After lunchtime the sound of a large flock of birds was evident, but i didnt see anything. It sounded like distant pink footed geese, but i dismissed it as noises coming from the nearby quarry workings. However, at around 2pm, about 200 plovers flew overhead calling noisily. I got my bins out and followed them and they joined an enormous flock which spanned the horizon, a quick estimate revealed a count of well over a thousand birds. They disappeared into the distance all to quickly, but a few broke off a few minutes later and passed back overhead.

Certainly beats my previous record count of 3 birds at netherfield lagoons last year! hahaha.

Went to the lake district that weekend so i'll do a little report of that soon.

Not really been out since but i'm hoping to go to clifton tomorrow morning to see whats about

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Couple of attenborough trips

At the end of september i had a rare day off, so i had a trip to attenborough. There's been loads reported at this patch of mine of late, so at the moment it seems to be the only place i've really been going as i don't have much chance to get out at the moment.

I wasn't there long but managed to get a good species list, including some pretty good birds. On leaving the visitor centre i walked down towards the tween pond viewing screens, a lot of Lapwing were present, amongst the usual scattering of common wetland birds, but little else. On the wheatear fields new wet meadow (in progress!) a single Meadow Pipit was having a bath in one of the water channels, and there was a flock of around 30 Linnet moving about on the meadow too. Since this new habitat has been created, these finches have moved in and i have seen them regularly down here, a bird i had not seen previously. They re clearly taking advantage of this opportunity, but as it progresses on as a meadow habitat, i think we may see them back of them again.

Out on clifton pond, even more Lapwings were about, being pretty much the dominant species apart from the gulls. Also present were an amazing 6 snipe, small numbers by many peoples standards, but good for this reserve. A Cetti's warbler was also heard repeatedly calling from the reedbeds. Wildfowl numbers had increased, but were still relatively low, with gadwall and teal numbering around 20 each, and a few wigeon and shoveler here and there too. After a while a couple of Black Tailed Godwits flew in, a bird i have missed on countless occasions this year and a very welcome addition to my years list. Amazingly, also present was a Little Ringed Plover, which had apparently been about for a few days, and surely must be ready to leave for africa. (this bird is so late in departing, BTO birdtrack didn't believe my record!) 6 Buzzard and a Red Tailed Hawk were also seen flying in the distance, high over Branshill Wood. On the way back, i looked at tween pond again and saw 2 Black-tailed Godwits again, i have since decided these were the same birds i'd seen earlier that day, but it was nice to get a closer look at these handsome waders, and a Green Sandpiper had decided to make an appearance too, feeding close by to the godwits.

Two weeks later, yesterday as it happens, i returned to attenborough again. A spotted redshank was seen here last thursday, but hadn't been reported since, but i decided i'd go down and have a look anyway! I had an excellent days birding, staying at the reserve for 4 hours and seeing some nice birds. It was very windy and it got worse as the day went on but it was still enjoyable.

I started again at the visitor centre and as soon as i'd locked my bike up, a Cetti's warbler piped up straight from the small reedbed in front of the visitor centre. This shows just how well this species is doing at the reserve having only been recorded for the first time only a few years ago. Now it seems that there are so many that they are exploiting every suitable bit of available habitat in order to maintain their own territories. I don't know if its just luck, or that the management of the reserve is so good, but everyone at attenborough should be very proud of the reserves population of these loud little warblers! Also at the visitor centre was a White-cheeked pintail, most probably the feral bird that i last saw here last february, 18 months ago!

I walked down towards the main part of the reserve, there was little of interest on the windblown tween pond apart from around 70 Lapwing, so i continued. A little egret was seen feeding in the little pond on the wheatear field, looking very at home amongst the reeds, before clocking me and flying up towards the back of the tween pond. Once again the little flock of Linnet were on the wheatear wet meadow.

The sightings board at the visitor centre said that a Ruff had been seen that day, i've never had a confirmed sighting of one of these relatively scarce waders (for nottinghamshire) so was hoping it was still about. I went into the kingfisher hide to check out the tree sparrows and also have a look out on the lake. On a tiny pebble spit on the far right of the lake were several black headed gulls and a couple of starlings, and i could just about make out the shape of a bird slightly larger than the starlings. I got out the scope and could just about make out the rough shape of a sandpiper. Anothr birder entered thee hide and i got him onto the bird and we confirmed that it was indeed the Ruff. The bird moved about the lake for a while, flying up with the gulls every now and again, and for some time was observed being chased away by Lapwings in the central spit of the lake. It was interesting to watch and had a very particular way of feeding, very actively running around dipping its head constantly. A good lifer!!! A snipe appeared soon after in almost the same spot, almost tricking me, and 3 more flew by next to the nearest reedbed.

Over at the tower hide, the most notable thing was the perceptible increase in wildfowl, especially since my visit two weeks ago. Teal were most numerous, here there were nearly 80 individuals and my whole count for the day was a whopping 110+, and there were around 60 Gadwall, 40 Shoveler and a measly 2 Wigeon! It seems my obsessive wildfowl counting season has begun once again!!! Notably, no Pochards or other wildfowl are present yet, although sawbills and goldeneyes don't tend to appear until later in the winter. After a while two little egrets appeared and began feeding amongst the reedbeds, and the Ruff was relocated and was watched by a few of us for a while again.

Also of note were 2 Kestrels in the Nest box, obviously sheltering from the wind, another Cetti's Warbler at the delta along with 2 little grebes (and little else, it was extremely gusty here!). One last look over at the tween pond before i left resulted in a 1st winter gull on one of the spits. I believe it was a Yellow Legged Gull, as it was very pale with grey 'splodges' on its chest, dark primaries and the right 'jizz', another first for the year! pretty good going today i think!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Its Autumn!!


Been a while, though i didn't realise it had been THAT long! July was the last time i posted, back when i was looking at butterflies to pass the time! Time has certainly flown since then, probably owing to me being extremely busy at the moment, which also would explain my lack of posting, and a little less birding, photography, etc.

I've been on a few trips over the last couple of months, managing to add a few birds to my year list, as well as seeing a good few birds i haven't seen in a while. I've been to attenborough and clifton mostly but the frequency that i have been able to get out has been rather low.

I had a couple of trips to attenborough at the start of August, twice in one week actually, and on both occasions i saw a few good birds. These included my first Greenshank of the year, my first ever Barnacle goose, a presumed escapee that has been knocking around all year in the area, and various other waders such as common sandpiper, ringed plover and growing numbers of Lapwing. Little egret numbers were also high with up to six birds present. On my birthday i saw a juvenile Mediterranean Gull on the works pond, and in general had a good days birding. 3 Kingfishers also put on a good show at the delta hide, chasing one another around the reedbed, and walking near the visitor centre i watched in awe at an incredible array of warblers flitting about in a small group of trees. There were 7 species present amongst the brances including Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and astonishingly enough, a Cetti's too, strange as i didnt expect to see one in such a location!

A few good birds have been seen at Clifton and i've been down a few times. Yellow wagtails have been incredibly frequent here this year, having been present nearly every time i've been. I also finally saw my first Wheatear of the year, after a rather uneventful walk on a friday evening at the end of september. These 2 birds were wonderful to see as i had missed out on seeing them throughout the year, and will most probably be the last ones i'll see til next year now! (Although some greenland-race birds have been passing through this week). At the end of august, another walk around the site resulted in 3 WHINCHAT being seen, these were my first ever sighting of this species and i got excellent views of these birds, all females i believe, as they demonstrated typical Saxicola behaviour - flying low to the ground from a perch on a bush to pick insects from the base of the hedge before swooping back to a higher perch on the top of the hedge. I followed them for some time down the hedge before they decided enough was enough and flew behind me back to where i had begun, leaving me to decide to leave them be, having disturbed them quite enough. Happy with this sighting as i don't see many being recorded in nottinghamshire apart from at clifton!