April has finally transformed into May, and with it... still some pretty crap weather! Not as rainy as it has been, but still quite rubbish, but i managed to get out a few times.
The day after i got back from Netherfield (see last post), i had planned to get on with some gardening before i went to work. However I got a tip off from a friend that 47 Wheatear had alighted around clifton that evening, so i got up and visited the area, getting there just after 10am. Unfortunately the wheatears had moved on, although I did manage to see one on the ploughed field in front of Branshill Woods, my first spring wheatear since 2010! Otherwise I had a pleasant morning, covering quite a lot of ground and seeing around 45 species. The river was incredibly high after all the rainfall, it must have been 6-8 foot higher than 2 weeks ago. A Kingfisher was seen at the breeding location I'd noted last year, though i'm sure the water is covering the old nest site. Over on the weir fields by the river, there was much water overspilling from the river. The brambles here which normally hold many warblers werew still a bit quiet, although a Sedge Warbler was heard singing in the undergrowth, and 3 pairs of Linnet were noted. There were no Yellow wagtails yet around the cattle, maybe a little early yet, though over the river a few Swift were seen, and Skylarks were in abundance. The paddocks near branshill wood were busy with many birds, including loads of warblers in the hedgerows, mainly Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff, but a few Whitethroat too. Scanning the ploughed field in front of the woods produced the aforementioned Wheatear, as well as 3 Red-legged Partridge and several Lapwing. Reports of some Ruff and Ringed Plover led me to looking at cottages flash, but neither species were present. However, the flash is vastly extended thanks to the river bursting its banks, so there was a good number of wetland birds here, including 2 Common Sandpiper, an Oystercatcher, and lots of wildfowl. Large numbers of Swallow and House Martin were also found feeding over the fields.
I returned to Clifton the following monday, as I woke up to a beautiful sunny morning. I've been doing some butterfly surveys in the area, which have been on hold due to the weather, so with a bit of sun i couldn't really afford not to get out there. Butterflies were indeed in abundance, and on my transect i counted 32 butterflies from 6 species, including a couple of Holly Blue. I did a little bit of birding along the way too, mainly seeing warblers and other woodland species, including some singing Goldcrest. I also noted my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year. The possible Raven I've encountered on several visits to the area was present behind holme pit, and the Cetti's Warbler was in its usual spot, singing loudly from the southern edge of the pond. Loads of Reed warblers were singing too.
A few days working with the wildlife trust ended in me working at Besthorpe on thursday. It was just me and the reserves officer, putting up some signs and interpretation boards, so we had a bit of time to indulge in some birding too. The water levels were again very high here too, with the water covering all the scrapes and islands on mons pool, including all the reed fencing we'd erected last year. This eliminated mosy oppurtunities to see any waders, but for the hirundines it was excellent. On the western section of the lake there were hundreds of House Martin and Sand Martin, as well as a good number of Reed Bunting using the feeders. Over the eastern edge there were swallows instead, following the herd of sheep as they came to inspect us, and we had birds flying within a metre or so of us. A Cuckoo was heard calling from around the heron island, and warblers were in abundance including some Lesser Whitethroat. We later moved onto the central part of the reserve, where another male Cuckoo was heard, as well as the 'bubbling' call of a female. 3 in one day is quite a good record, what with the cuckoo in such decline. A field next to trent lane had been flooded in the rains, attracting huge amounts of wetland birds. The field is usually just a grassy meadow which is being improved into arable land, but it looked more like a lake when we arrived, with loads of geese and gulls using it, a Curlew was noted calling and was soon located, before another 3 were seen nearby. This is my first record of Curlew for Nottinghamshire so I was pretty pleased about that.