Wednesday, 23 January 2013


Its been snowing quite heavily on and off for about ten days now. I haven't actually made it out quite as much as i'd like in order to see what the birds are doing and how they're reacting to the white stuff.
One really notable thing is the movement of birds into urban areas, which doesn't really require leaving the house in most cases. In the garden there have been the usual suspects but they've been bolstered by some other arrivals. The female Blackcap has been joined by a male, although she is more dominant and chases him off, however the past couple of days have seen their absence which is disappointing. A coal tit, which is usually regular, but has been absent for some weeks, returned the other day but hasn't been seen much. Goldcrests have also been showing on and off feeding in the pine tree.

The usual pattern of thrushes moving in has been the most obvious though, and the blackbird numbers have increased, with many birds taking advantage of the windfall apples in the garden. A song thrush was also present the other day but since the weekend when snow came on thicker, it hasnt been seen again. The best bird however, has been a Fieldfare. Lots of these winter thrushes have been noted around west bridgford over the last couple of days and this loner has been in the garden since sunday. It is happily sitting, eating apples from the ground and hiding amongst the branches of the apple tree when resting. It seems unusual for there to be only one but it seems happy enough. Annoyingly i haven't got my camera here at the moment so no chance of a photo, i had hoped it would stay til the weekend, but i feel the milder weather that is forecast will see it off, along with all the other fieldfares, into the countryside again to eat worms and berries.

In other news, waxwings are still about but in small numbers and not really nearby. Small flocks in Gotham, Calverton and other outlying villages have been reported but they seem to have forsaken Nottingham for greener pastures. A flock of 15 was supposedly at Lady Bay bridge the other day, when it was particularly chilly, and as I was 5 mins down the road when it was reported, I decided to have a look. Sadly there were no waxwings, although there were lots of cornubia berries being gobbled up by flocks of hungry Redwings and Blackbirds. The hunt for waxwings goes on!

I did have a nice wander round Attenborough last friday (18th) which was quite productive, with 44 species seen, which in winter is just below average i'd say. The snow was falling quite heavily which meant birds were on the deck and therefore harder to see, although there were plenty to see at the bird tables. The delta gate bird table was particularly busy, with loads of tits and finches visiting, as well as a Nuthatch and Willow Tit. Some siskins were heard nearby too. The ponds were mostly iced over which meant there weren't many waterfowl to be seen and the poor visibility didn't help either, although good numbers of Goldeneye and Goosander were present, as well as my first Shelducks of the year which were seen on the clifton pond island. Lots of Redwing and Blackbird were about, feeding under the shade of trees in the leaf litter along with smaller numbers of Song Thrush, and a few Fieldfare were seen feeding on berries in a garden near the cricket field.

The snow and cold weather is here for another couple of days and then its set to get milder I think. I'd like to get out once again before it warms up, but will welcome a bit of milder weather so I can get on my bike again. The plan from now is to try to finish my BIKEIT list, though there's some on there I know I will fail to see, but Lesser Pecker is my main mission.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Another trip to Wollaton

After yesterdays brief visit to Wollaton, I decided it would be good to have a proper wander round the park as its been so long since I've had a good look around. The plan was to go there, mainly to try and find lesserpecker again, then head through Highfield Park to get myself a Goosander for my local list, before heading to Attenborough. There had been reports of over 50 snipe there so I didn't want to miss that. It would have been good to see how many species I'd get in a day too.

Sadly it didn't go to plan. I got up early enough but the fog was so thick that it didn't seem worth going until it cleared a bit, so I didn't end up leaving til gone half 10. I then spent much longer at Wollaton than planned and by the time I left the fog hadn't lifted at all despite the forecast saying we'd see some sun later on. The prospect of a foggy Attenborough didn't whet my appetite as it would have been impossible to see much at all, so I went to Highfields briefly before going home at about 2pm.

Crow in the Mist
Despite this I had an excellent time at the park, seeing 33 species, which is about average for this site. I started near the football pitches where around 60 Redwing were feeding under the tree canopy, which flew off in the direction of the deer park. Other than a few Goldfinches and a Treecreeper there was little else about. More Redwings were seen and heard on the way to the lake, where there was still quite a few waterbirds but not as many as last night, and certainly not as many gulls. A couple of egyptian geese were present, the first ones i've seen here, as well as good numbers of Gadwall and Pochard as well as a few Teal, Shoveler and Wigeon.

I was keeping an eye on the trees round the lake, hoping to see a lesserpecker but was unsuccessful. However there was plenty to keep me interested. About halfway round the lake in a yew tree were several Goldcrest, including a female which was happy to allow me to approach while she fed. I tried to get some shots but the light was so awful that they didn't turn out well, however she eventually stopped to preen which allowed me to get this interesting shot.

Female Goldcrest
Further round the lake in the woodland to the south I continued my woodpecker hunt, as this is usually a good place to find them, usually amidst a tit flock. I found a large flock consisting mainly of Long-tailed Tits, but no lesserpecker, although a Great Spotted Woodpecker was present. Along with the tits were a few more goldcrest and some more Treecreepers. I searched and followed the flock for around half an hour and was also rewarded with a couple of Coal Tits but nothing else. There were good numbers of Nuthatch around too.

Not a bad little walk round, and I was happy to see some of my favourite species. I'll be returning to continue my search for that little woodpecker and hopefully some better light so I can try and get some better Goldcrest pictures. I finished the day going to Highfield Park to get a Goosander and found 2 females and a male, so thats them ticked off the local list. The list now stands at 44/70 or 62%. The hunt goes on!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

BIKEIT update + Smew

Just had a short bike-ride round Wollaton Park, which sits handily within my three-mile BIKEIT radius, mainly to look for a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, but also as it was such a nice afternoon it seemed silly not to go and watch some wildfowl in the waning evening light.

I haven't seen a lesserpecker since I saw a pair nesting at the park in 2010, and as one was reported on sunday feeding with a tit flock, I thought it was worth having a look. Sadly, none were about, in fact there was quite a lack of passerines, but the light was failing in the wooded areas so it was no surprise. The lake however was heaving with waterbirds and it was to see some species which are a bit hard to come by locally such as Wigeon, Red Crested Pochard and Shoveler. No Goosanders though, so I'll have to head to Highfields Park at the Uni if I want to get it on my January 'BIKEIT' list. I also got some excellent views of some Nuthatch, common as muck here, but a wonderful bird nonetheless!

The BIKEIT list is going well, and today's trip to Wollaton boosted it, but a lot of the species I had managed just around and about. I was happy to get Blackcap yesterday, as although I do get a regular female visiting in winter in my girlfriends garden, it can be quite irregular in its visits so was worried it wouldn't turn up. I'd also thought that Song Thrush would be difficult, but I forgot that they start piping up in January and now they're singing all over the place. I saw some redpolls and a Mistle Thrush yesterday but they were just outside my recording area which was annoying, but the former should be easy enough, especially if the one which sang for most of the winter near my house last year decides to return. I also got Redwing and Coal Tit while doing some volunteer work in Sherwood today so that gets them off the list!

Updated list, BLUE species indicate those I've seen
So far then I have 39 out of my target 70, which is 55.7%. I plan to revisit Wollaton and pass through Highfields park tomorrow so I think my total will be a lot higher. Just need some local waxwings now...

In other news, a report of 3 Smew saw me heading to Colwick park at 8.30 on Tuesday morning, and I connected with them straight away. I was expecting redheads as it doesn't seem like a 'smewy' winter, but I was pleasantly surprised by seeing a dapper drake with two females as company. I'm really pleased to have got these early on in the year and it was without doubt the best views I've had. Shame the light was so poor though, the photos I did get were terrible.

Saturday, 5 January 2013


There is a mini patch working competition which has been very popular, especially on twitter, called Foot It! See here Which basically comprises of seeing what one can find within walking distance of their home. I was going to join in but I don't like walking around central Nottingham, it doesn't make for much of a pleasant stroll.

Anyway the rules are you have to walk around an area surrounding your home which is manageable without using any form of transport than your own two feet. You must compile a list of 'possible' birds you might expect to see in this area, and make it your goal to see each and every one of these within the month of January.

I am going to take part, but not on foot. I prefer cycling, so I'm going to try and see the 70 species that i believe it might be possible to see in a 3 mile radius of my house. Luckily I have some nice areas to go to such as Wollaton and Highfield Park, the river Trent between Lady Bay and Clifton Bridge, as well as the Canal and my Allotment. 70 species should be quite easy apart from a few which may cause a bit of a headache.
My Bike-it area!

Anyway here's what I think I might see. The green species are ones I'm almost 100% confident in seeing, the Amber ones will take either a bit of luck or a bit of effort, and the red ones are birds which I hardly ever see in this area but are known to be seen here occasionally. I think I can just about manage all but these red ones!

I've already seen a few within my area without even trying, but I'm going to properly go out and give this a go a few times throughout the month and update each time.

2013 ahoy!

Another year started, and like many disciplined serious birdwatchers, I spent the first day getting my year list off to a flying start...... Actually I didn't do this at all but spent it curled up in a heap watching films and eating pizza, nursing a well deserved hangover. I did see a couple of crows fly past the window a few times though.

I wasn't sure if I could be bothered with doing a year list again in 2013, as sometimes I feel it overrides the pure enjoyment of watching birds and I become slightly obsessed with looking for my next tick, but after very little thought I decided I would. I won't ever win any competitions with my lists, as I rarely venture outside Notts and lack the time and resources to go after rares or travel far and wide, but I do enjoy compiling my list and looking at what I have seen and what I'd like to see. Plus its nice to see it bulk up at the start of the year and then again when summer migrants arrive in spring, and passage migrants drop in in late summer.

I finished 2012 with 150 species seen, the first time I've broken the 150 mark, so I was happy with that, and I also managed a few lifers including Spotted and Pied Flycatcher, Scaup, Brambling and Nightjar. I've now seen some birds which although relatively easy to see, had eluded me in the past, so I think its going to get harder to get lifers from here on. I got a fair few more when I went to Portugal which obviously didn't make it onto the UK year list.

So yes. I'm doing another year list. Its only on 36 species thus far, as I've not been out properly yet, apart from doing a Core square for the BTO Winter Thrushes survey, which was in the middle of some pretty barren farmland, but which got me off to a start with species like Redwing, Fieldfare, Red-legged Partridge and Sparrowhawk. I'm planning a visit to Attenborough to hopefully get 50 or so in a day, and I'd quite like to find myself a Hawfinch, so may have to venture north to Clumber Park and maybe get a Lesser Pecker on the way.

To 2013!!!