Monday, 28 March 2016

Easter birding

I only managed to get out properly birding once this weekend, despite having 4 days off work, as I had a busy schedule of family and friends to see.

I managed to get a good walk in on Good Friday with the dog, covering the finger ponds and rowing course, and it was nice to finally get some good numbers of singing Chiffchaff, after a quiet week regarding that species. Otherwise, an Oystercatcher and Shelduck on the flooded fields near Radcliffe viaduct were about the only other thing of interest, as well as 7 displaying Buzzard above the rowing course.

Saturday, I managed to get a good visit to blotts pit and the surrounding area, where I added to the mornings tally of little egrets to total 6 for the day. Otherwise 4 oystercatcher and a patch-first Stonechat were highlights. Thats 3 patch ticks in as many weekends...

Things slowed down after that, with only two brief and rather uneventful visits whilst walking the dog on Sunday and Monday. I missed out Monday morning, as a couple of little gulls and 3 Brent geese were noted, among other things, but you can't help these things sometimes. The little gulls seem to have been part of a mini influx, as birds were noted at several sites across the county this morning. The evenings are longer now, so at least I'll be able to make the most of this and hopefully the species tally will begin to increase.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016


I only managed one proper visit to the patch over last weekend, as I was in Wales on Saturday cleaning out some Pied flycatcher nest-boxes which are monitored by the ringing group. It was a good, but tiring day, but its always nice to see Red Kites and Ravens, and I even flushed a Woodcock which was nice.

Sunday, I was leading the volunteer group on the patch, so got down early to see if there was much about before we entered blott's pit to remove willow saplings from the waters edge. After an initial scan of the area, I decided to check facebook as in the distance I could see Alan Clewes looking at something. I was right, he had reported a Grey Plover which had been present for over an hour now. I couldn't see if from where I stood so wandered round to the middle viewing screen but despite scanning, I didn't see it. I later heard from him that it had been there the whole time I was stood there, so I felt a little stupid. Luckily the bird stuck around despite our being there for most of the morning, and Alan got me on it at around 1pm, so I was pleased with that, as its a notts tick for me.

Other birds around included another Curlew and a Redshank, and I heard my first Chiffchaff of the spring. Otherwise, a Ringed Plover was on site on Friday evening.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Decent day on the patch

I sacrificed a weekend ringing waders in Norfolk, for a weekend spent at home getting a few bits done, as well as wanting to get out and do some proper birding round Holme Pierrepont. On saturday I was down there at 8:15 to walk the dog, and had a pleasant stroll around the watersports centre and finger ponds. There were loads of birds singing, but no spring migrants. The only highlight were a pair of Shelduck in the flooded fields near the viaducts, and for the first time in weekes there were no egrets there.

After dropping the dog at home and feeding her, I had a coffee and then got on my bike and headed back down with my scope to check out the A52 pit and Blotts. A look in from the gate next to the A52 resulted in a redhead Smew, only the second i've seen this winter, and a nice surprise. Not much else of note, although I counted just under 500 Wigeon on the far bank.

I cycled round to Blott's country club and parked the bike up there, before wandering clockwise round Blott's pit. There wasn't a great deal on the water, as much of the wildfowl has departed, though a few Goldeneye remain. I added Jay to the year-list, with a couple squawking around in the woods to the south of Blott's. On the banks of the wet-grassland I noted a Curlew, my first for the site. This is another one of those species which has eluded me for ages on the patch, despite being recorded several times a year. In fact, I have barely seen any in the county, aside from some up at Collingham and Besthorpe on a few occasions, so I was actually pretty chuffed with this! 4 Oystercatcher were also nice, but I did feel a little short changed at the lack of any sand martins or ringed plover!

Patch tick!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Snipes at dusk

I had a brief visit to the patch this evening after work, in which I was surveying the waters edge around the islands and scrapes on Blott's pit for Willow saplings, which are to be hand-pulled for the next volunteer session.

One of the small reed stands in the centre of the scrapes was obviously attractive to Snipe, as i counted 29 birds as they flushed on my approach, a site record for me. Otherwise pretty quiet, although I guess the fact I was stomping around the waters edge didn't really help matters.

Patchwork Update: February

Species: 73

Additions this month: 6
Pheasant, Shelduck, Water Rail, Buzzard, Redshank, Goosander

I feel I could have pulled a few more out the bag in February, but in the end I finished the month on the same as the last two years, 73 Species. The fact I went away to Lincoln, Norfolk and Edinburgh over 3 of the weekends meant that visits were limited, although I did mange to get at least one visit in on every weekend, but not always at the best time of day, and not always covering a lot of ground.

Highlights included the first returning Shelduck of the year,a species that I've only recently started seeing regularly on the patch, since the habitat work done a couple of winters ago. I also didnt see one til the end of march last year, and there have now been 2 pairs that have stuck around all month. Starling murmurations have been spectacular too, and Wigeon numbers on the A52 pit have been excellent, with a flock of just under 1000 birds recorded late in the month. Another good one would be the 1st Goosander I've seen in a few Winters on site, which would be better had I actually seen it properly, but it was just a speck in the distance when it was pointed out to me... guess it still counts.

It has been a tough month though, and sometimes it feels like going through the motions, with very few new additions, but thats patch birding for you, especially in late winter. I really would have expected to have seen Jay, Skylark and Meadow Pipit by now, and i'm still gunning for some less common bits before the main spring passage such as Whooper Swan or some scarce duck, but its just a case of sticking at it and seeing what turns up.

Previous march totals are 79 (2014) and 81 (2015), so my target is at least 8 additions this month, lets see how I do.