Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The week gone

The last week on the patch has been fairly uneventful. The waders have dried up (although the habitat at Mons pool hasn't - it's still looking good for a Sanderling or Temminck's Stint...), and the Turtle Doves haven't reappeared - yet (will they this year?). After Sunday's visit I took advantage of the good weather, and went looking for Grizzled Skippers around Kilvington Lakes and Flawborough Footpath, with some success. One spot, on the disused railway line running between the North and East Lakes at Kilvington held around 9 individuals, with small numbers elsewhere. I also encountered two Dingy Skippers on my travels; I think this is the only location in Notts where both Grizzled and Dingy Skipper fly together - at least naturally (i.e. they haven't been released). 

Grizzled Skipper

As I approached Kilvington in my car, I almost wrote off a large bird to the west as a gull. However, it soon became apparent that it was in fact an Osprey, cruising south. I sped round to the parking spot next to the viewing screen in anticipation of the bird flying past, but after a bit of scanning realised the bird was heading north now, being harassed by one of the local Buzzards, which was a bit of a shame.

Osprey (left...)

Yesterday (Monday) a site visit in the north of the county allowed me to return via Girton Pits to do my WeBS count. Best was of course the now-resident Cattle Egret, looking very smart and actually fairly close among the sheep next to North Pit. 

Cattle Egret at Girton Pits

Whilst there, news broke of what sounds rather like an Iberian Chiffchaff at Spalford Warren - just a stone's throw away. A quick call to county recorder Andy Hall for any further details (like where exactly it had been seen) revealed that the report actually related to a sighting from 3 weeks previous, and that the observer had been back recently and not found the bird. And with the only clue to the birds location being that it appeared to have been in a cherry tree, I decided to carry on with my WeBS... but I might go and have a look tomorrow (even though it's got to be a long shot now). See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heZq60SmHmA. Very frustrating that this bird didn't decide to stop 2 miles short at Besthorpe or Collingham Pits!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Terning up #2

Things keep ticking over for Patchwork Challenge; Sunday added Cuckoo (two at Mons Pool), whilst a meeting in Besthorpe last night allowed a quick patch visit which produced two Arctic Terns on Ferry Lane Lake (which was hooching with hirundines and Swifts) just before 7pm; they had left around 8 by the time that Mark Dawson went to look for them. 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Another good wader

Thursday night, and Mons Pool produced another decent local wader, in the form of a rather dapper Turnstone


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Terning up

I'd planned another patch visit last night, but was beaten to finding the Black Tern on Ferry Lane Lake by Mark Dawson. It was still there when I arrived just after 7, zooming around among the hirundines. Very nice too; now for some Arctic Terns please! Elsewhere on site, the Bar-wit was still on Mons, whilst my first Garden Warblers were back in their favoured spot near the works pit.

Black Tern

Monday, 1 May 2017

At Spurn, but missing the patch

A couple of weeks ago I decided I'd have two nights at Spurn over the bank holiday weekend. So, finishing work at lunchtime on Friday (and after a sortie to Holme Pierrepont for the Red-rumped Swallow) I headed over there. In all honesty, the birding was slightly underwhelming, with migrants thin on the ground; Saturday's highlights were a reeling Savi's Warbler (only my second) and a lovely female Dotterel. There were also a couple of Cuckoos around, and a few Yellow Wags and Wheatears, plenty of Whimbrel, and small numbers of hirundines. A bird which flew over me unseen just south of Sammy's Point, twice giving a strong, almost shrill 'sree' call had to go into the one-that-got-away bin, frustratingly... 

Savi's twitch
Distant Dotterel

Sunday, and with a strong ESE winds, I walked to the point, but migrants remained sparse and the best I could find was a colour-ringed Wheatear. Worse, the fact that Spurn was in the process of recording its third highest passage ever of Arctic Terns, was being reflected inland, with Arctic Terns, Little Terns, Little Gulls and waders being recorded all over the place... So, come 1230, I decided to cut my losses and head home; it's not often that I've been birding on the coast but wishing I was inland!

Spurn Point
Colour-ringed Wheatear

Twenty minutes away from the patch I got a text from Mark Dawson to say there was a Grey Plover on Mons Pool. After a quick check of Ferry Lane Lake (not terns), I met Mark at Mons and soon had the Grey Plover in my sights. After a bit of dashing about I added a 1st summer Little Gull on Ferry Lane Lake (both the gull and the plover having been found first thing by John Ellis, who'd also had a small party of, yes you've guessed it, Arctic Terns fly straight through). 

Little Gull

It was then back to Mons Pool for 2 Dunlin which Mark had seen drop in with 5 Ringed Plover a little earlier. These were still present, along with another new wader, this time a Bar-tailed Godwit. This was exciting - birds were raining from the skies... almost! Single Common Tern and Swift were also present, along with my first White Wagtail of the year.

Bar-wit and Grey Plover

It seemed only right to have an early start at Mons Pool this morning; there were no terns on passing Ferry Lane Lake (there or back), but I was greeted by an ongoing wader-fest at Mons - the Bar-wit was still present, with now two Grey Plovers and better still, a Wood Sandpiper, as well as a Dunlin, 2 Ringos, and a Common Sand. A quality selection. A Knot, Sanderling or Turnstone would've really topped things off, but perhaps I'm just being greedy... 

Wood Sand
Grey Plover no.2
The original Grey Plover

So all in all, despite missing out on the tern action, it was a pretty fantastic 24 hours on the patch, with 8 new Patchwork Challenge 2017 species - Wood Sand, Bar-wit, Grey Plover, Common Sand, Dunlin, Little Gull, Common Tern and Swift. 

I also had a quick look at Girton Pits later morning, to see if the BlackTerns reported there yesterday were lingering. They weren't, but the Cattle Egret was still in the sheep field at North Pit, now looking quite smart. 

Cattle Egret

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Chat show

An errand for work took me to Collingham village this afternoon, which fortuitously allowed a couple of hours on patch this evening without the ordeal of having to get around/out of Newark in peak traffic. As I approached Collingham, the first of several windy, sleety squalls blew through, the second of which hit whilst I was at Mons Pool. I decided to check the sprayed-off field immediately north of Mons, next to the Trent, as I have been doing over the last couple of weeks. Today I hit it lucky, with first a super little male Whinchat, and then 2 Wheatears. Both new species for the year on patch, presumably downed by the weather, given that I have seen the sum total of zero in this field prior to today.


There were also hundreds and hundreds of hirundines at Collingham most feeding low over Ferry Lane Lake. I always struggle to estimate numbers in this sort of situation, but I'd guess there were at least 500 individuals, mainly Sand Martins, but also reasonable numbers of House Martins and Swallows. Two Yellow Wags continued a theme of this species being thin on the ground locally so far this spring. 

Back to the weekend, and the highlight was a Ring Ouzel that Mark D found in the sheep field at the northern end of Langford Lowfields - the same field that has also held Redstart and Cattle Egret so far this spring! The most interesting thing in my sheep field at Collingham (south of Ferry Lane Lake, and actually part of the same holding) is a deceased sheep. Mark also tracked the aforementioned Cattle Egret down at Girton Pits, in the sheep field at North Pit, which necessitated a second off-patch foray on Saturday!

Ring Ouzel
Cattle Egret

Collingham failed to produce any Ouzels or Redstarts, but 2 reeling Groppers were new for the year (with another this evening reeling from the opposite bank of the Trent at Mons), as were 3 Reed Warblers

Monday, 17 April 2017

Patch birding to mid April

From the 1st of April I managed 11 consecutive patch visits. The best bird I found during this period was the already blogged about Cattle Egret, but it was good to monitor the increase of migrants during this period. However, the only migrant addition between the 4th and the 10th was Lesser Whitethroat on the 9th (when 33 Fieldfare were also lingering). 

The 10th saw the first big gathering of Sand Martins, with 100 over Ferry Lane Lake, increasing to 150 on the 13th when I had my first Whitethroat of the year. The first Yellow Wagtail of the year flew over on the 14th, with it (or another) on Mons Pool later in the day, and four Sedge Warblers on the same date were also new for the year. My first patch House Martins of the year were present today. 

The only other birds of note have been a Black-wit, which turned up on the 13th and was still present today, and a male Pintail