Saturday, 31 March 2012

Warbling in the willows

At Girton this morning, one Willow Warbler was singing from the sallow scrub on the south side of the South-west Pit, my first of the year. Plenty of Chiffchaffs and a singing Blackcap were also present around the old stock yard, with 6 Sand Martins overhead - I hope the latter appreciate the fact that I spent an hour and a half digging back the eroded sand from under their nesting bank! Still no further sign of the Cetti's Warbler present earlier in the month; I guess it was just a prospecting bird which didn't find the site to it's liking, which is a shame.

Friday, 30 March 2012

If you wheatear, I'll be back soon

Collingham Pits held 5 LRPs on the Main Pit this evening, plus a single Ringed Plover. Checking the archaeological dig area immediately west of the Silt Lagoon came up with the desired Wheatear (a nice male) - it's always good when birds turn up where you expect (or hope). Fortunately it stayed put whilst I nipped back to the car for my camera adaper, allowing a few pics.

Wheatear at Collingham Pits
Elsewhere, there were 10 Sand Martins and at least 5 Redshank on Mons Pool.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Short-eared show-off

The joyous weekly trip to Morrisons was delayed with a quick trip to Cotham Flash this evening. At least 2, and possibly 3 Short-eared Owls were present, one allowing me to approach incredibly close, periodically scrutinising me with its amazing yellow eyes. Probably the best views of a SEO I've ever had; I beat a retreat before it got too annoyed with me though. Not a good night to forget my camera... Also present were at least 6 Snipe and 2 Ringed Plovers on the field pools, with a single Sand Martin briefly. Definately better than the weekly shop...

Sunday, 25 March 2012

More Martins

After a botanical recording group meeting this morning at Attenborough (4 Red-crested Pochards next to the visitor's centre), I spent the afternoon at the usual haunts. At Girton, the birding was steady, with at least 6 Chiffies in song and a single Sand Martin over the Sailing Lake, plus 3 Pink-feet on the Trent. However, the fantastic weather more than made up for the lack of birds - the flowering sallows were humming with insects. 

Collingham was a bit better - a pair of Goosander were on Carlton Ferry Farm Pit, with a Sand Martin overhead. The Main Pit held 2 LRPs, 1 Ringed Plover and 1 Redshank, whilst on the Silt Lagoon there was a Curlew and 17 Snipe lurking in the reeds (a good count). Checking Pied Wagtails finally produced the goods, with a nice White Wagtail here.

White Wag at Colingham Pits
Finally, Mons Pool was fairly quiet - 3 Redshank, and 2 Oystercatchers were the wader highlights, and another lone Sand Martin chattered overhead. Hopefully their numbers will start building up soon.

Friday, 23 March 2012


After a slightly longer than planned lie-in this morning, I visited Welbeck, parking in the pull off under the lime trees next to Corunna Hill Plantation. It was a bit misty, making viewing a bit difficult, but there were plenty of Buzzards up and displaying. The mist slowly lifted, and after about an hour I picked up a big, heavy chested female Goshawk briefly over the eastern end of Cat Hills Plantation. Nice!

There wasn't much on the flash at Budby Pumping Station, although there were three Mandarins (2 drakes and a female) on the river east of the bridge, and a Chiffchaff was singing. Budby Heath was more productive: I started by looking for the Firecrest that has been seen there recently in the north-east corner, but it was a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack, and needles to say, I was unsuccessful. However, there were a pair of Crossbills here, the male perching up and singing briefly. Wandering a bit further produced a singing Woodlark, 2 singing Stonechats, and 2 more singing Chiffchaffs.

Stonechat on Budby Heath
After lunch, I had a spin round Collingham Pits. The water levels were up on the Main Pit (presumably because Tarmac have stopped pumping down), but the 2 LRPs were still present, along with a Ringed Plover, a Curlew, and 2 singing Chiffchaffs, whilst the Silt Lagoon hosted 2 Oystercatchers. Nearby, Mons Pool was looking good for waders but there were only 10 Redshank, plus 2 Little Egrets and another singing Chiffchaff.

I finished the day at Langford Lowfields, where there were two singing Chiffchaffs, bring the day's total to eight. I then bumped into Michael Copplestone, the site manager (who had given a good talk about the site at the Notts Birdwatchers AGM on wednesday). Michael has been overseeing a huge amount of work at the site recently, and it has changed massively since I last properly visited; it should look amazing in a few years time once the reeds are established. As we stood chatting, we had 5 Sand Martins appear at about 6pm - shortly after there were six, and then seven, chattering away as dusk fell. 60 Fieldfares dropped in to roost, but the hoped-for Bittern fly-past failed to materialise. However, 1, possibly 2 singing Cetti's Warblers on the Silt Lagoons finished what had been a pretty good day.

Sunset at Langford Lowfields

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Seen by a SEO

With about an hour of light remaining when I got home, I paid a quick visit to Cotham Flash. The flash itself is still not much more than a muddy puddle, and the pools in the field to the south actually look more promising - indeed, Carl C had a Ruff and 6 Snipe on them in the last few days, but there was nothing except Lapwings on them tonight.

However, a Short-eared Owl more than made up for the lack of waders. It allowed me to approach remarkably close and get some reasonable pics, although the light was fading by now. Getting bored of my presence, it then took to quatering the grassland, before appearing sat in the roadside hedge when I returned to my car - brilliant!

SEO at Cotham Flash

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

An evening at Collingham

Given that it was such a nice evening, a quick visit to Collingham seemed in order. It was generally fairly quiet, and a check of some likely spots failed to produce any Wheatears. However, the Main Pit held 2 LRPs, 2 Ringed Plovers and 7 Redshank (with another 2 on Mons Pool), and there was a Curlew and 5 Oystercatchers on the Silt Lagoon.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Colour-ringed Glauc - Part 3

Finally got round to reporting the colour-ringed Glauc from Cotham Landfill on the 27th Feb: apparently, it was most recently seen at Ogston Res in Derbyshire between 8th and 12th March (I'm not sure if it was seen anywhere else in the interim). Anyway, the colour-ringing has obviously served its purpose, illustrating how widely birds like this will roam. Good stuff.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A patch of purple

A Purple Sandpiper was found at Kilvington this morning - having lunch obligations with the in-laws, it wasn't until late afternoon that I managed to see it; it was showing well on the southern shoreline of the West Lake, allowing a few record shots to be obtained (a little better than yesterdays rubbish pictures of distant waders).

Purple Sandpiper at Kilvington Lakes

This is the fourteenth Purple Sand to be seen in the county, and follows one at Collingham Pits in November 2009 (which I didn't see). Interestingly, it is the first spring record; all the others have occurred between August and November, bar a summer record in 1864!

Also present was a Green Sand, 2 Ringed Plovers, at least 3 Redshank, and 2 Oystercatchers, but I couldn't find the Knot that had been present.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Spring has definately sprung

Seeing your first summer migrants is always a highlight of the birding year. For me, this came in the form of a Little Ringed Plover on the Main Pit at Collingham this morning. It was kept company by a Knot, 4 Ringed Plovers, 3 Green Sands, 8 Redshank and 3 Oystercatchers - not a bad little haul.

LRP at Collingham Pits
Knot at Collingham Pits
Nearby, there wasn't much to get excited about at Mons Pool (although 26 Shelduck was a good count), but my first singing Chiffchaff of the year in the trees along the southern boundary was nice.
I then tried Girton. Again, not a huge amount; I spent around 40 minutes listening for last week's Cetti's Warbler without success (has it moved on, or was it just keeping quiet?), but was rewarded with a noisy little group of 4 Willow Tits - having failed to see any at this site so far this year I was beginning to fear the worst, but good to know they're still around; this is now a scare bird in the Trent Valley. Finally, 3 Pink-feet with the Greylags on the Trent rounded off the morning; presumably the same three that were here in February.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Cetti's at Girton

My WeBS count at Girton didn't throw up anything too unexpected in terms of wildfowl today (although there's definately been an influx of Oystercatchers, with at least 6 birds present). The highlight was in fact a singing Cetti's Warbler - a first for the site. I'm going to keep it's precise location under wraps as this is still a rare birds in Notts; up to 2007 there had only been eight records, with the first confirmed breeding in the county at Attenborough that year. Locally, the first turned up in November 2009 at Langford Lowfields (where they remain, and presumably breed), and there was also a bird singing temporarily at Balderton Lake in 2010, so it looks like they may be consolidating their toe hold at this end of the Trent Valley.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Colour-ringed Little Egret

With only a half day at work today, I cruised home via Kilvington Lakes. There wasn't a huge amount there, although the West Lake held a pair of Egyptian Geese, two Ringed Plovers, and a single Oystercatcher, with a pair of Goosander on the East Lake. A kick round the 'Snipe Ponds' produced one Common Snipe, but no Jacks.

I popped home briefly, and had a superb Peregrine over the house - the first I've ever seen in Newark itself - before heading to Spalford Warren. There's been a Mealy Redpoll seen here on the feeders recently, but I could only find two Lesser Redpolls.

A quick drive along Trent Lane at Girton to scan in the hope of an early hirundine was fruitless, so Collingham Pits was next; there was little on the Main Pit, but 2 Little Egrets were on the Silt Lagoon; one of these was colour-ringed, with a yellow ring on its right leg marked 'V' and an orange ring on its left leg marked 'U'. This format was used on a number of birds that turned up here last summer, which had been ringed as nestlings that spring near North Sommercotes in Lincolnshire, so this was presumably one of these birds; however, I'll hopefully be able to confirm this.

Colour-ringed Little Egret at Collingham Pits
Mons Pool was quieter than last visit, although there was a gang of 10 Redshank and a Curlew, and another 2 Little Egrets, plus a very confiding Kestrel.

Kestrel at Mons Pool

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Catching up with a Kittiwake

I was tipped off this morning by Carl that Robin Brace had found two adult Kittiwakes on the Main Pit at Collingham Pits. Being a species I've not seen in Notts before, work came to a finish a bit early so I could head up that way.

Arriving at about 1630, there was no sign of them on the Main Pit, or the Silt Lagoon. However, Mons Pool came up with the goods - a single adult Kittiwake was lurking amongst the 40 or so Black-headed Gulls present. Presumably one of the birds from Collingham this morning, but the other one must have done a bunk. I watched it on and off for the next forty minutes or so; it seemed quite unsettled, flying up and circling around several times, and frequently changing its position amongst the other gulls as the numbers of Black-heads slowly built up. 

Kittiwake at Mons Pool

Aside from the Kittiwake, a quick scan of the site revealed 11 Redshank and 2 Ringed Plovers - the site is looking good for spring wader passage, and a good bet for the first LRP of the year over the next few weeks! 

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A quick call-in at Cotham

After a lie-in, I didn't have much time before hockey, so headed towards Cotham. The gulls weren't readily accessible today, so I had a quick look at Cotham Flash (now with a little water in it). The only things of note were 3 Ringed Plovers in the field immediately south of the flash - apparently a male (displaying) and two females. Definately a sign of spring! Hopefully they'll stay and breed.