Friday, 31 August 2012

Back to birding

We've just come back from a very enjoyable 6 days in the Lake District. I did no birding at all, and saw nothing of any note, but was surprised by the numbers of House Martins in various locations that still had young in the nest... an indication of the wet summer I guess.

So to address my withdrawal symptoms, I popped out to Collingham and Mons Pool this evening for the first time since the 25th (feeling pleased that nothing significant had turned up there in my absence!). Quarrying in Ferry Lane Farm Pit has recommenced, and water levels are down a bit, but there wasn't much to see birdwise. The Main Pit looked much as it did a week ago, and held 1-2 Common Sands, a Dunlin and 2 Little Egrets, but there was no sign of the Ruff which had (according to the sightings book in the hide at Mons Pool) been present earlier in the day. 24 Golden Plover wheeled over the Silt Lagoon, and on Mons Pool there was a Common Sand, 1 Wigeon, and 24 Shoveler.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Main Pit coming good

Ferry Lane Farm Pit was again disappointing this morning; 3-4 Common Sands were the only waders, with 2 Little Egrets also present. The Main Pit, on the other hand, is starting to look quite promising; there wasn't anything particularly noteworthy there this morning, but it did outstrip FLF Pit for the first time with c.3 Common and 2 Green Sands, 2 Snipe, and 6 Little Egrets, as well as 145+ Teal (amongst which I still can't find a Garganey!). Unfortunately I didn't have time to check Main Pit Annex or Triangle Pit but these might be worth a check next time...

Main Pit at Collingham

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Hunting Turtle Doves

Now, I'm not anti-shooting per se. However, it has recently come to light (e.g. on Twitter) that a company in this country is advertising a shooting holiday to Morocco. Their quarry? Turtle Doves. Given that this is one of our most threatened breeding species, I find the idea of people going abroad to shoot them completely abhorrent. These could be the handful of birds hanging on in the Trent Valley!

I went on their website earlier today -, but having clicked on it again tonight all that appears now is "Sorry, Page Not Found" - I can only assume that the page has been taken down. Nevetheless I will be emailing them to express my concerns. There is some stuff on Birdforum about it too.

Edit: to their credit, I got a response straight back from D&B saying they have 'no plans to promote this shooting further'.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Nothing to write home about

After yesterday's unavoidable absence, I was back at Collingham Pits early evening after work, but didn't really see much; 1 Common Sand on the Main Pit, and on Ferry Lane Farm Pit, another Common Sand, 5 Ringed Plover (including 1 juv), and a juv LRP. Not even a Green Sand tonight!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Kilvo not Collingham

For the first day in some time I didn't visit Collingham - which means something good was bound to be there... Instead, I managed a few minutes at Kilvington on the way home, where 2 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding on the West Lake on the spit, but there was little else of note.

Black-tailed Godwits at Kilvington

Monday, 20 August 2012

Have the pits peaked..?

Another trip to Collingham Pits this evening after work; Ferry Lane Farm Pit has less water in it than ever, to the point that I'm a bit worried the decent habitat isn't going to be around much longer - or at least making it more difficult to watch due to all the deep humps and hollows that have appeared.

Anyway, there wasn't a great deal on the pit - at least 4 Common and at least 3 Green Sands, plus 4 Ringed Plover (so at least it's still attracting some new birds), a juv LRP and 5 Little Egrets, plus several Lapwings.

On the Main Pit there were a further 3 Ringed Plovers, and whilst I looked across three Curlew flew up from Ferry Lane Farm Pit - I hope they had only just dropped in when I drove round, rather than me having overlooked them a few minutes earlier!

And to answer the question in the title of this post, the good news is that there can only be another couple of inches of water to go before large areas of mud are exposed on the Main Pit. This habitat last year pulled in some good birds last, with 2 Pec Sands, 4 Curlew Sands and a Little Stint all being found on the same date in early September. Lets hope for a repeat!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Peacock paradise

After a bit of DIY at home this morning, I went out and did my WeBS count at Girton Pits this afternoon. Birdwise, it was fairly uneventful; Spalford Pit held the best, with single Common Sand, 2 Little Egrets and a 2nd S Yellow-legged Gull.

Aside from birds, there were at least 40 Peacocks on three small buddlejas on 'the breach', plus 5 elsewhere around the site. I've seen one or two over the last week or so, but it was great to see so many after a complete absence so far this summer. They really are gorgeous insects. A single, very tatty Tortoiseshell was with them - the first I've seen for months, and a dire state of affairs for what's meant to be one of our commonest butterflies. On a more positive note, there were also 2 Common Blues, a Small Copper and a Brown Argus(my first in Notts this year) elsewhere at the site. I also heard Roesel's Bush-crickets stridulating in long grass on the north side of the A1133 Pit, the first for the site as far as I know although I'm sure they've been here a while, undetected.

Peacock at Girton Pits
At Collingham Pits, there were 8 Shoveler and a Wigeon on the Main Pit amongst plenty of other duck including good numbers of Teal (but no Garganey!), and a Common Sand. Ferry Lane Farm Pit was a bit disappointing, with 2 Dunlin, 3+ Common Sands, 4+ Green Sands, 3 LRPs, a Ringed Plover and 4 Little Egrets. The Turnstone appears finally to have departed, although the dewatered terrain in the pit is now such it could have lurking out of sight.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Where's the Whimbrel?

The Turnstone was still present at Collingham Pits first thing this morning, first on Ferry Lane Farm Pit, before moving the Main Pit. The latter also hosted a Ringed Plover and 2 Common Sandpipers, with a Whimbrel flying over unseen just after 9am - it called several times and was clearly heading south, but I couldn't for the life of me see it! My first of the year at this site. Ferry Lane Farm Pit also held single Greenshank, Dunlin and LRP, at least 5 Common and 4 Green Sands, plus 6 Little Egrets. Nearby, there were 3 Common Sands  and 4 Snipe on Mons Pool.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Birding before Birdfair

I took today off to go to the Birdfair, but managed an hour out before we set off; predictably, I began at Ferry Lane Farm Pit at Collingham. The Turnstone was still present, and the number of Greenshank had increased to four (although three of these flew south and may have left the site, but could've landed in the southern boundary ditch). Also present were 2 Ringed Plovers, a Dunlin, one juv LRP (have the others left now?), at least 6 Common Sands, c.3 Green Sands, and 4 Little Egrets. On Main Pit there was a Common Sand, and a female Pochard was new in, and nearby at Mons Pool there were 3 Common Sands but not much else.

Birdfair was fun, and inevitably I left with my bank account a little less full than it was at the start of the day. It was also nice to catch up with a few people, and get a fly-over Osprey!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Another look for waders

On Ferry Lane Farm Pit at Collingham this evening, still one Turnstone present but there was no sign of the other 5 from yesterday. Also present, 3 Greenshank, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin (with a third that circled the pit calling, but didn't appear to land), 6 LRPs (5 juvs), 6+ Common Sands, 4+ Green Sands, 6 Little Egrets, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, and at least 4 juv Yellow Wags (and plenty of young Pieds as has been the case all week).

Yellow-legged Gull at Collingham Pits
Elsewhere on site, there was a Common Sand on the Main Pit, where 5 Snipe flew over heading south (I'm not sure if these came up from the site or just flew straight through), and there were 2 juv LRPs on the Silt Lagoon. Mons Pool was pretty quite, although a nice adult Hobby performed overhead briefly.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


Six Turnstones on Ferry Lane Farm Pit this evening were a definate highlight of a quick visit to Collingham Pits after work. Presumably one of these birds was the one the has been present the last couple of days, with the rest perhaps having been brought down by the rain earlier. Also present were 2 Greenshank, 2 Dunlin, at least 7 Common Sands, 5 Green Sands, a Ringed Plover, and several LRPs still present (not counted). We'll see what tomorrow brings...

Four of the six Turnstones at Collingham Pits this evening

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

All present and correct

Another evening and another check of Collingham. The Turnstone was still present on the Main Pit, and Ferry Lane Farm Pit held much the same as it did yesterday - 2 Greenshank, 2 Dunlin, a Ringed Plover, 5 LRPs (4 juvs and an adult), c.6 Green Sands and 3 Common Sands. New was a Curlew which dropped in for 15 minutes, before continuing south, and the number of Little Egrets had increased to 9.

Monday, 13 August 2012

It's all looking good

Another trip out to Collingham this evening; Ferry Lane Farm Pit continues to improve, with more marginal habitat, and more waders as a result - 2 Greenshank, 2 Dunlin, 7 Green Sands, 4 Common Sands, 4 Ringed Plover (3 of which flew in from the north at 1750), 4 LRPs (3 juvs and an adult), 5 Little Egrets, and 2 juv Yellow Wags. On the Main Pit, what looked like yesterday's Turnstone was one of the recently reappeared islands. It's nice to visit the site now expecting the see some decent waders - rather than just hoping!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

A few more waders

Another quick look at Collingham Pits this morning was fairly productive. I met John E and Graham G who'd already done Mons Pool, the Silt Lagoon and Main Pit, so we had a look at Carlton Ferry Farm Pit together, finging a Turnstone, Greenshank, 2 Dunlin, 3-4 Common Sands and 3 Green Sands, plus 5 LRPs (an adult and 4 juvs). Contiuned pumping down of this pit by Tarmac is making it look better and better - it may yet produce the county's first White-rumped Sand!

Turnstone at Collingham Pits

Emerging wader habitat at Collingham Pits

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Some waders at last!

I had my first trip for a week round Collingham and Mons Pool. The latter site held 2 Common Sands and a Green Sand, plus a Little Egret (as well as 5 Small Coppers and a Common Blue), but Carlton Ferry Farm Pit at Collingham held better; a Greenshank, 3 Common Sands, at least 5 Green Sands, and a Dunlin, the majority of which were in the north-east corner of the pit.

Whilst I was away, a Wood Sand was found at Mons Pool on monday morning, and a few other waders were recorded in the area (but nothing matching the aforementioned species). Perhaps of greater note, Carl had a Pied Fly along the southern boundary of Besthorpe NWT North on thursday evening - a good bird for Notts and a species I have yet to catch up with in the county. Remarkably, Carl also found a Redstart as well!

Easy birding

We spent a very relaxing five days in Suffolk this week (including a trip to the Olympics on tuesday). Like last visit, I somehow didn't have much time to do any substantial birding. However, we visited Minsmere with my parents on wednesday, and although we didn't do the scrape or levels (where a Pec Sand turned up on Lucky Pool!), we had a nice walk out to Island Mere, via Bittern Hide; this lived up to its name, with 3 Bittern sightings in the space of 15 minutes! I couldn't rustled up the Ferruginous Duck at Island Mere itself (I know this bird has been 'elusive'), but did have two plant ticks; Red-tipped Cudweed (in a little fenced-off area next to the path), and Round-leaved Wintergreen (next to the ramp up to Island Mere hide) - both usefully signed. Both are scare plants - see Plantlife's website for some info on the cudweed, and BSBI's online distribution maps for both the cudweed and the wintergreen. Several Purple Hairstreaks were also seen near the visitor's centre.

Red-tipped Cudweed at Minsmere
On thursday evening I had a wonder down to my old patch on the Orwell, checking out the saltings at Crane's Hill, at the northern end of Shotley Marshes. It was just after high tide, and there were quite a few nice birds in evidence; 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Ruff, 3 Greenshank, 2 Common Sands, 4 Whimbrel (one on the deck and three over), an Avocet, several smart Grey Plovers, Turnstones and Black-wits, and 11 Med Gulls, plus 2 Marsh Harriers and a Cetti's Warbler. Nothing spectacular, but if I'd seen all those species on a trip to Collingham or Mons Pool, I would be over the moon! It just makes me realise how lucky (and spoilt) I was growing up and cutting my birding teeth in this area. 

Spotted Redshank and Ruff at Shotley Marshes

Grey Plovers at Shotley Marshes

Whimbrel at Shotley Marshes
Dark Bush-cricket at Shotley Marshes

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Olympic birding

We had a great trip to the Olympic Park yesterday to watch some of the hockey (go GB!). I kept a tally of the birds I saw whilst on the site, and amassed a total of 12 species, including plenty of Cormorants commuting backwards and forwards, and a Common Tern, as well as several Sand Martins over one of the wetland areas; there is an artificial martin bank so I did wonder if they'd bred successfully.

The Olympic Park was extremely impressive, and some of the planting and habitat areas were quite interesting. The wetland areas all looked well established and fairly naturalistic; the wildflower meadows were also quite nice (where they hadn't been trampled down or sat upon), some consisting of native species (if a little heavy on Restharrow), and others with a range of native and showy non-native species creating a bit of a pastiche of a wildflower meadow (which I wasn't so keen upon...), but overall the effect was good, and the bees were certainly taking full advantage!

Park Live, with the Olympic Stadium on the left


I did something a bit different on sunday, going out with the Notts Crayfish Group to look for our native White-clawed Crayfish in a stream near Mansfield. White-claws can still be found in several watercourses in the west of the county, but there survival is rather uncertain , as they are threatened by the presence of the invasive non-native Signal Crayfish which occur  in the east of the county, and the west in Derbyshire; Signals compete with our White-claws and carry a plague to which the White-claws succumb.

We had a successful day, catching 26 White-claws between us (under licence - they're a protected species). These were mainly juveniles, but also one large adult. The only down side was that I didn't have any time left afterwards to do any birding!

White-clawed Crayfish (in a bucket)

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Purple peril

I failed to see anything of note today (although I could've tried harder - I watched a lot of Olympics!). However, things are looking more promising at both Collingham and Mons Pool, with water levels down and more marginal areas available (helped by a couple of pumps at the former site). However, no decent waders today, although a check of the sightings book at Mons Pool revealed that there have been a few Green and Common Sands in the area over the last week, with a Greenshank at Mons Pool on wednesday.

At Langford, I couldn't do better than 4 Snipe in flight over Phase 2, but there were loads of Roesel's Bush-crickets buzzing from the longs grass around the silt lagoons - they were first recorded here in 2007.

I then occupied myself by pulling some Himalayan Balsam from the Fleet where it passes the wood;  Himalayan Balsam is bad news (see here), and is prevalent on several river catchments in the county - especially in the west. It is a problem further downstream on the Fleet in Collingham, but it hadn't been recorded this far up until I spotted ithere  a couple of weeks ago. I pulled some of it then, but knew I'd missed some. Hopefully I've got it all now and it wont become established here...

Himalayan Balsam on the Fleet at Langford