Sunday, 25 November 2012

Too much water

Whilst not comparing with what's going on in some parts of the country, all this rain has caused some worrying damp patches to appear in my house; it has also, unsurprisingly, caused water levels at Collingham Pits and Mons Pool to rise; as a result, both sites held considerably fewer wildfowl than last week. All the Teal, and most of the other ducks that had been using the Main Pit at Collingham have departed, no doubt making use of temporarily flooded areas elsewhere. The Silt Lagoon was a little better, with 4 Redshank and a Little Egret the best on offer, but Mons Pool didn't have anything of note. Giving up with birds I went and looked at the Trent, which was very high - it looks like it may only be a matter of time before it over tops its banks.

The Trent full to bursting at Collingham
Yesterday, before an early meet time for hockey, I enjoyed a female Blackcap in the garden (hopefully this will hang around for the winter) and then spent far to short a time with the gulls at Cotham Landfill; there were none loafing in the fields opposite, so I viewed into the landfill itself from the Sustrans route. There seemed to be gulls flying off in all directions, but there were still hundreds and hundreds on the landfill itself. With Glaucous, Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls in the Hoveringham gull roost the night before, I was hopeful of something good, but it didn't materialise in the time available. With no hockey next week, I'm planning to give the gulls a good grilling next saturday...

Sunday, 18 November 2012

More Waxwings

Today was WeBS count day, so I spent the morning at Girton Pits. It was a gorgeous late autumn day, with a clear blue sky, rich autumn colours, and a frosty ground. There was nothing unusual amongst the wildfowl, although the Tufted Duck count was relatively high at 655, and there were single Green Sandpiper on the Sailing Lake and Little Egret on Spalford Pit.

Best, however, was a party of at least 17 Waxwings along Trent Lane, next to the horse paddock. Once again, they were a bit against the light which made photography difficult, although were cracking through my scope! They spent most of their time perched up in an ash, with some of them dropping down to take hawthorn berries, before they flew off west with some Fieldfares (and it appeared there may actually have been up to 20).

Waxwing at Girton Pits
Waxwings at Girton Pits
About 20 minutes later, 14 Waxwings flew south; they may have been part of the earlier group, but were on a pretty determined north-south track and I heard them calling from some distance away - I suspect they may well have been different birds.

This afternoon, Amy wanted to go for a walk, and didn't take much persuading that we could combine this with a visit to Langford Lowfields for the Starling roost. Neither of us was disappointed. I've no idea how many birds were involved, but it was thousands, and the noise of their wings overhead, and their incredible chattering once in the roost, was brilliant. The afternoon was topped off with a hunting Barn Owl, a single flyover Waxwing, and a singing Cetti's Warbler.

A great finish to a good weekend.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Waxwing double-whammy!

The plan this morning was to have a quick scout round Collingham and Besthorpe to look for big white herons (see yesterday's post), and then do the gulls at Cotham. However, there seemed to be lots of birds around, and I ran out of time for any gulling!

At Collingham, yesterday's Dunlin had been joined by a second, and there were still 6 Redshank present, and the drake Pintail. Moving on to Mons Pool, there was a large group of Snipe on the 'scrape' - repeated counting eventally got their numbers up to 58.

Part of the group of 58 Snipe at Mons Pool
There were also two Little Egrets present, and a colour-ringed Cormorant bearing a yellow ring marked Z87 (or possible ZB7?) - I'll follow this up, but I imagine it's another bird from Rutland Water (see this post).

Colour-ringed Cormorant
I then heard a familiar call coming from the top of an ash tree  in the hedge along the southern boundary of the site - 5 Waxwings! Unfortunately, they couldn't have been more against the light if they'd tried, so I could only manage some pretty poor record shots - but great birds to catch up with at last! I watched then for about five minutes, around 9.50am, before they flew off north. A short time later a Crossbill flew over north as well.

Waxwing at Mons Pool
I then had a second Waxwing encounter in the afternoon - my hockey match at the Magnus School in Newark had just started, when 7 Waxwings flew in and landed in some trees next to the pitch - a bit of a distraction when playing striker!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Missed by minutes

With the afternoon off work (yay for flexitime), I spent 45 minutes driving round Newark (including parts I'd never seen before) looking at berry-bearing trees - but no Waxwings; however, I've got some promising-looking spots lined up for future checks!

After this, I did Collingham and Mons Pool. The Main Pit at Collingham was laden with Teal (just over 400), plus the drake Pintail, as well as a Dunlin, 2 Green Sands, 7 Redshank, and a fly-through Little Egret. There were at least 500 Fieldfares along Carlton Ferry Lane gorging themselves on berries and mixed in with Starlings in the stubble. Mons Pool produced a Redshank, 3 Curlew, 7 Siskin, and a nice male Brambling (the pic below doesn't quite do him justice).

Male Brambling at Mons Pool
I left Collingham as the light was failing, just after 4pm - there seemed little prospect of seeing much else. However, a check of twitter when I got home revealed that a Great White Egret flew north over Langford Lowfields at 4.30pm, and no doubt would've continued over (or stopped at?) Collingham and Mons Pool - damn it! Might be worth a check first thing tomorrow...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

No Waxwings... yet

Opportunities for birding were a bit thin on the ground for me this weekend, but I had a few hours out this morning; I began by driving around a few spots in Newark looking for Waxwings, but without any luck; I'm not aware that any have been seen in the town yet.

I then did Collingham Pits and Mons Pool, both of which were relatively quiet; on the Main Pit at Collingham there were just shy of 200 Teal (which I looked through hopefully several times), plus a single drake Pintail, but no sign of the Red-crested Pochard. Wader-wise, this pit held single Green Sandpiper and Golden Plover, and 4 Redshank. The Silt Lagoon held 133 Wigeon, a further 17 Teal and a single Goldeneye, whilst at Mons Pool the only thing of note was 3 Curlew. Away from the pits, there were decent numbers of Fieldfare in the area, plus a few Siskin and one Redpoll overhead.

Hopefully next weekend may bring something more.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Late in the day

After recovring from a hangover, and then hauling myself away from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on TV, I finally made it out to Collingham Pits this afternoon. There were at least 2 Green Sands and 2 Redshank present, plus the Red-crested Pochard still on the Main Pit. A big flock of Fieldfare, around 300, was making quite a racket in the ash trees next to the Silt Lagoon, a great sight on a murky November afternoon.

Mons Pool held good numbers of ducks, including 94 Gadwall, plus 5 Snipe, and single Redshank and Little Egret. The walk back to the car was brightened up by quite a few groups of Starlings swooshing overhead, no doubt on their way to Langford to roost in the reedbed.

Saturday, 3 November 2012


There was a good flock of gulls on the fields to the east of Cotham Landfill this morning - almost all Herrings. After an hour of scanning, some more gulls flew in from the field behind (where there was a similar-sized flock, but obscured by the hedge), and more scanning eventually produced an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull at Cotham Landfill
Giving up, I went to Kilvington; there were two more Yellow-legs, another adult and a 2nd winter, amongst a small group of gulls on the West Lake; frustratingly, a gull on the water looked good for an adult Caspian; it swam towards the shore and was just about to get out, when all the gulls flushed and flew off to the south-east. I had a look at it in flight, and it appeared to show long grey tongues extending into the black wingtip, and white tips to P10, but I didn't see P5 properly and the views weren't good enough to nail the ID. Interestingly, according to the sihgtings board, there was an adult Caspian here on 22nd October.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull with 2nd W Herring Gull at Kilvington Lakes
2nd W Yellow-legged Gull at Kilvington Lakes
On the East Lake, there were two female Red-crested Pochards amongst 75 Common Pochard.

Friday, 2 November 2012

The Dump Clump Hume's

There is an interesting article on the Dump Clump Hume's Warbler that I saw on Scilly (see the post Scilly - Part 1) on the Rare Bird Alert website, with a sound recording, sonograms and two nice pictures. The mandellii race referred to in the article is the eastern subspecies.