Thursday, 31 January 2013

76 up

I managed an hour at Besthorpe NWT (Meering) this afternoon, first failing to find any Woodcock again in Meering Wood (disappointing as I flushed two at Manton Pit Wood earlier), but then getting a nice pair of Goosander on the Trent, bringing my Patchwork Challenge total to 76 (equating to 78 points). 

Sunday, 27 January 2013

A patch Med

A decision to have a quick look at Ferry Lane Lake at Collingham proved to be a good call this morning, as one of the small number of gulls present was a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull. A pair of Pintail were the only duck of note, and a small party of flyover Linnet were good to get for the patch list.

1st winter Med Gull with Black-headed Gulls at Collingham

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Tracks in the snow

We had a bit of a walk at Besthorpe today, parking at the Silt Lagoon at Collingham, and then walking up the side of Mons Pool, along the Trent, through Besthorpe NWT, and back down through Mons Pool. It was fairly quiet on the bird front, with 2 Redshank and a Little Egret the best; the hoped for Goosander on the river and flyover Peregrine, or even a Red-legged Partridge, didn't materialise. There were were plenty of mammals tracks in the snow, and some interesting bird tracks too, including what looked like Woodcock (notice the bill probes where it changes direction):

Presumed Woodcock tracks and bill probe holes
We tried to track it for a while (this would be a good patch yeartick), but then came across this, and gave up!

Lots of tracks!
I then had a go for gulls at Cotham Landfill after lunch, but there were no gull present.  Given that there had been a fair few here last saturday, including the Glauc, I can only assume that some rubbish had been left uncovered, and hadn't been today. However, I did flush two Woodcock (I didn't have to rely on footprints this time).

But bird of the day goes to the Fieldfare that was in my garden eating apples. Very nice too. 

Friday, 25 January 2013

That's not a Glauc...

recently came across some pictures of a very interesting looking gull on the Punkbirder website , taken at Cotham Landfill at the start of the month - see here (scroll down to 3rd January 2013 if necessary). A large, pale gull with an all-black bill and concolorous wings and body; not a Glauc. Is it a Glaucous-winged..? Certainly not a bird that I've seen on my recent few visits, but definitely worth keeping an eye out for!

Rather frustratingly, the author of the post, Alex Lees, had emailed my notbirding email on the day of  his sighting, but I only checked my email today - 3 weeks late. Perhaps I should check it more often...

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Glauc again

A quick look at Cotham Landfill en route to a site visit at Thoroton produced the juvenile Glaucous Gull again this morning; I located it in record time, but then lost it in the melee and couldn't relocate it, so no picture. I was a bit disappointed not to pick out anything else of note - I know an adult Caspian Gull has been seen here on occasion, so that would've been nice. Not even a Yellow-leg today. 

Arriving at Thoroton, I was greeted by 7 Waxwings dropping down into a garden next to the main road, although there was no sign of them when I returned to my car 45 minutes later. I then had to call in at Saxondale, where a Crossbill flew over calling heading east.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Girton in the cold

A visit this morning to Girton Pits didn't produce much of note - duck numbers were fairly unremarkable, and there was nothing to get too excited about; I was hoping for a sawbill (ideally a Smew, but a Goosander would've done), but no such luck. However, there were a few Snipe around, and a party of c.20 Lesser Redpolls was feeding in alders next to the A1133 Pit, whilst a few fly-over Linnets were a belated yeartick. Nearby, a quick look at the southern end of The Fleet at Besthorpe added one new species for my Patchwork Challenge list - Moorhen!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Patch birding, a Glauc and 3 LEOs

This morning I had a walk round at Collingham Pits; only the fourth visit I've actually managed so far this year. There were very few duck present, in contrast to earlier in the month, but I managed to add six new species to my Patchwork Challenge total - Snipe (5), Kingfisher, Canada Goose, Skylark, Bullfinch and Little Owl (2). There wasn't a huge amount else of note, although a Redshank circled round calling a couple of times, and a Roe Deer bounded along the edge of Northcroft Pond.

Little Owl at Collingham Pits
This afternoon, after failing to be able to buy a sledge anywhere in Newark, a walk down the Sustrans Route to Cotham Landfill produced the juvenile Glaucous Gull again; I wasn't actually expecting any gulls to be present, so didn't have my scope, and was pretty pleased to pick it out just with bins - although I did find a new place to view the landfill that allows closer approach. Nearby my target birds were found - 3 Long-eared Owls in their roost; Carl had 10 here yesterday!

Juv Glaucous Gull (too distant for my DSLR really...)

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A wintry Rufford

An all day meeting at Rufford Abbey CP offered some birding opportunities today; I got a lift with two ne'er do wells from the RSPB (Messrs Cornish and Coppleston), and we managed a little pre-meeting birding, scoring 5 Hawfinches in the trees around the main carpark - a tick for Mr Coppleston.

Rufford was looking quite spectacular in the snow, and a couple of us had a walk round at lunchtime - no Lesser Spots, and the woods were generally fairly quiet (although there seemed to be a hungry looking Robin every few yards). The lake was largely frozen, but a pair of Mandarins were present on one of the ice-free patches among the wildfowl, along with a group of c.10 Wigeon - not a species I've ever seen here before. No Goosander though.  

Wintry scenes at Rufford Abbey CP

Monday, 14 January 2013

Gulls in the snow

Snow makes normal places look spectacular, and even Cotham landfill looked rather wonderful this morning; I'd taken some time off in lieu of working yesterday and wondered up the cyclepath from Cotham village, with the aim of looking for white-wingers. Shortly after I arrived, a juvenile Glaucous Gull showed itself briefly, before providing some better views. It was a rather dark bird - definitely different from the one at the start of December (the last time I managed a visit). The only other gull of note was a single Lesser Black-back among the Herrings and Great Black-backs

A snowy Cotham Landfill

Juvenile Glaucous Gull at Cotham Landfill
As I was watching the gulls, two guys with cameras walked past and told me they just seen eight 'owls' a short distance away. I went and had a look as these were doubtlessly LEOs, but  couldn't find them. All was not lost however, as an unmistakable ringing call alerted me to 11 Waxwings in trees next to the solar farm field just to the north of the landfill, with a covey of 7 Grey Partridge in the next field and a sumptuous male Bullfinch in the snowy scrub.

Some of the 11 Waxwings near Cotham Landfill
I returned for another look at the gulls, but by now the snow was falling quite thickly; I managed to pick the Glauc out again, and amused myself for a few minutes by watching some of the gulls snapping at passing snowflakes as they loafed on the side of the landfill, before deciding that I wasn't going to find a Kumlien's Gull today...

The cyclepath near Cotham Landfill

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Briefly birding

As expected, I didn't manage much birding this weekend. Two very quick visits to Collingham Pits added just one new species for my Patchwork Challenge list - Little Grebe. However, a late afternoon visit today produced around 2000 Starlings roosting in the reedbed on the Silt Lagoon (displaced birds from Langford?), wheeling round and coming in and out of view in the thickening mist with a fantastic swooshing of wings - very atmospheric.  

Friday, 11 January 2013

Pre-work owls

Birding opportunities are likely to be a bit scant for me this weekend, so I decided to have a quick look for the Long-eared Owls at their traditional site near Newark this morning, whilst on the way to work. I quickly found three in their usual spot - including one rather washed out, scruffy bird (which could've been a juv I guess?) with it's wing spread out (warming up?). I grabbed a couple of pictures and then left them in peace. 

One of three Long-eared Owls
Three LEOs - scruffy bird on left, third bird obscured to the top right

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Birding at work

With a site meeting that didn't start until 10, I made a quick visit to Rufford Abbey CP to get Hawfinch on my yearlist; this was successful as I came across two in their usual spot in the lime tree avenue next to the main carpark. With only bins, they were a bit distant in the tops of the trees, but always nice to see. On the walk back to my car, a Marsh Tit was in full song, and there seemed to be Nuthatches everywhere, but no Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers.

After my site meeting, I had to walk the Teversal Trails (to map the extent of calcareous grassland that has been restored there through a project I have been delivering); I got several more yearticks on the walk round in what was gorgeous weather - it felt like spring, not the second week in January. These included a Woodcock (which I flushed in some woodland just inside Derbyshire), around 8 Bullfinches (including one in song), and a singing Willow Tit

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Fog stops play

The plan today was to do my Winter Thrush Survey for the BTO (in a square just south of Collingham) and then do some local birding; however, it was foggy when I got up, and it got worse when I was out, so I abandoned my thrush survey and instead had a nose around the 'new' part of my Patchwork Challenge area -  Besthorpe Warren SSSI and the area to the south (Primrose Hill).

A murky Besthorpe Warren SSSI
All in all it was a moderately successful morning, given the poor visibility. I added 7 species to my patch total for the year (bringing my total to 65) - nothing too unexpected, but best was Pink-footed Goose; three waves passed over between about 1010 and 1030, unseen above due to the fog. There has evidently been quite a movement of these birds heading towards Lancashire over the weekend judging from reports elsewhere (e.g. Yorkshire).

By 1130 the fog seemed to be getting worse, so I gave up and went home; of course it lifted this afternoon when I had other obligations... Looks like I'm going to have to take a morning's leave next week to get my thrush survey done!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

First Collingham visit of 2013

Water levels have now fallen sufficiently to allow access again at Collingham and Besthorpe, which is good news as it allows me to get my Patchwork Challenge list underway. Ferry Lane Lake and Wharf Pond both held large numbers of wildfowl - mainly Wigeon, Teal and Tufted Duck, but also Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard and Mallard, and amongst them 17 Pintail (11 males, 6 females), which is a good count for this site. Wharf Pit also produced a Green Sandpiper. Off the water, there were 9 Lesser Redpoll on the south side of Carlton Ferry Lane, feeding on mugwort seeds, and 3 Brambling in the big ash trees at Wharf Cottages.

The footpath with Wharf Pond to the left and Ferry Lane Lake to the right - still unpassable!

The Silt Lagoon didn't have much on it other than a party of 17 Redshank, 3 Shelduck, and a flyover Little Egret, and Mons Pool produced a further 8 Pintail (4 pairs), plus 11 Siskin feeding quietly in the alders and 5 fly-through Tree Sparrows heading west. In all, I notched up a total of 58 species on the visit, which I don't think is a bad start - plenty still to get!

Most of the 17 Redshank on the Silt Lagoon at Collingham Pits today
I then headed to Girton, starting at Spalford Pit where I failed to find the Ferruginous Duck again - perhaps its moved on? But there were 8 Shelduck and 4 Green Sandpipers, the latter in the field to the west. Rapidly running out of time, a quick look on the Sailing Lake didn't produce anything of note, but a nice flock of 170+ Pink-footed Geese passed overhead, going west.

New names for 2013

Towards the end of last year, there was an effort (led by Notts Wildlife Trust) to come up with some consistent names for the pits at Collingham and Besthorpe, given that most observers use their own names. This seemed sensible, and after some consultation, a new set of names have been settled on - see the Collingham Pits page for further details. I will be using these new names from henceforth...

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


I've finally got round to signing up to the 'Patchwork Challenge' - see their blog. I've decided to focus on Collingham and Besthorpe, as that's where I do most of my birding; a patch of up to 3 square kilometers is allowed, so I've chosen a boundary which incorporates a variety of habitats, including some woodland and acid grassland around Besthorpe Warren SSSI to the east of Besthorpe village, to maximise my species diversity - the map below shows my patch!

My patch around Collingham and Besthorpe
Now I need the flood waters to receded to I can get out there and start recording! I've never actually kept tabs of how many species I see each year in this area, so it'll be interesting to see how I get on.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

NYD 2013

Normally I do the Suffolk New Years Day birdrace, but not this year... After hosting a party last night, I managed some fairly low-key birding today instead. A check of Spalford Pit at Girton failed to produce the Ferruginous Duck amongst the 226 Tufted Duck and other wildfowl, and 7 Goosanders were the best birds during a quick walk around Rufford Abbey CP in the afternoon - no Hawfinches, unsurprisingly! I haven't even bothered totting up my species list for the day yet, but it's going to be miles off my PB of 128, seen on the 2008 Suffolk birdrace (where we were beaten into second place by a new county record).