Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Even more Whoopers

At Collingham Pits this afternoon, the field to the east of Ferry Lane Lake held 40 Whooper Swans - great to see such a large herd - in the company of 56 Mutes. The farmer's brassica crop must have taken a bit of a battering this winter!

Some of the 40 Whoopers 
Not much else at Collingham, and water levels were up on Mons Pool with the islands submerged, so I tried Meering Marsh (aka Besthorpe North), where I had views of a very smart little male Merlin on the fields to the north. It was also good to see that further works have taken place at this site to make the old Eon Lagoon a bit better.

Male Merlin
The old Eon Lagoon at Meering Marsh

Sunday, 24 March 2013

An Arctic weekend

The weather caused me some motivational issues yesterday - snow and a freezing easterly wind meant migrant hunting was, realistically, off the agenda. Some fairly aimless pottering south of Newark culminated in a check of Cotham Flash, itself fairly birdless, but on the field pool beyond there was a good gathering of large gulls. I got a bit closer, and used a haystack for some elevation (and shelter). There were around 100 Lesser Black-backed Gulls present, with similar numbers of Great Black-backs and smaller numbers of Herrings - and a nice 1st winter Caspian Gull (the photos below don't do it justice).

1st W Caspian Gull at Cotham Flash

My viewing location

Today, another check of Cotham Flash failed to relocate yesterday's Caspo, and it was even colder and windier so I soon gave up. An afternoon walk at Collingham Pits then proved to be a good decision, as a Grey Plover was on the Silt Lagoon - a good bird for the Patchwork Challenge yearlist. The 4 Whoopers were still in with the Mute Swans but there wasn't a huge amount else of note present. 

Grey Plover at Collingham Pits

Friday, 22 March 2013

More Whoopers

As is now customary, I took this afternoon off (thank you flexi-leave) and headed for Cotham Landfill. I suspect this might be my last visit of this half of the year, as there were very few large gulls, and I quickly got bored looking through the BHGs.

Cutting my losses, I then headed to Collingham Pits. The Mute Swans in the field west of Ferry Lane Lake numbered 76 today, and among them were 4 Whooper Swans - the 'usual' lone bird (present since 3rd February), plus what was evidently a family group consisting of a pair with a juvenile, bringing the total number of Whoopers that this field has held this year to nine. 

A family of 3 Whoopers at Collingham Pits
Elsewhere on the site, there were 2 Oystercatchers and 12 Snipe on the Silt Lagoon, and at Mons Pool there were 12 Redshank and a Little Egret - no LRPs yet...

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Weekend washout

Three birding trips out this weekend were all a bit disappointing, not aided by the weather. Friday's trip to Cotham Landfill didn't yield any notable gulls. On Saturday, I did a reccy of Cotham Flash (lots of water, not many birds - although quite a few Lapwings on the adjacent field) and also had a look at Staunton Quarry (no Willow Tits but a freshly dead Tawny Owl).

Today I walked round Girton Pits, again looking for Willow Tits without success (Notts Birdwatchers are doing a survey - see here) - and the Bewick's Swans on Smithy Marsh had moved on - and then head to Collingham Pits. No migrants, but on Ferry Lane Lake there were 2 Ringed Plovers, with the Whooper Swan still amongst the Mutes (numbering 78 today) on the fields opposite; on the Silt Lagoon there were 8 Redshank and 2 Oystercatchers; and at Mons Pool there were 14 Shelduck and a Little Egret.

Ringed Plover at Collingham Pits

Sunday, 10 March 2013

A good goose at Girton

A couple of good birds on today's WeBS count at Girton Pits (despite the cold, wind and snow showers!) - a Eurasian White-fronted Goose in with nearly 380 Greylags on the sheep fields, and the 6 Bewick's Swans still on Smithy Marsh just to the south.

White-front with Greylags at Girton Pits

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Three new patch birds

Despite the weather, the morning started well with a Skylark in full song over my house in Newark, drifting north. Collingham was a bit quiet again, with few duck now on Ferry Lane Lake. However, there were five new Whooper Swans, bringing their total to 6, in the field west of Ferry Lane Lake amongst 82 Mute Swans , and a pair of Ringed Plovers on the Silt Lagoon (with a Roe Deer in the field opposite).

Two of the six Whooper Swans at Collingham Pits
Roe Deer at Collingham Pits
Mons Pool hosted 8 Shelduck, 2 Oystercatchers and single Redshank and Little Egret. Still with some time before hockey, I decided to have a look at Besthorpe Warren. As I trudged across the site in the drizzle, I wondered what I was actually hoping to see, but then added three new Patch Birding species in 15 minutes - a Jay, then the first of two Woodcock, and then two singing Mistle Thrushes. I was particularly pleased with the Woodcock as I was beginning to think I'd missed this species, for this half of the year at least.

Friday, 8 March 2013

A Med in the mist

With the afternoon off work, I headed to Cotham Landfill for my fist visit in a while. There were lots of Black-headed Gulls, but relatively few large gulls - and most of those that were present were feeding out of sight, so I had to make do with scanning them as and when they took flight. 

After an hour and a half, the best thing I'd managed to find was a Darvic-ringed 3rd W Herring Gull which was close enough to read the ring (for a change) - yellow on left leg 2K2B (one to check out),  but no Glaucs, Yellow-legs or Caspos. I was about to head off when a final scan produced an adult Mediterranean Gull in flight, which then settled on the side of the tip and had a good preen, so at least I didn't leave empty handed. 

Adult Med Gull at Cotham Landfill

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Birding from my window

Whilst pondering some problem or another at work today I sought inspiration out of the window, looking at the gulls on the River Trent. Most were the usual Black-heads, but one looked larger and whiter. Closer inspection with my desk bins (yes I have a pair, although they make me go cross-eyed), it proved to be a super adult Mediterranean Gull, almost fully hooded but still with some white behind its bill. It was soon disturbed by some rowers, and flew around over Trent Bridge for a few moments before disappearing upriver. 

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Back to the patch

My first visit to Collingham and Besthorpe for over two weeks produced one new species for my Patchwork Challenge list in the form of a Lesser Black-backed Gull on Mons Pool, where there were also 5 Little Egrets (3 roosting on the main island), a male Goosander which circled the site before flying north, and at least 2 pairs of Shelduck. Nearby, at least 370 Fieldfare and 25+ Redwing were in the field to the west.

3 Little Egrets roosting at Mons Pool
Collingham was relatively quiet, and water levels remain very high - not boding well for spring wader passage...  A big flock of Wigeon on Ferry Lane Lake contained 8 Pintail (4 pairs), whilst the Whooper Swan was still in with the Mute Swans (numbering 69 today) in the field to the west. Despite the limited bird excitement, it was a beautiful afternoon to be out.