Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Second Swift

Over Collingham village tonight I had only my second Swift of the year - 13 days after my first. Nearby, Collingham Pits was pretty quite, with a single Redshank on Mons Pool and 5 Goldeneye loitering on Ferry Lane Lake. 

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Normality on the patch

After the excitement of Friday, it was back to reality on the patch; a few hours yesterday didn't produce a massive amount, although there were 2 nice White Wagtails in with 5 Yellows and a couple of Pieds, and there seemed to be lots of Swallows around. The best waders were single Redshank and Curlew, and I also stumbled across the silent male Cuckoo again, although it did start calling a bit later on. At Meering, it was nice to come across an Oystercatcher on a nest. 

Today, I struggled with motivation but had a quick visit to Girton Pits where I was pleased to find a singing Willow Tit (no sign of any female accompanying it - hopefully on a nest somewhere?). I need to check out the rest of this site soon, as hopefully there are more birds out there. 

Friday, 26 April 2013

Thrush rush!

Despite my fears, the Rock Thrush hung on at Spurn today, and allowed myself and Carl to see it this afternoon. We arrived just after 3pm and had decent views of it feeding in the field south of the Bluebell, where it was spending its time flying between fenceposts and dropping down to take inverts. Unfortunately the heat haze (!) made photographing it difficult, but it did come a bit closer at one point. It then flew north-west and dropped into the caravan park, where we eventually picked it up again (before moving across for a slightly closer, final, view). A great little bird, especially in flight when she flashed her tail. 

Rock Thrush!

It's favoured area

Other birds in the area which we saw on out brief visit included a male Redstart, loads of Wheatears, plenty of Yellow Wagtails, 5 Whimbrel, and at least 3 Sandwich Terns and a Gannet offshore.

Record shot of a year tick (LGRE)

Back to this morning  I nipped up to Collingham to look for a lost camera battery (no luck). However, with 500 Black-tailed Godwits reported coming into roost at Rutland Water last night, I was hopeful there might be one at Mons Pool - and indeed there was - one Black-tailed Godwit! A Common Sandpiper and 2 Oystercatchers were the only other waders.

Black-tailed Godwit

Thursday, 25 April 2013

More Yellow Wags

Tonight in the paddocks at Cotham Flash, the Yellow Wagtail flock broke the twenty barrier, with at least 24 present (probably more, as they were quite scattered and mobile). I was convinced there was going to be a flava amongst them, but alas no. Also 3 Wheatears and a party of 6 Ringed Plovers flying over when I arrived, 3 of which peeled off south. 

Now hoping that today's Rock Thrush at Spurn is going to stay put til tomorrow afternoon, but I'm not going to hold my breath... I'm almost certainly going to regret not going for it this afternoon when I had the chance!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


After a meeting at Kelham Hall this afternoon, I was able to get out to Collingham a bit earlier than usual for a weekday. Highlights were a silent and very obliging male Cuckoo feeding along the fenceline on the eastern boundary of the Silt Lagoon and a Reed Warbler in the reedbed there, and a single Wheatear in the sheepfield south of Ferry Lane Lake. Mons Pool held 5 Dunlin and 3 Redshank, with a Lesser Whitethroat near the hide. I also saw my first three Green-veined Whites of the year. 


On a related topic, I continue to top the Midlands league for Patchwork Challenge, but only just, and for how much longer?! 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Lesser of two Whitethroats

After work tonight, a look at the paddocks at Cotham Flash produced at least 10 Yellow Wagtails (with probably more present) and 2 Wheatears; last night there were 17 Yellow Wags. My quest for a Blue-headed Wagtail here continues. 

I then had a run round Collingham, where there was a Lesser Whitethroat in the hedge at the Silt Lagoon, with Common Whitethroat, Blackcap and lots of Chiffs and Willows also in the area. Mons Pool held 4 Dunlin, 3 Redshank, and 2 Curlew which flew in from the north. I then saw out the evening at the back of Meering Marsh. I was hoping for a Gropper, but had to make do with couple of Sedge Warblers, and another Lesser Whitethroat

Meering Marsh at sunset

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Harrier on a heading

Another spin round Collingham Pits this morning (a bit later than yesterday) initially didn't produce much different from yesterday, so I headed on the Girton Pits. After some fairly aimless birding here, I found myself next to the Trent, as a large raptor was being harried by a crow. This proved to be a female Marsh Harrier, and it was heading south - towards my patch!

After a moment's hesitation, I jumped in the car and drove back round to Meering. Positioning myself on the track I scanned north and south, until I picked the Marsh Harrier up over Mons Pool, heading south. A good patch bird for the Patchwork Challenge list, albeit one I would hope to get. 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Thrashing the patch

An early start on the patch today (6.30am - good going for me) allowed a proper wonder round the three main parts of my patch for the best part of 5 hours. It was a lovely morning to be out, but didn't produce anything out of the ordinary. Best were 3 White Wagtails which dropped into Meering Marsh briefly before heading north.

White Wagtail at Meering (record shots!)

Other birds included a total of 5 singing Whitethroats around Collingham and Mons Pool with another 3 at Meering, up to 6 male Blackcaps, a singing Sedge Warbler at Mons Pool again, plus several Yellow Wagtails, but few hirundines. Waders were a bit thin on the ground, with single Redshank, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper dotted around the site, with a Curlew bubbling away periodically from a field west of the Trent at Meering.

This evening, a quick look at Cotham Flash produced 15 Yellow Wagtails (and possibly more) and 4 Wheatears in the paddocks tothe south. Still hoping for an unequivocal Blue-headed Wag here! 

Friday, 19 April 2013

Warblers and Wheatears

At Collingham and Besthorpe tonight, there was a good selection of migrants, with 3 Common Whitethroats around the site (none singing), 2 Sedge Warblers at Mons Pool (one in song, the other silent in a hedge), a male Blackcap also at Mons Pool, and lots of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. I also had a couple of fly-over Yellow Wags, but perhaps most pleasing were 3 Northern Wheatears in the sheep field south of Ferry Lane Lake; I've been checking this spot for Wheatears on every recent visit and was beginning to lose hope... 

Non-passerines included a Common Sandpipers on Wharf Pit and a Green Sandpiper on Ferry Lane Lake, with Mons Pool hosting a Redshank and a party of 7 Dunlin and 6 Ringed Plovers (with 2 and 4, respectively, seen earlier in the day); it's good to see that this site is attracting a few waders, and hopefully bodes well for later in the spring.

Hopefully I'll be able to get up early to give the patch a proper thrash round tomorrow; Ring Ouzel would be nice; a species I've seen a at Collingham and Meering in the past, but by no means annually... fingers crossed!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Flava palava

I had another check of the horse paddocks just south of Cotham Flash on the way home from work tonight. This produced 5 Northern Wheatears, and a nice flock of 11 Yellow Wagtails, a species I never get bored of. Among them was a stand-out bird with a bluish-grey and olivey head (with tones changing with different angles and light conditions), a whitish throat and supercilium, and a yellow belly becoming more washed out across the breast. I struggled to digiscope it as it wouldn't stand still, and the two horses that live in the paddock kept standing in front of me...

I did some googling when I got home, and came across some images on the Birding Frontier website of a possible first-summer male Blue-headed Wag, which this bird looks rather like (to my eye), and interestingly, two of the features referred to appear to be present: (i) the outermost 2 (or 3?) greater coverts appear to be a different generation from the others, being shorter, with fine whitish fringes, whilst the other GCs have broader, more olivey and less well defined fringes, and (ii) the wings look a bit brown, not fresh black. An interesting bird.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

An early Swift

Whilst sat on the bus this afternoon at the traffic lights on Beaumond Cross in Newark, I glanced up to see a Common Swift riding the wind above the junction, before shooting out of sight - my earliest Swift since at least 1998 (and possibly ever?). I then popped out to Cotham Flash, where there were 2 Yellow Wagtails and my first 3 Northern Wheatears of the year in the horse paddock to the south, with 8 Lapwings (4 pairs) and a Snipe in the fallow field. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Terning to spring

A quick trip out to Collingham and Mons Pool tonight didn't produce anything of great note, however it was great to be out at dusk listening to the Song Thrushes. An evening out last night at Holme Pierrepont (before a Notts Birders committee meeting) was slightly more productive, with plenty of singing Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, hirundines and 4 Common Terns on the rowing course. 

And having seen the Baikal Teal at Minsmere back in 2001, I've not been  feeling frustrated that such a mega turned up two hours from home on a monday... or whether I should twitch it given its dodgy wing!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

A kite in flight

We spent most of the weekend at a wedding, which obviously didn't allow much birding (although the rather splendid venue, Stanford Hall near Lutterworth, did produce Red Kite, singing Nuthatches and a fly-over Yellow Wagtail). However, when we got back home this afternoon I couldn't resist a trip out to the patch... 

Despite the wind, there were lots of migrants in evidence, with Mons Pool producing a single House Martin, 3 Yellow Wagtails, a smattering of Swallows and up to 15 Sand Martins, and a Dunlin. I also had frustratingly fleeting views of two pipit sp. here, but perhaps best was a Red Kite which moved south through the site - a patch tick for me, and perhaps the same bird that was seen a week ago at Langford Lowfields (which was the direction it was heading today).

3 Dunlin and a Pied Wagtail
3 Yellow Wagtails
Nearby, Meering produced another House Martin and more Swallows and Sand Martins, as well as several singing Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers and lots of Bullfinches as normal.  

Friday, 12 April 2013

Hurrah, some hirundines

The first bird I saw on a visit to Collingham and Besthorpe this afternoon was a Swallow. Excellent! This was followed by another three around the site, and up to 5 Sand Martins. Other notable birds included a silent Willow Warbler busy feeding along the western boundary of Mons Pool, still just one singing Chiffchaff, and 3 Dunlin (2 on Ferry Lane Lake and 1 on the Silt Lagoon), but no Wheatears yet. Another Swallow flew across the A1133 in Langford as I drove back to Newark. 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

A dodgy duck

Another early (well, early for me) start at Collingham Pits produced my first site Chiffchaff of the year singing intermittently along Northcroft Lane, but not a huge amount else. I then walked round Girton Pits, which produced a few bits and pieces; including 6 singing Chiffchaffs, a Willow Tit (not singing, but good to know they're still here), and a pair of Whooper Swans on the Sailing Lake. 

Pair of Whoopers at Girton Pits
I also came across an Aythya hybrid, which looked a lot like a regular Tuftie but had a dark grey mantle (with a suggestion of vermiculations visible in the photos I took), a stubby crest, and a green hue to the head. Presumably a Tufted Duck x Scaup..?

Presumed Tufted Duck x Scaup at Girton Pits
This afternoon, a bike ride north out of Newark yielded singing Chiffchaffs at Winthorpe, Holme and next to the works at Langford Lowfields.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Spring has sprung!

Wow. After a bit of a chilly start, it actually felt like spring today, with no wind an temperatures into (low) double-figures! 

Things began at Collingham, with 2 Ringed Plovers, a Redshank and a Green Sandpiper on Northcroft Pond; nearby, Mons Pool held 3 LRPs, a Redshank and a Little Egret. I found out later that Robin Brace had a White Wagtail here too. But no Chiffchaffs or Sand Martins... I rounded things off with a quick and uneventful visit to Girton - hopefully I'll give this site more of a grilling tomorrow.

I then dragged Amy up to Idle Valley NR (with the promise of lunch out) to see the female Long-tailed Duck which has been camped out on Neatholme Pit since mid January; I've been meaning to make the effort to see this bird for ages, as it's a Notts tick for me! Temperatures were positively warm by now, and the general springlike feel in the air was topped off by at least 3 singing Chiffchaffs along Neatholme Lane - my first of the year, at last.

Female Long-tailed Duck at IVNR

After lunch, a walk round Eaton Wood, and part of Gamston Wood, yielded two singing Marsh Tits (one in each wood) got me off the mark with the Notts Birders survey

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

More LRPs

A spin round Collingham tonight produced an impressive 10 Little Ringed Plovers on Mons Pool with 2 Ringed Plovers - a good count for this early in the year. Also 5 Redshank, but not much else; I was hoping maybe for a Marsh Harrier, with one at Langford early today. Also, intriguing reports of a possible Great White Egret at Girton on Sunday, although its not clear exactly where - something to hunt for next weekend. 

Monday, 1 April 2013

LRPs back on the patch

Spending most of the bank holiday weekend in France on a stag do meant my birding was limited to a quick trip out to Collingham Pits and Mons Pool this afternoon. All the Whoopers appeared to have left the field west of Ferry Lane Lake (a flock of 40+ reported yesterday flying north over Normanton-on-Trent may well have been the same birds?), but there was a nice drake Goosander on the lake itself. Best though was a Little Ringed Plover which flew over Ferry Lane Lake calling before heading south towards Langford, with another on Mons Pool (with a pair of Ringed Plovers) - my first summer migrants of the year.

LRP (back right) with two Ringed Plovers at Mons Pool