Saturday, 25 May 2013

Redstarts and Skippers

What a difference a day makes - fantastic weather! A full write-up in due course, but a morning in Sherwood NNR produced Redstarts in 10 locations (including two new ones for me), as well as quite a few Tree Pipits, several fly-over Crossbills (and one Siskin), and two Cuckoos - male and female.


This afternoon a couple of hours in the vicinity of Cotham Landfill produced up to 10 Grizzled Skippers, including at 3 new 'sites'. Most pleasing was one seen on the site of the former Cotham Household Waste Recycling Centre, which was restored with GS in mind; it was nectaring on common vetch which has colonised the grassland in abundance.  Nearby, there were up to two on the edge of the active landfill site, with another along a track further north - as far north as they've ever been recorded in this area. A fly-over Peregrine cruising north was a bonus. 

Grizzled Skipper at Cotham HWRC

A quick skip over to Collingham Pits late PM then let things down, with little to report...

No Tawnies

It felt like November on friday, and I failed to motivate myself for a patch visit. I did manage a quick look on thursday before a Besthorpe NR Management Committee meeting (my first). There was a single, silvery-grey Sanderling on Ferry Lane Lake, but not a single Common Terns - their favoured shingle bar is now linked to the shore, so presumably they no longer felt it was a safe nesting location... shame. There'd evidently been a bit of an influx of Gadwall, with 41 across the site, and still one drake Shoveler; I do wonder if there's a female on a nest somewhere. 

After the Management Committee meeting I went and stood on Trent Lane, and then Mons Pool carpark, for the best part of 40 minutes listening for Tawny Owls - I know for a fact that one is nesting on Mons Pool island, but have yet to record this species for my patch yearlist. And I still need one for my patch yearlist, as all I heard was some unearthly noises eminating from the heronry, and some rustling in the hedge which proved to be a badger, which scuttled up the track when it became aware of me. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Two patch yearticks

It was actually a bit of a relief that the Collared Fly at Spurn did a bunk overnight, as it meant I could get onto the patch today; a nice walk around in the sun produced my first Hobby and Turtle Dove of the year at Mons Pool; I was particularly relieved to see the latter, which was curiously silent (perhaps a female). John Ellis then took me back round to Ferry Lane Lake where he'd located two small downy chicks belonging to a pair of Ringed Plovers, which was nice to see. 

A walk round Meering didn't produce much, except for loads of tadpoles, so I returned to Ferry Lane Lake briefly to meet up with Dan Watson to find out what he'd had at Langford (which included three Hobbys). Here, a Dunlin was a new bird. 

 This afternoon, a walk round Kilvington Lakes produced 5-7 Grizzled Skippers at three discrete locations; not masses, but good to see none-the-less. 

Grizzled Skippers

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Rush for another rare thrush!

Late-breaking news on friday night meant a change of plans for saturday, so instead of a day on the patch I drove down to Margate in Kent with Carl C to twitch the Dusky Thrush. We arrived about midday and spent two and-a-half hours in the cemetery, enjoying good views on several occasions. 

Dusky Thrush

The shine was slightly taken off things when, upon arrival home, it transpired that questions were being asked about whether the bird was a hybrid, or at least contained some Naumann's Thrush genes. It's certainly true that the bird had a few chestnuty feathers at the top of its breast next to the wing, and similar tones to the lower flank, and the pale panel in the wing on the secondaries and greater coverts was very pronounced, although the former had a distinct buff wash. Given that I have no prior experience whatsoever of either Dusky or Naumann's Thrushes, I wont comment any further on this, but I'm crossing my fingers hard that the features this bird show will be demonstrated to be consistent with a pure Dusky!!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Two Turnstones more

Tonight at Collingham, there were 4 Turnstones on Ferry Lane Lake - a female and 3 s.p. males. Presumably two added to yesterday's two? After this I gave up pretty rapidly in the cold and rain. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

A few more waders

A series of site visits for work allowed me to schedule a mid-afternoon visit to Collingham on the way home, which yielded 2 male Turnstones on Ferry Lane Lake - I'm always struck by what smart little waders they are in breeding dress. 


LaFarge are pumping the water levels down on this pit pretty hard at the moment, and it looks like a fair expanse of gravel is going to be exposed around the current small islands in the near future. This should (hopefully) bring in more waders, but isn't so good for the resident breeders - there are a number of Coot nests that are already being left high and dry, and other birds (e.g. Great Crested Grebes) look like they're holding off nesting until the water levels settle down - which isn't going to happen for a good while. 

I then headed to Mons Pool, where I didn't get very far as I first saw Andrew Hindmarsh (voluntary warden for the site), and then Dan Watson, a really nice guy and a fellow East Anglian living in exile in Notts (he's from Norfolk, but I can't hold that against him). Dan does most of his Notts birding at Hoveringham, check out his blog here. We had a long chat, and were briefly joined by Tom Shields (the @thebeardybirder for anyone on Twitter) until it came onto rain heavily.  

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Another Sanderling

With lots of waders cropping up at inland sites across the country today, there was the prospect of something good being on the patch, and I was feeling a bit frustrated stuck at work. However, Carl put my mind at rest when he confirmed that he'd been round Collingham (amongst other places), and had had a party of Dunlin and Ringed Plovers on Ferry Lane Lake but not much more. Nevertheless, I had a trip out there before hockey tonight; no sign of Carl's birds, but there was a Sanderling instead - seemingly different from Sunday's bird. Aside from this, there were 16 Common Terns on the shingle bar making lots of noise, but not masses else.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Perseverance pays off

I've visited Collingham Pits on the previous three evenings, primarily in the hope of a half-decent wader. However, Mons Pool has barely had a Lapwing on it, and the rest of the site hasn't been much better, although there were 2 Common Sands on Ferry Lane Lake yesterday, as well as my first patch Swifts of the year, and a less expected 2nd S Yellow-legged Gull.

Another spin out to the patch tonight was looking like it was going to continue in a similar, almost wader-less vein, with my first check of Ferry Lane Lake only producing a single Common Sand (although there were lots of Gadwall around), and Mons Pool again uninspiring. But a second check of Ferry Lane Lake on my way out finally paid dividends, with a fresh-in Sanderling on one of the gravel islands that are slowly reappearing in the lake. Excellent!


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Hunting for plants in Wellow Wood

At this time of year there are few better places to be than an English woodland, and in Nottinghamshire, there are few better woodlands than Wellow Wood. This large site, near Ollerton, is a SSSI, and although parts of it have been messed around with in the past (in terms of the tree species that have been planted), it retains a very rich ground flora. It was therefore an excellent venue for a botanical ID session run by Dave Wood and Rob Johnson from the Nottinghamshire Biological and Geological Records Centre today, which I attended along with a couple of others (including Carl C). 

Wellow Wood
As well as carpets of Wood Anemones, Bluebells and Ransoms, other nice plants included Moschatel and several county rarities - Wood Vetch, Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage, and Herb Paris. We found the latter in decent numbers at 5 discrete colonies - apparently an increase compared to the last survey. Only the second time I've seen this plant in Notts (or anywhere in the UK in fact), it is a very photogenic plant.

Herb Paris
Herb Paris
On the bird front, we recorded Marsh Tits in four locations in the wood, and given its size, I'm sure there must be more.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Dotterel at Gringley

East Markham is a nice little village south-east of Retford, and is the location of my BBS square. I had a nice stroll around there this morning, with a pair of Grey Partridges the highlight, as well as 4 singing Blackcaps. As I was already halfway to Gringley, I decided to go and see the 6 Dotterel that are currently occupying a peafield on Gringley Carr. Well worth it, although they were a little distant and even at 9am the heat haze was quite bad. There was at least one nice smart female amongst them.

Dotterel on Gringley Carr

A brief visit to Collingham Pits then produced two patch yearticks; a genuine, 100% Feral Pigeon (on its own, flying south-west) and a Garden Warbler singing on the island at Mons Pool, where I also counted 63 Cormorant nests - somewhat down on my count of 90 last year. 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

First Grizzled Skippers of 2013

The problem with this time of year is that there is too much to go and look for; and with the first Grizzled Skipper sighting of the year in Notts at the end of last week, the skipper-seeking season has begun already. So this afternoon I made a speculative visit to Staunton Quarry and was reward with four Grizzled Skippers. Pleasingly, three of these were in two of the scallops cut into the scrub as part of the ongoing SITA funded project for this species - more details on the Notts BAGs website

Grizzled Skipper at Staunton Quarry

My first Comma of the year was nice, but better still were a pair of Marsh Tits; these were rather unexpected, as I have been hoping for Willow Tit here. They were plucking cherry blossoms although I'm not clear if they were eating part of the flower itself  or insect that they contained. Nearby, there were at least 2 (possibly 3) more Grizzled Skippers on the disused railway line near Cotham, which Carl C put me onto, and I had my first two Speckled Woods of the year here.

Another Grizzled Skipper

Earlier in the day, Girton Pits produced the second Marsh Harrier in as many visits, plus several Garden Warblers (they must be in on my patch by now...), but no Willow Tits - I spent quite a while in the area where one was singing strongly last week, but no joy. There were, however, lots of Orange-tips around and good numbers of Peacocks.


Saturday, 4 May 2013

Missing migrants

Another early start in Sherwood Forest NNR looking for Redstarts; after nearly 5 hours I had located 12 territories (not 11 as I originally thought - I didn't draw the last one on my map!). These included 3 in the south-western part of the site, which I have not surveyed before. Redstarts are definitely in my top 10, and I was great to be able to spend the time time properly watching these birds. 

Other things of note included a similar selection to last time, minus any Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. However, I did, rather unusually, come across a Sedge Warbler singing from a dead hedge, as well as my first Garden Warbler of the year. I then treated myself to an All Day Breakfast at the Forest Table to round off a good morning. 

After a bit of a break, I had a good walk around Collingham Pits. Best were 4 Common Terns and 2 Dunlin on Ferry Lane Lake, and c.15 newly excavated Sand Martin nest holes in the new workings at Northcroft Pond, but I was surprised not to see any Swifts, or to get a Garden Warbler; and I'm expecting a Turtle Dove any time now! 

My big conundrum, however, relates to Feral Pigeons, as species which I need for my Patchwork Challenge list. Last week I saw a few flying north, then realised there were lots flying north and that in fact they must be homing pigeons. Today, I picked up one flying south, before again noting several flying north - surely more homing pigeons; but what about the one going south? A Feral Pigeon or a disorientated homing pigeon?!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Kilvo and Cotham

On the way home from work tonight, a quick stop at Kilvington Lakes produced a 2nd S Yellow-legged Gull with a few GBB's, plus single Dunlin and 2 Swifts. The visit was slightly spoilt by having to watch two dog walkers walk round the perimeter of the lake, flushing birds, including a nesting Oystercatcher who was off her nest for the best part of 15 minutes. An that's not to mention the LRP's

Yellow-legged Gull
Cotham Flash was rather quiet; 4 Yellow Wags are probably breeders, so my chances of a Blue-head now look lost, and there were no Wheatears. A pair of Coot and 2 cootlings were on the Flash itself, and there were at least 12 Lapwing in the adjacent field. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Early in Sherwood

Whilst I always struggle to get up early, being in Sherwood Forest NNR shortly after dawn is a great experience. My main goal was to map Redstart territories, as in previous years, and I managed to find 6 in the north-western sector of the site, with three singing simultaneously at the southern end of 'Redstart Alley'. Another visit (or two) is in order to try and find more - comparing notes with Carl C has already indicated that there a few territories out there I missed this morning (and vice versa).

'Redstart Alley'
Other good birds included two Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, a distant singing Woodlark, a few Tree Pipits, lots of Lesser Redpolls buzzing around overhead, several fly-over Crossbills, and more unexpectedly, Mandarin Ducks in two locations, and evidently looking for nest sites in the old trees. Their ducklings will have a long trek to the nearest waterbody when they hatch!

Male Mandarin