Sunday, 27 April 2014


It's that time of year again; Grizzled Skippers are back on the wing, with at least 8 in evidence at Staunton Quarry this afternoon. I always enjoy seeing these.

Grizzled Skipper

Back to this morning, I once again failed to see any Arctic Terns at Collingham, and in fact didn't see too much of note at all; water levels are up slightly at Mons Pool meaning much of the best wader habitat has gone, at least temporarily. Still, it was nice to hear at least 2 Cuckoos (one at Collingham/Mons Pool and one at Meering).

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Up too late

The moral of today's story is drink less beer on Friday night and get up earlier on Saturday; by the time I got onto the patch it was evident that I'd already missed a good period of passage. However, I still bagged a 1st S Little Gull heading NE over Mons Pool with a party of Black-heads, and also got my first Common Terns of the year (no Arctic's though), as well as my first Reed Warblers of the year, with at least 3 suddenly 'in'. In addition, 2 Wheatears were in the ploughed field south of Ferry Lane Lake

At Girton, my first Garden Warbler of the year appeared (I couldn't find any at Collingham), but no Willow Tits, and no terns again; frustrating as Craig Brookes found both Black and Little Terns at Hoveringham today! I finally called it quits after seven and a half hours in the field. 

Yellow Wag at Meering

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Double dip

There were two patch yearticks waiting for me at Mons Pool this evening - a Garganey, and two Whimbrel. I'd already ticked these off in my head, and thought how nice it was that I wouldn't have to scour hundreds of Teal this autumn. However, despite being reported as present at 17:50, there was no sign of either at 18:40 when I arrived. Dammit! A nice summer plumaged islandica Black-wit dropped in for a while, before disappearing, and even the two Dunlin that John E had seen a short time earlier had vanished, so I guess things were on the move. I had a quick whip round the other pits before checking Meering Marsh. No Garganey (or waders) there either, but two Cuckoos were my first of the year.


Monday, 21 April 2014

No change

The Bar-wit was still on Mons Pool this morning, and there was nothing else new in. Shame I didn't manage any Arctic (or Black) Terns or Little Gulls at Collingham this weekend - I'm sure if I'd camped out there all day yesterday or today I would've got some fly-throughs, but birding can't always take priority, unfortunately... 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Arctics and Egyptians

After a fairly un-noteworthy visit to the patch yesterday, I was full of hope today. Mons Pool delivered my second Bar-tailed Godwit of the year, and a Ringed Plover (fairly thin on the ground thus far), but there wasn't a huge amount else - certainly no Arctic Terns! Mind you, rescuing stranded tadpoles wasn't exactly conducive to finding such things...

Bar-wit with a Lapwing

Girton Pits, on the other hand, held 5 Arctic Terns on the Sailing Lake just before midday; Carl had 15 there a little while after. Also present were 5 Egyptian Geese which, when added to the 2 at Collingham Pits, suggests something of a local influx.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Three more for the year

A patch visit this afternoon eventually yielded three yearticks after a quiet start; first party of four House Martins though the site, then a Common Sand on Mons Pool, followed by 2 Wheatears (m&f) on the soil stripped area at Northcroft Pond; the latter was reward for checking this area regularly for the last month.

Wheatear 1
Wheatear 2

Nothing else too unusual, but there were more Whitethroats in, plenty of Blackcaps around the site, and up to 3 Sedgies singing at the Silt Lagoon. Wildfowl numbers are now right down, as would be expected, although there were 2 pairs of Shoveler and 3 pairs of Teal still present, and a 1st S Goldeneye still present, but all the Wigeon seem now to have gone.

Wader habitat at Mons Pool

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Tigers in Sherwood

As part of work yesterday, I had a good look at the haul road unit of Clipstone Heath SSSI; this is an old sandstone cutting, with some nice heathy vegetation and plenty of exposed substrate. 

Clipstone Heath SSSI - haul road unit

Now, I'm not good (at all) at invertebrates, with the possible exception of butterflies, but there seemed to be plenty of interest at the site, and even I couldn't fail to ID the Green Tiger Beetles - very striking creatures. 

Green Tiger Beetle

Other things I managed to ID were several Pill Millipedes, and a distinctive spider called Pardosa saltans. Bird-wise, fly-over Swallow and my first singing Tree Pipit of the year were best. 

Pill Millipedes
Pardosa saltans

Back home, I photo'd a jumping spider in my garden, with mixed success, which I reckon is the Zebra Spider Salticus scenicus. As always, Trevor Pendleton's Eakring Birds website comes in useful for ID tasks of this nature!

Zebra Spider

Monday, 14 April 2014

Yellow is the new black

Is there any bird better than a pristine Yellow Wagtail? No there isn't. So it was great to come across three of these little beauties this evening at Collingham Pits, feeding in the ploughed field south of Ferry Lane Lake; the air was think with insects, and they were clearly enjoying themselves amongst the easy pickings. 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Back to Black

So yesterday it was a Common Redstart on the patch, which I was pleased with. But it got better today... having had a late morning walk round the patch after treating myself to a lie-in (no early morning Crag Martining for me), we had a late lunch in the garden (for the first time this year). Towards the end, I spied a bird sat up on a neighbours roof. I was against the light but looked interesting, and what's more it was quivering its tail. I dashed indoors for my bins, and had my suspicions confirmed - a Black Redstart. Not only a garden tick, but a Notts tick!

I returned inside for my scope and camera, but when I got back outside the bird had moved position and I could only see its head poking out from behind a chimney pot. I fired up my camera neverthless, but by now it had disappeared from sight and I failed to get a shot. I waited for it to reappear, but it didn't and an hour and a half later there was still no sign of it. I reported it as a female, but I guess it could easily have been a first summer male; it had a bit of a pale wing panel forming a line along its secondaries, but my views were too brief to make out whether there were any different generations of feathers in the wing coverts. 

Back to this morning, and a nice wonder around Collingham Pits again failed to produce Yellow Wagtail, House Martin or Wheatear, but a Black-tailed Godwit was on Mons Pool, along with a Dunlin and the first Ringed Plover for a while. There was no sign though of the Red-breasted Merganser that was reported here late yesterday, but there were plenty of butterflies, however, including my first Orange-tips, Green-veined Whites and Speckled Woods of the year, good numbers of Brimstones, and quite a few Peacocks and Small Torts too. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

A patch Redstart

I didn't get up quite as early as planned this morning, hut nevertheless managed about 3 hours on the patch. Migrants included 4 singing Lesser Whitethroats (following on from the one yesterday), a single singing Common Whitethroat, at least 7 singing Willow Warblers, and 4 singing Blackcaps. Best, however, was a very fine male Redstart; I picked this up calling in the hedge next to the Parish Field at Mons Pool (where the two viewing screens are). When it didn't reveal itself I assumed I'd misheard a Chiffchaff calling, but then out it popped, flying across to a cut-and-layed section of hedge. It sat out briefly before going through the hedge, never to be seen again. Brief, but very sweet!

There was no sign of the Glossy Ibis on Ferry Lane Lake, so maybe this has departed, but around 40 Sand Martins and at least 13 Swallows were cruising back and forth; no House Martins, although Carl had one there this afternoon (and a Yellow Wag, which I have yet to see too). Winter lingerers were a redhead Goosander on the Trent, and 3 Wigeon on the Silt Lagoon, and a Green Sand was on Northcroft Pond. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

A couple of firsts for the year

I bagged my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year at Collingham this evening, rattling from the hedge on the south side of the Silt Lagoon. I followed it as it moved up the western hedge and onto Northcroft Lane, where it seemed to settle; I guess it was just in (I didn't get my first one of these in 2013 until 23 April). Nearby, my first Sedge Warbler was in the reeds in front of the hide at Mons Pool. There also seemed to be more Blackcaps around the site.

The first sizeable group of Sand Martins of the year was a flock of 40 or so over Ferry Lane Lake; there were no House Martins amongst them though (or Crag Martins for that matter...), and the only Swallow of the evening was over Northcroft Pond a little later. 

There was no sign of the Ibis (gone to roost?), but other things included 5 noisy Oystercatchers on Mons Pool, with a couple of Snipe and the 3 Egyptian Geese there too, and 2 nice spotty Redshanks on the Silt Lagoon, where there was a doe Roe Deer munching on fresh reedmace growth.

The ditch on the eastern side of the Silt Lagoon, which was wet on Wednesday night, was dry for most of its length tonight, with the pump from Northcroft Pond (which had been discharging into it) now diverted into the Silt Lagoon. A couple of clumps of tadpoles were in the one wet stretch, and I found a stranded eel in a dried-out area; I prodded it with a stick, and it twitched a little, so I did my good deed for the week and bundled it up into a plastic bag, and took it to Mons Pool; as soon as it touched the water it seemed to revive and slid of into the depths. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


Two alba Wagtails on the patch this evening, both on the Silt Lagoon. Not a whole lot else though; the Ibis had evidently already gone to roost, and a single Sand Martin was the only hirundine. 

Alba Wag and a Coot

Earlier today, I tracked down a Willow Tit singing on the Teversal Trails; I also had the Girton bird again on Sunday, singing from scrub south-west of the Sailing Lake. I fear this bird is the only one remaining at this site. Also there, 5 Willow Warblers, 9 Blackcaps and a Swallow, with another Swallow later on at South Muskham Fishing Lakes. 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

First one then three

I managed two visits to the patch today. This morning there wasn't anything spectacular (except the Ibis I suppose), and my first Swallow of the year was just off-patch, cruising over a field near Horse Pool (which is between Collingham Pits and Langford Lowfields). The pool itself held about thirty clumps of frogspawn, although it all looked dead, with the jelly, and in some cases the nucleus, having turned white.

This afternoon, another wander came up with the goods, with 3 Swallows over the northern side of Ferry Lane Lake. I then checked Langford Marsh (a pond near the vicarage at Langford Crossing), coming across another 10 clumps of dead-looking white frogspawn; I'm not sure what's going on here...


Friday, 4 April 2014

100 up

This afternoon at Collingham Pits, a Willow Warbler was my first of the year, and there were small numbers of Sand Martins, but no Swallows yet. The Glossy Ibis was still on Ferry Lane Lake, flying to Mons Pool mid-afternoon, where some fairly major earthworks meant there weren't many birds. However, the Silt Lagoon hosted a party of 7 Curlew

4 of the 7 Curlew

Moving round to Meering Marsh, another Willow Warbler was singing from Meering Wood, and whilst poking around a pond looking for frogspawn, I flushed first a Common Snipe, and then a Jack Snipe (but no frogspawn, despite this pool being full of tadpoles last year). This brought up 100 for the patch this year.  

Blackthorn blossom

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Scoter tip off

I got a tweet on the way home from fellow Newark resident Simon, aka @CrackedNature, about three black ducks on the River Trent at Staythorpe (viewed from Farndon), which he thought were Common Scoter. I had a little walk down there before supper, and indeed they were - two males and a female. Unfortunately they flew off north no sooner had a taken the lens cap of my camera, having seemed settled (and not been bothered by a 4x4 and some dogs). Check out Simon's blog for a picture.