Sunday, 30 November 2014

Cetti's challenge

No Patchwork Challenge yearticks this weekend; two stakeouts for the Cetti's Warbler (which is still apparently present in the small reedbed in front of the hide at Mons Pool) were both fruitless, and there are still no Siskin anywhere to be found!

I did manage to see a nice little selection of waders on Saturday, with c.780 Golden Plover, 2 Dunlin and 2 Curlew on the Silt Lagoon, 3 Redshank on Mons Pool and a Green Sand heard on Ferry Lane Lake (seen today). The Kingfisher at Mons Pool has been performing well recently, and a smart Goosander put in a brief appearance there yesterday. 

The gull roost last night was disappointing - plenty of Black-headed and Common Gulls, but just 5 Lesser Black-backs and a single adult Yellow-leg. On the wildfowl front,16 Goldeneye yesterday had fallen to 6 today, whilst a little party of 40 Pink-feet flew low over the site today, heading north. 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Izzy gonna stay?

I decided last night that if the Isabelline Wheatear was still in Cleveland this morning, I would cash in some of my flexi-leave and take the afternoon off to go and see it. It was reported first thing, so I headed off to Seaton Snook at midday, getting there at about 3pm. There was just one other birder present when I arrived, who had the wheatear in his sights - which was a bit of a relief as I had feared I might be looking for it on my own, with time against me. 

The other birder left after a while, leaving the wheatear all to me. It showed very well, down to a matter of metres at times, dashing between bits of seaweed on the strandline, and also visiting a patch of meal worms several times that someone had put down for it (nowt wrong with that in my book). Unfortunately, having been grey and damp all day the light was pretty bad, so my photos don't come up to scratch... high ISO, slow shutter, etc.. 

My only tick of the autumn, and in fact first tick since the Short-toed Eagle at the end of June!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

A bit of all Twite

The Twite that Carl found in the Spalford pig fields last Sunday continued to be seen during the week (with up to 4 reported at one point), and given that I've not seen this species in Notts before, I decided to go and see them this morning. Finding the correct spot - some mugwort along a track near a disused tanker, next to Wigsley Road, I quickly located one, and then two birds, with a couple each of Linnet and Goldfinch. Nice. In addition, a Green Sand called from the middle of the site.

Twite above, Linnet below
2 Linnet (left) and 2 Twite (right)
Here be Twite

A look at Spalford Pit was then in order, but there was no sign of the female Ring-necked Duck that Carl also found last Sunday. I also checked out North Pit (1 Redshank), the A1133 Pit and the Sailing Lake at Girton Pits, but again no sign; there was a marked reduction in the number of wildfowl present Tufties especially) compared to last week. 

Collingham Pits were fairly quiet, not helped by the fact that I spent an hour in the hide at Mons Pool failing to hear the Cetti's Warbler which was heard again from the reedbed earlier in the week by Ken Lomas - this bird was first found at the start of October, so I need to get my finger out and get it on my Patchwork Challenge list soon! Also present were 2 Green Sands (Ferry Lane Lake), 2 Curlew and 3 Redshank (Silt Lagoon), and 1 Dunlin (heard in flight over Mons Pool). The Tree Sparrow flock in the wild bird strip on the far side of the field west of Mons Pool numbered around 35 today, which was great to see. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Black Red at Newstead Village

I spent all day today in Newstead Village at a Sherwood Habitats Forum event; fortuitously, this coincided with the discovery by Paul Naylor of a smart male Black Redstart in the Northfield Construction compound, next to Annesley Pit Top. As this was just 2 minutes walk away, I snuck out during the afternoon tea brake to go see it, making use of the emergency binoculars I keep in my car... hence the awful digi-binned shot.

Black Red

This is actually the second I've seen in Notts this year (having never seen one in the county before), after one I found on a neighbours roof in Newark earlier in the year. It also appears to be the seventh in Notts in 2014, which is a pretty good total. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Wildfowl wonders of the Trent Valley

Having missed my WeBS count last week because of the BTO/Notts Birders conference, I headed out to Girton Pits this morning to do it. There were plenty of Tufties (421, mainly on the A1133 Pit), plus 114 Gadwall (a good total for this site) and 19 Goldeneye, as well as unspectacular numbers of other wildfowl and a single Green Sand

I knew things were bad when I started scrutinising a Canada Goose on North Pit; marginally smaller than the other 5 Canada's it was with (and perhaps also proportionately shorter necked?), it had a darker, buffish breast (contrasting with the bright off-white breasts of the other 5) and an apparently slightly narrower and duskier cheek patch. It lacked any other notable features such as white at the base of the neck sock or black throat line. I'm under no illusions that it was anything other than a feral Canada, but it was quite interesting (in a slightly desperate kind of a way); having done some googling tonight though, I'm not much clearer about what it actually was in terms of its racial origins. 

Canada Goose of interest - front right
Showing differences in breast colour and cheek patch shape/colour
Smaller, and perhaps shorter necked on the water

I finished my WeBS count as always at Spalford Pit where I bumped into Carl C, who was just packing up and heading off to check out the pig fields at Spalford village. I decided instead to go to Collingham, having not been for a week. This was probably a mistake, as Carl had an adult Med Gull and 1, if not 2 Twite at the pig fields; the best I could muster at Collingham was 2 Redshank on the Silt Lagoon and at least 15 (maybe up to 30) Tree Sparrows in a wild bird strip (no Brambling/Little Bunting/Pine Bunting). 

This afternoon, we then had a walk at Budby Heath - we'd just arrived when Carl called to say he was back at Spalford Pit and had what looked like a female/immature Ring-necked Duck! I made do with 40-50 Lesser Redpolls and a few Brambling

Carl's pics above; the bird was apparently browner in real life. I'd like to see the head shape better, and there is always the spectre of a hybrid to consider, but on balance I think it looks good as a RND. Unfortunately, Carl was beaten by poor light and wont be able to look for it again until Tuesday at the earliest, and I'm going to struggle to get out there before next Saturday, so if you're passing, go have a look. 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Birds like buses

A wet morning on the patch this morning didn't produce much; I went actively searching for a Stonechat in various places, and with four at Langford earlier in the week I thought I had a good chance, but no. There were decent numbers of Fieldfare around, at least 300 but it was difficult to be precise as they moved around the area in several flocks. The only waders were single Green Sand and Redshank, and 6 Golden Plover. I finished the morning at Meering, were there was little of note.

After a frustrating hockey match (awful does not even begin to describe the quality of the umpiring...), I headed back to Collingham to do the gull roost, and was very pleased that the first bird I saw at Ferry Lane Lake was a Stonechat - success! My first Patchwork Challenge addition since 13 September, and my first patch Stonechat since 31 January 2012 - they have become very scarce in Notts in the last few years. This was quickly followed by 6 fly-over Tree Sparrows - another PWC addition for 2014; sometimes PWC ticks are like buses. 

The gulls themselves were disappointing, with few big gulls, and of those, there were just 2 Yellow-legs (an adult and a 1cy). 


Sunday, 2 November 2014

A weekend in Norfolk

We're just back from Norfolk having spent a 'non-birding' weekend there; despite that, we had several walks that I managed to combine with seeing birds. And fortunately, I'd already seen Eastern Crowned Warbler... 

Beginning at Titchwell on our first day, there wasn't much of note in the reserve itself, but the sea held a male Goosander (briefly) and a female Long-tailed Duck, amongst a few other things. Onwards to Lady Anne's Drive, and a dash out view the sea before the light got too bad quickly produced a Great Northern Diver and then the drake Surf Scoter with a few Velvet and Common Scoter (cue awful picture #1). Only my second ever. 

Surf Scoter...  on the right... with the white nape

The following day I got up early and birded the area around Stiffkey Campsite Wood, despite the unfavourable wind direction (from the south-west). Most interesting were lots of Chaffinches (probably 1000+ overall) moving west in almost constant waves; amongst them were at least 9 calling Brambling as ones or twos. The only winter thrushes were 3 Redwings and a single Fieldfare, and the only warbler was a (non-tristis) Chiffchaff. After breakfast, we then walked from Stiffkey to Blakeney, encountering a large flock of Chaffinches and a Merlin, but little else.

Looking towards Blakeney Point

Our final day saw us head to Cley for a circuit of the reserve (getting caught in a downpour halfway round); best were the 3 Grey Phalaropes on North Scrape (cue awful picture #2), whilst the sea hosted two each of Razorbill and Red-throated Diver, and a few Gannets. After an early lunch we cut our losses and headed home, making a brief stop to view the Rough-legged Buzzard from the A149 at the western end of Holkham Pines on the grazing marsh (fortunately there is no awful picture #3 of this as I didn't even bother to try...). 

Back-lit Grey Phalaropes