Friday, 2 January 2015

NYD 2015

It's 5.30am in Nottingham City Centre, and New Year's Eve revelers are still making their way home. A car pulls up in a bus stop, next to a group of girls in short skirts and high heels. A strange, bearded man wearing wellies and binoculars emerges from the car... he peers up at the adjacent university building, before returning to the car, which heads off into the night...

This probably looked rather odd to anyone sober enough to notice. But of course, there could only be one thing that this chap was doing; a bird race! Our team "Not from Notts", comprising the welly-wearing Carl Cornish (CC), Jason Reece (JR), and myself (NC) - had decided to take part in the Notts Birder's organised NYD bird race. We had already ticked Tawny Owl in East Bridgford, using some good local knowledge from JR, and our target in Nottingham was, of course, Peregrine, but there was no sign of it... 

After some faffing around at Budby Pumping Station Flash (where we encountered some other men acting strangely in the dark - who we soon left to carry on with whatever it was they were up to), and Sherwood Forest Country Park (where we risked broken angles on the skating-rink like paths in the vain hope of lamping a Woodcock), we arrived at our first proper site - Rufford Country Park.

Dawn crept across the carpark, and we waited eagerly for the appearance of our target species. And waited. And waited some more. We had amassed a decent list, including Lesser Redpoll and Siskin, before it finally appeared - a Hawfinch, sat up in the lime tree avenue. It was followed by a fly-over Peregrine - it was a relief to get this species under our belt after our failure earlier on. A quick look at the lake from the Mill end produced various wildfowl, including our first Goosander of the day.

Welbeck Raptor Watchpoint produced the hoped-for Marsh Tit on the feeders, and it was then on to Clumber Park, where the Ornamental Bridge came up trumps with 3 Mandarins, whilst Green Woodpecker and Jay also gave themselves up. It was then time to leave Sherwood - but incredibly, we had failed to see or hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker - a species which eluded us all day.

Gringley Carr was our next productive stop; it got off to a good start when CC picked up a ringtail Hen Harrier to the west of the road - our 65th species. Very nice! Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow and Grey Partridge were all found in close proximity to each other, whilst the Whooper Swans on Misterton Carr required a short walk to view.

Onwards to Lound, which proved to be a bit disappointing. Lesser Black-backed Gull and Water Rail were the only 'expected' species that we didn't see elsewhere, although 2 Ruff in the Walter's Farm sheepfields were definitely not expected, and provided some recompense for the absent Egyptian Geese. Lound Village produced our first House Sparrows of the day (number 80).

Heading back south, JR did well to pick out a small flock of Golden Plovers from the car in a field to the south of Retford - our only ones of the day, with most having abandoned the county following the recent snow. 

A quick look at Girton Pits added Little Egret, and it was then on to Collingham Pits. NC's staked out Curlews and Little Owl and performed, but Green Sandpiper and a few other species did not. And so Langford Lowfields beckoned. Although rather a yomp around Phases 2 and 3, Redshank and Common Snipe quickly gave themselves up, and NC kicked a Jack Snipe up, bringing up 89 species. This was followed quickly by number 90 - a pair of Stonechats

Having achieved the target we had set ourselves at the start of the day, we returned to the car. We decided to head towards Kilvington for a Red-crested Pochard, but by now it was getting on for 4pm and an overcast sky meant that dusk fell quickly. By the time we reached Newark, it was apparent that we were not going to get to Kilvington in time, so called it a day.

So what did we miss? Worst was the aforementioned Great Spotted Woodpecker, along with Red-legged Partridge. Other species we may reasonably have expected to see (and in some cases had staked out) were Egyptian Goose, Red-crested Pochard, Green Sandpiper, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail. We perhaps also could have jammed in on Bittern, Merlin and Woodcock with a bit more luck. A number of species may also be expected (or hoped for) in another year, such as Brambling, Chiffchaff and Waxwing - and maybe a smattering of scarcer wildfowl such as Scaup or Smew... the list goes on! 

So, a good effort on our first attempt, and 90 species is seemingly a new county record. Having learnt a few lessons this year, and with a bit more luck, 95 would be possible; but could 100 ever be attainable? Only with a perfect run of commoner stuff and a lot of luck with some scarcities!

"Not from Notts"

Complete list:

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus 
Greylag Goose Anser anser 
Canada Goose Branta canadensis 
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 
Wigeon Anas penelope 
Gadwall Anas strepera 
Teal Anas crecca
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 
Pintail Anas acuta
Shoveler Anas clypeata
Pochard Aythya ferina
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
Goosander Mergus merganser
Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus 
Buzzard Buteo buteo 
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus 
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus 
Grey Partridge Perdix perdix 
Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 
Coot Fulica atra 
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus 
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria 
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 
Ruff Philomachus pugnax 
Snipe Gallinago gallinago 
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus 
Redshank Tringa totanus 
Curlew Numenius arquata 
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 
Common Gull Larus canus 
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 
Stock Dove Columba oenas 
Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus 
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto 
Barn Owl Tyto alba 
Little Owl Athene noctua 
Tawny Owl Strix aluco 
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis 
Skylark Alauda arvensis 
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba 
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes 
Dunnock Prunella modularis 
Robin Erithacus rubecula 
Stonechat Saxicola torquata 
Blackbird Turdus merula 
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris 
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos 
Redwing Turdus iliacus 
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus 
Goldcrest Regulus regulus 
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus 
Coal Tit Parus ater 
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus 
Great Tit Parus major 
Marsh Tit Parus palustris 
Nuthatch Sitta europaea 
Treecreeper Certhia familiaris 
Jay Garrulus glandarius 
Magpie Pica pica 
Jackdaw Corvus monedula 
Rook Corvus frugilegus 
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs 
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris 
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis 
Siskin Carduelis spinus 
Linnet Carduelis cannabina 
Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret
Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula 
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella 
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus 
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra 


  1. No blackcap? That surprises me if I can see one in the middle of Newark

  2. No Blackcap..! A nice accessible one would've been good. Where are you seeing yours?