Saturday, 31 January 2015

Gulls and swans

Today played out much like Wednesday; I had the morning at Cotham Landfill and the afternoon on the patch, seeing much the same birdwise... The 1st W Caspian Gull from Wednesday had been replaced by an adult Caspian Gull, but there was, again, no sign of any white-wingers. A 1st W Herring Gull with a white head and dark body caught my eye, and although it had a good dark tail, the rump was pale and only lightly barred...

Caspo (front) with a Herring Gull
1st W Herring Gull

On to Collingham, where one of the highlights was no fewer than 14 Shelduck (13 on Mons Pool), up from the 3 that have been present the last couple of weeks. They must think Spting is on its way. The other highlight was a flock of 38 Whoopers and the 2 Bewick's Swans in the field next to Trent Lane.

Wild Swans

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A day off

Thanks to flexi-time, I managed some mid-week birding today; I began at Cotham Landfill in hope of the Glaucous Gull that John Hopper has had in at the roost at Hoveringham the last two nights. Unfortunately, there were few gulls present for some reason, and the Glauc wasn't amongst them; however, a nice 1st W Caspian Gull popped up briefly. The gulls then got disturbed by people on the landfill, and dispersed, so I cut my losses and headed patchwards.

1st W Caspian Gull

Despite less than ideal conditions (windy, with a couple of fairly serious snowy squalls), I added two addition to the patch yearlist - an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and 2 Mistle Thrushes, both in fields at Besthorpe Village, putting me on 81 for the year. Other highlights included the 2 Bewick's Swans in the fields north of Merring Marsh with 7 Whoopers, and 14 Whoopers in the field next to Trent Lane (including 2 juvs). 3 Goosander were on Ferry Lane Lake, but there was no sign of the 2 Smew reported there on Monday (as expected), and the 2 Curlew were on the Silt Lagoon, as they often are. 

I wrapped things up at Langford, waiting for the Bittern to fly into roost in the reeds north of the boardwalk, but not tonight. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Swanning around

A nice walk on the patch this afternoon came up trumps with a couple of nice birds; first was a Black-tailed Godwit on Mons Pool - although this seemed to have disappeared later on.


A bit further on, and the swan herd in the fields off Trent Lane at Besthorpe NWT held a couple of surprises; 8 Whoopers (all adults) were nice, but better still were 2 adult Bewick's! A great record local record.

Bewick (behind) with a Whooper
Bewick (behind) a Whooper
2 Bewick's (left) with a Whooper
3 of the Whoopers

Other highlights included a Green Sand and 2 Redshank on Mons Pool, and 5 Goosander (one drake) on Ferry Lane Lake. 

Saturday, 24 January 2015


A bit of birding this morning included bagging the juvenile Great Northern Diver at Kilvington, first reported yesterday. It showed well on the East Lake, but as is often the way with GNDs, the frequent diving and long periods spend underwater meant getting a decent picture of it was not easy!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A WeBS Smew

It was a perfect morning for doing a WeBS count at Girton Pits this morning - crisp, blue skies, and barely a breathe of wind. Unfortunately, a bit of activity on the Sailing Lake was disturbing the wildfowl, but I nevertheless located a redhead Smew - my first here for several years; it subsequently moved to the A1133 Pit. It seems to be a relatively good winter for this species in Notts.

Redhead Smew

Overall duck numbers were good, if unspectacular, with 464 Tufted Ducks taking top billing; next best were 210 Wigeon, 195 Coot and a notable 107 Gadwall, the latter beating the Mallard count of 105. Single Snipe and Redshank provided a little wader interest, and there was a single Shelduck on Spalford Pit. 7 Bullfinches and a Grey Wag were the only notable passerines. 

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Grounded geese

At Cotham Landfll this morning, no white-wingers, or Caspo's. There were however at least 2 1st W YL Gulls and 3 LBBGs (2 ads and a 1st W), and a Grey Wag provided some passerine interest. After two and a half hours my feet had turned into ice blocks, so despite the fact that the gulls were actually co-operating for once (with lots sat up round the sides of the void) and the light was mainly good, I had to abort before my toes fell off. Apparently there were 2 Med Gulls into the roost at Hov tonight so at least I didn't overlook anything too major...

Loadsa gulls
But not so good when the sun's out!

This arvo, and it was time to hit the patch. Collingham Pits held 4 Goosander (one drake) and 3 Shelduck, plus 1 Peregrine, 2 Egyptian Geese, 2 Curlew, 1 Green Sand, 1 Redshank, 1 Grey Wag, 2 Stonechats and 3 Tree Sparrows

Onto Meering, and the 2 adult Whoopers were still next to Trent Lane, whilst on the reserve itself I kicked a Woodcock out of Meering Wood. Looking north, and there were around 155 grounded Pink-feet on Smithy Marsh; they were a bit distant and the light was going, but I couldn't see anything else in with them; this is only the second big grounded group of Pinkies I've ever seen in Notts. I rounded the day off with 3 Water Rails squealing from the reedbed at the southern end of The Fleet.

So, 7 ticks for my PWC list today; Shelduck, Stonechat, Sparrowhawk, Treecrepper, Woodcock, Pink-footed Goose and Water Rail, taking me to 77 species. And 3 for my Notts yearlist too; YL Gull, Woodcock and Pink-foot, putting me on 103.

Friday, 16 January 2015

An afternoon of fails

Knocking off work a little early, I had a look for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Rufford CP this afternoon, without any luck. Located a large tit/crest flock with accompanying Treecreepers and Nuthatches, but no Lesser 'Peckers. 

Having battled back through Newark I then had 40 minutes at Hawton Works Grassland at dusk. The Barn Owl put on another good dispaly, and several Grey Partridges were knocking around, but there were no SEO's to be had, despite one having been seen a stone's throw away earlier in the week. Which was disappointing. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

An unseasonal yeartick

A meeting in Derbyshire today allowed my to pull in the wintering drake Garganey at Eakring Flash this morning. I heard it before I saw it, as it was calling regularly, and it seemed to prefer hanging out with some of the 135 Mallard present, rather than the 18 Teal. A quality January record, and my 100th Notts species of the year. 

Sunday, 11 January 2015

A few more additions

A bit of time at Meering Marsh this morning got me Little Egret, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Peregrine for my patch yearlist, with Coal Tit added at Besthorpe Warren. The 2 Whooper Swans were still off Trent Lane at Meering. A quick look at Collingham produced 3 redhead Goosander on Ferry Lane Lake, and the 2 Egyptian Geese, again, in the field next to Ferry Lane Farm. 

In  other news, yesterday's darvic ringed GBBG was ringed on 27th June at Berriedale, in Caithness (Highland), as one of a brood of two. This is its first sighting since (596km, 197 days). 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Ticking over

I am definitely not keeping a county yearlist this year. However, I am going to keep track of what I see... so in that context, I decided to swing by Holme Pierrepont on the way home from work yesterday, bagging the drake and redhead Smew on the pool on the NW side of Blott's Pit. It was then on to Kilvington, where I couldn't locate the Red-crested Pochard; in fact a Little Egret was the only bird of note. I wrapped things up at Hawton Works Grassland in the hope of Short-eared Owl; no luck on that front, but a Barn Owl was rather nice.

Today I had another crack at the gulls at Cotham Landfill. As is often the case, this was a frustrating experience; very blustery conditions and having to look into the sun made it hard going, and then all the gulls took up, most heading towards Pykett's Pond with the rest settling out of site on the plateau immediately north of the landfill. So I took a rain check and went in search of roosting Long-eared Owls. I did manage to find these, 5 in all, although I walked past them three times before finding them on the fourth! I grabbed a quick couple of shots and then left them in peace - great birds. Another quick look at the gulls revealed that most had failed to return, so a darvic ringed GBBG was the best I could manage! L68 on blue - it'll be interesting to see where that's come from.

This arvo a visit to Collingham was in order. I added three patch yearticks - Linnet, Lapwing and Pied Wagtail, but there wasn't much else of note - 2 Redshank and 2 Curlew was about the best, plus the two Egyptian Geese again (really, where were these when we needed them on the 1st..??).

So all in all, that puts my county yearlist on 98 and my patch yearlist on 66. 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Adding a few more

A wet hour and a bit at Meering this morning produced a couple of extra species for my patch yearlist; Greenfinch, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Jay, Greylag, and best, a Merlin. In addition, the 2 Whoopers were still in with the Mutes.

2014 at Collingham and Besthorpe

2014 was the second year that I have taken part in Patchwork Challenge (see how I got on in 2013 here). And this is a brief summary of how it went:


10 visits
Species added = 81
Running total = 81

I got off to a good start on my first patch visit of the year, flushing a Woodcock, and went on to log a good total in January, but nothing out of the ordinary; highlights were Whooper Swan (including a notable herd of 22), Pink-footed GooseEgyptian Goose and wintering Chiffchaff but best a Bar-tailed Godwit - about my best wader of the year! 



6 visits
Species added = 4
Running total = 85

February was slow going, but I got Pintail at the start of the month, and the Oystercatchers returned at the month's end. 


15 visits
Species added = 13
Running total = 98

Things picked up in March, with the first returning summer migrants, including LRP and Sand Martin, as well as Avocet, Lesser Redpoll, Marsh Harrier and Merlin. However, the highlight was a self-found Glossy Ibis - the best bird of the year in fact. 

Glossy Ibis


20 visits
Species added = 16
Running total = 114

April produced more summer migrants, as expected, including the first of two Redstarts. Jack Snipe, Little Gull and the first Black-tailed Godwit of the year were nice extras. Another Bar-wit also showed up mid-month.



16 visits
Species added = 8
Running total = 122

Turtle Doves returned to my patch in early May, which was a relief. A Sanderling was good, given the generl lack of waders (although decent numbers of Ringed Plovers showed up during the month), whilst Red Kite and the first Garganey of the year showed up. I also got to ring a Little Egret!

Sanderling with Ringed Plovers
Me ringing a Little Egret


4 visits
Species added = 0
Running total = 122

June was a bit of a failure; I didn't manage many visits (not helped by having a week in Romania), and added no new species.

Turtle Dove, hanging on at Collingham


13 visits
Species added = 3
Running total = 125

I had three additions in July - Yellow-legged Gull, Common Scoter and Scaup - the latter unexpected given the season! Another Garganey was my second of the year.



11 visits
Species added = 3
Running total = 128

My first Whinchat at the patch in several years showed up at Meering during August, and I also added Mandarin and Ruff.



14 visits
Species added = 3
Running total = 131

A patch tick in the form of a Great White Egret was very welcome, having been away in August when one (the first for Collingham) turned up! Red-crested Pochard and Spotted Flycatcher were also added. 



8 visits
Species added = 0
Running total = 131

No additions! However, a large Lesser Black-back roost built up during the month, which included several Yellow-legs - but no Caspos. 

Adult Yellow-legged Gull


8 visits
Species added = 3
Running total = 134

My first Stonechat in 3 years appeared during November, and Tree Sparrow and Water Rail were additions. 


5 visits
Species added = 1
Running total = 135

I had just one addition during December, which was also a patch tick - Cetti's Warbler; a bird which had first been found in October!

In total I visited my patch on 131 occasions during the year (116 in 2013) and racked up 135 species totaling 162 points - 1 species and 5 points short of 2013. It remains to be seen exactly where I finish in the Patchwork Challenge Midlands Minileague (I was first last year!), but fourth is looking likely behind Ian Cowgill at Lound in 1st, John Hopper at Hoveringham in 2nd, and Andy Mackay's non-Notts patch of Eyebrook Res in 3rd. 

My biggest misses of the year were probably Siskin and Brambling, and there was a distinct lack of waders this year; and birds I know of that were seen by others during the year include Whimbrel, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint and Med Gull, amongst others.In terms of losses and gains, I saw 13 species in 2013 that I didn't see in 2014 (Bewick's Swan, Caspian GullMed GullGrey PloverLittle StintPec Sand, Turnstone, Whimbrel, Wood SandRing-necked ParakeetPied Wheatear, Siskin and Brambling) and 12 species in 2014 that I didn't get in 2013 (Glossy IbisGreat White EgretCommon ScoterScaupMandarinBar-witJack SnipeLittle GullRedstartCetti's Warbler, Stonechat and Whinchat). 

I'm determined to get to 140 in 2015!  

Friday, 2 January 2015

Little B*stard

After resisting the temptation to abandon our bird race yesterday to go and twitch the Little Bustard near Bridlington, it was rather unfortunate that said bird was nowhere to be found there this morning - especially as myself, Carl and Stu had decided to get there for first light. The wind, blowing in our faces, was absolutely bitter, and I wouldn't be surprised if it finished off a bird overnight that was probably already in poor condition. Although I hope for its sake it just went somewhere slightly less cold.

A bustard-less field

On the plus side, I met up with Dave C (who'd come over from Liverpool), and we all went for a nice cooked breakfast in Brid, once we'd decided there was only so long you could look at a field before deciding there really wasn't a bustard in it (which was doubly pleasing for me, as somehow I ended up standing in the only patch of manure in the whole verge).

Standing in manure. Sums up my morning.

Hey ho, you win some and you lose some.

Arriving home, some patch action was in order. Two hours at Collingham and Meering produced 56 species, including 5 species which we dipped on our NYD bird race yesterday: Grey Wagtail and Green Sand (both on the Silt Lagoon), Kingfisher (singles at Mons Pool and Meering), Red-legged Partridge (a covey of 10 at Meering) and perhaps most galling of all, the 2 Egyptian Geese which have been hanging out in this area over the last few weeks, next to Ferry Lane Farm, clearly visible from the road. Where were they yesterday?!


So, after a couple of days birding in Notts, my Notts yearlist is 95, and my patch yearlist is 57 (Barn Owl added yesterday). Hopefully I can add a few more to both before having to return to work on the 5th.

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