Thursday, 31 March 2016

A prediction comes true

It's always nice to be right. I've been predicting a Water Pipit at Collingham Pits for the last few weeks (see here), in the wet, muddy area created by the horses around the margins of Ferry Lane Lake. And tonight, as I jumped out of the car, a pipit flew up from the muddy area on the southern shore, before dropping out of sight behind the low bund next to the water's edge. It looked relatively large, and sounded very promising. I headed off to find it, flushing it in the process, but as it flew up from near me it showed white outer-tail feathers, good wing-bars and a strong head pattern, and upon landing, a nice pink wash to the underparts. A Water PipitIt then flew a short distance west, landing in the the south-west corner of Ferry Lane Lake in a more open area, allowing decent viewing through the roadside hedge. I watched it for a while, getting a few record shots, before leaving it to check Mons Pool (where there was nothing - the water levels are right up). 

A little corker. This puts me on 105 species and 120 points for the patch up to the end of March. By way of comparison, I was on 97 species and 104 points at this stage last year.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Gorgeous Gulls!

Ok, so the Thayer's Gull at Minsmere looks the business, and perhaps if I didn't have other commitments a quick trip back to the motherland would have been the order of the day today; instead, I had a lie-in during the worst of Storm Katie, and then headed to the patch mid-morning, spurred on by news of Little Gulls from elsewhere in Notts. And bingo, 3 Little Gulls were dip-feeding over Ferry Lane Lake as I arrived. They looked lovely, just getting their black hoods and with a pink tinge to their bodies. Also present were around 85 Sand Martins battling the wind, amongst which were my first three Swallows of the Spring. 

Sunday, 27 March 2016

More Martins and LRPs

Plenty of patch action at the moment; nothing too major, but the 3rd and 4th to 7th LRPs of the Spring have been at Mons Pool (not the 5th to 8th as I tweeted), with a party of 4 there yesterday and 3 still present today. 

Decent numbers of Sand Martins too; none yesterday morning were replaced by 5 mid afternoon, which had further increased to 21 when I left the site late afternoon; another 13 there this morning. I'm still waiting for a Wheatear and any other hirundines!

In less exciting news, a Feral Pigeon on 24th, still present on the 25th, was my first of the year. 

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

First Sand Martins

My first Sand Martins of the year today - three through Collingham Pits tonight, heading North, at 17.30. No Ringed Plover on Mons Pool though - Ken Lomas had one there last night. 

Monday morning

A morning off work on Monday (leave to use up) produced a second LRP of the spring at Collingham on Mons Pool, plus the 2cy Smew on Ferry Lane Lake, whilst a drake Common Scoter was on the Sailing Lake at Girton. A Merlin heading West over the A46 at East Bridgford whilst on my way into the office was a nice bonus. 

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Spring creeping in

Despite the bitterly cold conditions, there were a few hints of spring on the patch today; 2 singing Chiffchaffs, a White Wagtail and an LRP. I'd logged the LRP last night on a brief after-work visit, and only saw it for a few minutes today before it started calling and then headed high north. The White Wag was with a very notable 95 Pied Wags feeding on the short horse-grazed turf on the western side of Ferry Lane Lake; the pools here look ideal for a Water Pipit, but not today.

White Wag
White Wag

Others things on Ferry Lane Lake included a redhead Smew (which as Mark Dawson pointed out when he arrived, looked like it was a 2cy male, as it was showing silvery feathering in the crown and on the mantle), the juv GND again (on my second look at the lake), and 3 Whoopers which flew in from the direction of Langford. One of these had a slightly washed-out yellow colouration to the bill, coupled with distinctive black spotting, more so on the right side than the left. 

Whooper (left side of bill)
Whooper (right side of bill)

I then went to Langford for a walk round, as the Rock Pipit that Andy Hall had had at Cromwell Wier earlier had relocated to Phase 3. I had it calling in flight, plus 2 LRPs which had dropped in earlier in the morning. 

So a good day out all in all. 

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Quality early Spring birding

With some leave to use up, I had yesterday afternoon off work, and after running an errand in town, headed to Collingham. What was a steady visit came good at the end; I'd been thinking about Kittiwakes, and was had been checking the few gulls that were around. As I was heading off later afternoon, I noted a group of small gulls dropping into Ferry Lane Lake. I had a quick scan, and bingo, there was a Kittiwake - very nice too! The group didn't seem to settle, taking flight several times, before eventually the whole loot flew off east. My first patch Kittiwake in four years of patching. Added to this was my first Grey Wagtail of the year as I was watching the Kittiwake, and then a flock of 95 Whooper Swans which flew over heading north. 


Today, and I too Sorrel Lyall and her grandparents looking for Woodlarks on Budby Heath. After a worryingly quiet start, we eventually pinned down a singing male, and then had another displaying overhead, which was joined by its mate. We also tracked down the Black Oil Beetles (see here). On to Welbeck, and we had decent views of a male Goshawk flapping around from the Raptor Watchpoint, and then a Red Kite, plus a pair of Mandarins back at the feeder layby. So not a bad morning at all. 

Black Oil Beetle

It was back to Collingham for the afternoon, where a Great Northern Diver was on Ferry Lane Lake (no doubt the Girton bird), but no sign of the Smew; my third patch yeartick in 24 hours, putting me on 99 for the year... A singing Chiffchaff at Mons Pool was my first of the year, and put a smile on my face. 

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Double owl disaster

A weekend of patching failed to produce any additions for Patchwork Challenge. The Avocet was present at Mons Pool yesterday, but not today (water levels having risen overnight) and the 3 redhead Smew continue to grace Ferry Lane Lake. 

Bad news came in the form of one of my patch Little Owls, found dead in the ditch along the path up the side of Mons Pool; there were no visible signs of injury, and the corpse was fresh. Almost as bad was hearing of a Tawny Owl calling from Mons Pool island at 11am on Saturday; my patch nemesis! But at least I know my occasional efforts for this species aren't completely futile...

Elsewhere, news of a Great White Egret at Girton (which proved to be erroneous) took me up there on Saturday afternoon; the GND was still on the Sailing Lake and the 7 Eurasian White-fronted Geese were in the sheep fields, along with 3 Pink-feet. Smithy Marsh held two Whooper Swans with a handful of Mutes. 

A Roe Deer buck wading around at Mons Pool

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

A good start to March

I got a text off Ken Lomas just after lunch today to say he'd got an Avocet at Mons Pool. Although this is now an annual species on the patch, I suspect it's still a species I could miss, so I knocked off work slightly early, got the bus home, and then bombed up to the patch. The Avocet was still present when I got there, at dusk, along with a Dunlin (another addition for Patchwork Challenge).