Thursday, 20 July 2017

Mid Summer birding

The best things about mid Summer birding is the big screaming flocks of Swifts over Newark. They're always difficult to count, but the biggest count visible from my garden has been 55, in two groups. Love 'em!

Aside from another stint on car park duty at the Bee-eaters, my only other birding has been a few patch visits. There have been a few waders, most notably 5 Black-wits on 15th (with singles on 9th and another tonight), the first few Common Sands (2 on 14th and 2 tonight), several Green Sands, a high count of c.10 Oystercatchers (on 14th), and a juv LRP (not bred here). At least 220 Coot were across Ferry Lane Lake and Mons Pool on 14th.

On the breeding bird front, one of the two pairs of Great Crested Grebes on Mons Pool has managed to hatch a chick on the third time of trying (having been flooded out twice), whilst the second pair abandoned there nest for some reason (they were on their second try). The three remaining Kestrel chicks have fledged, and there are two Tufted Duck families around too (with a total of 10 ducklings). 

Wildfowl have also provided a little interest of late, with an eclipse drake Pintail last night bettered by a Garganey tonight, which appeared to be a juvenile rather than a female. Also present tonight was a brief juvenile Yellow-legged Gull which flew off shortly after I scanned onto it (amongst a group of LBBGs and BHGs, plus a single Common Gull). 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Bee-catchers and butterflies

It's always interesting when non-birding friends and colleagues ask me about a particular bird - "do you know about the Bee-eaters at East Leake?" (or Bee-catchers in one case!). Well yes, yes I do - I didn't act fast enough on the Sunday night (unlike some), but was down there first thing on Monday morning, eventually enjoying somewhat distant views at about 6.30am. Today was my first crack at seeing them again. First of all though, I had a four hour shift (6-10am) in the carpark, but this was rewarded with a fly-over by four of the Bee-eaters heading south, and then two returning north a bit later. Amazing really, to be stood in a field in south Notts and for that to be happening. I then wandered down to the viewing point and had very satisfactory views of two, then four birds perched up and hawking for insects (not that you'd think so from my pics). 


Back home, and whilst attacking some unruly shrubs in the garden, I became aware of a familiar call, but one I couldn't instantly place. A chunky passerine then appeared overhead, flashing large white wing patches, and the penny dropped - a Hawfinch! Quite what this was doing flying west over Newark in mid July, or where it had come from, I have no idea. 

Yesterday, and I had an enjoyable afternoon on the patch. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but the Lapwing bonanza at Mons Pool continues, with at least 12 young birds in 7 broods on Mons itself, or in the fallow fields to the west and north, ranging from a couple of days old to fully grown. Here too there were three cygnets with an adult Mute Swan (good as I though the nest had failed), a female Gadwall with 6 duckings (with another with 5 ducklings elsewhere). There were also signs that for some birds, summer was over, with 6 Green Sands and 9 Teal present.

The non-avian highlight of the week was a Purple Emperor in Cotgrave Forest. The origins of this species here are undoubtedly questionable, which slightly takes the shine off them for me, but still great little creatures to see, along with a bonus Silver-washed Fritillary and two Purple Hairstreaks. I also had a work visit to Freckland Wood near Newstead, which spports another species of dubious origin - Marbled Whites, at least 25, plus 100s (maybe 1000??) Ringlets - there was literally one every metre. 

Purple Emperor
Silver-washed Fritillary