Monday, 31 July 2017

Juvenile YLG

After an uneventful patch visit on Sunday (the drake Scaup was still on Ferry Lane Lake, but there was little else of note), I headed back for another session at Cotham Landfill. There were fewer gulls present than the day before, and rather than trying to count Yellow-legs, I spent some time actually looking at them properly. 

Best was a nice, and reasonably close, juvenile Yellow-leg. Everything appeared to be there, the icing on the cake being several replaced scapulars with dark anchor-shaped markings - this early in the year a very pro-juv YLG feature! Other features included dark tertials with neat, narrow fringes (only extending halfway along the feather edge); white rump and tail with a neat black terminal band; near-absent pale window on the inner primaries; long-winged appearance; and a dusky mask around the eye on a pale(ish) head. The bill could perhaps have been heavier though. It was also quite large and aggressive...

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Red and Yellow

Back to last week, and the Garganey at Mons Pool lingered until Sunday 23rd, when volunteering at East Leake allowed views of three of the Bee-eaters without having to leave the carpark, and my WeBS count at Girton yielded a Redstart - very nice, although it would have been better at Collingham!

Juv Redstart

This week, and the highlight until today had been a party of 11 Black-wits on the 26th (with 19 the day before, according to the Notts Birders sighting page), along with a drake Scaup on Ferry Lane Lake which John Ellis had found at the weekend. 

Drake Scaup

However, today produced my second Redstart in as many weeks, this time obligingly on patch, in the hedgerow along the western footpath at Mons Pool. Not a guaranteed species annually on the patch by any means. 

Female Redstart

I then decided to have a look at Cotham Landfill, which I'd been meaning to do since I cycled past a couple of weeks ago, spurred on by a monster count of 37+ Yellow-legged Gulls just to the south at Kilvington Lakes yesterday (along with 4 Casps). Several hundred Lesser Black-backs were present (, along with at least 25 Yellow-legs - nearly all adults or near-adults, plus a second summer and a juvenile, as well as a couple of Herring Gulls (including 2 juvs) and one GBBG

An adult YLG
Another adult YLG
Check out the bill - a brute!

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