Thursday 18th October – Willington/Calke Abbey
Our visit to Willington Gravel Pits and Calke Abbey on 18th October was met with sunny clear blue skies and temperature of 12c. Due to other engagements within the group, just three of us drove into the gravel workings, along a single track. It came as a surprise to find adjacent to the entrance a housing estate was in the process of being built. Taking to foot along a grassy track to our first observation platform and there we saw Cormorants, Canada Geese, Coots, Black Headed Gulls, Great Black Backed Gulls, Great Crested Grebes, Tufted Ducks and Mallard. Then, just in front of us a big brown bird took to the air and flew over the lake before landing in the opposite reeds. This to our delight was an allusive Bittern, the second one we have seen this year! Moving on to the next platform, we saw Little Grebe, Greylag Geese, Lapwing, Moorhen, Kestrel, Magpie, Widgeon, and Gadwell. All the birds looked great in the autumn sun. Walking back to the cars we saw a Gold Crest, UKs smallest bird, Tree Creeper and a quick glance of a bird which we thought may have been a Hobby.
Sitting in the bird hide at Calke Abbey there did not appear to be many birds but we were informed that a Sparrow Hawk had just paid a visit! It wasn’t long before the Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, Gold Finches, Collared Doves, Dunnock, Nuthatch and Robin began to reappear. Later Jackdaws were foraging on the ground with Chaffinch, then a male Great Spotted Woodpecker appeared on the feeders.
We had lunch at Calke Abbey having confirmed seeing 31 bird species this lovely sunny Autumnal morning. Paul Millington
16th August 2018 – Potteric Carr
BOOMING time had by all!
Potteric Carr was a new venue for the bird watching group. The day started overcast but soon became sunny. After checking in with the visitor’s centre we made tracks along the old railway into the reserve. First we spotted, walking along the old track, 8 Mute Swans, out for a family walk ! Going deeper into the reserve along tree lined paths we saw a family of Long Tailed Tit and Blue Tit. Passing the overflow pumping station we arrived at the Duchess hide overlooking Huxter Well Marsh. Here we saw Canada Geese, Gadwell, Coot, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Lapwing, Mallard, Magpie and Shoveler. After taking in the lovely views we moved further along to the Hawthorn hide. Here we saw some different species, a young Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Pochard, Common Tern, Tufted Duck and Moorhen. And the bird of the day, spotted by a new member this year, was a Bittern. This was a first sighting for all of us bar one. The Bittern is an elusive bird that almost became extinct in England but due to the planting and management of reed beds it is making a slow comeback. In the spring the mating call is a deep loud BOOM BOOM BOOM heard over the marshes and is generally all you see/hear of the Bittern. Back at the visitors’ centre for a spot of lunch in the sunshine, two Little Egrets flew over us. Good end to a lovely day. Paul and Chrys Millington
21st June 2018 – Skylarks
Today was a lovely bright sunny warm morning. There were only four of us, due to the holiday season etc. but we saw a variety birds.
Crossing the meadow from the car park there were Buzzard flying over head and Blackbird dashing about with Magpies and Carrion crows looking on. As we continued to walk along the lane towards the lake Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Wren could be heard. Further along a Reed bunting was seen, sitting on top of a reed head foraging for the seed. At the lake there were the normal sitings of Mute swan, Coots, Greylag geese, Canada geese. On the spits within the lake Black Headed gulls with their babies, Mallard with babies and Cormorant also with babies were all foraging and feeding. Within the Gulls a pair of Terns looked to be nesting and a pair of small waders, which we unfortunately couldn’t identify due to the distance, were chasing the crows. So presumably that had chicks as well. On the way back to the car park a family of Blue tits were playing in amongst the trees shortly before a Sparrow hawk flew by! Paul and Christine Millington
Thursday 15th March – Aldercar Flashes
Ten intrepid bird watchers braved the rain at Aldercar flashes. We parked up and donned our waterproof gear. It wasn’t long before the rain stopped and we made our way around the flashes through the mud and puddles.
As we walked past the farm there were Robins, Blackbirds, Carrion Crows, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit and Great Tit. Proceeding along the railway embankment, looking over the Flashes, we could see Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Lapwing, Black Headed Gulls, Shoveler and Mallard. In the distance sitting in the top of a dead tree were four Cormorant drying out and then a Sparrow Hawk flew across our view. There is an owls nest box in the area where we have seen the owl on previous visits but not to be this time. As we splashed our way around to the other side, over the raging Erewash river, we saw Wigeon, Gadwall, Pheasant and many more Black Headed Gulls.
Back at our cars and a quick change, we were off to Brinsley Lodge for refreshments. On our way a couple of Partridge crossed our path. A great morning was had by all. Paul and Christine Millington
15th February 2018 – Colliers Wood, Moorgreen
The bird watching group made a short visit to Colliers wood on 15th February. The weather was bright and we saw and fed seed to the Mute swans, Tufted duck, Moorhens, Mallards, Canada geese and Black headed gulls. After our walk we then went on to a members house, Barbara Wigley, where we had drinks and sandwiches along with Birthday cake in a surprise celebration for Ursula Reynolds 90th birthday. A good morning was had by all. Paul and Christine Millington