September 15th Willington Gravel Pits and Calke Abbey
We all enjoyed the walk to the bird hide at Willington Gravel Pits, stopping off at the viewing platforms en-route, all of which gave differing views of the area. We saw plenty of the usual – swans, herons, egrets, cormorants, crested grebe, mallards, etc with the best birds coming at the hide. Two snipe and a sandpiper were the highlight of the day but unfortunately we didn’t catch site of the bittern which was seen the day before from the hide, and although we could hear blackcaps these too remained elusive. Some of the party also glimpsed a fox running along across a field in the distance.
After an enjoyable lunch at Calke Abbey we visited the hide there to see lots of greenfinches, goldfinches, great, blue and coal tits on the feeders along with some very smart collared doves. We also enjoyed seeing the deer in the adjoining paddock. We were told about feeders at the “other car park” so drove there but the one solitary feeder was deserted. We walked down to the edge of the Staunton Harold reservoir which was very pleasant – spotting a large flock of greylag geese on the water and deer on the waters edge in the distance. There was a bit more activity at the feeder on the way back to the cars – with tits flitting in and out. We helped a gentleman identify a bird he had photographed (it was a grey wagtail) so had done our bit to spread our knowledge for the day.
July 21st Netherfield Lagoons
After an unfortunate start when John was bit by a dog, the rest of us had an enjoyable walk round the Netherfield Lagoons site. After three really hot days the birds weren’t in abundance but the wild flowers certainly made up for it and we all enjoyed seeing flowers we hadn’t seen in such numbers for a long time. Amongst those we were able to identify were St John’s wort, creeping cinquefoil, bird’s foot trefoil, bush vetch, field scabious and common ragwort. The latter is the plant food for the Cinnabar moth so the bright pink/red moth we saw flitting about could well have been such a moth – it never came to rest for us to correctly identify it!
The only birds we saw were a pair of swans, two grebes, a lone heron and some terns who were using the rafts in the middle of the lagoons. We heard some warblers but didn’t have a long enough siting for us to identify them. The highlight was as we were about 10 yards from where we had parked the car when a couple of us were fortunate enough to see a kingfisher – always a good spot!
June 16th Bempton Cliffs
We took advantage of the U3A trip to Bridlington and took the coach on to the Reserve at Bempton Cliffs to see the sea birds – we were not disappointed. The cliffs were alive with birds and it was amazing to see them nesting on such tiny ledges. The kittiwakes were easily identified as they constantly called their name, the puffins, although few, were unmistakeable; the Guillemots and Razorbills in their smart black and white plumage could be identified by their different bills (the guillemot have a sharply pointed bill and the razorbill’s bill is thicker and squarer), but for me the highlight was seeing the Gannets with their yellow crowns, soaring above the cliffs or “kissing” their partners in their courtship ritual.
May 19th Attenborough
We visited Attenborough Nature Reserve today mainly to see the Sand Martins who were busy nesting in their man-made cliff but we also saw a young kestrel as well as a few Red-crested Pochard as well as the usual ducks etc.
April 21st Holme Pierrepont
The Bird watching Group had a successful visit to the Notts. Wildlife Trust (Skylarks) site at Holme Pierrepont on a sunny spring day. They saw signs of spring with the swans and ducks starting to build their nests, ladybirds and butterflies in the sunshine, as well as cowslips and forget me nots. They were lucky to see a Reed bunting, as well as a pair of Buzzards being chased off by a Crow. They watched the Oystercatchers and Lapwings on the scrapes, saw the usual Mallard, Tufted, and Gadwall ducks; Moorhen, Coot and also spotted Greylag and Canada geese, some young Cormorants, a Heron and Swans. The smaller birds were in full song and a Chiffchaff was identified by his perky song, as well as seeing Robins, Chaffinches, Blackcap, Wren, Starlings and the ubiquitous Magpies.
March 17th Aldercar Flash
What a beautiful day. In fact it was perfect weather for bird watching, a bit cold but sunny, quiet and peaceful. It was a pity that there were not many birds around. We missed the red breasted goose, which would have been a fantastic sighting to add to our bird list. We did, however see a Muscovy duck. It was fast asleep and totally oblivious to our attentions. The other highlight was a little egret, looking very elegant at the edge of the water. Other sightings were lapwings,widgeon, teal and tufted ducks, and a mysterious bird which we have not identified yet.
February 18th Shipley Park
What a lovely day. It really started with a bang when we saw one of the short eared owls that seems to have taken up home at the back of the visitor’s centre. A full scale twitch has been taking place there since Christmas observing two short eared owls, and we were very lucky to see one. A glorious walk through the fields with a warm sun shining proved useful because we saw our first skylark of the year. Within fifteen minutes we had seen two firsts for the group. Other joys were a mistle thrush, black cap, and all the normal suspects. down at the lake we got a good view of grebes and also a very showy male mandarin duck. A very successful and enjoyable birdwatch ended up with our customary party at the Shipley Park Visitor’s Centre having a coffee and cake. See you all again next time.
January 14th Attenborough
I cannot believe how lucky we were with the weather to start the new year. Yes it was cold and a bit windy but not bad enough to deter us hardy explorers. A longish walk (well done Terry for surviving this so soon after your operation) took us to the Delta hide. Unfortunately the birds were not showing in numbers, but we did mange to gain a few sightings along the way. It was good to see at least three goosanders, several crested grebe, moorhens, swans tufted ducks and a couple of gadwalls on the lake. From the delta hide, two buzzards gave us an aeriel sky dance and we also added a goldeneye to our list. On our return walk we saw robins, a black cap and wren. On our return to the visitors centre several Egyptian geese could be picked out from the flock as well as, unusually, a female mandarin duck. A quick trip to the Tower Hide added a pair of goldfinches and a pair of bullfinches to the count, but unfortunately no water rail. Maybe next time Paul. One of our best sightings of the day was a fantastic view of a redwing. It really is a beautiful looking bird.A most enjoyable morning guys.