Category Archives: Trip Reports

Articles reporting the outcome of events & trips that have been organised by the Netherfield Wildlife Group, Nottingham for it’s members.

Sun Hats and Sun Cream

Padley Gorge – May 2010

On what was to be the hottest day of the year so far, Deryck, Jackie and I left Nottingham at about 0730 to meet Brian, Norman and Steve in Baslow, Derbyshire. While we waited a Garden Warbler was singing near the stream. We looked for Dipper, as this was a spot I used to see them regularly but not today.

We moved off to our first stop at Padley Gorge. We parked up, dosed up with sun cream and donned our sun hats then set off down the Gorge. Our target birds being Spotted and Pied Flycatcher and Common Redstart. It wasn’t long before Redstart was heard but not seen. Continuing down the path we soon had views of 2 pair of Redstart at two nest boxes, close to each other. A few yards on down the path we were soon enjoying views of Pied Flycatchers, again at a nest box. A few of the group went a little further down the Gorge to see if they could connect with Wood Warbler but to no avail. Cuckoo could be heard calling all round but not seen. We had good views of a Nuthatch, a Treecreeper and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. With the weather so warm there were Wood Ants all along the woodland path. Also seen were Small & Green-veined White Butterflies along with Orange Tip and Peacock. We returned to the cars, the day trip list now standing at 22 birds, 2 mammals and 4 butterfly.

We moved on about a mile to Surprise View Car Park were after a coffee break we moved onto the open moor for the first time. Here we added Tree Pipit and Carrion Crow to the day list along with a fleeting glimpse of a Green Hairstreak butterfly.

We moved on again, this time to Stanage Edge, taking a slow walk up to the edge over the open moorland. On the way we could hear a Reed Bunting calling from a gully and Curlew were heard across the moor. As we approached the Edge brilliant views of Green Hairstreak were obtained and photographed. Then the next target bird was spotted sat on a rock – a male Ring Ouzel. 3 males and a female were seen before we left the Edge. A Buzzard was seen being mobbed by Curlew.

Wearily and hot we returned to the cars to move on the Cutthroat Bridge, near the Ladybower Dams were we stopped for lunch.

After a refreshing break, another load of sun cream applied we set out on what I believed to be a steady walk around the moors. I had done a similar walk about 10 years ago and had found it very pleasant. Oh how the memory fades! The path we took was not the path I had taking all those years earlier. We were however rewarded with fine views of a Whinchat. A little further on we entered the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust reserve – Ladybower Wood. The track here was very rugged but again we were rewarded with the first sighting, on our trips, of a Grizzled Skipper. These are tiny butterflies, about 22 – 26 cms

(about 1 inch or less)that can easily be over-looked. (See article – Dingy and Grizzled Skipper) Three more were found a little further on along with a Small Copper. While in the wood a peregrine glided over the treetops.

We continued on the path past the rear of The Ladybower Inn were Jackie had a visit from a strange little creature on her camera case that Brian and Norman did their best to photograph. Jackie and I later identified it as a House Longhorn. Also in this area were a few Rose Chaffers.

While going through a conifer plantation we had views of Siskin and Goldcrest.

The path seemed to go on and on, out of the trees and on to the open moor, getting steeper all the time. We were all shattered on getting to the top but here we were rewarded with fine views of Red Grouse and two chicks. After a well-earned rest we continued down hill on a well-worn path towards the cars. On the way down Stonechat were heard but we could not locate them.

Although it had been a very hot and tiring day, all agreed that it had been worth the effort with good views of the surrounding countryside and some wonderful wildlife.

I would like to thank Neil Matthew for providing us with such a good itinerary.


The yearly trip lists now stand at: – Birds – 145 (117) : Butterflies – 8 (10)

Mammals – 6 (5) : Dragonflies – 0 (0) : Others – 3 (0)

2009 in brackets.

Lincolnshire 2010

After having picked up various passengers the two cars left Nottingham at about 8.15 am and we made our way to Whisby Nature Park near Lincoln for 9.15 am were we met up with Jack Driver. The early rain that fell on Nottinghamshire was now falling on Lincolnshire so we donned our waterproofs and set off to find our target bird of the day – Nightingale.

According to the sightings board there were six singing males on the site. Looking on the nearest lake Pete found a pair of Little Ringed Plovers changing over nest duties while in the background a Nightingale was singing. A Sparrowhawk shot past the group so fast that not all of us managed to see it. We looked for the singing Nightingale without success so it was decided to go to the area where I had seen them on previous visits.

Having turned the corner at the northern end of Coot Lake we were deafened as one was singing very close to the path and it wasn’t long before Pete had found it. What a stunning bird – in full view. The problem was that not all the group had seen it and nobody had brought a camera as it was thought that they would only be heard and not seen.

We moved on, hearing three or four more before Pete again located one competing with a very high pitched Grasshopper Warbler, that not all the group could hear, and a Garden Warbler. The Nightingale was about 50 metres away over the railway. After watching the Nightingale I decided that I would leave the group and see if I could see or hear the Grasshopper Warbler on my own. I managed, after a few minutes, to get a short snatch of its song before the Nightingale drowned it out again. We made our way back to the car park, the sun shining now. Three Nightingale were seen with at least a further five heard.

With the trip list now standing at 26 we said our goodbyes to Jack Driver and made our way to RSPB Frampton near Boston, seeing Red-legged Partridge and Hare on the way.

The first birds seen at Frampton were a pair of Black Swans, obviously escaped from a collection but seemed to be doing well in the wild. We were surprised to see that the Brent Geese were still in the area as we had expected them to have gone to their breeding grounds by now. After a break for lunch and a cuppa we set off down the path towards the hides. On a small tree a Corn Bunting was singing while a Whimbrel was seen to land on the wet meadow. Steve spotted a Stoat as it ran from the meadow and over the road – our second mammal of the day. As it tried to rain again we made our way towards the first hide but stopped again as a photogenic Corn Bunting sat on a post for us. As we were about to go into the hide several Twite were seen on the wires. In all we counted 15. We were told that during the winter there were several hundred on the reserve. Also seen from the hide were two White Wagtail, Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit. Meadow Pits were singing as we left the hide to go back to the cars. Jackie spotted a female Wheatear on a fence post. From the car park I looked at the Barn Owl box through my binoculars and thought I saw part of the face of the Barn Owl. Sure enough as soon as a telescope was trained on the box the head of the bird could be seen. We were doing well as we had seen 63 species on the day.

We made our way north of Boston to Freiston RSPB reserve. Upon arriving we noticed a Pale-bellied Brent Goose in among the Dark-bellied. Although only a sub-species I would not be surprised if it is not split in a few years time to be a species in its own right.

We made our way to the sea wall as high tide was due at about 4.00 pm. The tide didn’t cover the marsh but birds were being moved all the while giving reasonable views of Knot, Eider, Curlew and Grey Plover. A Peregrine was seen as were two Fulmar. Near the car park the fields were scanned and Jackie spotted a fairly distant Yellow Wagtail.

Overall 81 bird species were seen taking the year’s list to 137 compared with 102 this time last year. The mammal list is at 6 (5 in 2009). Only one butterfly has been seen that of a Large White. This time last year 8 had been seen.

Cricket and Grasshopper Walk – 18th August


Six people turned up for this walk, despite the threatened rain. As they collected by the foot bridge first a Migrant Hawker flew overhead and then a Southern Hawker came to check us out, before settling on the hedge. It was mainly green and black but the blue on its last two abdominal segments showed it to be a male.

We entered the reserve and went up the steps to the seat. Just by the seat we found the first Long-winged Cone-heads and soon had one in a viewing pot for everyone to see. Although superficially like a grasshopper the incredibly long antennae suggested its true affinity to the bush-crickets. We then caught our first grasshopper with much shorter and thicker antennae and were just getting to grips with its pronotum when the first shower struck. The group dived under the nearest bushes and tried not to get too wet, peeping at the glowering sky from time to time and saying encouraging things like, ‘It’s getting brighter over there.’, ‘I think it’s slackening off.’. When we were all soaked the rain stopped and the sun came out. We identified the grasshopper as a Meadow Grasshopper by the shape of its pronotum, which is the armour like scales that cover its neck and shoulders.

As we walked along to the Causeway the sun warmed our backs and we began to dry out. On the Causeway we located several Roesel’s Bush-crickets, but could not actually see any. Three of our company had ears that could hear them, but the frequency was too high for the rest of us so Alan got his bat detector out and soon pointed out two or three. They are very hard to approach and tend to go silent long before you are close enough to see them. The distinguishing mark on the Roesel’s is a yellow line all the way around the border on the side of the pronotum, but we were unable to point this out. However we did manage to connect with another species of grasshopper, the Field Grasshopper. Again it is the pattern on the pronotum that gives the most significant clue to its identity, followed by the fact that it has a hairy chest. We now began to realise the difficulties involved in identifying grasshoppers as we found several small chestnut brown ones. These were assumed to be nymphs although they were seen to be stridulating like the adults, one even seeing off a much larger adult Field Grasshopper. The pronotums on these nymphs were not well developed or marked so they gave few clues to the species. The other problem with identification is the fact that the same species of grasshopper comes in two or three different colour ways and all can be present on the same site.

We dried out in the sun as we struggled to get to grips with orthopteran identification and were all completely dry when the next menacing black cloud sailed overhead. ‘It won’t rain on us.’ and ‘Look its raining over Carlton’ soon gave way to ‘Let’s go to the railway bridge’ and ‘Run’. The front-runners made it to the bridge still dry but the rear guard were soaked as they staggered through the downpour into the shelter. Even the swallows were staying on their nesting shelves under the bridge. Coots were diving by the bridge and surfacing with large round items in their beaks, surrounded by a screen of water droplets as the raindrops bounced and shattered on the river surface around them. I wished I had a camera with a telephoto lens. Soon the rain abated and we came out from under the bridge. We were just about to go up the steps by the Deep Pit when a Whimbrel called as it flew overhead on its way to the south. This encouraged us to go to the Causeway again so that we could see if anything else had been brought down by the rain onto the Slurry Lagoon. We found three Wigeon that had not been seen before the rain but nothing else. The grass was quite wet now and it was noticeably cooler so that there was little insect activity to detect so we called it a day and went home, having identified four orthopteran species.

Butterfly/Dragonfly Walks – 28th July and 1st August

Both of these walks were quite well attended with six and ten people turning up at each, respectively. Despite the weather being overcast on both occasions the air was warm and the insects showed in sheltered spots. When the sun did briefly shine it warmed up incredibly quickly and insect activity increased.

On the first walk, as I had seen a Southern Hawker on the way to meet the group I took them first along Willow Walk, but unfortunately we did not see it although we did find Gatekeepers, Large Whites and a Speckled Wood. Along the Lower Path we came to grips with Large White, Small White and Green-veined Whites, looking at each species in a book and comparing their markings so that most people soon had no trouble identifying their Whites. There were very few Ringlets and Meadow Browns about but plenty of Gatekeepers. All along the Lower Path there were abundant Common Blue Damselflies and just one or two Blue-tailed Damselflies and, near the ‘Irish Bridge’ we found a Brown Hawker. We walked around the banks and found some Common Blue butterflies and there were dozens of Six-spot Burnet cocoons attached to the wire of the Deep Pit fence. We walked back along the north east side of the Slurry Lagoon and found some Small Skippers and one Essex Skipper and the Long-winged Coneheads were thick in the grass, which gave people a foretaste of the Cricket and Grasshopper walks. We gave the Willow Walk and Southern Hawker another try before finishing and the dragonfly was obliging, giving prolonged close views as it patrolled its patch.

The Sunday walk was slightly more successful as the sun came out more and there was more butterfly activity. On the Lower Path we were surprised to see a Weasel that was hunting along the path and coming towards us. It kept darting off the path to one side or the other and reappearing again. As the morning warmed up more butterflies emerged and a splendid Red Admiral was seen, followed by several Peacocks and Commas. This time the ‘Irish Bridge’ gave up a Migrant Hawker and three Brown Hawkers were seen as we followed the path. Several times we were distracted by the numbers and variety of the hoverflies along this walk especially when one or two exceptionally large species were seen. Near the river two Small Tortoiseshells were feeding on the Creeping Thistle flowers. As it was fairly warm we went to the Small Gravel Pit to see what activity there was and found several damselflies emerging from their larval skins and clinging to the reeds. Other Common Blue Damselflies were egg laying, some females going right under the water to lay on vegetation. A Black-tailed Skimmer landed on the beach in front of us as we watched the emerging damselfly nymphs and one or two Blue-tailed Damselflies were also seen. We walked back around the Deep Pit and there were a lot more Common Blue butterflies about than on the previous walk and we finished the walk looking at the Long-winged Coneheads again.

Mothing at Netherfield Lagoons – 12th June 2010

June, the month for moths. This is the month when most species and numbers of moths are usually recorded. The blocking High Pressures over the Atlantic produced a stubborn northerly airstream with cool nights. This has led to frustratingly poor mothing nights. Last Saturday the weather appeared a little warmer.

We had two lights operating and decided to trap along the Lower Path. There were lots of Green and Silver-ground Carpets. Then came in the Snouts with their large brown triangular wings and curved proboscis. Moths were numerous and a series of moths came in. New moths such as the little yellow Strawdot, lots of the day flying Latticed Heath, a Common Quaker, and the scarce but relatively common in Notts Cream-bordered Green Pea. Towards the end the very beautiful Buff and White Ermines.

Meanwhile the other trap captured the spectacular huge Privet and aptly named Eyed Hawk-moths.

I will keep you posted when the next mothing night. Hopefully it will warm up!!!



Elephant Hawk-moth



Eyed Hawk-moth


 



Pale Tussock



Snout


 



Buff Ermine



Clouded Border


 



Celypha lacunana



Cyclamen Tortrix



Phlyctaenia coronata




 

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Mothing Night – 21st May 2010

After a cold National Moth Night, where Netherfield Lagoons did very well compared with many venues that only recorded 1 or 2 specimens, I was itching to set the trap up in warmer conditions. The first warm night, namely Wednesday, was brilliant by all accounts. So a quick email and another session was arranged for Friday. Fortunately 4 people picked it up.

We had one light operating and decided to trap between the slurry lagoon and the Deep Pit first ,close to where we caught the Emperor Moth . As it was going dark a large moth drift through the grass and Rob caught it. Yes it was the female Emperor Moth again! As the night when on we were swamped with Caddisfly including a few large Sedge Flies. As it grew darker they were joined by Common Swift, Common Wave and Brown Silverlines. A large Cockchafer flew in and showed its remarkable antennae. As it was becoming difficult to breathe without inhaling midges and caddisfly we decided to move the trap along the western edge of the Deep Pit. At around 10:30 the moths came in, starting Green Carpet, Flame Shoulder, Spectacle and Shuttle-shaped Dart. All species we had previously caught, however new species appeared including a lovely fresh Powdered Quaker and White Spotted Pug all marsh species, Elephant Hawkmoth, a gorgeous Treble-Bar, Bloodvein, Campion, Garden Carpet, Lime-specked Pug.


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As it is important to choose the right evenings I will post the nights up on the website a day or two before, so please keep your eyes open. If you don’t have internet access but would like to come let me know your phone number and I will phone you beforehand. You can contact me on 9893197.

Look forward to seeing you there. Craig.

National Moth Night 15th May 2010

National Moth Night is a yearly event where, all over the UK, people go out and light up the sky and identify the moths in their local area. The date of the National Moth Night varies each year, as does the purpose of the night. Sometimes it targets a specific species during their flight times or a change in general distribution. This year it has been about moths and their predators: bats.

Moths, like butterflies, like to fly in warm and calm conditions. After a chilly weeks weather, Saturday had been reasonably pleasant and warm. We arrived at 8pm and the sky was clearing with a fairly strong breeze. It is always relaxing to watch the sun set to a chorus of Sedge Warblers and Cuckoo. A party of Common Tern came into roost and a Peregrine skimmed through at dusk across the Deep Pit.

We had two lights operating and decided to trap between the Slurry Lagoon and the Deep Pit. One trap on the junction between the track between the two pits and the outer path and the other a little along the track between the two pits. Lights went on about 9:10 and activity was slow at first, although three to four Noctule Bats hunted over the Slurry Lagoon. While I stayed with the equipment the group walked to the River Trent where Daubenton’s Bats and probably Soprano Pipistrelle Bats were feeding.

Before long the first moth appeared, luckily caught as it was just about to disappear. A lovely fresh Waved Umber, whose food-plant is Privet and Lilac. Then came the very variable Shuttle-shaped Dart with Rusty Shoulder Knot. A lovely male Pale Tussock was then followed by a cracking fresh Mullein Moth. This species feeds on Mullein and Figwort. Then came a fresh Green Carpet and the dashingly dark Spectacle, a moth you need to look head on at to see its large two pale disks below a quiff of hairs!

Activity around new Robinson trap had appeared to be quiet but to our delight, sitting just below the bulb was the star moth of the night, a lovely female Emperor Moth, the UK’s largest moth. Although the caterpillars have been found in the past, until now, no one had seen the adult. Camera phones were used to capture this event.


Although only a few yards away the Robinson trap yielded completely new moths. In addition to the Emporer Moth, a stunning male Lime Hawkmoth, a lovely Pebble Prominent and a Flame Shoulder.

At midnight the group made its way home under the stars to the back drop of a reeling a Grasshopper Warbler, all very satisfied at seeing this new aspect of Netherfield Lagoons.

As we have new mothing gear I hope to arrange a number of mothing evenings throughout the year and I hope members and their friends and family will join us. All you need is a torch, warm clothing and seat to sit on. As it’s important to choose the right evenings, I will post the nights up on the website a day or two before, so please keep your eyes open. If you don’t have internet access but would like to come let me know your phone number and I will phone you beforehand. You can contact me on 9893197.

Look forward to seeing you there. Craig Howat.

Wirral trip report – 28th March 2010

Six men in two cars left Newstead at 7.15 am for the Wirral. On the way over we stopped briefly at Goyt Moss to look for Red Grouse. We had hardly stopped when Tony found at least one. Meadow Pipits were also seen. Continuing on our way we arrived at our first stop at 9.30 as arranged with Stuart Taylor, one of our earliest members who now works for the RSPB at Lake Vyrnwy, mid-Wales. The trip list was now on 10 as Raven, Jay and Sparrowhawk were seen en route.

After a short break to stretch our legs we set off to our first watching point – Heswall Banks. Stuart T, not confusing him with Stuart Pryor, suggested a short walk here but on seeing the high tide (9.1 metres) told up that was impossible as the pathway was under water. We settled down to watch the marsh as the tide was still coming in and moving the birds in front of it. Over 1000 Redshank, along with hundreds of Shelduck and other waders were being forced up the marsh by the advancing tide. A female Hen Harrier was seen as was a Grey Plover and many Little Egret. Around the area we also saw and heard Chiffchaff. With the list now on 29 we headed back up the Wirral to Parkgate, a well known watch point on the marsh when there are exceptionally high tides of over 10 metres. These happen about twice a year but not today. (I’ll have to sort a trip out for that).

Similar birds were seen here as at Heswall Banks but Stuart T, had inside information that there was a Spoonbill further up the marsh so we walked up and had superb views of an adult. Buzzard was also seen. A Marsh Harrier was seen by some of the group.

With the list now standing at 38 we moved on again, this time to the RSPB Inner Marsh Farm. This is a fairly large reserve but at present with only one hide and a very small car park.

Treecreeper was heard in the car park by Steve and Pete heard our first Willow Warbler of the year, good views of which were had later on. We had good views of Raven, Buzzard and Peregrine Falcon. We also saw Black-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Ruff.

There was a distant group of Sand Martin and I managed to see one House Martin among them. Three Spotted Redshank and a single Greenshank were also seen. As we made our way back to the car park some of the group thought they had heard a Lesser Whitethroat but it couldn’t be located. There was a large herd of swans in the distance and it was reported that there were Whooper and Bewick’s among them but we couldn’t make them out. Rabbit and Grey Squirrel were seen on the way to the car park taking the years Mammal list to 5.

We had had a wonderful day in good company and were looking forward to the next trip.

The day list stood at 66 with 28 of these being added to our annual trip list. That list now stands at 111 compared with 85 this time last year.

Carsington Water – Sun, 7th March 2010

The weather forecast for the previous weekend was horrendous with high winds and blizzards. We decided to postpone to the following weekend. As it happened the bad weather missed us.

We met up at Newstead, two car loads and made our way to Cromford were we eventually had good views of 4 Hawfinch in the car park area.

With some of the gentlemen going to the loo we arranged to meet on the bridge over the river Derwent to look for Dipper. We had marvellous views and decided to then go on to Carsington when we realised that Jackie was missing. Minutes later my phone rang. It was Jackie asking where WE where. I asked where SHE was – out side the gents’ loo waiting for us, (so she said). Jackie eventually joined us and soon had Dipper on her list. Trip list now stood at 13 for the day.

We arrived at Sheepwash Car Park (the free one) at Carsington Water and made our way to the hides. We soon added Oystercatcher and Great Spotted Woodpecker to the list along with our target bird of Great Northern Diver. We were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time as a herd of Whooper Swan had arrived that morning. Also seen of note were Curlew and Redshank while Raven was heard.

We made our way to the Wildlife Centre calling at the feeding station on the way. Here we added stunning views of Bullfinch, Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting and Willow Tit. The list now stood at 38 plus Grey Squirrel.

At the Wildlife Centre we added Barnacle Goose – about 50 – plus Ruddy Duck and Goosander. Tony found a Water Rail on the far bank that proved difficult for some of the group to see. A Little Owl was also seen in the hedgerow at the rear of the centre. We were told by a Ranger that that was the first one for quite a while. With the list now standing at 46 we made our way back to the cars and lunch during which we added Common and Herring Gull.

On the same trip last year we called at Swallow Moss and saw a male Hen Harrier so it was decided to go there again. What a disappointment. The only birds seen apart from a few distant hens were two flocks of Starling and one Fieldfare.

Having consulted the maps it was decided to call in at Tittesworth Reservoir – just over the hill. I decided that it would be quicker to go over the hill instead of round it. We got to the top, above the snow line, and a road disappeared. We ended up almost were we had started so we did go round the hill in the end.

On arriving, eventually, at Tittesworth we were greeted by up to 7 Redpoll. We walked to the two hides. Between the hides we were treated to the evocative calls of a flock of over 80 Curlew coming in to feed on the far fields. Lapwings were also seen along with one Common Snipe that was behaving like a Jack Snipe.

As the setting sun shone on the Roaches the Curlew, split now into smaller groups and giving their haunting calls, flew off towards the setting sun.

The days total was 61 plus 2 mammals. The yearly total is now 82 compared with 71 in 2009. The mammal total is 5 compared with 3 last year.

Spurn Trip 25th October 2009

The wind had been blowing from the east for almost three weeks with migrants down the east coast from Scotland to Kent. I decided, upon consultation with the three other people who had shown an interest in the trip – Pete, Jackie and Deryck, to bring the trip forward a week from 1st November to 25th October.

After checking what was about it was decided to call first at Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve as there was a Red-flanked Bluetail that had been there for two or three days. There had been an influx on the Yorkshire coast for the past 10 days with three reported from Spurn at the same time earlier in the week.

We arrived at Bempton in quite a strong westerly wind to be told – yes it had been seen that morning. We search for almost 2 hours but eventually gave up. We did manage to see a distant Red-backed Shrike, Rock Pipit and Rock Dove.

We left Bempton to go to Spurn calling at Hornsea on the way were 7 Red-Breasted Merganser was seen.

Approaching Spurn 2 Roe Deer were seen in the fields near Kilnsea.

Arriving at Spurn we decided to drive to the point. On the way Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit and Turnstone were seen on the mud. In the dunes early Redwing were seen.

Before leaving we called at the hide hear the reserve entrance where we were treated to two Jack Snipe and Water Rail.

Overall 64 species were seen with eight added to the trip total that now stands at 165.