This morning a Greenshank briefly joined the Dunlin and Garganey on the Slurry Lagoon. A Peregrine caused panic amongst the feral pigeons and Carrion Crows, and two male Cuckoos were around the Gravel and Deep Pits. Good numbers of warblers were counted and one or two Yellow Wagtails flew across the site. PS.
As August was a wildlife seeker trip I searched the internet to see what was around. As there was nothing really exciting it was decided that we went to Norfolk.
Five of us left in one car and we reached Cley at about 10.30 am. We made our way to Salthouse beach car park and spent the next three-quarters of an hour sitting below the dunes – out of the wind – doing a bit of sea watching. Gannets were going south in variable numbers. There were the usual gulls and a few waders passing by. A small flock of Common Scoter were seen off shore. It was hoped that there might be Shearwaters and Skuas moving through. The only skua species we saw was so far out we couldn’t identify it.
We decided we would head for Titchwell; at least we could sit in a hide out of the wind.
Alas – it was not to be. We were almost in Stiffkey when the car we were in broke down.
While we were waiting for the breakdown truck Marsh Harrier was seen.
We arrived back in Nottingham at about 3.00pm so a few of us decided to call at the Lagoons for a couple of hours. While there we added Red Admiral and Speckled Wood to our trip tally.
Total trip records (2009 in brackets)
Birds 168 (148) Mammals 12 (6) Butterflies 23 (15) Dragonflies 7 (3) Others 7 (1)
Otmoor and Bernwood 2010
After picking up Brian, Norman and Steve we set off on the first of our two Wildlife Seeker trips. As there was nothing exceptional around, I set off down the motorway to Oxfordshire and to the first of two new sites for the NWG trips.
The first site was RSPB Otmoor. We arrived with the sun shinning and within minutes Steve heard a Turtle Dove. As we walked up the track towards the feeding station we noticed that the path verges were full of butterflies – Common Blue, Small and Green-veined Whites, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper. The bird list was growing slowly with the commoner birds.
There were dragonflies all round but unfortunately we were unable to identify them except for Ruddy Darter. We continue along the nature trail calling into the new hide then up to the viewing screens. Along the way two Kestrel were seen sitting on the fence posts. After about five minutes at the viewing screen we added Green and Wood Sandpiper to the growing bird list. Two eclipsed Garganey were also seen.
Between the two viewing screens we were amazed at the numbers of Common Blue butterflies on the Thistles. There were in excess of 1500 – every flower head had a butterfly on it. I had never seen anything like it. It was a photographer’s dream – if they would sit still.
On the way back towards the car park Brian commented that I had promised him Hobby. At the screen one and possibly two were seen but very distantly. A little later Turtle Dove was heard again and we all had good views thanks to Steve who found it sitting in a dead tree. We also had one on the path in front of us on the way back to the car. Red Kite was numerous with eight seen on the site but the best but most unexpected bird of the day was yet to come. As we approached the feeding station a small flock of birds rose into the air calling. Steve and Norman identified them immediately as Common Crossbill – 27 of them. There had been an irruption of them nationally in the past week with sightings from Northern Scotland to Kent but nobody had expected to see them in Oxfordshire.
As we had lunch in the car park we had a Hobby fly over the cars to every ones delight.
With the daily bird tally standing at 53 and the butterflies at 9, we set off to the second site of the day – Bernwood Forest and Meadow – another new site for us.
Having told the others that this was a good butterfly site, I was a little apprehensive as the sun had gone in although it was still quite warm. It was then that Marsh Tit was heard, being the only bird at this site that was added to the daily list.
As the sun broke through and the others were watching a Silver-washed Fritillary I saw a Weasel run across the path. We turning out of the wood and into the meadow and were greeted to three of four Marbled White butterflies. A little further on we saw a small group of Small Skippers but try as we did we couldn’t turn them into Essex Skippers!
We left the meadow returning to the wood. The sun was shinning through onto a path of bramble were we did manage to see one Essex Skipper – the black tips of the antennae showing very clearly. We meet a couple who told us were we could see Purple Emperor and White Admiral so we set of in search of them. Stopping at a crossroads, Brian spotted two Fallow Deer on the path in front of us about 200 yards away. Crossing the path was an army of Wood Ants making their way from their huge mound of a nest to their feeding areas. Brian pointed out how lucky we were as, if this had been Africa or South America we would have to have waited for them to pass as you would not have dared to have tried to pass them. As we continued we were seeing Silver-washed Fritillary, Specked Wood and the common butterflies but not the ones we wanted. We were almost at the point of giving up when a Red Admiral was spotted, the only one of the day. Soon after a White Admiral was seen but there was no sign of Purple Emperor. Ringlets were seen taking the daily butterfly tally to 17 of which 13 were new to the yearly list.
As we sat in the car park having a cuppa, a Silver-washed Fritillary gave Brian a good opportunity to get a photo.
The daily bird tally was 54.
The yearly trip totals are (with 2009 in brackets): Birds – 166 (141): Butterflies – 22 (14):
Mammals – 11 (5): Dragonflies – 6 (1): Others – 7 (0).
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.
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.
The Ouse Dyke has lost its Little Egrets for the time being, but a nice male Brambling was in the hedge alondside it this morning. There were still lots of winter thrushes about, mostly Redwings and Blackbirds with just a few Fieldfares. On the river were some Goldeneyes and then two immature male and a female Goosander swam into view. A Willow Tit was noted along the Lower Path. The Slurry Lagoon and Deep Pit are still frozen but there is little sign of snow on the ground now. PS/AE.
The Ouse Dyke is still giving sanctuary to three Little Egrets and two Kingfishers were seen chasing one another. The Slurry Lagoon and Deep Pits are still completely frozen but the Mute Swans and Coots have managed to keep a corner of the Large Gravel Pit free from ice. A Woodcock was seen flying along the inside of the Deep Pit bank and then landing in an open spot to search for food. Shortly afterwards a Peregrine was seen flying up to a pylon where it dislodged one that was already there which flew away carrying a small bird. There were two adult male and an immature male Goldeneyes on the river. PS/AE.
It was very cold this morning and the Little Egrets and Herons were back at the Ouse Dyke. There were eight Little Egrets seen eventually. On the river there was a splendid male Goosander with two equally splendid male Goldeneyes, and a Redshank was feeding in the cattle wade. On the inside bank of the Deep Pit a male Weasel was watched for about ten minutes, as it scampered up and down the slope trying to pick up a scent. PS.
The Ouse Dyke is loosing its attraction to fishing birds now and only two Little Egrets were seen this afternoon, with two Herons and a Kingfisher. There were five Bramblings in the bushes on the north bank of the Slurry Lagoon and some were heard calling by the Haven. PS.
This morning, on the bird count, there were six Little Egrets in the Ouse Dyke. Three Bramblings were heard as they flew over, as well as a Curlew and a Redshank. Two Goosander were seen and the Peregrine flew up to its favoured perch on a pylon. PS.