Trip Reports - 2013
5th January 2013
The New Year was off to a fine start for 10 club members with a total
number of species in the mid-50s on what proved to be a mild, calm and sunny
day. One lucky member caught glimpse of a Hawfinch while the others were
getting ready in the car park; unfortunately, our later efforts to find
Hawfinch around the chapel were unproductive. Many woodland species were
nonetheless present, including Marsh Tit, Treecreeper and Goldcrest. On
the lake, the water birds included Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Shelduck,
Pochard and Goldeneye. Around Hardwick, a surprise Tree Sparrow was spotted
in a hedgerow, as well as Buzzard, Fieldfare, Lapwing and Yellowhammer in
the fields. At the Carburton end of the lake, where much of the surrounding
banks had become submerged, several Mandarin Ducks and a few Teal were seen.
26th February 2013
The weather was a bit murky as we set off but it was even worse when
we arrived. The seven members making this trip arrived at the Sheepwash
car park to find it quite misty and dank. This persisted all day making
visibility quite poor. The number of wildfowl was probably the lowest we've
seen there for many years. There were neither Gadwall nor Pochard and we
only found half a dozen Wigeon and even fewer Teal. Quite a few Goldeneye
were just visible through the murk! The bird feeders were quite busy and
we had excellent views of several Bullfinches and a couple of Willow Tits.
We spent the morning at the Sheepwash and Paul Stanley Hides before a good
lunch at the Miners Arms. Later we all walked to the heated hide near the
visitor centre. Some of us pressed on to the visitor centre and one hardy
soul walked on through a freezing breeze to the far side of Stones
Island. He was rewarded with fine views of a couple of Great Northern Divers,
which were also calling. He was also the only one to spot a Kestrel or a
Sparrowhawk too. The rest of us had to be content with seeing around 200
Lapwings, a Redshank and three pairs of Oystercatchers. As we called in
at Lane End hide on the way back, large numbers of gulls were coming in
to roost. There must have been a few hundred of both Black-headed and Common
Gulls but the visibility made it impossible to see clearly what was out
on the water. If we include the Buzzard which almost collided with one member's
car bonnet as they left Sheepwash, we recorded 44 species today - not so
bad considering the conditions we faced!
30th March 2013
Six of us set off on the walk from Fairholmes up to Howden Dam in bright
sunshine. It was, however, still freezing and the track along the eastern
shore of Derwent Reservoir was very icy. We were rewarded by a glimpse of
a Peregrine as we reached Derwent Dam. We had to fight our way through deep
snow to our usual watch point by Howden Dam. It was really peaceful there
but, sadly, the hoped for Goshawks failed to put in an appearance. On the
way there we spotted a Buzzard being harassed by a couple of Ravens. At
the dam we had distant views of Sparrowhawk and Buzzard. On the way back
we saw a Kestrel and later realised that there was a nest box occupied by
Kestrels on the western tower of Derwent Dam, in which was another bird.
Noticeably absent were regulars on this walk such as Wren, Goldcrest, Carrion
Crow, Song Thrush and Cormorant. No doubt, this was because of the very
unseasonable weather conditions. Even the usually raucous Canada Geese numbers
were much lower than usual. Luckily the worst of the ice had melted for
the return journey. At Fairholmes, around lunch time, as we dodged the crowds
of Mallards and visitors, we noted a pair of Goosander near the far bank
of the reservoir. The species total of 27 was quite low but we all enjoyed
an excellent walk in the bright and crisp conditions.
23rd April 2013
A sunny but windy St George's Day saw 21 people set out on the walk.
Almost straightaway a pair of Stonechats were seen across the road from
the car park and a Ring Ouzel could be heard giving its 3-note piping call.
After a little searching among the rocks, a couple of male Ring Ouzels were
located. Continuing down the valley, further Ring Ouzels were heard and
a couple of Wheatears were seen. Meadow Pipits and Red Grouse were low in
numbers. Altogether 15 species were recorded.
27th April 2013
Just two members ventured out for the early start on a day that was colder
than on the walk in January. We were soon spotting the summer visitors:
Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin and Cuckoo,
but no Garden Warblers or Swifts. A surprise on the lake was a male Goldeneye,
who seemed rather defensive of a female Tufted Duck! Our search for Woodlark
was unrewarded but we did track down a couple of Tree Pipits. A lovely sight
along the Hardwick hedgerows were Yellowhammers; it looks like the new hedgerows
are now mature enough for them. In total, we observed 64 species.
Whisby Nature Park
11th May 2013
Six of us made the trip in cloudy and cool conditions which as expected
proved less than conducive to much Nightingale song. The lack of sunshine
and warmth meant that the warblers were rather more quiet than usual but
we still managed to get reasonable views of Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat
and Willow Warbler and heard Chiffchaff and Lesser Whitethroat well enough.
One member chased down and photographed a Lesser Whitethroat. Notable absentees
were both Reed and Sedge Warbler. The Nightingale song was quite weak but
between us we managed to record at last 4 singing males and some of us had
reasonable (if very wet) views of a pair during heavy rain in the afternoon.
Some lengthy searching provided welcome sightings of Yellowhammer, Lapwing,
Grey Partridge and Black-necked Grebe. Om the wildfowl front, it was unusual
to find Pochard and Wigeon here in May. Other absentees included Sand Martin
and any other waders. Even so we recorded at least 56 species on the day
before we were driven out by heavy rain mid-afternoon.
1st July 2013
Five members made the trip to North Cave and after a cool and dull start,
it gradually improved and we had a hot and sunny afternoon. The reserve
here continues to grow as areas are restored after sand and gravel extraction.
It is clearly a good spot for breeding wetland birds and there were several
hundreds of juvenile Black-head Gulls. Other youngsters included Mallard,
Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Common Tern, Avocet, Tufted Duck, Gadwall,
Greylag Goose, Mute Swan and Shelduck. Apart from the Avocets and Lapwings,
other waders were very few and we only found a couple of Little Ringed Plovers
and a single Redshank. For the second year running, we failed to find a
Corn Bunting although the local records suggest they are still around in
the surrounding fields. We had seen 50 species. After lunch we made our
regular 10 minute drive over to South Cave to look out for a Red Kite. The
patient members were rewarded with a fine fly-past with the bird showing
really well against a dark sky after about 45 minutes - a fine end
to a pretty good field day.
16th July 2013
Only 3 members braved a hot, sunny and windless morning to spend a few
hours strolling the dale. As expected, birds were few and far between and
we only recorded 14 species but we had some excellent views of juvenile
Swallows. The lack of birds allowed more time to study the many butterflies
on the wing this morning. Most were Meadow Browns but there were Common
Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper and Small Skipper. The highlight however
were a number of performing Dark Green Fritillaries, in particular a pair
getting very excited on a thistle head! There were also a number of Chimneysweeper
moths flying this morning.
14th August 2013
Six members made the trip to the RSPB reserve at Blacktoft Sands on a
bright and sunny day with little wind. The timing of this trip is aimed
at finding a few of the waders returning from their breeding grounds to
the north, and we weren't disappointed. We recorded 10 wader species - being
Lapwing, Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Redshank, Spotted
Redshank, Ruff and Dunlin. The normally reliable Black-tailed Godwits were
missing this year. Despite the unwelcome attentions of a large number of
tiny but very irritating flies, it was an excellent day. Other highlights
included several Bearded Tits, a Peregrine fly-by which caused considerable
panic in the wader flocks, brief views of a Water Rail and a Yellow Wagtail.
In total we recorded 40 species - a not unreasonable figure for
this time of year.
12th September 2013
Only two members managed the trip today and had the reserve very much
to themselves with most of the hides empty of other folk. Sadly the place
held few birds too. The weather was warm and bright with very little wind
and although we only recorded 39 species it was an enjoyable visit. Joining
the large number of Lapwing - over 850 - were a few other waders. There
were a couple of Black-tailed Godwits, two Green Sandpipers, a solitary
Greenshank and half a dozen Snipe. The flocks of wildfowl were clearly building
but were still quite low. Wigeon, Shoveler and Pochard were there in relatively
small numbers but the Teal and Gadwall were both well over 100 birds. Other
highlights were limited to finding at least four Little Egrets moving regularly
around the pools and a Willow Tit calling not long before we left for home.
There were quite a few dragonflies active today, many of them busy mating
before the cold weather arrives!
Old Moor Wetland
16th October 2013
Heavy drizzle greeted the four members this morning, but it improved
later on what was always going to be a blustery and damp day. The garden
feeders were all but deserted and there was no sign of the usual Tree Sparrows.
Waders were represented by about 100 Lapwings, 20 Black-tailed Godwits and
around 50 Golden Plover but all were easily disturbed and very mobile. The
highlight of the day has to be the all too brief views of a Barn Owl being
harassed by a posse of magpies. The wildfowl numbers were relatively low
with Wigeon being by far the most numerous duck at approaching 300
birds. A total of 40 species were recorded.
22nd December 2013
Apart from the blustery wind the day was pleasantly sunny until the short,
sharp hailstorm that occurred at about 3PM. Surprisingly, there were no
rare or scarce wild birds on the reserve, nor has there been for many weeks,
but those species that were present did not disappoint. There were about
1500 Whooper Swans, 2000 Teal and several hundred Pink-footed Geese, Shelduck
and Pintail, and fewer numbers of Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck. A solitary
Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank complemented the numerous Ruff and Lapwing.
The blustery conditions made smaller birds difficult to see but we did manage
Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Robin and a few others. Both Lesser
and Great Black-backed Gulls were present together with a couple of Ravens,
scavenging on carrion. Several Buzzards were seen as well as a Peregrine
and Marsh Harrier. About 45 species were recorded by the members.