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Trip Reports - 2021

Derwent Dale

3rd April 2021

At last we were able to run a club event as members turned up at Ladybower and split into 2 groups to meet the rules of the pandemic. When the highlights are a Buzzard, a Grey Heron and a Cormorant, it is clear that there isn't a lot to report! Several Chiffchaffs were singing but it seems the Sandpipers have yet to turn up. A cold northerly breeze doesn't help. The feeders at Fairholmes were busy with the usual Chaffinches and tits. Those on the other side of the valley were also busy and added Siskins to our list. A Kestrel was at the bird box on the west tower of Derwent Dam. We recorded only 27 species.

Ramsley & Big Moor

8th April 2021

Five members convened at Shillito Wood for a walk around Ramsley Moor and Big Moor. The day started well with Yellowhammer, and Reed Bunting at the bird feeders in the car park. There was a strong and very cold breeze as we set off. The woods on Ramsley Moor were filled with the songs of Wrens and Chiffchaffs and everyone had excellent views of one of the Chiffchaffs. The first Willow Warblers of the year were heard but not seen (2 of them). The highlight on the first part of the walk was a good view of the first Tree Pipit of the year, singing and doing its parachute display flight. The wind felt even stronger on Big Moor where there were reasonable numbers of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits,. Sadly, a few folks had set off for home before we checked the feeders at Shillito Wood, where there were a couple of Bramblings in breeding plumage - a good finish to the morning. Despite none of the common tit species being recorded, we still managed 31 species.

Attenborough Nature Reserve

10th June 2021

The plan to visit Attenborough Nature Reserve by train finally came to fruition. Only four members convened at the visitor at 9:30 centre with 2 coming by train. There was plenty of car parking space at Matlock station and the 8:13 train was quiet too. Mixed with the usual ducks and geese by the entrance was a pair of Egyptian Geese with 2 goslings. Warblers were well represented with Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler and Willow Warbler all recorded. Blackcaps seemed to be singing from almost every thicket. There were huge numbers of Canada Geese (600+), Greylag Geese (250+) and Mute Swan (200+) all with youngsters in tow. The artificial Sand Martin bank was decimated by an attack from American Mink last summer and is not in use this year but the birds have successfully moved to a large bank on one of the islands and were there in good numbers. A first for us at this site was a Great White Egret - their numbers are steadily growing in England now. There were quite a few Swifts around but we saw neither Swallow nor House Martin. There were lots of Great Crested Grebes and one was spotted carrying young on its back. The Black-headed Gull colony seems to have disappeared with only a handful of birds seen when in other years they have been hundreds with many nesting. It was pleasantly free from the raucous calls! By the time we left on the 15:03 train we'd recorded 52 species. Considering that all of the hides were still closed because of Covid-19, that seemed a very acceptable total for the day.

Redmires Reservoir & Wyming Brook

14th July 2021

Eleven members met up at the top of Wyming Brook at 9:00AM on what soon warmed up to be a hot and sunny morning. It was unsurprisingly very quiet in the woodland although a Grey Wagtail was spotted by the bridge at the start of the walk. Bird numbers improved as we climbed up onto the moorland section. Up there a family of Kestrels were hunting, probably from the box at Hollow Meadows which Lester Hartmann installed last winter. They had 4 young this year. You can follow their story here We were also rewarded by brief views of a Peregrine heading north. There were few Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were surprisingly absent. The Lapwings and Curlews had moved on from the breeding areas by the conduit. There were plenty of gulls on the middle reservoir with Lesser Black-backed, Herring and Black-headed all present. A couple of Common Sandpipers were recorded, one of which was a juvenile so they had some success up there despite the disturbance from dog-walkers, etc. Other birds on the reservoir included families of Mallard and Canada Goose and a Little Grebe. We were back at the car park around 1:00PM, having recorded 32 species.

Birchen Edge

11th August 2021

Eleven of us convened at the car park near the Robin Hood Inn for 9:00 and set off through the tall bracken below Birchen Edge. Luckily, it was rather dry so we didn't get soaked through! It was quite cloudy and rather cooler than of late. As is usual at this time of year, the birds were rather quiet and few and far between. There were good numbers of Goldfinch in family parties and as we climbed up onto the moorland we recorded several Linnets and Meadow Pipits and a Stonechat. There were several Swallows on the wing and we also noted a couple of Swifts and a single House Martin. Raptors included a Buzzard and a couple of Kestrels. A pleasant walk was enjoyed but the bird list was rather low, with only 21 species recorded.


8th September 2021

For the September field trip eight of us assembled at the Langsett Barn car park at 9am. As promised by Alan the loos were indeed open and whilst some of us were availing ourselves of the facilities others, the Orfords in particular, were already into bird-watching mode and saw a lot of Canada Geese, perhaps 200 or so, flying over. Before we got as far as the dam we had spotted a Magpie, some Starlings, a Robin or two and a Blackbird, and from the dam we scanned the shore for Sandpipers but no luck. In fact there was little to see apart from a few gulls, all of which we thought were Black Headed, some Mallard, one Collared Dove and a feral pigeon... but then Ian spotted a Grey Wagtail. We navigated the short stretch of road as quickly as possible and turned along the track by woodland and then into it where we could hear numerous calls and stopped to have a session with binoculars and ears pinned back, eventually convincing ourselves that we had definitely seen or heard Goldcrests, Blue Tits, and Coal Tits. As we continued through the woodland we heard Wood Pigeon and Nuthatch and then, as we got closer to the shore, we could see a single Tufted Duck on the water and two, then three, then four Great Crested Grebes, as well as four Cormorants. As we got closer to the west shore of the reservoir we could see (and hear) big gatherings of geese which I assumed to be more Canadas, especially as they were making so much noise, but as Jaimella pointed out they had pink legs and they were in fact Greylags, at least 150 of them. There were also lots of Lapwing, probably at least 70, and a few more Cormorants (one of which looked remarkably like a Heron for a while but we had to admit that it was in fact another Cormorant. We spotted one lone Coot and two Jays disappearing into woodland. By contrast with the water's edge the moorland we walked up into proved rather lacking in birds apart from one Red Grouse which stood determinedly on a wall and watched us file past to our coffee stop at North America. The views as we continued down to the edge of the reservoir were wonderful but the day was getting hotter and hotter, so I think we were all rather glad to get back into woodland for a relaxed and cooler walk back along the north side of the reservoir, arriving at the car park at about 12.15.

Old Moor

13th October 2021

Eleven members attended RSPB Old Moor today in fine weather. We were a little surprised to find the visitor centre reception remains closed and the staff were working outside, presumably because of continuing Covid-19 concerns. As a result there is a new entrance to the reserve. There have been several changes since our last visit including the removal of the garden hide behind reception and total replacement of the Family Hide. It was good to see the back of those terrible windows fitted there back in 2007. How time flies, it doesn't seem so long ago! The Field Pool area is in the process of being totally redeveloped so was devoid of birds. Despite this we still managed to record 47 species. Waders were thin on the ground with only Lapwing, Golden Plover (less than 200 of each), a couple of Dunlin and a few Snipe present although one of us recorded a flyover Green Sandpiper. The highlight of the day was at the Reedbed Hide towards the end of our visit when we all had good views of a Jack Snipe - feeding and bouncing well! The only feeders being used by birds were at the Tree Sparrow farm area but there were few birds and Tree Sparrows were noticeably absent. The only bird of interest there was a lingering Chiffchaff feeding in hawthorn. Wildfowl were reasonably well represented but numbers were quite low. Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler and Tufted Duck were present but Wigeon were the most numerous at around 150 birds. Two Pintails were seen from the Wath Ings hide. Some of us finished the day with a half hour visit to Broomhill Flash where we added two more birds to the day list, being Greylag Goose and Barnacle Goose. A total of 24 species were recorded there.

Wicken Fen, Welney & Nene Washes Weekend

30th-31st October 2021

The weather forecast for this weekend didn't look great but it wasn't too bad when 6 members and a guest convened on Saturday at the Wicken Fen car park on Lode Lane. It was very windy as expected but the rain showers were much lighter than we feared. We'd booked a trip on the electric boat at 11:30 but before that we set off to check out the mere, walking alongside Wicken Lode to visit the West Mere Hide. The mere had a large number of Greylag Geese and several other wildfowl. On returning to the centre, we all enjoyed an hour or so on the electric boat sheltering from the wind as it travelled along Wicken Lode before turning on entry to Burwell Lode. We were entertained by the boatman who educated us about the history of the site. After lunch we took a short walk around the woodland trail before setting off on a longer walk around the Adventurers' Trail visiting Bakers Fen Hide on the way around. The weather was much improved and the afternoon became quite warm and sunny. The only wader recorded was Lapwing and the strong wind limited the possibilities to find many smaller birds. We had views of a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a Crow during the boat trip and another in the afternoon near Priory Farm. Around the farm buildings were at least 40 Collared Doves and several Pied Wagtails. The bird count for the day was rather poor at only 38 but at least we stayed largely dry, if a little windswept!
Six of us arrived at the Welney WWT car park soon after 9:30 on Sunday and as the weather was terrible, with very strong wind and driving rain, we forsook the walk we'd planned before the site opened and waited until 10:00 before braving the conditions. We spent quite a while in the shelter of the heated glass-fronted hide where we enjoyed fine views of the wildfowl gathered there. As expected there were several hundred Whooper Swans together with large numbers of Mallard, Wigeon and Teal. Other wildfowl on show included Pintail, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Gadwall, Greylag and Canada Geese together with a single Pink-footed Goose. A solitary Snipe was spotted but there were at least 400 Black-tailed Godwits hunkered down there. The rain seemed to ease so we eventually set off for the Reedbed Hide only to find it closed and the weather getting wetter. As we retreated to visit the Nelson-Lyle and Lyle hides, the weather improved and the sky cleared, although the strong wind persisted. We spent the rest of our visit at these hides. Highlights included at least 5 Marsh Harriers and a similar number of Great Egrets. The only other waders seen were a couple of Ruff and lots of Lapwings. There was no sign of the Ferruginous Duck which had been reported the day before. After lunch we set off for the Nene Washes and parked at the Eldernell car park before 2:30. This site is rather exposed so we had to brave the strong winds and were grateful that the rain had passed through this morning. We were welcomed by a Red Kite drifting by and added Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and at least 3 Kestrels during our visit. The pond held the usual wildfowl and there were several Mute Swan families feeding in the ditches. A couple of small herds of Whooper Swans (10 and 7) flew along the river and a distant flock of at least 500 Golden Plover were disturbed for a while. Four of us stayed until almost 5PM and were rewarded by some interesting action as birds started to move into roosts. There were large numbers of corvids and a significant Starling murmuration was beginning despite being hampered by that wind. Seven Little Egrets appeared over a woodland roost site and large numbers of Woodpigeons were arriving as we left. Sadly, we failed to find any Cranes or Owls but enjoyed the "yaffle" of a Green Woodpecker several times just before we left at around 5PM. By then we'd recorded 31 species there. The total for the weekend was 56 bird species.

Carsington Water

10th November 2021

A good turn out of 11 started the day at Sheepwash Car park. We were soon rather disappointed to find the Sheepwash Hide was 'Closed for Repairs'. As this is the best hide at the site, that wasn't the best start. The morning continued in that vein when we discovered no feeders and two empty bird tables at the Paul Stanley hide. Our mood didn't improve as the drizzle turned to rain as we settled in the hide. It could only get better - and it did! Lane End hide provided excellent views of a female Goldeneye quite close to shore. The feeders at the screen were well-stocked and we soon recorded a couple of Willow Tits there. Eventually a wader other than Lapwing was recorded at the Wildlife Centre when our Snipe Spotter extraordinaire (aka Jude Pealing) noted one - not too hard as it was in full view on the shore line. John Wooddisse was the only one to note a Redshank which flew by at Lane End hide, although the call was heard by some others earlier. Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon and Pochard were thin on the ground but there were good numbers of Mallard, Tufted Duck, Coot, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe and Canada Geese as usual. By lunch time the rain was long gone and the weather was just perfect with a clearing sky, warm with no wind and mirror smooth water on the reservoir. From our stance in front of the closed hide on Stones Island, a single Meadow Pipit was noted on the shore-line. Many of the more common birds seemed to be missing and the only raptor recorded was a very high Buzzard as we returned to the Sheepwash car park. Thrushes included Blackbird, Song Thrush and Redwing but Fieldfare were absent. Finches were limited to Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Siskin although some of the party spotted a Bullfinch. The late finishers note a significant gull roost developing off the Sheepwash area with several hundred present when we left around 3:00 - mainly Lesser Black-backed, Black-headed and Common. By then we had recorded a reasonable total of 47 species.

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