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Trip Reports - 2022

Clumber Park

5th January 2022

Five members convened at Clumber Park in wonderful winter sunshine. Unfortunately, it was rather TOO bright and the sun so low in the sky made checking the waterfowl on the lake very tricky until our return on the southern side. The usual ducks and geese were present although we found only a single Teal and very few Gadwall. On the shore we met up with a few birders who'd seen a Hawfinch near the chapel. Before continuing we returned through the woods to try for that but unsurprisingly failed to connect with it. We also missed the Goldeneye they said was on the lake because of the problem with the sun. In the woodland we recorded both Goldcrest and Treecreeper and as we headed for the screen with the bird feeders there were two pairs of Jays messing about. It seems the National Trust can no longer afford to fill the bird feeders so we made use of the screen to have a coffee and pressed on - recording a lonely Robin from the screen. The footbridge by the ford is still closed (what is wrong with the N.T.?) so we had to re-trace our steps as we did in December 2020 on our last visit. As we returned along the other side of the lake, we had better views of the birds on the water where there were hundreds of Black-headed Gulls and a significant number (over 50) of Common Gulls - I've never seen more than a handful there before. After a short coffee stop, Peter Bull spotted a Kingfisher as it flashed by but it was much too quick for the rest of us. From the Ornamental Bridge (still closed to traffic) we noted a number of Goosanders before returning to our cars. By then we'd recorded a not unreasonable 41 species for the day.

Rother Valley Country Park

9th February 2022

Nine members convened above the Nature Reserve Lake at Rother Valley Country Park and set off towards the mud soon after 9:15. Recent wet weather had cleared away and we enjoyed a walk in warm and dry weather - for February. The reserve felt very quiet and it turned out that the whole area had fewer birds than we might have expected. For the first time in 20 years of visits we failed to record any Lapwing. Another regular at this time of year is usually Goldeneye but they too were absent. Highlights were few but included a decent number of Goosander and Wigeon, good views of Bulfinch and the activities of the Grey Herons and Cormorants starting courtship and next building on the island. Some of us had a bite of lunch at the end of the visit by which time we'd recorded 33 birds. This included 2 domestic species of goose and duck and was by far the lowest count we have ever recorded at this site.

Ogston Reservoir

9th March 2022

Six members convened at the west bank car park at Ogston reservoir and spent the first hour or more at the main club hide. The feeders were very busy with tits and finches but highlights included Reed Buntings, Siskins, a Willow Tit and a Nuthatch. The reservoir was rather quieter with small numbers of wintering ducks including at least 3 Goldeneye. There were at least 3 pairs of Great Crested Grebes and several Little Grebes. On the walk around the reservoir we recorded a few lingering Fieldfare and Redwing in one field and at least 3 Buzzards over nearby woodland. On the water was a drake Goosander and the heronry was busy with several occupied nests and some birds surely on eggs. The only waders present were a handful of Lapwings and a pair of Oystercatchers. The weather was fine with a cold breeze and a good total of 50 species was recorded.

Chesterfield Canal Walk

14th April 2022

Only six members turned out to enjoy an excellent walk along the canal in near perfect weather, warm and sunny with little wind. There was a remarkable level of bird song all around and some of us were even rewarded with a brief sighting of their first Swallow of the year. The first 3 returning migrant warblers were also very evident with around 30 Chiffchaffs, a dozen or so Blackcaps and 3 Willow Warblers. They were competing with the local repertoire which included over 30 Robins, 25 or more Wrens, more than a dozen Blackbirds, as many Dunnocks and half a dozen Song Thrushes. They overshadowed the small numbers of finches which included Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and (best of all) a couple of Linnets. We walked from Tapton Lock as far as the Hollingwood Hub, where some of us indulged in their excellent bacon butties, before the return to the cars. There was a Grey Wagtail there and on the return, a Common Buzzard and 3 more Lesser-blacked Backed Gulls to add to the couple we saw on the way. In addition to 33 bird species, we also recorded good numbers of butterflies. These were mainly Orange Tips but we also had a few Brimstones and Peacocks together with a recently emerged Green-veined White. A fine morning was had by all!

Padley Gorge

28th April 2022

Five members set off from the roadside parking above Padley Gorge at 8:00. It took a while to get into the woodland as we found much to see despite the overcast sky and the low temperature. There was a Dipper, probably guarding a nest site towards the top of the brook together with a Grey Wagtail. Two pairs of Pied Wagtails were around and a pair of Mandarin were also in the brook. Before reaching the gate into the woods we also spotted a pair of Nuthatches and a Treecreeper. The woodland was strangely quiet with most of the bird song coming from Willow Warblers on the woodland fringe. Pied Flycatcher numbers reached double figures but we only heard two Redstarts which failed to reveal themselves. We climbed out of the woods and walked over towards Surprise View. Two Tree Pipits were singing on the woodland edge and there were at last 3 Stonechats together with a Kestrel. It was also up there that we heard our first Cuckoo of the year although it was rather distant. We returned to our starting point through the woodland and heard the only Chiffchaff of the morning as we approached the cars. A reasonable total of 32 bird species was recorded, together with 3 red deer on the return through the woods.

Suffolk Weekend

13th-16th May 2022

The group on this trip made a long weekend of it and started on the way to the coast by spending a few hours at Rutland Water on Thursday 12th. We called at the Lyndon visitor centre for a few hours and were rewarded with excellent views of the resident Ospreys. Their 3rd chick had hatched overnight and both parents were in attendance.
Friday 13th May
This day was spent at RSPB Minsmere, where we started before 8:30. There was a lot of activity at the Sand Martin colony as we set off towards the hides around the wader scrapes. As is usual at this time of year there were over 500 Black-headed Gulls in the colony. It took quite a while to spot the only Mediterranean Gull that we could find. In there too were good numbers of terns, including Common, Little and Sandwich and also several Kittiwake. The Avocets seem to be doing well with well over 100 present with many nests. Waders were represented by Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Lapwing, Turnstone, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. The Canada Geese, Greylag Geese and Barnacle Geese all had youngsters in tow. Other highlights included Glossy Ibis, Bittern, Bearded tits and Great White Egret. By the time we left soon after 16:00 we had recorded 73 species but were disappointed to miss Nightingale and were surprised at the absence of Green Woodpecker. After an early dinner, some of us went to Westleton Heath where from the car park we heard Nightingale and before we left we also heard a distant Nightjar churring.
Saturday 14th May
We were all staying in Thorpeness and this morning we decided on a walk around the local area. We did a figures of eight loop starting north across heathland and some farmland and finished around a fenland area and alongside the mere. It turned out to be a very good walk for birds. Around the village were lots of Swifts and House Martins. In an area of scrub to the north we had fantastic views of Lesser Whitethroat singing on top of a hawthorn - unusual for this bird as it is normally heard from deep inside scrub and hard to see. In the same area, we had similarly excellent views of a Garden Warbler in full song. We found some benches for a coffee stop and realised we were sitting beneath a Great Tit pair which were feeding young in a box. We also had a Kingfisher fly by there. The walk around the fenland area was also quite productive with fine views of Reed Warblers and Marsh Harriers. Also present were Cetti's Warblers and Cuckoos. As we left the fens and started back towards the village, we heard the gentle purring of a Turtle Dove. Sadly, it was hidden deep inside a thick bush but even so it felt like the highlight of the 4 hour walk. 47 birds were recorded here.
Sunday 15th May
We set off for home but had planned an extra night near Lakenheath. During the morning we called in at Redgrave and Lopham Fen Nature Reserve, spending almost 3 hours wandering the shorter trails. 30 species were recorded there but after the highlights earlier in the weekend it felt rather flat. In the afternoon we spent a few hours at Weeting Heath where a pair of Stone Curlews were showing well together with their two chicks.
Monday 16th May
The morning was spent at Lakenheath Fen which as usual didn't disappoint. The pool by the river held a splendid pair of Garganey and a number of waders including several Avocets. The Golden Orioles are long gone from here but the latest attraction of 2 pairs of Common Crane breeding on the reserve make up for that a little. We managed to spot 3 of them when waiting for sight of a Bittern. The site is always good for Hobbies and there were at least 11 hawking for prey around the reserve. Other highlights included good views of Cuckoos - at least 3 were around - and Bearded tits spotted by a some of us.

The total count for the whole trip reached 107.

Potteric Carr

9th June 2022

Only 3 of us made it to Potteric Carr, a re-arranged location following the difficulty of getting to "Attenborough by Train". The weather was warm and sunny with little wind and an excellent day ensued. We were disappointed to find the feeding station no longer in use and Willow Pool beyond entirely covered in vegetation and devoid of birds. In Black Carr Wood, on our way to Piper Marsh, we noticed a new path to the left. Following that took us to a new hide which showed Piper Marsh from a new perspective. We soon spotted an interesting nest with a wader sitting. Initially we could only see the head and bill, but it just had to be a Black-winged Stilt - surely the surprise of the day! We soon noted those long bright red legs tucked under to confirm our id. We later discovered that a pair arrived in May and have a minimum of 3 eggs. The locals are managing a 24 hour watch to keep the nest safe. Also on Piper Marsh were a pair of Oystercatchers with 3 young. There were more waders at the West Scrape including Lapwings, Little Ringed Plover, Avocets and a pair of Redshank with 3 young. The warblers were in good voice with Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff still singing. A single Willow Warbler was recorded carrying nesting material. From Hawthorn Bank we spent a while hoping for a glimpse of the Purple Heron which had been seen yesterday evening. Maybe that had moved on as it seems nobody saw it before we left. However, the time spent there watching Huxter Well Marsh wasn't wasted. We had decent views of a Bittern on one of its feeding flights and a Hobby entertained us for quite a while. The most numerous duck present by far was Gadwall with smaller numbers of Mallard, Pochard and Tufted Duck together with two each of Shoveler, Wigeon and Shelduck and a single drake Garganey. Despite the absence of the feeders where numbers of small birds are normally added to our list, we still managed a decent total of 59 species before heading for home.

Middleton Moor

13th July 2022

This was cancelled due to lack of interest.

Birchen Edge

17th August 2022

Nine members met up at the car park near the Robin Hood and set off in cool and gentle rain. A very pleasant change from the stifling heat heat over the last few weeks. The birds were few and far between with little to stir any interest before our coffee stop by the Wellington's monument apart from a decent sized flock of about 30 Linnets and a solitary Kestrel. As we paused on crossing the Bar Brook we spotted a Dipper. It was somewhat better on the last leg when we had good views of Meadow Pipits, Stonechats and a Spotted Flycatcher. A pleasant enough walk was enjoyed by all with a small total of 20 species recorded.

Langsett Reservoir

14th September 2022

Eight members met up at the Langsett Barn car park at 9AM and set off in good weather for a circuit of the reservoir. After a long dry spell the water level in the reservoir was extremely low. As we made our way over the dam wall and round to the woodland we heard and then saw two large skeins of Greylag Geese arrive and drop down onto the reservoir. They all made their way to the western shore where they had a very long walk to reach some fodder! We estimated there were over 180 birds. On the water were also a few Mallard, a single Tufted Duck and a handful of both Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The moorland was very quiet with only a few Red Grouse showing and a few Willow Warblers in the bracken. In the woodland on the way back we had good views of a Goldcrest and a couple of Treecreepers. At the end of a very pleasant walk some of us retired to the Polka-dot cafe where we had a very good lunch. A total of 29 bird species were recorded.

Gibraltar Point and Frampton Marsh weekend

17th-18th September 2022

On Saturday eleven members met up at the visitor centre car park at Gibraltar Point at 10:00. The weather was fine but quite windy as we made our way to the first hide overlooking Jackson's Marsh. After such a dry summer the water level was extremely low with few birds in evidence. We could see that there was more activity at the hides overlooking Tennyson Sands where there was a little more water. The most numerous wader present was Black-tailed Godwit with a few Redshank and Avocet. Wildfowl included good numbers of Teal, Mallard and Tufted Duck together with smaller groups of Pintail, Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall and Greylag Goose. After visiting the hides, we made our way over to the coastal dunes where we had lunch and then walked back along the shore to our starting point. A skein of about 40 Pink-footed Geese flew south during the afternoon. On the shore we recorded, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Herring, Black-headed, Common with Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull, Curlew, Cormorant, Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher and Shelduck. Also present were a couple of Sandwich Terns. The only raptors seen were Kestrel and Buzzard. Despite the strong wind and low water levels we recorded a total of 47 species on a very enjoyable day.

On Sunday we reconvened at Frampton Marsh at 9:30. The visitor centre was closed as it is being extended to include a large café. It was another bright and sunny day and yesterday's strong winds had eased. The water levels were much better than yesterday so there were many more waders present. Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, a single Redshank, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Ruff, Snipe, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Oystercatcher were recorded - 11 species. A single Pink-footed Goose was hidden in the large flocks of Greylags and a small group of 7 Red-breasted Geese were moving around the reserve, assumed to have escaped from a wildfowl collection. Raptors were represented by Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Marsh harrier. Other wildfowl present were large flocks of Wigeon and Teal together with smaller numbers of Mallard, Shelduck, Canada Goose, Shoveler, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe and Pintail. Other highlights of a fine day included pairs of Cattle Egrets and Yellow Wagtails and numbers of Sand martins which kept landing on the sandbanks in the lagoons. A reasonable total of 51 species was recorded.

Old Moor Wetlands

12th October 2022

Six members met at RSPB Old Moor for a very pleasant day walking around the reserve. Having started with a quick stop to look at the bird feeders we went into the family hide and soon spotted 6 Great White Egrets alongside Little Egrets and Herons. As we walked along the paths to the next hide the Autumn colours of the trees were stunning, especially the Guelder Rose with its translucent berries. At the Wader Scrape hides we had good views of a visiting Whooper Swan family with two adults and one youngster whilst a Green Sandpiper very kindly sat on a piece of angle iron for the length of our visit. The RSPB volunteer pointed out a sleeping Garganey to us, which viewed through the scope showed it's large white stripe above the eye. After a quick stop at the café for lunch we did try to find Bearded Tits but to no avail. We did however end the day with a Snipe which had been very elusive but was a good end to the day with 48 species recorded.

Carsington Water

9th November 2022

Eight members made the trip today and we started from Sheepwash car park in very fine weather. The low and bright sun made it tricky at the start of the day. The incredibly low water level (I've never seen it lower in over 50 visits in the last 20 years) also made it rather difficult. The Sheepwash Hide remains closed, as it was when we made this trip this time last year, so we pressed on to start at the Paul Stanley Hide. The highlight there was when Ian spotted a perched Kingfisher and most of us managed to see it as it flew off into the distance. After a short time at Lane End, we spent a while watching the nearby feeders where there was a Willow Tit with the other more common tits and finches. A visit to the heated hide yielded very little as the area in front of the hide was entirely dry. John found a Peregrine on the ground near there but it managed to flyoff before he was able to show it to others. Luckily, some of us spotted it in flight as we had lunch on Stones Island. Later in the day a few Tree Sparrows were seen at the heated hide. Surprises included no Mute Swans and no waders apart from Lapwing. Little Grebe were also absent and wildfowl numbers were very much lower than is usual at this time of year, no doubt a result of the very low water level. I was therefore surprised to find we had recorded a creditable 49 species.

Ladybower Reservoir

14th December 2022

Six of us turned out on a cold and frosty morning by Ashopton viaduct for our walk around part of Ladybower reservoir. There was an icy northerly breeze but the return was rather warmer with the sun in our faces and the wind at our backs! The feeders at Fairholmes have been moved and are fewer than they were, apparently because Mallards kept getting run over in the past. As a result the finches and Mallards there were missing. Both of the winter thrushes were present together with a few Brambling within a Chaffinch flock.. Robins and Blackbirds were everywhere. Both Canada Goose and Greylag were present but Mallard numbers were much lower than usual. We had good views of a few Goldcrests. Unusually, the only wagtail present was a Grey Wagtail. Other highlights included a Dipper and a Stonechat. In total, we recorded 33 bird species.

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