Bird Watching

The Bird Watching group meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 10.30 am at the meeting place. The contacts for the group are Chrys and Paul Millington on 01773 764 943 or 07986 037 871.  No one is an expert and new members would be very welcome.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO JOIN US?

Please contact Chrys/Paul

If unsure about the weather please contact Chrys/Paul.  Thanks.

Hi everyone. Our numbers are rapidly increasing which is good to see. Being a member of the Bird Watching Group involves travelling to locations beyond the boundaries of Eastwood but the benefits are huge: fresh air, lovely walks (not too strenuous), nature, exercise, good company, learning a new hobby etc.  We go out once a month to a variety of locations so please contact us if you are interested.

This is our programme for 2018:
Thursday 20th December – Brinsley Headstocks

2019 Calendar: 

17th January – Shipley Park

21st February – Wollaton Park Lake

21st March – Aldercar Flashes

18th April – Langford Lowfields

16th May – Attenborough

20th June – Carsington Reservoir

18th July – Skylarks

15th August – Potteric Carr

19th September – Dearne Valley Old Moor

17th October – Willington / Calke Abbey

21st November – Kings Mill Reservoir

19th December – Brinsley Headstocks

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Reports of recent events.

Thursday 18th October – Willington/Calke Abbey

Our visit to Willington Gravel Pits and Calke Abbey on 18th October was met with sunny clear blue skies and temperature of 12c. Due to other engagements within the group, just three of us drove into the gravel workings, along a single track. It came as a surprise to find adjacent to the entrance a housing estate was in the process of being built. Taking to foot along a grassy track to our first observation platform and there we saw Cormorants, Canada Geese, Coots, Black Headed Gulls, Great Black Backed Gulls, Great Crested Grebes, Tufted Ducks and Mallard. Then, just in front of us a big brown bird took to the air and flew over the lake before landing in the opposite reeds. This to our delight was an allusive Bittern, the second one we have seen this year! Moving on to the next platform, we saw Little Grebe, Greylag Geese, Lapwing, Moorhen, Kestrel, Magpie, Widgeon, and Gadwell. All the birds looked great in the autumn sun. Walking back to the cars we saw a Gold Crest, UKs smallest bird, Tree Creeper and a quick glance of a bird which we thought may have been a Hobby.
Sitting in the bird hide at Calke Abbey there did not appear to be many birds but we were informed that a Sparrow Hawk had just paid a visit! It wasn’t long before the Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, Gold Finches, Collared Doves, Dunnock, Nuthatch and Robin began to reappear. Later Jackdaws were foraging on the ground with Chaffinch, then a male Great Spotted Woodpecker appeared on the feeders.
We had lunch at Calke Abbey having confirmed seeing 31 bird species this lovely sunny Autumnal morning.                    Paul Millington

16th August 2018 – Potteric Carr

BOOMING time had by all!

Potteric Carr was a new venue for the bird watching group.  The day started overcast but soon became sunny. After checking in with the visitor’s centre we made tracks along the old railway into the reserve. First we spotted, walking along the old track, 8 Mute Swans, out for a family walk ! Going deeper into the reserve along tree lined paths we saw a family of Long Tailed Tit and Blue Tit. Passing the overflow pumping station we arrived at the Duchess hide overlooking Huxter Well Marsh. Here we saw Canada Geese, Gadwell, Coot, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Lapwing, Mallard, Magpie and Shoveler. After taking in the lovely views we moved further along to the Hawthorn hide. Here we saw some different species, a young Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Pochard, Common Tern, Tufted Duck and Moorhen. And the bird of the day, spotted by a new member this year, was a Bittern. This was a first sighting for all of us bar one. The Bittern is an elusive bird that almost became extinct in England but due to the planting and management of reed beds it is making a slow comeback. In the spring the mating call is a deep loud BOOM BOOM BOOM heard over the marshes and is generally all you see/hear of the Bittern. Back at the visitors’ centre for a spot of lunch in the sunshine, two Little Egrets flew over us. Good end to a lovely day. Paul and Chrys Millington

21st June 2018 – Skylarks

Today was a lovely bright sunny warm morning.  There were only four of us, due to the holiday season etc. but we saw a variety birds.

Crossing the meadow from the car park there were Buzzard flying over head and Blackbird dashing about with Magpies and Carrion crows looking on.  As we continued to walk along the lane towards the lake Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Wren could be heard. Further along a Reed bunting was seen, sitting on top of a reed head foraging for the seed.  At the lake there were the normal sitings of Mute swan, Coots, Greylag geese, Canada geese.  On the spits within the lake Black Headed gulls with their babies, Mallard with babies and Cormorant also with babies were all foraging and feeding.  Within the Gulls a pair of Terns looked to be nesting and a pair of small waders, which we unfortunately couldn’t identify due to the distance, were chasing the crows.  So presumably that had chicks as well.  On the way back to the car park a family of Blue tits were playing in amongst the trees shortly before a Sparrow hawk flew by!  Paul and Christine Millington

Thursday 15th March – Aldercar Flashes

Ten intrepid bird watchers braved the rain at Aldercar flashes.  We parked up and donned our waterproof gear.  It wasn’t long before the rain stopped and we made our way around the flashes through the mud and puddles.
As we walked past the farm there were Robins, Blackbirds, Carrion Crows, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit and Great Tit. Proceeding along the railway embankment, looking over the Flashes, we could see Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Lapwing, Black Headed Gulls, Shoveler and Mallard.  In the distance sitting in the top of a dead tree were four Cormorant drying out and then a Sparrow Hawk flew across our view. There is an owls nest box in the area where we have seen the owl on previous visits but not to be this time.  As we splashed our way around to the other side, over the raging Erewash river, we saw Wigeon, Gadwall, Pheasant and many more Black Headed Gulls.
Back at our cars and a quick change, we were off to Brinsley Lodge for refreshments.  On our way a couple of Partridge crossed our path.  A great morning was had by all.    Paul and Christine Millington

15th February 2018 – Colliers Wood, Moorgreen

The bird watching group made a short visit to Colliers wood on 15th February. The weather was bright and we saw and fed seed to the Mute swans, Tufted duck, Moorhens, Mallards, Canada geese and Black headed gulls. After our walk we then went on to a members house, Barbara Wigley, where we had drinks and sandwiches along with Birthday cake in a surprise celebration for Ursula Reynolds 90th birthday. A good morning was had by all.    Paul and Christine Millington

19th December 2017 – Brinsley Headstocks.

It was a cool bright day as we made our way along the old railway line. The very first sighting was a Goldcrest (the UK’s smallest bird) followed by many Blackbirds in the leaf litter along with the Robins. A little further along with Wood Pigeons in the fields a flock of Goldfinch arrived in the top of the trees and Chaffinch flying from tree to tree. As we approached a small area, designated as a nature reserve, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Coal Tit were seen. The old rail track is lined with trees and it seemed that every other tree had a squirrel!  Then we saw a flock of Siskins eating seeds in the tree tops and lower down there was a Nuthatch searching every nook and cranny on the tree. As we made our way back you could see the Carrion crows squabbling and a tree that appeared to hold many Wood Pigeon. One bird on the edge was a little different, and closer inspection showed this to be a Kestrel. As we approached the car park a bird calling with two soft notes could be heard. Scanning the trees and bushes we finally located the bird which was a male Bullfinch.
An excellent morning was had and spotting some of the rarer birds that were around. This was then followed with the group having an excellent Christmas lunch together.

Watch out for the up coming release of 2018 dates and venues.   Paul and Christine Millington

16th November – Kings Mill Reservoir

Our visit to Kingsmill reservoir, near Mansfield, was undertaken in bright but chilly conditions.  Meeting in the car park we walked clockwise around the reservoir which has been here since the 1800s in some form or other with the river Maun flowing into it.  Greeting us were Canada Geese, Mallard, Greylag Geese, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Coots, Blackheaded Gull, and numerous Lapwings (Peewit) sitting on the sailing clubs pontoons.  Continuing along the well made path towards the river Maun inlet the reservoir was a little shallower with reed beds (man made).  Here were lots of Gadwell with Moorhen, Cormorants resting, Heron looking for lunch, Teal and 5 Snipe on the far bank.  Walking along the path northwards the open aspect became more wooded where Blue Tit, Blackbird and many Goldfinch in the top of the trees were seen.  Stopping along the way on observation platforms we added Little Grebe (Dab chick) and Lesser Blackbacked Gull to our list.  Proceeding around the top of the reservoir it start to rain and the wind picked up.  Of course there was no rain forecast for the day!  Picking up speed we made our way to the Visitor Centre where hot drinks and food could be purchased.  Still keeping an eye out, while trying to keep dry, a Pochard was seen along the way. Leaving the Visitor Centre, the rain had stopped and House Sparrows greeted us with their chattering.  A good day for all.  Bird of the day would have to be the Snipe.                    Paul and Christine Millington

August 17th – Colliers Wood and Willey Wood

Arriving at Colliers Wood car park in the rain, which wasn’t forecast. We began to ready ourselves when the heavens opened and the shower turned torrential. This soon stopped and we made our way to the pond. Here there were Mallard, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Canada Geese and Wood Pigeon. We made our way to the top of the park watching a charm of Goldfinch in the near by trees with Magpie on the ground. We heard a Green Woodpecker calling as it flew just above our heads on its way to the other trees. On leaving the park we came across a Long Tail Tit family in the top of the trees and a Coal Tit in amongst them. Young Blackbirds were also seen in the trees. We made our way to the old pit back road towards Greenhills Road. Splashing our way through the puddles we turn right towards Redgate Farm and its open fields. Amongst the stubble were Carrion Crows and Starlings gathering on the over head wires. Nearing the farm a Sparrow Hawk flew closely overhead and continued across the open field. Swallows were flying around the farm buildings, which was good to see. Making our way back down to the pond and a Herron had arrived since our earlier visit.  Paul and Christine Millington

July 20th – Willington Gravel Pits and Calke Abbey.

Thursday 20th July saw us travelling on a very wet morning to Willington Gravel Pits. This being the first time we’ve not had good weather on our trips. Arriving at our destination we proceeded to get kitted out against the elements and made our way to the first observation platform with a Blackbird and Robin crossing our path. The rain started to ease and from the platform we saw more Coots than we’ve ever seen before. In amongst these were Mallard, Mute Swan and Great Crested Grebe with young. Continuing along the tree lined path we came to the hide and the rain had now stopped with the sun trying to shine. The regular birds were seen such as Canada Geese, Black Headed Gull, Lapwing, Tufted Duck, Black Backed Gull and Heron. On the island in front of the hide were several Little Egrets with Common Tern flying overhead, Pochard, Teal and a Little Grebe, or Dab Chick, just beyond. To the right was a sand spit and here amongst the regular birds was a Common Sandpiper. Directly in front of the hide were reeds and here we saw Reed Buntings swaying in the breeze. Then down at water level we had great views of a Reed Warbler, then two, the first fetching a carrying insects to feed the other young bird. Heading back to the cars the sun was out and we made our way to Calke Abbey.

Driving into Calke Abbey they were Jackdaws, Swallows and Magpie. We felt it only right to support the National Trust cafeteria so drinks and lunch were taken. Suitably refreshed we headed to the bird hide at the bottom of the car park. The mass of birds we saw was very welcoming to see including Great Tits, Blue Tits, Chaffinch all with numerous young birds visiting the feeders. Willow Tit, Coal Tit, Dunnock, and more Green Finch than we’ve seen for many years. Between the Grey squirrel visits there was also a Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch. As we left, adjacent to the hide were Fallow and Red deer. A very successful day out enjoyed by all.                                 Paul and Christine Millington

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

15th June 2017 Skylarks Holme Pierrepont

Our numbers were a little depleted this month, due to holidays,  on our visit to Skylarks reserve near Holme Pierrepont.
While still in the car park we heard a Cuckoo in the distance. Later we got a much louder “Cuckoo” but was still unable to see the bird. We saw reed buntings after just entering the reserve, which was the same location as last years visit. With Buzzard flying overhead looking over Blott’s pit we saw Little Egret, Oyster catcher, Mute swan, Great crested Grebe, Lapwing, Common Tern plus the usual ducks such as Mallard, Coots etc. Walking back to the car park we have fabulous views of a hunting Kestrel. Just before we reach the car park we walked through a lovely meadow full of flowers and in amongst these there was a Green Woodpecker feeding. Paul and Christine Millington

20th April 2017 Aldercar Flash Nature Reserve

The day was dry as were the ground conditions, with one exception.

2017 Aldacar flashesWalking through the field over looking the flash we observed Mallard, Teal, a good number of Gadwall, Coot and mute swan. Continuing into the next field we came across a hatched song thrush shell on the path and Peewit flying over head. We then observed several heads popping up and down in the next adjacent field, these were found to be Greylag Geese feeding. As a Swallow flew overhead we could hear Skylarks, Wren, Peewit and Chiff Chaff. We traversed the marshy delta on the north side before crossing over the river Erewash. Here we saw a Wren plus Dunnock and Grasshopper warbler singing. Continuing around the flash, now past half way, Blue tit, Great tit were seen in the trees and in the reed bed was a Reed bunting. Looking out over the delta there were Black headed gulls, Common tern and a little further along was a Barn owl perched near a nest box, and playing hide and seek with us ! Almost back at the cars a Robin was seen as we heard a Black cap singing which was seen shortly after.

Next outing will be Carsington water May 18th.

Paul and Christine Millington

March 16th Idle Valley Nature Reserve

The bird watching group traveled on the 16th March 2017 to Nottingham National trust owned Idle valley, just north of Retford. Meeting in the visitors car park we proceeded along the Warblers walk, one of many routes within this 450 Hectare site. The start of the walk takes you along side Bellmoor lake where we saw the normal ducks of Coot, Tufted duck, Black headed gulls and Shoveler. Whilst we were looking over the lake another bird enthusiast spoke of the Garganey across the lake asleep on the bank in front of the visitor centre. Kindly letting us look through his scope we all had a good view. Walking further along a little egret was spotted as the trees changed from deciduous to evergreen where we spotted Blue tits, Great tits,Goldfinch and some small shy birds which we believe may have been Siskin. The walk then took us along the river Idle where we heard this seasons first Chiffchaffs. On the other side of the Idle were wallowing free range pigs, with Carrion crows on their backs, joined by Canada and Greylag geese. We then returned to continue our walk around Bellmoor lake spotting Magpie, Blackbird, Mallard. Moorhen, Great black backed gulls, and Heron. One of our party walked down to an observation platform next to the lake to be surprised by a creature that ran straight across her path. From the description is wasn’t a Stoat or Weasel. (Later in the visitor centre a ranger described this creature to the letter, and it transpired this was the local mink!!) Returning to the visitor centre for a well earned coffee/tea and cakes Blue tits and great tits were spotted on the bird feeders with Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin and Pheasant clearing up underneath. The centre had a display of scopes and binoculars for sale which we took the opportunity to use. Through the scope we saw Goosanders and while checking out the binoculars spotted a Snipe. You have to be lucky as a birdwatcher.                                                    Paul and Chrys Millington

February 16th Attenborough Nature Reserve

The Birdwatching group met at the Attenborough Nature Reserve in the visitors centre car park. It was a dry day with a cool wind, thankfully most of the reserve is sheltered.

We walked towards the elevated hide over looking Clifton pond, in hope of spotting Bittern and Water Rail. Along the way we saw Black Headed Gulls, Great Crested Grebe, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Robin, Moorhen, Cormorant, Oyster Catcher, Teal and Coot. As we approached Clifton Pond, in the sky we saw a mini murmaration of Lapwing. The elevated hide gave us panoramic views over Clifton Pond and the reed beds. Inhabitants on the pond were Cormorants, Gadwall, Black Headed Gulls, Shovelers, Mallard, Coot and Lapwing. Leaving this hide we back-tracked to a hide situated on the adjacent side of Clifton Pond. Here we saw Tufted duck, Pochard, Goldeneye, Cormorants and Shovelers. After this enjoyable morning we returned to the car park seeing Robin, Great Tit, Blackbird, Dunnock, Egyptian Geese, Great Crested Grebe and Magpie.

Bird of the day would have to be the Goldeneye.

Paul and Christine Millington

January 19th Linby

The bird watching group met in Linby village on a grey damp morning outside the Horse and Groom. (Ideal for after the walk)
We had a quick detour along Quarry Lane to visit the SSSI which is at the end of the lane. While walking we saw Blackbirds, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wood Pigeon and flying overhead a flock of Canada geese. We then had a surprise as a wave of Pheasants and Partridges flew very close overhead. Indeed one bird almost knocked Christine and Barbara’s hats off. This we found was due to a dubious bird shoot, as it transpired later, with the land owners arriving to stop the shoot. There was no access to the SSSI so we made our way back to the village, spotting a small flock of Goldfinch along the way, and proceeded towards Papplewick village.
Leaving Linby we cut across the fields towards the river Leen and the head of the old mill pond. Here we saw Mallard and Coots. This part of the Leen was dammed in the 18th and 19th century and used for cotton mills. We then proceeded into Moor Pond Wood where we saw Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch and Robin. We came out of the wood on to Linby Lane opposite Castle Mill. This is the old cotton mill from the 18th century. We made our way back to Linby where refreshments were taken at the Horse and Groom. Love it when a plan comes together!    See gallery for photographs

Bird Watching Reports 2016

2015

17th December-Brinsley Headstocks and Christmas meal.

This was a very well attended event with fifteen of us going on the walk; this is our biggest group so far. This just goes to show that Christmas pudding and custard is a lure too tempting to resist for even the most diet conscious amongst us. Due to unseasonably clement weather we had an excellent walk, with many interesting birds spotted amongst the bare branches of the trees. Much debate took place over an early sighting, which proved to be a female chaffinch in its winter colours. Robins and blackbirds were around in abundance as well as coal tits and long tail tits. A mistle thrush put in an appearance, which was a special joy because they are becoming so rare. Greenfinches and the very attractive goldfinches were also showing in numbers. Two firsts for the group on U3A visits were a flock of redwings and a treecreeper. This was also a first for me. It was fascinating to see the bird climbing up one side of the tree, under and along a branch, then flying to the next tree to start it’s walk all over again.

We ended our walk slightly early and made our way to The Brinsley Headstocks, where we had an excellent Christmas dinner, very kindly organised by Barbara Wigley. Thanks again Barbara. This was the perfect end to a whole year of interesting bird watching.

19th November Aldercar Flash

Cancelled due to high winds.

15th October Idle Valley

An excellent day out was enjoyed by all at Idle Valley near Retford. This is one of the flagship conservation areas of the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. We took two cars up to Idle Valley. A big thanks to Terry and David who volunteered to drive us there. Without the good will of our drivers it would make trips very difficult indeed, so just to let you know we do appreciate your efforts.

Armed with binoculars and telescope we set off from the visitors centre round the main island and lake. fairly quickly we were treated to a view of a green woodpecker. This is a first for our group and was a very good start to the trip. On the lake itself, there were several tufted ducks, geese, a few great crested grebe and a couple of teal, as well as many gulls.The walk through the woodland and past the stream to our left was very pretty, especially as the autumn colours of the leaves were fully in evidence. On the central island of the lake there was a group of common snipe resting,  with their unmistakeable strong yellow and white markings showing along the backs of their heads. This is another first for the Eastwood U3A birdwatching group and a full testament to the hard work of the wildlife trust, without whose conservation efforts many of these treasures of our natural fauna would have disappeared completely. Blackbirds and a few unidentified warblers were singing amongst the leaf canopy as we continued on round the lake.

Having had a good walk , with a kestrel putting in an appearance we returned to the visitors centre for a well earned lunch. Whilst waiting for our food to arrive, a wildlife trust representative called us to look at a common scoter on the lake. Don’t let it’s name fool you. this is an extremely rare sighting indeed, and what a joy to end a fantastic day out. Good friendship, excellent birding, perfect walking weather and great food. What more could you ask for.

 On our return, I put the sightings of the group on the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire birdwatchers sites. The Lound birdwatchers and members from both Notts and Derbyshire birders wanted to know exactly where we had seen the woodpecker and scoter, so well done U3A birders. Our efforts are not going unnoticed. See you next time at Stoney Lane.

17th September Annesley Pit Top

A very enjoyable trip out with the regulars to Annesley Pit Top. The weather was fine and the walk very pleasant. This is a good example of you don’t know what is on your doorstep until you go and look. For the past few years Newstead volunteers have been turning the headstocks and slag heaps of the old Annesley Pit into a country park There is still a way to go, but it will prove to be a valuable resource to the area. Lapwings were in evidence, a buzzard and a kestrel were in evidence. A heron provided some amusement as we could not decide whether it was one heron or two standing next to each other. We also saw some little grebes being enchanting. Regarding flora, there was some amazing fungi, including a fairy ring. An excellent time was had by all. I’m pleased to say that Terry is walking well after his operation, and on a personal note I would like to thank John for his free gift of tomatoes and damsons, courtesy of his allotment. See you all next time.

20th August Shipley Park

Again, this is going to be a fairly short report, because we did not really see very much. Barbara led us on a lovely walk round Mapperley Reservoir. It was great Barbara, thanks. I’ve never walked that particular route before, so it was very enjoyable. We did see a young kestrel and a few of the usuals, tufted ducks, Canada geese, mallards and great crested grebes, but apart from that, very little indeed. This is probably indicative of the time of the year though. Summer visitors are beginning to take flight, and over the next few weeks and our winter migrants will be arriving. Don’t forget to feed garden visitors. Although this is not relevant to our U3A bird group, I was horrified to hear a talk by Chris Packham ( of Springwatch fame), that we have lost 40 million birds from the skies of the U.K. in the last thirty years. Let us all please try to do what we can in our own back gardens to encourage habitat and feeding stations for our struggling birds,

thanks,

Anne.

16th July Attenborough

The weather was glorious, with T shirts and shorts very much the order of the day. Although some of the sand martins had fledged, there were enough there to keep everyone happy with their speed and acrobatic dancing in the air.We made our way up to the tower hide. It was good to see Terry making the climb after his operation. Well done.

For those of you who don’t know, Attenborough, run by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, successfully had its first pair of breeding bitterns this year- a real tribute to patience and great ecology. We were hoping to see the two juvenile bitterns from the Tower hide, but we were not to be treated to this very rare delight. We did ,however, manage to spot a juvenile kestrel through our new telescope, optimistically sitting on top of the bird feeders waiting for something to eat. We did have a bit of a debate about what it actually was because it seemed a bit small for one of the larger raptors. Anyway Barbara managed to get a shot, and I might even be able to work out how to get it on to the site for you all to look at.

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Next, I wanted to pay a visit to the recently opened Delta Hide at the North end of the reserve. Whilst walking past the main lake we saw the usual godwits, lapwings, mallards etc. etc. Amongst them we also had a siting of something else which caused a quandary. Again, thanks to Barbara we have a picture. I’m going to stick my neck out and say it is a Little Grebe, but if anyone knows better, I am happy to be challenged. A yellow legged gull also put in a rare appearance and a juvenile common tern, which seemed to have taken up home on the weir bridge.

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After a longish walk, we did arrive at The Delta Hide. Although we did not see anything very rare there, the view was amazing and well worth the walk. We had a few magical moments watching a mother and juvenile great crested grebe together on the water, so close we could almost touch them, as well as saw a heron slowly stalking through the water, providing an almost hypnotic entertainment.
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Anne Ryan.

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18th June Moorgreen Reservoir

This is going to be a short article, because we didn’t see much in the way of birds. I think they were all in hiding under  dense leaf cover. However, in a way we did not really mind. The day was glorious. We had a beautiful walk, enjoying listening to warblers singing and the sun shining. It was one of those day’s when we were all glad that we lived in England and even more glad that we were enjoying the walk in good company. A special welcome to newcomers Linda, Jenny, Freda, Ivan, Terry and Gill. Ivan’s scope came in useful when observing two baby great crested grebes across Moorgreen Reservoir. John again showed his expertise in recognising various birdcalls, and Ron was most helpful in leading the group. One latecomer to the day’s experience was a buzzard, which took to the sky as we walked past. Otherwise nothing else to report.

11th May Netherfield Lagoons

What a great afternoon. We had three new members join us, Anne, Paul and Chris, so a special welcome to you. With the sun shining and Pete Smith leading us, we set off on our warbler walk, round the fantastic nature reserve of Netherfield Lagoons. Pete’s knowledge and love of the place became quickly infectious.( I think he must be blessed with bionic hearing, because he could easily hear and identify so many birds on our walk.) I certainly think we all learnt a great deal from him.
Normally I would focus on birds we saw, but this time  I have the very difficult job of attempting to imitate the sounds we heard; also, because the trees and bushes are now in full leaf, it is much harder to see woodland birds than it is to hear them.
As we set off , walking past the fifteen year old reed beds and marsh orchids, our first sound was of a black cap with its flutey high pitched call. The second sound was of a willow warbler, battling it out with the black cap. Walking on past the intoxicating smell of May blossom, we heard a reed bunting with its repetitive three tweets, a sort of eep, eep, eep.This varied with a reed warbler making four sounds, a sort of wh, wh, wh, wh. Ron spotted a green woodpecker, pointing out it’s distinctive tapping, as we walked past the second of Netherfield’s lagoons.
Continuing our walk along by dense hedgerow, Pete pointed out the sound of a cettis warbler. It’s song is recognised by a distinctive burst of plosive sound, like a chip chippa, chip chip chippa chop. We birders were all delighted because to have a cettis warbler on site is very special indeed. So many bird watchers have heard the bird, but actual sightings are as rare as Rocking Horse droppings. A garden warbler was our next delight, emitting a sort of throaty sound, a little lower in pitch than the cettis, sounding a bit like-chiff chaff chiffy chiffy chiff chaff.
Next we witnessed a full bird choir with contributions from a willow warbler, a black cap, a reed bunting and a robin. I found it difficult to distinguish the separate sounds, but Pete the bionic ear recognised them easily.
On our final stretch of the walk we heard the scratchy sound of a white throat, and also, just as we were leaving, we saw a couple of goldfinches and a sparrowhawk.
My special joy was a sighting of my first acrobatic swift of the year, a reed bunting and a reed warbler For the first time since we took up bird watching, David and I saw a Little Ringed Plover, nesting near a lapwing. Although we did not see them, we heard a Cettis warbler, garden warbler, and a white throat, all firsts for us. These are all great rarities. We have to thank the continuing efforts of the RSPB and wildlife trusts who are working so hard to maintain and increase bird numbers, and consider ourselves even more lucky that we can see them still in Nottinghamshire.
Added to our other sightings were the usual birds, mallards, moorhens, great tits, great crested grebes, cormorants, swans, and a pair of gadwall spotted by Linda and Ursula. Netherfield was also well represented by lots of damselflies and southern marsh orchids.
Thanks to Joan for recommending the site and I am sure we will visit again later in the year.


Meeting Report April 23rd visit.

I would like to begin by welcoming our new member John to the group. His knowledge will be a valuable contribution to our activities.

Today we focussed our activities on a local site down at Erewash Meadows. This proved a popular choice with the group because it offered a mixed venue of Woodland, hedgerow and marshes giving lots of opportunities to observe a range of birds on our doorstep. The only drawback was the stiles we encountered, but thankfully the men were too gentlemanly to take photos of the ladies gamely struggling to climb over them.

John proved his immediate value to the group by recognising the call of a Cetti’s Warbler . David and John then saw a black cap, which gave a good start to our bird watching day. On the main lake itself, we saw two pairs of shelducks, half a dozen teal and a pair of pink footed geese, besides the regular great crested grebes, gadwall and seagulls. Whilst walking along the hedgerow we spotted chiff chaffs, happily back for the Summer, and a pair of kestrels across the fields. Linda also spotted a hare, which was a welcome sight acknowledging Spring.

It was good to affirm that the Meadows, run by the Wildlife Trusts of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire has so much to offer. Keep up the good work guys.

I look forward to our next outing in May and seeing  our U3A birders with the bins at Netherfield.

19th March Carsington Water

Another great trip out for Barbara, Ursula, Linda, Ron, David and myself. Today the sun was shining, and there were hints of Spring coming along at last. Initially, the reservoir was a little misty, but soon the mist burnt off, leaving a still, silvery mill pond that was lovely enough just to watch even if you had no desire to look at birds. Wave watching was definitely the order of the day.
Our group managed to cover all the bird hides at Carsington, getting good clear early views of a reed bunting, three glorious looking goldeneyes (one male, two females), two oystercatchers, several teal and a heron. Lots of common terns and black headed gulls, mallards, Canada geese, tufted ducks and crows were also in evidence pretty much everywhere we went. The single redshank is maintaining its solitary presence, along with one shag, although the cormorants seen a couple of weeks ago seem to have mysteriously disappeared.
As for the signs of Spring:-three barnacle geese were happily flying about; three mallards were formation flying(reminding me of Hilda Ogden’s front room in Coronation Street), and absolutely gloriously two chiff chaffs were heralding their return with acrobatic flights in and out of the hedgerows lining the lanes of the reservoir.
For David and myself, our great sghting of the day was the Great Northern Diver preening itself in the middle of the lake near the Lane End Hide. It was sitting very low and dark in the water, just enjoying the sun.
Overall a very successful day out. Look forward to seeing you all again at Erewash Meadows in April

Thursday 19th February

Bird Watch 18-2-14

This morning a very brave and intrepid group of birdwatchers, totally undaunted by torrential rain, set out to Attenborough for a morning’s bird watching. Not to be beaten by Nottinghamshire in February, we hunkered down in the main hide with binoculars poised, ready for a good morning’s twitching. We were hoping for a sighting of the rare and somewhat elusive bittern, but alas this was not to be.

On the positive side, however, we were very privileged to see two quite rare water rails. Not only did we have a sighting of them, but we managed to observe them quite clearly for a good hour happily scuttling about on the bank and amongst the reeds in front of the hide. Barbara was delighted because she had never had such a good view of them before, and for Joan it was only her second sighting ever.

A heron, little grebes, two great crested grebes, a red crested pochard and shovellers were present and in clear view.Moorhens, coots and tufted ducks were also gracing the lake in goodly numbers.The two maybes of the day was firstly an elusive kingfisher ( spotted by a very patient birdwatcher who happened to be sharing the hide with us), and possibly a marsh harrier; I say possibly because I wouldn’t really know one even if it had a big label on it saying exactly what it was. However, piecing together snippets of information from glimpsed sightings from 6 sober members of the U3A birdwatchers and an RSPB identification book, we think it could have been one.

Anyway after a good couple of hours bird watching on a day of bad weather, we left the hide, not disappointed having seen such delights. As we retired, a little cold and wet, to the cafe for a well earned lunch, the lone cormorant that had been sitting observing the lake from its perching post in the middle of the lake proved that it was far more intrepid than we were and won the prize for being the most patient birdwatcher of the day.