Nightjar Trip Report 26/6/19

The forecast was that it would stop raining at 17:00 and then remain dry for our evening trip. At 16:30 it was still raining persistently so a quick phone call to the trip leader John Parlby and the trip was cancelled. The next phone call to one of the members discovered that they’d already set off and didn’t want to be put off.  A subsequent phone call to another member representing three others, established that nobody wanted the trip cancelled!!!! Trip back on. As trip organiser, I can only blame the others for what turned out to be an evening of persistent light rain and low cloud.
In spite of the damp and gloom, the spirits of the party of ten remained remarkably high and when the two recorders lists were amalgamated, an amazing total of 42 species had been clocked up.
Some of the highlights early evening were a family of Grey Wagtails, sightings of Sedge Warblers feeding their young and the enormous numbers of Swallows, Swifts and House Martins arrowing through the air at all levels. Raptors were unsurprisingly, largely absent but we did get close to a female Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel and Buzzard were seen at some distance.
At 20:30 we set off for the Nightjar watch point where we were rewarded by a churring male at 21:20 (no doubt the gloom brought on this early awakening). After that there was a fleeting sighting of the bird in the trees accompanied by its yelping call but the icing on the cake was the extended view that we all got of a Nightjar flying across the clearing. But sadly, that was its final appearance and from then on we had to be satisfied with a few calls and churrs. However, unlike the earlier Nightjar trip, we did get excellent and numerous views of  Woodcock. All in all, maximum pleasure was rung out of a foul evening.

Enthusiasm undimmed, hopeful observers wait for the Nightjar to put in an appearance

 

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Report on Annesley Pit Top trip 21/6/19

Eight members assembled at the car park in, for this year, unseasonably, warm and sunny weather. Mind you, when the wind blew in some of the more exposed parts of the reserve, it still felt decidedly chilly. A first time visitor might well be put off because of the semi-industrial approach to this reserve and indeed, feel even more uneasy after passing the fenced off, vandalised ex-visitors’ centre. However, this reserve is maturing and becoming a real gem for wildlife of all kinds. The wild flowers clearly benefit from the impoverished

Breath-taking flower meadow

soil/pit spoil and at this time of year provide a riot of colour. The stars of the birds are undoubtedly the Black-necked Grebes.

Black-necked Grebe (poppet or what)

Anecdotally there are supposed to be 9 breeding pairs and while we only saw 8 adults, it’s possible that others were hiding in the reeds. Surprisingly, we only saw one juvenile (last year there were lots). In addition to the grebes, there

was a supporting cast of Reed and Sedge Warblers, a lot of Reed Buntings dominating with their repetitive little ‘song’ and a few Common Whitethroats including 2 juveniles. Also of note was a flock of 25+ Long-tailed Tits and a few Little Ringed Plovers including juveniles.

Little Ringed Plover showing the yellow eye-ring

All told, 40 species were clocked up. In contrast to last year when the summer was sensational, very few damselflies were observed and only one Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly.
Credit for the bird photos to Dave White and his Nikon Coolpix P900.

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Report on evening trip to Clumber 22nd May 2019

A full complement of 10 members enjoyed a warm evening in Clumber Park. Beginning in Hardwick Village, the group first heard a Cuckoo calling and then were incredibly lucky to see it posing at the top of a bush, long enough for all to get a close view through the

Posing Cuckoo

scope. Over the next 30 minutes we had several sightings of it flying around the area and perching. At the ford, there was lots of warbler interest with views of Sedge, Reed and, amazingly a Cettis Warbler which posed for a moment atop a hedge a few feet away.

8:45 pm Clumber Lake

Just before 9:00 pm, with expectations high, we drove to the area for viewing Nightjars and at 9:30 pm our patience was rewarded by the first churring of the evening. Shortly after that a Tawny Owl put in a brief, silent appearance. A few minutes later we caught a glimpse of 2 Nightjars flying side by side, wing clapping and then a little later, a single bird swept over the clearing. After that we had to make do with some prolonged periods of churring and the odd call. Also, rather surprisingly, we saw no Woodcock.
All in all the group identified 39 species – not a lot but who can complain with Cuckoo, Cettis, Tawny and Nightjar?

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Report on Trip to Whisby & Langford Lowfields 17th May 2019

Nine members assembled in the car park at Whisby with the organiser counting his blessings that it had stopped raining and was actually brightening up. Walking through the early part of the reserve, an early disappointment at the lack of Mediterranean Gulls was made up for by the surround sound of warblers on full volume. However, that was where the organiser’s luck ran out because there was no sign of the main target species, the Nightingale. In spite of revisiting the expected site five times, there was no sight or sound of the little tinker. In addition, there was also no sightings of the other hoped for bird, the Lesser Whitethroat.  The attention of some of the members who had threatened the organiser with a ducking in the lake for this poor showing, was briefly diverted with the sighting of a lot of small black moths (later to be colourfully identified as Chimney Sweepers) and later by our botanical expert Jenny Johnson who was intrigued by a plant that she didn’t recognise (later identified as Spindleberry). Sadly the dedicated birders weren’t mollified for long.

After lunch, we moved to RSPB Langford Lowfields where the organisers luck changed for the better. For a start the sun had come out and then at Avocet Lake not only were there 6 Avocets but also several Redshank and a Wood Sandpiper (a lifer for some). High overhead, 10 Hobbies were out chasing insect food.
On the main body of the reserve, the good luck continued with sightings of a Bearded Tit, Sedge and Reed Warblers, good views of three Black Terns and the sound of 2 booming Bitterns.

All in all it turned out a great trip in spite of a disappointing beginning – 56 species identified. Photos T Solman & M Kaye

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Guided Bird Walk – May 4th

A motley crew of 22 birders set off from a cold and breezy Car Park heading in a westerly direction towards Clattercotes Wood, just south of Ashover Hay. As we got away from the reservoir the breeze dropped slightly making for a pleasant walk. The birds weren’t fooled though and the sightings list was small and rather dull to start. It was at this point our jolly leader decided to distract us by taking us through a rather overgrown wood. Apparently this was once a well used wood by birders and the like but a change of ownership removed any general access rights. Yes, you’ve got it, we were trespassing. At risk of getting shot, caught in a man trap or blown to bits by anti-personnel mines, we trudged our way through and most of us survived the ordeal.

Somehow we managed to find our way back to a footpath near Ogston Carr before eventually heading East back home.

By the time we were at the Car Park, the wind had dropped and the temperature had picked up a bit and there were more birds to boost our list.

As for those birders who didn’t escape the wood?

‘Tis said that when the wind is calm, villagers in nearby Ashover Hay hear voices in the dead of night crying “Blackcap, or was it a Garden Warbler” and “Dag, Dag where are you?”

The full list of birds seen –

Linnet, House Martin, Sand Martin, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Coot, Oystercatcher, B H Gull, Swallow, Lapwing, Yellow Wagtail, Dunlin, Pheasant, Long Tailed Tit, Great Tit, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Blackcap, Robin, Blackbird, Crow, Buzzard, Blue Tit, Yellowhammer, Jay, Song Thrush, Nuthatch, Wren, Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Starling, Rook, Coal Tit, Jackdaw, Mallard, Willow Warbler, Heron, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Gt Black Back Gull, Gt Crested Grebe, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, Gadwall, L R Plover, Bullfinch, Greenshank, Redshank, Ring Plover, Common Sand, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Moorhen, Swift, Sedge warbler.

Thanks for joining us.

See you on June 1st!!

Steve

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Report on Lawrence Field Trip 10/5/19

Raining at 08:00 didn’t bode well so it was much relief that it had stopped when we arrived at the roadside park above Padley Gorge.  Ten members then set off across Lawrence Field Moor in rather dull conditions hardly daring to comment upon the improving weather conditions. Unfortunately, the birds were clearly unimpressed and with the exception of the odd Meadow Pipit, they remained absent/hunkered down.
Arriving at the area near the gate at the top of the ramp descent into the gorge, our luck improved with frequent and excellent sightings of Redstarts (both male and female, the latter a first for some), Tree Creepers, Stonechats and Spotted Flycatchers. A

Sparrowhawk drifted across and a little later most of the group saw the Cuckoo fly over pursued by an ‘irate’ Meadow Pipit.

Unfortunately, sightings of Tree Pipits were difficult as they weren’t engaging in their flight displays, preferring to spend time feeding in the upper canopy. However, it was not until we descended into the gorge did we get to see Pied Flycatchers but then good views were gained by all.

After lunch, a much reduced group had a walk around the Longshaw Estate but typical of that time of day, with little birding success (a male Mandarin and a Blackcap) but the group were able to seek some recompense in the National Trust cafe.
40 species in total including all the target species except Wood Warbler.  Thanks to Martin Smith and Steve Walker for the bird photos.

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Budby Common Trip report – 5/4/19

Fourteen members met beside Budby Common and unlike the previous trip to the Upper Derwent Valley, didn’t suffer from high winds or interminable up hill sections. Indeed, the entire trip could be described as more or less flat. All in all 55 species were identified although we did miss out on the target species of Woodlark and Goshawk. Shortly after setting off, we heard the first Willow Warbler of the year but couldn’t find it. This set the pattern for the first 10-15 minutes when birds could be heard but not seen but it made good practice for honing rusty ID skills on bird song. Interesting birds that were seen early in the trip included a Grey Partridge, Fieldfare,

Linnet

Linnets and a Yellow Hammer. We then headed for the trees at the edge of Sherwood Forest where a flock of Siskin and another of Lesser Redpoll kept the party entertained for some time. From there we headed into the forest in what proved to be a vain quest for a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but as some compensation, we were able to watch a female Nuthatch fashioning the entrance to her nest hole

Nuthatch at the nest site

while the male scolded us from a nearby branch.  On the way back, the Siskins and Redpoll drew even more attention and in addition, it was

Mrs Marshall was just tired and not suffering from an infectious disease

thought that a Crossbill could be heard calling but unfortunately with no visual confirmation. Returning to the cars, the majority of the party then headed for Welbeck Raptor Watch Point where one member had a brief possible sighting of a Goshawk but then, other than Buzzards, the main entertainment was from the water birds on or near the lake.

Thanks to Steve Walker for the bird photos and Bill Padley for the group.

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Guided Walk – April 6th

April Guided Bird Walk.

On a pleasant Spring morning a group of 27 enthusiasts set off on a walk to Milltown Quarry.
This walk is the longest we do for our guided walks and soon the group were straggled over some 200 metres! Surprisingly, the fields and hedgerows were quiet and until we got to the quarry the only excitement we got was a few circling buzzards, which we, despite trying very hard couldn’t turn them into anything else! Eventually, the quarry provided lots of Chiffchaffs and singing (but rarely seen) Blackcaps as well as a couple of Sparrowhawks.
To summarise, beautiful scenery, good company but a little light on birds!

The full list –

Chiffchaff, Sand Martin, Goldfinch, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Coot, Wren, Crow, Blue Tit, Wood Pigeon, Rook, Song Thrush, Magpie, Mallard, Cormorant, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Robin, Greenfinch, Buzzard, Heron, Swallow, House Sparrow, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Blackbird, Long Tailed Tit, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove, Gadwall, Moorhen, Dunnock, Greylag, Teal, Bullfinch, Brambling, Gt Crested Grebe, Pied Wagtail, Snipe, Tufted Duck.

Thanks to everybody for supporting.

The next walk will be on Saturday May 4th when we will get the Spring bounty we hoped for this time.

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Upper Derwent Valley Trip – 22/3/19

Nine members had a very energetic birding trip in the Upper Derwent Valley in fine but windy weather. Initially all seemed calm as we spent time by the Derwent Dam Wall waiting for folk to arrive while viewing across the reservoir. Here, a Kestrel showed particularly well as did a pair of Grey Wagtails. When all were assembled, we drove to the road end at the King’s Tree from where we continued on foot to the base of the climb up to our planned high point. As we ascended, the wind increased dramatically and in a misguided judgement, it was decided to go to the top where it was planned to shelter beside the small crags. Upon arrival we found that the only sheltered spot was in a tiny hollow into which everyone crowded. Sadly, this far, very little bird life had been encountered so we retreated to the valley floor where we caught sight of a lovely pair of Stonechats and the dawdlers in the party fleetingly saw a Red Grouse. In the woodland our luck improved with sighting of several small flocks of Siskins and a single Lesser Redpoll. Just before reaching the cars, we caught a brief glimpse of a raptor circling above the woods but what was it – female Sparrowhawk of a male Goshawk.  Too late it was gone. After lunch, 4 sane members of the expedition departed while the remaining 5 went for a second walk on to the moor above the nearby River Westend. The ascent was described by one individual as vomit inducing. But hey, we did get to see a pair of Peregrines carrying out their courting display.
All in all we clocked 24 species plus the unknown raptor and everyone got a lot of exercise in fabulous scenery. Disappointing not to see more, especially Goshawk but that’s birding.

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Guided Walk -March 2nd

On a morning which started grey before brightening up with blue sky and fluffy clouds, a group of 23 set off from the West Bank Car Park under the leadership of Paul Beard.
After heading North –West with Ashover Hay to our left we passed Chapel Farm and before reaching Milltown we turned East and through Dalebank before taking the wooded walk high above the river to Milltown Inlet at the North end of Ogston Reservoir.
The walk was enjoyed by all and the early Spring sunshine provided some welcome warmth. Whilst it is still a bit early for the nesting birds we strive to see, we still managed to achieve a grand total of 44 species!

Sightings –

Black Headed Gull, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Chaffinch, Coal Tit,
Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldeneye, Goldfinch
G.S. Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greylag Goose, Jay, Lapwing, Lesser Black Backed Gull,
Linnet, Little Owl, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Pied Wagtail, Raven, Redwing, Reed Bunting, Robin, Rook, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk,
Stock Dove, Teal, Tufted Duck, Wood Pigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer

The next walk is scheduled for Saturday April 6th, same time, same place.

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