Wednesday 22 November 2017

What's it like birding the East Midlands of the UK?

Wednesday 22 November

Now back in Stamford and, at the moment, apart from the strong winds of today the weather has been fine.  But rain forecast for every day next week apart from Tuesday so no need to be an "Einstein" to work out which day I will be visiting Norfolk!  Jobs almost complete so a day off "labouring" tomorrow so that I can visit my local patch at Rutland Water.  Should be dry with some cloud but, I am informed, the strong wing may still be with us so, potentially, the scope might remain in the car boot.

It's now almost twenty years since I gave up my ringing activities but there is still birding available.  I am sure most of us when visiting the Gualdalhorce in Malaga, Cabo d gata, La Janda near Tarifa and the Odiel/Donana down in Huelva have a very good idea of what we might expect to see before we set off.  Similarly, I seem to recall the same positive attitude when I lived in Stafford with lots of good birding in the local woods, trips to large finch and thrush roosts along with many of the local reservoirs.  But how things seem to have changed so I was delighted when my birding pal, Chris Bell, from relatively nearby Worksop sent me a report of his visit to the Attenborough Nature Reserve near Nottingham yesterday.  Reflecting on the quality and quantity of birds seen (52 species recorded) brought back memories of yesteryear but it just goes to show that there are birds to be found out there for those willing to put in the effort.

Attenborough, Nottingham: 21 November 2017

Visited Attenborough today with my chum Mike Lee.  Not too many surprises as is the norm for Attenborough.  Perhaps the first surprise was maybe 100 Pied Wagtail in a small field.  I picked up on a single Linnet in the same field, where there was also Crow and Magpie, saw the only Redwing we were to note on the visit.

On Church Pond there were the expected Coot, Moorhen, Gadwall ,Wigeon, Goldeneye ,Teal, Pochard, Mallard, Black–Headed Gull and Lapwing, all of which we were to see many more of during the rest of our visit.  A single Herring Gull was spotted.  4 Goosander flew onto Coneries Pond where there were many Cormorant and a single Common Gull, and our first Cetti’s Warbler of the day made itself known.  A couple of Egyptian Geese added to our species day list, as did Canada and Greylag Geese.

Moving on to Clifton Pond and its Tower Hide, we were able to observe the not so shy Black-necked Grebe, which has been around for about a month, prior to which it was almost a rarity for the site. Again, it failed to associate with the Great Crested and Little Grebe that were around which would have been a nice size comparison.  We did notice that the number of male Goldeneye, probably exceeded the females, and that the Pochard numbers were of the order of 60+.  The many Lapwing were as usually nervous.  Little Egret and Grey Heron showed themselves.  A Buzzard was low over the wooded hills to the south where a Lesser Blacked-back Gull made its leisurely way and Jackdaws were noisy.  Also from the Tower Hide we recorded Starling, Reed Bunting and many Wood Pigeon.

I picked up on a Water Rail and although I called it, I was the only one to see it before, as quickly as it appeared, it disappeared into the reeds.  (Later Mike was to see a squabbling pair).  Making our way towards the back of Delta, an area of deciduous trees where we have previously had Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, we found more Goosander, Wigeon and Teal.  I saw a Kingfisher and we picked up on a single Fieldfare.  Also Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker and both of us declared that neither of us had seen all 3 species of woodpecker on the same day.

On arriving at the back of Delta we were lucky to pick up on a flock of feeding tits and their associates.  It was a well mixed flock with Coal, Great, Blue, Long Tailed and Willow/Marsh Tit (this used to be Willow Tit territory but no longer, and as they refused to call we don’t know which species we encountered, maybe both).  It was lovely to see a small number of Stock Dove whilst looking, unsuccessfully, for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and, naturally, we were also able to add Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon to the day's list.  Also with the flock were Nuthatch, Treecreeper, some (8)cheeky Goldcrest and loosely associated with the flock Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch (we had had a charm of 60+ earlier) and, surprise, surprise, a male Brambling.  I say surprise as neither of us have encountered this species at Attenborough previously.  A Sparrowhawk passing overhead alarmed everything but they quickly settled down after its departure.

We back tracked to the Visitors Centre for coffee and cake, day ticking only on House Sparrow on the way back.  Mike deposited his gear into his car and was the only one to see the two squabbling Water Rail momentarily jump out of the reeds whilst he was crossing the bridge to the cafe. Whilst having our refreshments on the veranda, the wind had dropped by then , we both spotted our 3rd raptor species of the day, a Kestrel.

Quite an interesting birding day, the rain held off, and whilst there was no sun, the temperature remained at around 13C, the cooling wind being only uncomfortable for a while.  Again a day on which we didn’t manage 3 woodpecker species.

Hope you enjoy the read.

Great report Chris and it certainly sets a target for me to emulate when I visit both Rutland Water tomorrow and Titchwell/Cley next week.  Geese, Brambling and Waxwings (if any about) not to mention Redwing and Fieldfare will be the target birds of the coming visits.

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