Saturday, 14 March 2020

Attenborough Nature reserve

Friday 13 March

Despite all the Rooks and rookeries I passed on my drive from Stamford to Beeston, Nottingham where I met up with my birding pal Chris Bell from Workspop, we were not to record a single individual during our wonderful day's birding at Atttenborough Nature Reserve.  Also knocks on the head the idea that Friday the Thirteenth is unlucky for all!

Rather than carry a heavy scope around with us all day we started by checking out the pastures on the far side of the railway track having parked up in the free car park in Barton Lane.  This was followed by checking Church Pond on the opposite side of Barton Lane before leaving my scope in the car for the actual tour of the reserve itself.  The wind had dropped completely after all the bluster of yesterday and, indeed, it turned out to be perfect weather for birding.  The pastures produced a Magpie and couples of Blackbird, Mistle Thrush and Pied Wagtails along with very many Wood Pigeon and the occasional Carrion Crow.  No sign of the long-staying Slavonian Grebe on Church Pond but plenty of Black-headed Gulls along with Wigeon, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan and both Greylag and Canada Geese.  Further use of the scope found the few Goldeneye.


 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula (male above)
Back to the car and move down to the car park for the Visitors Centre.  Approaching the VC for a coffee we had a single Red-crested Pochard on our right after "fighting" our way through the many Canada Geese and Mute Swans on the main path.  On the Coneries Pond to our left many Great Crested Grebes and a handful of Common Pochard.  From the Sand Martin Hide Chris found a couple of Lapwing as they flew in from the north and on a small island to the right we had a couple of Oystercatchers plus a number of Egyptian Geese

The Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus family with only one of six goslings surviving to date

A number of Cormorants were seen flying over the pond and as we left for our walk we had a couple of Stock Doves to the left followed by our first of very many friendly Robins.  At we crossed the footbridge towards the River Trent we found the single Whooper Swan that has been wintering on this site.  The trees seemed to be alive with both Blue and Great Tits, no doubt helped the generous supply of bird seed being deposited on the various gate posts and fence rail.

One of the friendly Robins Erithacus rubecula
Leaving the main path to visit the Tower Hide we also had many Reed Buntings feeding with the tits and the Tween Pond produced Teal, Heron and a Herring Gull.  Also seen were Gadwall, Shoveler and Moorhen and the bushes alongside the narrow, muddy path produced many more tits and Reed Buntings as well as Robins, Dunnocks and Blackbirds.  Also lovely to record our first Tree Sparrows and not the first of many Cetti's Warblers calling from the low bushes.  Only a few Chaffinches to be seen but no shortage of Great Crested Grebes on the waters.


Cetti's Warbler Cetti cetti

Clifton Pond produced a good number of Wigeon and the first Little Grebe whilst the neighbouring trees held small numbers of Long-tailed TitsChiffchaffs and Greenfinch had been recorded at the start of the day but now more were found.  Finally, our first Little Egret of the morning.

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus

Just before our lunch we stopped to find the calling Wren in a muddy ditch to our left and not only had a good sighting but also that of a Cetti's Warbler that was well exposed for a considerable time.  With Wren and Cetti's Warbler near the ground we then watched as a pair of Goldcrest made their way down through the branches for their turn to take on water.

Following the path alongside the Trent we stopped for our picnic lunch at a bench just before the left turn into The Bund.  From here we watched the activity of the Tits and Reed Buntings along with Robins and Dunnocks.  A few Goldfinch were seen and then a Kingfisher flashed past near our bank as it made its way upstream.

Male Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus

Continuing on we had our first Goosander as we crossed the bridge with the Main Pond on our left.  At the end as we prepared to start our walk along Works Path a very obliging Wren gave good views and then it was time to find the local Collared Doves, Starlings and House Sparrows - plus yet another Wren in the hedge.

A lovely little "Jenny" Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Finally reaching the eastern end of Church Pond we added both Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  And so back to the Visitors Centre for our second coffee of the day.  Walking up the entrance boards we managed, along with neighbouring birders, to look down into the thin reeds to our left where a Water Rail was moving about and giving occasional sightings.  As we sat outside on the viewing platform enjoying the bird activity, including the Whooper Swan that had now relocated to nearby, we watched a Buzzard being mobbed by a Jackdaw and then a Sparrowhawk "whizzed" round the corner at the far end.

Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus with Mute Swan Cygnus olor at rear

With such perfect weather it seemed a shame to call it a day so we once more crossed the footbridge and made our way back to the River Trent.  This time we turned right and headed upstream noticing how fast the river was still running.  Having stopped to look at a large tree on the on the opposite bank we were able to identify the resting Fieldfare with a handful of Wood Pigeons.  A rest at a seat further along the track just before the county boundary with Derbyshire produced excellent results.  First the Reed Buntings along with Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits then more Robins and Dunnocks followed by both Stonechat and Linnet.  On the River Erewash itself a number of Tufted Ducks plus Mute Swans, Little Egret and Heron.


Stonechat Saxicola torquata (Male above)

Making our way back to the Visitors Centre we had a few more Fieldfare and a female Goosander on the river.   As we approached the main hide overlooking the Tween Pond we stopped to admire the Buzzard resting on top of its favourite pole and then, on the Wheatear Field, a female Pheasant leisurely wandering along the bank. 

Record shot of distant Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
Female Goosander Mergus merganser
No sooner had we started to move than, having waited all day, a female Bullfinch came to feed in the tree immediately in front of us, so making a total of 64 species for the day.


Female Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Whooper Swan, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red -crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting.

More photos:
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
Heron Ardea cinerea
Goosander Mergus merganser
Buzzard Buteo buteo
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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