Monday, 27 March 2017

Starling Nest 2017- the season begins

The Starlings that nest in the box on the side of my house have been busy again this week, and have started to build their nest. This is what it looked like on Sunday afternoon.

26th March 2017

As you can see, the base of the nest is just beginning to be built. As in the previous years, I'll be recording the details of any nesting attempts to the BTO via their Nestbox Challenge Scheme, and will hopefully ring the chicks.

For details of previous year's breeding efforts, click of links entitled Starling Nest 2015 and Starling Nest 2016.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Checking back in my records, the last time I saw a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was at Linacre in January 2012 (see here). Therefore, news of  birds drumming in Graves Park, Sheffield got me interested, and on Sunday morning, I drove across to see if I could catch up with this species.

I arrived at 7am, and within 5 minutes I'd spotted, and heard, a female bird drumming on a dead branch. She hung around for about 2 minutes, before flying off. She returned again 5 minutes later, and drummed again for another couple of minutes, before flying off again. An excellent record! I didn't manage any photos, so here's one from  Linacre back in 2012.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Year List update:
113 – Lesser-spotted Woodpecker
114 – Wigeon (seen at Linacre on 12/3)

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Monsal Dale in the Sunshine

It was a lovely, sunny day yesterday, with blue, cloudless skies and a high of 13 degrees celsius, so Jayne and I had a walk though Monsal Dale. We parked up at the White Lodge car park and walked the mile and a half, along the River Wye, to the viaduct, at Monsal Head.

As the sun was out, we were hoping for our first butterflies of the year, and we were not disappointed, with 2 Peacocks, 5 Brimstones and 2 Commas. We also spotted a Bee-Fly, but couldn't get a photo to identify to species level, before it flew away!


Birds seen along the way were: Dipper, at least 2, possibly more, Mandarin Duck; 1 pair, Canada Goose; 1 pair, Grey Wagtail 2, Mallard 2, Tufted Duck 5, Little Grebe 2, Chiffchaff (singing) and Common Buzzard (2).


Wild flowers seen were: Lesser Celandine, Dog Violet, Wood Anenome and Primrose.


Year List update:
111 – Tree Sparrow (seen on 18th March at Carsington Water)
112 – Dipper

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Linacre - 25th March 2017

Luke and I had 2 hours at Linacre this morning. We arrived at 7am and it was bright and sunny, but only minus 1 degrees. When we left at 9am it was still bright and sunny, but the temperature had risen to 7 degrees.

One of the first birds we heard today was a calling Tawny Owl, surprisingly our first Linacre record of 2017. We walked around all 3 reservoirs, and recorded 10 singing Chiffchaffs, 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Mistle Thrushes, Siskin (heard and 2 seen), 4 drumming Great-spotted Woodpeckers, 9 Mandarin Ducks, 36 Mallards, 31 Tufted Ducks, 10 Coots, 9 Moorhens, 6 Great-crested Grebes (3 pairs), 1 Canada Goose, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Grey Wagtails, 3 Black-headed Gulls, 1 "redhead" Goosander, 1 Common Buzzard and 3 Cormorants, including this ringed individual.


As we were heading back to the car we decided to have one last look for Lesser-spotted Woodpecker. No luck unfortunately, but we did stumble on 5 Stock Doves, including a pair that were inspecting a potential nest hole. This not only our highest ever count at Linacre, but also the first time we've seen them near a nest site. Hopefully, I'll be able to report a successful nesting report later in the season.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Linacre Year Tick

The weather forecast for this morning wasn't great, but Luke and I decided to have a few hours around Linacre anyway. The forecast was right, and we walked around all 3 reservoirs in the wind and rain!

Despite the rubbish conditions we still managed to hear 6 singing Chiffchaffs around the site along with Mallard (39), Tufted Duck (37), Moorhen (9), Coot (10), Great-crested Grebe (5; 2 pairs and a single bird), Cormorant; 2, one breeding plumaged bird and a younger bird, Grey Wagtail (2),  Mandarin Duck (9), Black-headed Gull (4) and, the Linacre year tick, Canada Goose (6).

Canada Geese

Other birds recorded around the site today were: Siskin (heard), Goldcrest (singing), Great-spotted Woodpecker (1 drumming), Song Thrush (3 singing), Magpie (2), Mistle Thrush (2) and Redwing (4).

The last species of note from today's trip was another fish species, following on from last week's Perch. This time the fish was, again, found dead in the overflow. It was a little trickier to photograph, but Twitter users (thanks) point to it being a Trout, a species that Linacre was apparently stocked with in the 1990s. Unfortunately, we can't be sure whether it's Rainbow or Brown.

Trout species

Monday, 13 March 2017

Whooper Swans at Holmebrook Valley CP

After walking around Linacre yesterday morning I decided to pop down the road to Holmebrook Valley CP in Chesterfield to check on the ringed Mute Swan and his partner that Luke and I recorded a few weeks ago (see blog post here). The Mute Swans were still there, but what was more of a surprise was the 2 Whooper Swans that were also present!

089, the ringed male Mute Swan, was acting very aggressively towards both birds, driving both of them out of the water, as can seen in this photo. He was particularly aggressive towards one bird, grabbing it by the neck on many occasions.

Whooper Swan and 089

I left at about 9:30am and the birds were reported on another 2 occasions, but they had gone this morning, allowing 089 and his partner time to calm down. Hopefully, the 2 Whoopers  are now well on their way to Iceland.

Whooper Swan

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Linacre WeBS - 12th March 2017

Today was the date for this month's BTO WeBS count, so I popped down to Linacre for 6:45am to see what was about.

As soon as I arrived into the car park I had a nice surprise as there were 2 Stock Doves feeding on the ground, my first Linacre record for 2017. Unfortunately, they both flew up as I drove in, so I didn't get a photo. Walking down to the bottom reservoir I had a couple of Great-spotted Woodpeckers drumming, along with the usual Tits, Chaffinches, Dunnocks, Wrens and Blackbirds all singing. Tufted Ducks were on the bottom reservoir, and in total I saw 47, along with 49 Mallards, 4 Great-crested Grebes (2 pairs), 12 Coots, 10 Moorhens, 1 Cormorant, 2 Grey Wagtails, 9 Black-headed Gulls, 8 Mandarin Ducks, including 5 together in trees by the Rangers' Base, and, best of all, a male Wigeon - a "year tick" and my first here since December 2015. Here's a heavily cropped photo, because, as usual, it stayed in the middle of the reservoir!


As well as counting the waterbirds I also managed to record my first Linacre Chiffchaff of the year, with 1 singing on the south side of the middle reservoir. Other signs of Spring included a lovely big patch of frogspawn on the top reservoir, a flowering Marsh Marigold, also on the top reservoir, Wild Garlic leaves, some lovely Daffodils and at least 4 singing Song Thrushes.


Marsh Marigold


One final sighting of note today was this dead fish, found in the overflow from the middle reservoir. I think it's a Perch, which, unsurprisingly, is a species I haven't recorded here before.