Saturday, 11 June 2011

Clumber Park - 10th June 2011

As a birdwatcher, there are certain events that I look forward to every year, such as the first returning summer migrants or winter thrushes. Another event that I always enjoy is this early summer evening visit to Clumber Park, in Nottinghamshire, to look for the Nightjars and Woodcock.

Clumber lake with Greylag Geese

Tonight's visit, run as part of the Chesterfield RSPB's programme of events, began at 7pm in the chapel car park where the first birds, a beautiful pair of Stock Doves were seen in one of the nearby trees. Walking down to the lake we soon spotted Swift (dozens feeding low over the water), Swallow, House and Sand Martin. Waterbirds were present on the lake itself and included Gadwall, Coot, Mute Swan, Mallard, Canada and Greylag Goose, all with young in tow.

Coot's nest and young

Other waterbirds seen, but which didn't have young were Moorhen, Tufted Duck and a pair of Shoveler, the male of which was going into eclipse plumage.

The walk continued down the side of the water where we managed to locate a few more summer migrants with Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and a Blackcap/Garden Warbler all singing. An Oystercatcher found feeding on the grass, was an unusual sight and was my first at this site. The highlight, however, of this part of the walk was a pair of Spotted Flycatcher that we managed to find and watch "flycatching" on the far side of the lake.

At about 9.15pm we headed back to the car park and drove to another area of the park where we had seen both Nightjar and Woodcock in previous years. We got in position next to an area of cleared plantation and waited for the light to fade.

Nightjar habitat in Clumber Park

Whilst waiting for the first Nightjars, we heard a distinctive call and saw a couple of Woodcock"roding" overhead. A Cuckoo was also calling, but wasn't seen. After about half an hour (about 9.40pm before the I think!) we heard the first "churring" and its wasn't long before Nightjars appeared flying low overhead. At one point we had 2 birds singing at the same time and saw at least 3 birds, including a female that flew up from the floor, presumably from a hidden nest. If you've never herard a Nightjar "churring", follow this link, it's an amazing sound!!

The evening ended at about 10.30pm and we all left the area leaving the birds churring away. Many thanks to all that attended.

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