Thursday, 31 December 2015

Linacre Birding - Overview of 2015

Every year I like to write a short piece about the birdwatching and ringing activities at Linacre Reservoirs. This post is a round up of this year's birdwatching activities. I'll write another for the ringing news.

It's been a good year at Linacre, with 2 new species added to the list of birds seen (Shoveler and Shag). The first species,  was spotted on 4th November when 2 birds were reported on the Sheffield Bird Study Group website. The second species was found by me on 21st November, when 8 birds were recorded. They were reported on most days, up until the 3rd December, after which 5 and then 3 were seen until the end of the year. The record of 8 birds is the second highest count ever for Derbyshire, following 11 at Ogston Reservoir in 1993.
Shags (6 of the 8 birds)

Along with these two new species the following waterbirds were also recorded during the year: Canada Goose, seen in 5 months, with a high count of 9 birds in  October; Greylag Goose, 3 records, 1 of 2 birds ( a pair?) in April, 1 flying over the ringing site in May, and 3 flying together over the middle reservoir in December, the first winter record; Pink-footed Goose, 2 records this year of 75 birds in September (1 skein), and 2 skeins totaling 160 birds on 28th December, both sightings referred to birds flying over the site; Mandarin Duck, recorded in ever month, with a high count of 77 birds in November and successful nesting recorded in two "owl boxes", Mallard, recorded in every month, with a high count of 135 in November and successful breeding proven; Tufted Duck, recorded  in every month, with a high count of 83 in November, and successful breeding proven for the fourth time in the last 6 years; Goosander, recorded in five months, with a high of 8 in December; Little Grebe, a poor year for this species, with singletons recorded in five months, and no evidence of breeding for the second year in a row; Great-crested Grebe, birds were recorded in nine months, and 2 pairs were present during the breeding season, though neither was successful this year, Cormorant, recorded in nine months, with a high count of 5 birds in November; Grey Heron, recorded in nine months, with a high count of 3 in January; Moorhen, recorded in every month, with a high count of 15 in November, and successful breeding proven again, Coot, recorded in every month, with a high count of 22 in July, and successful breeding proven again, Black-headed Gull, recorded in 6 months, with a high count of 130 in January, and Kingfisher, recorded in 6 months, with 2 birds seen regularly in December, perhaps due to the increased number of visits to record the Shags. The two least common waterbirds Wigeon and Teal remained uncommon again in 2015. Wigeon was recorded on just 2 occasions this year, with 7 in October and 1 juvenile in November. The juvenile bird was thought possibly to be a hybrid. Teal had its best year yet, with 3 records, including 1 in March, 2 juvenile/females in October and 3 males in November.

Waterbirds not recorded this year were: Mute Swan (last seen in December 2013), Whooper Swan (last seen in January 2014), Goldeneye (last seen in November 2014), Gadwall (last seen in October 2013), Red-crested Pochard (last recorded in March 2006), Pochard (last recorded in September 2013), Red-breasted Merganser (last recorded in February 2009) and Common Scoter (last recorded in October 2007).

The BTO's WeBS count was carried out every month in 2015,sometimes by me, sometimes with my nephew, but mostly by several members of  Chesterfield RSPB Group, so many thanks to everyone who took part.

Wader records were low in 2015, with just 1 record of Woodcock in November. There were no records of Lapwing, Common Sandpiper,Oystercatcher, Curlew or Little Ringed Plover. Other birds not recorded in 2015 were: Green Woodpecker, Willow Tit, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Garden WarblerLinnet and Crossbill.

The final record of note for 2015 was my first ever December record of Chiffchaff. One bird was found feeding with a flock of Long-tailed Tits.

Stranded Guillemot

Whilst walking on the beach at Bamburgh, Northumberland this afternoon, Jayne and I spotted this Guillemot sitting in the dunes about 300m from the sea.


We presumed it had been blown in on the strong winds yesterday. I managed to pick it up and took it back down to the sea, where it swam off strongly. Hopefully it'll be ok.

Year List 2015- the final figure!

So it's just gone 7pm on New Year's Eve, so I think it's safe to say I won't be adding any new birds to the "year list" for 2015. Following on from the Great Northern Diver earlier in the week, I've managed to see another 2 species, taking me to a grand total of 181 for the year. The last species for the year were Red-breasted Merganser and Common Scoter, both seen today in Northumberland.

Red-breasted Merganser

The Mergansers, 2 males and a female, were both seen on the River Coquet in Warkworth, along with 4 Eider Ducks, 2 Grey Herons, a male GoldeneyeBlack-headed and Herring Gulls and Redshank. The Common Scoter, a female, was seen by Stag Rocks in Bamburgh, again accompanied by several Eider Ducks.

Jayne and I also visited Cresswell Pond today, where we saw Tree Sparrow, GoldfinchCurlew, Redshank, Snipe (4), a Peregrine Falcon, Teal, Wigeon, Little Grebe, c.30 Pink-footed Geese, Black-headed, Herring and an adult Mediterranean Gull.

Herring, Black-headed and Mediterranean Gull

Year List update:
180: Red-breasted Merganser
181: Common Scoter

Monday, 28 December 2015

Carsington Water Year Tick

I was out at Carsington Water yesterday with Jayne, with the hope of adding another species to the "year list". As you can probably guess from the title of this post I got lucky, spotting one of the three Great Northern Divers that were present on the reservoir. No photo though, as it was too far out.

Whilst there, we also had a walk down to the bird hide where we spotted several Tree Sparrows on the feeders along with Chaffinches and a single Willow Tit.

Tree Sparrow

Willow Tit

Year List update:
179: Great Northern Diver

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Linacre - 26th December 2015

I had a couple of hours down at Linacre yesterday morning. It was quite mild at 12 degrees, with a few drizzly showers and quite breezy. In the time I was there I walked around all 3 reservoirs.

Birds seen were: Shag (3 still present on the middle reservoir), Mallard (92),  Tufted Duck (18), Mandarin Duck (1 heard, but not seen), Coot (3), Moorhen (9), Grey Wagtail (1) and Black-headed Gull (69).

The usual woodland birds were present, including a Buzzard that flew low over the middle reservoir, Wrens and Robins that were both singing and 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


I haven't had any new additions to the Year List for a while, so when news of a Waxwing at RSPB Old Moor came through on the BirdGuides website, I decided to have a drive up to hopefully get a view. Luckily, the weather was great on Sunday, with blue skies, and no rain, so I drove across, and spotted the bird perched in a tree above the main entrance.  Here are a couple of pictures.


I'm going to stick my neck out and say that this bird is an adult female. It's a adult based on the fact that there are several "waxy appendages" on the secondaries (hence the name), something that first winter birds don't seem to possess. However, it appears to lack any white on the inner webs of the primaries., something that I would expect to see on an adult bird.  Also, the yellow on the end of the tail is quite broad. In a first winter bird, this would, apparently, be much narrower. I think it's female because of the relatively small numbers of "waxy tips", and also because the black throat patch has a rather diffuse edge. In a male bird, the edge is much sharper. 

Anyway, that's my thoughts. If you agree or disagree, please let me know. I'm always willing to learn more! 

Year List update:
178: Waxwing

Monday, 21 December 2015

December Chiffchaff

I popped down to Linacre this morning to check on the Shags. There were still 3 juveniles on the middle reservoir.

Whilst there, I spotted a small flock of approximately 8 Long-tailed Tits flitting through the willows on the North side of the middle reservoir, and in amongst them was a Chiffchaff! This record is the first December sighting that I'm aware of, and therefore the latest ever Linacre record. Last year, we caught and  and ringed  a juvenile bird in November (see here), and there have also been  October records in 2013, 2012 and 2011, so it seems quite likely that this species over winters in small numbers. Now we just need to catch a bird in January to prove it!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Linacre WeBS- November and December 2015

No ringing this weekend due to high winds, but instead I was down at Linacre with my nephew, to carry out this month's WeBS walk. It was a balmy 9 degrees, the sun was out and, out of a cool, stiff wind, it was quite pleasant. We were on site as it was getting light, for  just over 2 hours and recorded the following birds: Shag (3 juveniles on the middle reservoir), Cormorant (2), Mallard (87), Tufted Duck (20), Moorhen (9), Coot (3), Grey Wagtail (1), Little Grebe (1 on the middle reservoir), Grey Heron (1 sunning itself on the bottom reservoir), Black-headed Gull (45) and Kingfisher ( 1 heard on the middle reservoir, and 1 seen on the top reservoir- same bird?). 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew over the car park as we were going.


As well as the wildfowl, we also spotted this very confiding Kestrel that was perched and hunting from trees at the bottom of the bank by the middle reservoir. We got to within 5m of the bird, and saw it fly down, catch and eat  a couple of earthworms. The wing appears quite "droopy" in this picture, which could mean its damaged, and could possibly explain the bird's apparent "tameness". It did, however, fly down to the ground to catch the earthworms and then flew back to the tree, so hopefully it'll be okay.


Other birds seen or heard around site this morning were: Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Jay, Wren (singing), Robin (singing), Tawny Owl (heard), Mistle Thrush (1), Redwing (12), Common Buzzard (2), Dunnock, Blackbird, Crow, Jackdaw, Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch (1 male, by the top reservoir), GoldcrestBlue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tit.There were also several of these fungi growing on the dam wall, which I think may be Scarlet Waxcaps.

Scarlet Waxcap?

November's results are a combination of 2 walks, 1 that was carried out by Paul from the Chesterfield RSPB Group, and one from me and Luke.The following birds were reported: Coot (5), Great-crested Grebe (3), Grey Heron (1), Kingfisher (2), Little Grebe (1), Mallard (132- the second highest count of the year), Mandarin Duck (77), Moorhen (15), Teal (3 males), Tufted Duck (83), Wigeon (1 juvenile type), Black-headed Gull (80) and Grey Wagtail (1).

Monday, 14 December 2015

Sheffield Ringing

After 3 weekends of wind and rain, which has put pay to any ideas of ringing, I managed to get out again yesterday with 3 other members of The Group, to our private site in Sheffield. The site is a private garden with several apple trees, and the owner lets most of the apples fall to the ground. As a result, of the 45 birds processed, 15 (12 new and 3 retraps) were Blackbirds! Hopefully one of the longer -winged birds may end up in a garden in Sweden next Spring.

Along with these birds we also managed to catch another 30 birds made up as follows (new/retraps): Wren 2/0, Dunnock 3/1, Long-tailed Tit 1/1, Blue Tit 4/4, Great Tit 2/4, Nuthatch 1/0, House Sparrow 1/0, Chaffinch 2/1, Goldfinch 2/0, and Bullfinch 1/0.

In other news, the Shags are still present at Linacre, but have decreased in number from 8 to 3. 5 juveniles, presumably the 5 that have "gone missing" from Linacre, have appeared at The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Carr Vale Reserve at Bolsover.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Linacre Goldcrest Control

Back in November I was ringing  at Linacre with members of Sorby Breck Ringing Group when we caught, amongst other birds, a male Goldcrest that had been ringed elsewhere (a control). The details of this bird were sent off to the BTO, and today we heard back from them.

The bird in question had originally been ringed in Kilnsea, Spurn, East Yorkshire on 29th October 2015, weighing 5.1g. We controlled the bird  at Linacre on 22nd November 2015, having traveled 116km in 24 days. When we weighed it, it weighed 5.4g, so it had obviously found some good food here in Derbyshire!

The fact that the bird had been originally ringed at Kilnsea in October makes me pretty sure that it is an immigrant bird that had migrated across the North Sea. The BTO wrote an interesting article on their Demog Blog back in October about this year's Goldcrest influx, and the number of countries they'd come from (see here). Here's a link to the BTO's Ringing Report for Goldcrest from 2014. Our bird will now add be added to the database.

Hopefully, we'll be able to control it again during the winter, or perhaps it'll be controlled back in Scandinavia next spring. I'll let you know if we get any more details.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Linacre News - 5th December 2015

Despite the strong winds (gusts up to 50 mph were forecast, and it definitely felt like that standing on the dam wall of the top reservoir!), I was down at Linacre this morning with my nephew, to check on the Shags.

When we arrived on site we got a little worried as we couldn't find any in their usual spot on the middle reservoir! Undeterred, we decided to walk around the other 2 reservoirs just in case they'd moved there. They hadn't (!), but we did count some of the commoner wildfowl and the Black-headed Gulls that were on site. Totals were: Mallard (84), Moorhen (9), Coot (3), Tufted Duck (30), Cormorant (4, including 2 perched up in the Beech trees on the bottom reservoir), Grey Wagtail (1) and Black-headed Gull (c.50). Here's a photo of a couple of Tufted Ducks from the bottom reservoir. I think the back bird is an adult female and the front bird is a young one, due to a much paler iris, and much less intense colouring, especially around the head.

Tufted Ducks

We returned to the middle reservoir after about an hour and were pleased to see 2 Shags back on the overflow. We grabbed a few pictures, and another 2 Shags were spotted fishing, taking the total to 4.


These were the 2 individual birds that were perching on the overflow this morning. Note how much paler the top bird is.

A Kingfisher was also heard, but not seen, and the winter plumaged Great-crested Grebe was still present. Luke spotted a Sparrowhawk, and a Common Buzzard was seen flying low over the bottom reservoir.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Shags still there!

News of the Shags at Linacre have continued to come out on social media and the Bird Guides website throughout this week. This means they have now entered their 2nd month- one step nearer to 2016!

I've only been able to get down once this week, this evening, and I was very pleased to find 6 birds on the overflow again. I managed to get some better photos of the 6 birds, and a nice portrait shot of one on its own. 6 had increased to 8 by the time I left, but it was too dark to get a photo by then!

6 Shags


Whilst walking back to the car I  heard a Kingfisher calling and also heard a Tawny Owl just below the car park. The weather forecast isn't great for the weekend, but I'll try to get down again and get a shot of all 8 birds together.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Linacre Shag Update

I've managed to get down to Linacre several times this week to keep an eye on the Shags that were found last weekend, and I'm very pleased to say that 6 are still present at the time of writing.

7 Shags

After the first record of 2 birds on Saturday morning, the number of birds increased to 8 on the same day. 6 were seen again on the Sunday (22nd), and then 8 were reported again late afternoon on Tuesday (24th), roosting together on the overflow  at the top end of the middle reservoir. 8 were reported on the Bird Guides website on Wednesday (25th), 7 were reported late afternoon on Thursday (26th), and then 6 were seen by me at 8.45am on Saturday  (28th).

Whilst looking at/for the Shags, 2 Kingfishers were again noted (all dates), along with 5 Cormorants (on 25th - Sheffield Bird Study Group website) and 2 Grey Wagtails (28th).

I'll keep checking as often as possible, and keep the updates coming! I'm keeping everything crossed that they stay into December at least, and hopefully, even into 2016!

Derbyshire Bird Report 2014

Every November I look forward to receiving my copy of the latest Derbyshire Bird Report (free to members of the Derbyshire Ornithological Society).

My copy arrived last night, and I had my first read through today, looking to see how many mentions of Linacre Reservoirs there were! I'm glad to say, there were quite a few. Thanks to everyone who sent records in. I also have a look through to see if there are any records I missed. The only one I've spotted so far, was a record of 22 Crossbills on 25th November 2014. This was the only record in the second winter period, and also included birds that were "courtship feeding", which is something I've never seen, or heard of at Linacre before.

As well as this record, the report also shows that Linacre is still the county "hotspot" for Mandarin Ducks. Long may it continue!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Linacre Ringing - Redwings,Woodcock and more Shag photos.

After all the excitement of yesterday's new bird at Linacre I was back down there again this morning, this time with the Sorby Breck Ring Group.

We got on site at 6.30am to set up in the dark and set the "Latvian Love Song" lure playing. This tape lure is designed especially to attract Redwing, and we were very lucky to catch and ring 5 new birds this morning (all this year's birds), our first for Linacre and only my second ever. Here's one.


Whilst setting up the nets, we flushed a Woodcock (thanks David for spotting it), which is the first record for Linacre in 2015, and heard a couple of Tawny Owls.  As well as the Redwings, we also managed to catch a process 48 other birds, namely (new/retraps): Robin (1/6), Dunnock (0/4), Goldcrest (2/1), Goldfinch (2/0), Wren (1/0), Bullfinch (0/1), Blue (7/6), Great (2/6), Coal (0/4) and Long-tailed Tits (4/1).

In between net rounds we also recorded the following birds: Kestrel, 1 hunting over the ringing site, Starling (c.30 flew over), Stock Dove (2 sat in the Birch tree by the nest box we put up recently) and Grey Heron (1 flew over). A Little Owl was also seen on the main drive when we arrived (thanks again David).

After ringing, I met up with my nephew, and we went to look for yesterday's Shags. Luke had already spotted 5, including 4 on the dam wall of the middle reservoir. Here's one of his photos.


We walked around the middle reservoir, and spotted a total of 6 birds, including 5 perched together on the overflow at the top end of the middle reservoir. Here's a photo. 

5 Shags

Darley Dale Wildlife blogger was on site today- great to meet you by the way. See here for his blog post with 3 great photos of the Shags. Whilst looking at them, we also spotted a couple of Kingfishers, 3 male Teal (very unusual here), 11 Mandarin Ducks and Luke also spotted the Wigeon again.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Linacre- First Snow and a New Species!!

The weather this Autumn has been much milder than usual with temperatures up to 15 degrees in the first few weeks of November, but last night the temperature dropped down to 1 degree and we had the first snow of the winter. I headed down  down to Linacre this morning to get a few pictures of the snow and to see if the cold snap had brought anything exciting in. I wasn't disappointed, with a few nice snow pictures and a brand new species for Linacre - SHAG!!


I'd walked all around the site, and was just heading back to the car when I spotted the Shag, a young bird, swimming and fishing around the overflow on the middle reservoir. I noticed it because it was smaller and slimmer than the usual Cormorants. I also noticed that it was jumping clean of the water when it dived, whereas Cormorants tend to slip under the water when diving. I managed to get a few record shots, and I'm pretty sure I saw 2 different birds fishing together.


I left the site at 11.30am, put the news out on the BirdGuides website and over the course of the afternoon, reports of 4 and then 8 Shags were reported!!! One bird was good, 2 was great, but 4 and 8 together must have been pretty special. 

As well as the Shags, I also counted the following: Mallard (106), Tufted Duck (49), Little Grebe (1), Great-crested Grebe (3), Coot (3), Moorhen (8), Grey Wagtail (1), Cormorant (2), Grey Heron (1) Kingfisher (2), Mandarin Duck (6 - where have they all gone???) and Black-headed Gull (c.60).

The woods were quite quiet, but I did see a Great-spotted Woodpecker, several Blue, Great and Coal Tits, several Nuthatch and this very confiding Robin, that was after the sunflower hearts in my pocket!


Monday, 16 November 2015

Year List update

This weekend has been very good for birdwatching, with 3 new species added to the Year List, in addition to the Black-necked Grebe mentioned in my last post. The first new species was a gorgeous male Brambling that appeared in the garden on Saturday morning.


The next 2 species were seen on a trip with the Chesterfield RSPB Group to RSPB Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire on Sunday. in total, we saw 43 species of birds, with Brent Goose and Goldeneye being the new species.

Year list update:
175 - Brambling
176 - Dark-bellied Brent Goose
177 - Goldeneye

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Scarborough Birding

The weather wasn't good enough for any ringing again this weekend, so instead Jayne and I decided to drive across to Scarborough to look at some Black-necked Grebes that have been reported in the harbour on the Bird Guides website. We parked up and walked along the pier, finding 2 birds swimming just outside the harbour. As we watched, they swam into the harbour fishing all the way, until they were about 10 m away! Another 3 birds were also seen later on in South Bay.

Black-necked Grebe

As well as the grebes, we also saw Turnstones, Redshanks, a couple of Cormorants, Herring and Great Black-backed Gull in the harbour.


After a spot of lunch in the C.A.L.F. cafe, we drove up to the Holbeck Car Park to see if we could catch up with the Mediterranean Gulls that over-winter there. I threw some fat balls out, and within a few seconds there were 3 adult and 2 1st winter Med Gulls, feeding along with about half a dozen Black-headed Gulls!

Mediterranean Gull (1st winter)

Mediterranean Gull (adult winter)

Year List update:
174 - Black-necked Grebe

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


When I looked at the national bird sightings on the Bird Guides website ( see here)  on Sunday, I saw a record of a Crag Martin that had been spotted flying around the Crooked Spire in Chesterfield earlier that day. My initial thought was... what, that can't be true!??? After reading a little more on the web and on Twitter, I realised that it was true and that I'd most likely missed out on a very rare bird, on my doorstep!

The bird was refound on Monday morning, but work called, so I couldn't get. Luckily, however, it stayed put and was seen again today. I managed to get down to town after school, and had a couple of minutes with the bird flying around the Spire, before it disappeared again! This is the first ever sighting in Derbyshire, my first record in Britain, and I believe, only the 10th ever record in Britain! I didn't manage a photo myself, but there are lots of great ones on the internet, including on the brilliant Darley Dale Wildlife website (see here).

Whilst there, I also spotted an adult Peregrine Falcon that was perched up on the church, and managed to get a quick photo before the light went.

Peregrine Falcon

Year List update:

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Linacre Reservoirs - 8th November 2015

The weather this weekend has been pretty grim, with regular rain showers and wind, but I managed to get down to Linacre for  a couple of hours with Jayne late morning. We had a walk around the middle and top reservoirs and recorded excellent numbers of Mandarin Duck (a minimum of 77, the highest count of the year), Mallard (125, again, the highest count of 2015),  and Tufted Duck (56).

In addition, we also recorded a couple of Cormorants, sitting in the trees by the bottom reservoir, 1 "redhead" Goosander, 1 Great-crested Grebe, 5 Coots, 8 Moorhens, 50 Black-headed Gulls and this interesting looking duck.


My initial reaction was a juvenile Wigeon, which is what I recorded it as. It was dabbling and feeding on seeds under the trees on the middle reservoir, and it was only when I got back and looked at  the pictures of the computer, that I noticed it had an all black beak, something that is not shown on images of juvenile Wigeon. I'll leave it as that unless anyone else knows better?

The final birds of note were a small flock of Redwings (c.6) and Fieldfares (c.10) that flew up from Rowans by the top reservoir.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Linacre - New Species!!

I was just checking the recent bird sightings on the Sheffield Bird Study Group's website (see here), when I spotted a mention of Linacre Reservoirs. Nothing too unusual here, as there are regular updates on the website, but what really caught my eye was the mention of a species that I've never recorded at Linacre since I started visiting regularly back in 2006 - namely Shoveler.

As I said, this isn't a species I've ever seen at Linacre, so the record of 2 birds seen today was really good. Hopefully, they'll hang around for a while and I'll be able to catch up with them. Until then, here's a picture of one I took  a few years ago at a site in Nottinghamshire.


As well as this record, there were also 62 Tufted Ducks (highest count this year), 50 Mandarin Ducks (also the highest count of 2015), a "redhead" Goosander, 2 Kingfishers, 1 Little Grebe and 2 Great crested Grebes.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Linacre Ringing - 31st October 2015

Just 3 weeks after our last session, we (Sorby Breck Ringing Group) were back down at Linacre Reservoirs for another ringing session on Saturday morning. We had 4 hours on site and managed to catch 51 birds of 11 species, including 2 Lesser Redpolls (the first ringed at Linacre since last November) and 11 Goldcrests, including one bird with a wing length of 57mm, and a distinctive grey shawl around the neck, which made us think that it could be a "continental" bird, and not a locally born one). See details about these birds on the superb "Birding Frontiers" website here.

Birds caught were (new/retrap): Lesser Redpoll 2/0, Blackbird 3/0, Goldcrest 11/0, Chaffinch 4/0, Bullfinch 1/0, Blue Tit 9/0, Great Tit 5/2, Coal Tit 2/0, Long-tailed Tit 8/0, Dunnock 1/2 and Robin 1/0.

Lesser Redpoll

The highlight was the "continental type" Goldcrest. This year has been an excellent year, for this latter species, with 1000s being seen migrating onto the country from Europe, and many foreign-ringed birds being re caught here (see here for details of some of these birds on the BTO's Demog. Blog). Who knows, perhaps the bird we ringed will turn up in Sweden or Norway, or even further east next year?!

In between net rounds we kept our eyes and ears open for over-flying birds. There was an excellent passage of Redwing, Fieldfare and Woodpigeon, with approximately 200 of the first two species, and 300 of the latter species, all flying south west (thanks David for the counts), as well as a group of 5 Goosander (the first record since the 28th February, and my first October record since 2012- just!),  a small flock of Siskins, 12 Starlings and a hunting Kestrel,

After the session, we put up a new "owl box" in the ringing site. Hopefully, I'll be able to report good things about this box in 2016.

New box!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Hardwick Insects

After a foggy start, the sun came out this afternoon and the temperature rose to a very pleasant 13 degrees, so Jayne and I had a drive out to the National Trust's Hardwick Hall Estate  for a walk around the lakes.

Hardwick Hall

As we walked around the lakes we saw approximately 100 Black-headed Gulls, 70 Canada Geese, dozens of Mallards, 1 Mute Swan, a Grey Wagtail and the first insect of the day, a male Common Darter.

Common Darter

We carried on and walked through the grounds, past the flock of Longhorn Cattle, and down to the Hardwick Inn pub, where we found an ivy plant in the full sunshine, and covered in insects, The most notable were 4 Hornets. that were very busy feeding, along with a couple of Speckled Woods, one Red Admiral and 1 Comma.

Longhorn Cattle


Speckled Wood

Red Admiral


Friday, 30 October 2015

Whinlatter Forest Park - Cumbria

Jayne and I have just had a couple of days in Keswick in the Lake District. During our time, we visited the Forestry Commission's Whinlatter Forest Park, hoping to see some Red Squirrels. Unfortunately, we drew a blank with the squirrels, but we did enjoy a lovely walk, and managed to spot some Crossbills (male and female), in the woodlands.

Crossbills (males)

Crossbill (female)

Here's a picture of one of the many waterfalls in the park, and a Common Gull that we saw feeding with dozens of Black-headed Gulls, Mallards, Canada and Greylag Geese on Derwentwater.

Waterfall at Whinlatter

Common Gull on Derwentwater

Year List Update:
172: Crossbill

RSPB Leighton Moss

I've just been away with Jayne to the Lake District for a few days (more about that in a later post), and, on the way, we decided to pop into the RSPB's Leighton Moss reserve in Lancashire.

Leighton Moss

The main reason for our visit was to hopefully see some Bearded Tits that feed on the "grit trays" at this time of the year. The grit trays are provided to help the birds digest the fibrous reed seeds that they eat during the winter months. See details of a color ringing scheme carried out by North Lancashire Ringing Group here. Here's a picture of the grit trays, minus the birds!

Grit Trays

After failing to see the Beardies, we walked on down to the Lower Hide, where we had a little more luck, seeing our first ever English Otter (no photos though, as it was too far out), and one of at least 2 Great White Egrets, that were present on the reserve. As you can see from the photo, the bird was also quite a way out, but least it flew up onto a dead tree for us.

Great White Egret

Other birds seen during our visit were: Gadwall, Shoveler, Mallard, Grey Heron and Pintail.