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