Thursday, 20 April 2017

Three New Birds

I was up at Carsington Water for a couple of hours on Tuesday evening (18th) walking around Stones Island. I was on my annual "wagtail hunt", as this site is usually a good place to catch up with passage Yellow and White Wagtails. As it was, I dropped lucky with White Wagtail, but "dipped" on the Yellow.

The White Wagtails (a minimum of 3, possibly more), were feeding around the back of Stones Island, along with several Pied Wagtails. Here's a picture of a male and  a female.

White Wagtail (male)

White Wagtail (female)

Unfortunately, White Wagtail can't be added to the "year list" as it isn't a species, it's just the European race of the British Pied Wagtail, but I did manage to add another 2 species with a Common Sandpiper and a beautiful breeding plumaged Dunlin being seen.

Common Sandpiper

Other species seen included: Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Great Northern Diver (breeding plumage, but distant), Black-headed Gull, Coot, Mallard, Canada Goose, Great-crested Grebe, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Dunnock, Oystercatcher (2) and Redshank (2).


Year List update:
134 – Common Sandpiper
135 – Dunlin

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Linacre Nestboxes - an update

I spent three and a half hours down at Linacre this morning carrying out the second check of the nestboxes. See here, for the details of my last visit. The number of nests had increased from 29 to 35, and included our first Mandarin Duck of the year.

Mandarin Duck

Later in the day, Ray and I went back down to ring her. Whilst off the nest, we counted the number of eggs, so we could do a nest record for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme. I took a photo, and think I can count at least 29 eggs!! There were only 3 nest records for Mandarin Duck in Derbyshire in 2015 (the last year for which data is available), and only 48 for the whole of Great Britain and Ireland, so every record can help build up information about this species' breeding cycle.

Mandarin nest

The other 34 nests, ranging from N1 (just started), to NL (nest lined), were all either Blue or Great Tit, with the most eggs being a super clutch of 12! Last year, we had one Pied Flycatcher nest, so fingers crossed for one in 2017 as well.

2 other nests that were active today were one each for Moorhen and Coot. The Coot nest was the same one I'd seen on 11th April on the top reservoir, and the Moorhen was a new one, also on the top reservoir. It was about 1.5m up in a willow tree by the boardwalk. Hopefully, it should be safe from the dogs up in the tree! Unfortunately, I couldn't see into either nest to record the contents.

Moorhen nest

As well as nest recording, I also recorded some of the birds on and around the reservoirs. 2 Canada Geese were seen on the top reservoir, and the first Mallard ducklings (6), were on the middle reservoir. 1 Grey Wagtail was heard, an immature Cormorant was seen, and a pair of Mandarin Ducks were feeding around the bridge on the top reservoir.

Mandarin Duck pair

Siskin and Lesser Redpoll were heard again, and Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap were all singing.

Wild Garlic was in flower, as were BluebellsGreater Stitchwort, Lesser Celandine, Marsh Marigold  and Red Campion.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Big Moor Year ticks

Jayne and I had a couple of hours on Big Moor this afternoon. It was pretty blustery, but we walked from the road up to the old reservoir and back again, adding 2 new species to the "year list".

The first species seen was Wheatear, with 2 male birds seen on the fence posts by the house by the reservoir.


The other "year tick" was Red Grouse, with 2 birds seen flying over the moor. Other species seen were: Kestrel (1 hunting by the house), Peregrine Falcon (1 flew over), Meadow Pipit (10+ flying around and singing), Skylark (6 flying and singing), Lapwing (5 displaying), Canada Goose (2 birds on the pools), Curlew (1 heard), Carrion Crow (3), Reed Bunting (1 male) and Linnet (2 birds flew over).

Year List update:
132 - Wheatear
133 - Red Grouse

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Idle Valley Nature Reserve

Today Luke and I met up with several members of the Chesterfield RSPB Group for a walk around the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust's Idle Valley Nature Reserve. we spent most of the day on site, and recorded approximately 60 species, including 9 "year ticks".

We started out at the Visitors' Centre, where we saw 2 Tree Sparrows on the feeders, and a Swallow and a House Martin in amongst a big flock of c.100 Sand Martins. We then spent the next 2 and a half hours walking around the area near Bunker Wood and Bellmorr Lake and Ponds. Canada and Greylag Geese were numerous, as were Mallards. We also spotted a minimum of 5 Red-Crested Pochards (2 pairs and a male), 3 Shovelers (2m and 1fm), Tufted Ducks, Pochard (2m), Gadwall, Mute SwanMoorhenLesser Black-backed (a large breeding colony of c.100 birds) and Black-headed Gulls, 1 Snipe and Coot (including 2 broods of 6 and 4 chicks)

Coot chick

Passerines were also present, with dozens of Chiffchaff, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps singing around the site. A real surprise was a singing Sedge Warbler (quite an early record), and at least 1, possibly 2 singing Cetti's Warblers (a lifer for Luke).

After lunch Luke and I went off to the far end of the Reserve in Lound, to look for a Great White Egret. Unfortunately, we didn't spot it, but we did spot 4 Little Egrets, 3 breeding plumaged Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Avocets, 2 Oystercatchers and a Little Ringed Plover.

3 species of butterfly were also seen: Orange Tip (1 male), Comma (1) and Speckled Wood (1 - my first of 2017).

Year List update:
123 – Red-crested Pochard
124 – House Martin
125 – Sedge Warbler
126 – Cetti’s Warbler
127 – Black-tailed Godwit
128 – Little Egret
129 – Avocet
130 – Little Ringed Plover
131 - Oystercatcher

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Linacre Nestboxes - a first visit

Over the weekend, and yesterday, I paid my first visit of 2017 to monitor the nestboxes at Linacre. I had a feeling they'd be further on than last year, as I'd seen 1 Blue Tit entering a box last weekend. As it turned out, I found a total of 29 boxes with nests in them ranging from N1 to NL, and even 1 with an egg!! The egg is particularly early, with the first one in 2016 not recorded until 5th May!

Nest with an egg (possibly Blue Tit)

On Sunday I checked 4 of the 5 "owl" boxes that I have up around the site. The Little Owl box was empty, as were 3 of the other boxes. The remaining box contained.... a Grey Squirrel nest complete with 2 young squirrels. Last year, two of the owl boxes were used by Mandarin Ducks, but eggs weren't laid until later in the month, so I'll pop back in a couple of weeks to see if anything's happened. All the results will be sent in to the BTO's Nest Record Scheme.

After checking the boxes I walked around the site to carry out this month's WeBS walk. Numbers were quite low, but the following were spotted: Mallard (27), Tufted Duck (27), Coot (7 - including the first nest of 2017 on the top reservoir), Moorhen (3), Mandarin (11), Cormorant (3; 2 adults, including one with a ring, and an immature bird), Great-crested Grebe (3), Mandarin Duck (11) and Grey Wagtail (1).

Mandarin Duck

Other birds seen included a Mistle Thrush carrying food to an unseen nest, 3 Sand Martins, 1 Swallow (first Linacre records of 2017), a minimum of 3 singing Willow Warblers, 5 singing Blackcaps and 4 singing Chiffchaffs. Siskins and Lesser Redpoll were also heard.

It was quite sunny yesterday morning, so there were a few insects flying around, including a single Peacock, several Droneflies (Eristalsis sp), and, best of all, a potential new species; Early Mining Bee.

Early Mining Bee??

Year List update:
122 - Swallow

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Welcome Back EXP662

EXP662 is the ring number of a Chiffchaff that was ringed as a juvenile bird at Linacre on 16th July 2016 (see blog post here). This morning I was out ringing at Linacre with 3 other members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group, when we re trapped said bird. Where it's been in between we don't know, but most recoveries of British-ringed birds show this species moving south into southern Europe and North west Africa, so this the was likely destination for "our" bird. Hopefully, it'll hang around and breed here. Along with this bird, we also ringed another 4 Chiffchaffs (all new).


Also caught this morning were (new/retrap): Blackcap (1/0), Dunnock (1/0), Coal Tit (1/1), Blue Tit (1/2), Magpie (1/0), Nuthatch (1/0).

In between net rounds we also saw: Brown Hare (2), 1 Peacock and 1 Small Tortoiseshell (first Linacre records of 2017 for all 3 species), a Dronefly (Eristalsis sp), a Harlequin Ladybird, Mandarin Duck (2 flew over), Sparrowhawk ( 1 female over), Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow,  dozens of Cowslips and a single Red Campion flower.


Small Tortoiseshell

Harlequin Ladybird on Gorse

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Incubation's Begun

The Starling's in the nestbox have continued their nesting attempt this week, and appear to have started incubating the eggs.

Male Starling on nest

Last year (see Starling Nest 2016 labels for details), the eggs hatched after 12 days incubation, so I'll leave well alone until then, and then see what's happening at the end of April.

Details of today's visit will now to added to the BTO's Nestbox Challenge website.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Starlings' First egg.

The Starlings have been building a nest on the side of my house again (see labels Starling Nest 2017 for details).

Male Starling

When I got back from work this evening I spotted a male Starling in the Rowan tree in the garden, and decided to have a check on the box. I was very happy to see.... the first egg of 2017!

First egg

It's always good to see the birds doing well, and it's also interesting to compare this year's nest with the last 2 years. Last year, the first egg was laid on 7th April, and the first egg in 2015 came on 14th April. Hopefully, this pair will go on to lay another 4 eggs, like they did last year, and, who knows, perhaps a second clutch?

I'll add the details of today's visit to the BTO's Nestbox Challenge website, and update the blog again when the clutch is complete, most likely at the weekend.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Derbyshire Cattle Egret!!

According to The Birds of Derbyshire, Cattle Egret is a "very rare vagrant" in the county, with just 7 previous records in 1966, 1968, 1986, 1996, 2009 (2 records of possibly the same bird), and 2014. Scrolling through Birdguides this afternoon, I noted that one had been reported at Poolsbrook Marsh, Staveley, so, as soon as possible Jayne and I had a drive over to see the bird.

We dropped lucky, with the bird still being present on the edge of the reedbed, and managed some good, if somewhat distant, views.

Cattle Egret

The bird stayed on the edge of the reeds for about 15 minutes before flying up into a dead tree, where I got this shot.

Cattle Egret

It looked as if it would roost there, but a report came through that it had flown off "high to the north". Hopefully, it'll turn up again somewhere in the county. An excellent Year, British and County tick!

Year List update:
120 - Sand Martin (1 on 2nd at Avenue Washlands)

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Avenue Ringing - 2nd April 2017

After a few weeks without a ringing session it was really nice to get out and about again today. I spent 3 and a half hours out with 4 other members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Avenue Washlands in Chesterfield. We had a quiet session with just 17 birds ringed, but the total did include our first summer migrants of the year; 3 Chiffchaffs and a single, female Blackcap.



Today's totals were (new/retrap): Chiffchaff 3/0, Blackcap 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Blue Tit 0/1 , Great Tit 0/2, Long-tailed Tit 0/1, Dunnock 1/1, Robin 1/2, Wren 0/1, Bullfinch 1/0 and Reed Bunting 1/0.

During net rounds we also recorded these birds: Sparrowhawk, Green Woodpecker (year tick), Linnets, Yellowhammers, Goldfinch, Canada Geese and Mute Swans.

Year List update:
117 - Green Woodpecker
118 - Raven (1 over Sudbury Hall, Derby, this afternoon)
119 - Shoveler (1 male on Sudbury Hall lake).

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Summer Migrants at Linacre

Luke and I had 2 hours at Linacre this morning and walked around all 3 reservoirs. We recorded good numbers of the usual waterbirds, along with a pair of Greylag Goose (present since Wednesday 29th) and our first singing Blackcap (3) and Willow Warbler (1) of 2017. The Willow Warbler was by the top reservoir, and was 3 days earlier than 2016, whilst the Blackcaps were by the middle reservoir (1), and by the stairs by the bottom reservoir (2) and were an  amazing 16 days earlier than last year!! Also singing this morning were: 9 Chiffchaffs, 7 Song Thrushes, Wrens, Stock Doves and Dunnocks. 2 Great-spotted Woodpeckers were drumming.

Greylag Geese (a pair?)

Waterbirds seen were: Mallard (33), Tufted Duck (27), Coot (6), Moorhen (12), Cormorant (3; 2 adults and a young bird), Great-crested Grebe (6; 3 pairs, including 1 pair that appeared to have a nest), Mandarin Duck (6) and Grey Wagtail (4: 2 pairs). A mixed flock of c.30 Siskins and Lesser Redpolls was flying around the Larch woodlands.

Wood Anenome, Lesser Celandine and Coltsfoot were in all in flower. Interestingly, another 4 Perch and another dead Trout were in the overflow from the middle reservoir, along with, what looked like a half eaten duck, possibly a Mallard?


Year List update:
115 - Chiffchaff (at Linacre on 12th March)
116 - Willow Warbler

Friday, 31 March 2017

Darviced Mute Swans

Back in February, I blogged about 2 different darviced Mute Swans ( see here and here). Yesterday, I had a text from Luke to say that he'd spotted some different  Mute Swans on Walton Dam in Chesterfield that also had Darvic, colour rings. I drove across this afternoon, and saw 3 individuals with the ring numbers 460Y, 461Y and 462Y.

Mute Swan 460Y

Mute Swan 461Y

Mute Swan 462Y

460Y was at the east end of the reservoir/dam on it's own, whilst the other two were together at the west end. All 3 birds came readily to seed.

A little research on the internet showed that the birds had been ringed by Sorby Breck Ringing Group, and details from David, our data manager, showed that they had been ringed at Walton Dam on 5th September 2016.

Looking at the one of the pictures of  462Y it's interesting to see that its leg is pale, compared to the other two birds whose feet were black.


This means that 462Y is a "polish" Mute Swan. See here for details about another "polish" bird seen at Clumber Park in 2016. I'll pop back over the summer to check on the these birds, and update on any developments.

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.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Siskins and a Redpoll

I haven't been out ringing for a couple of weeks, so this morning's session at our private site in Wingerworth, Chesterfield was a nice chance to get back out again. We met up at 6.30am and ringed 44 birds of 12 species over the next 4 hours. As the title suggests, the highlights were the Siskins and a single Lesser Redpoll. We don't ring lots of these species, so when they're around, it's nice to catch a few. We've also had some good recoveries of Redpolls ringed at this site when they return to Scotland to breed. Hopefully, some of today's birds will turn up there later in the year.


Today's totals were (new/retrap): Siskin 4/0, Lesser Redpoll 1/0, Goldfinch 14/0, Chaffinch 4/0, Bullfinch 3/0, Robin 0/1, Blue Tit 3/4, Great Tit 2/1, Long-tailed Tit 1/1, Robin 0/1, Wren 1/0 and Goldcrest 1/0.

Other birds seen and heard this morning were: Song Thrush (singing), Blackbird, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Stock Dove (year tick). There were also at least half a dozen Common Frogs spawning in the pond.

Year List update:
110 - Stock Dove

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Great Grey Shrike

I spent a couple of hours at Greave's Piece, near Owler Bar on Sunday morning looking for a Great Grey Shrike. Unfortunately, I didn't see it, but Jayne and I popped back up this evening and got lucky. It was quite distant, but we managed a quick photo.

Great Grey Shrike

Also present were a couple of Meadow Pipits, a Snipe, a couple of Crows and a singing Song Thrush.

Year List update:
107 – Meadow Pipit
108 – Great Grey Shrike
109 - Snipe

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Hooded Crow - new Derbyshire Tick

Hot on the heels of this morning's Iceland Gull, I was out again this afternoon to try and catch up with a Hooded Crow that had been reported on Birdguides website (see here). The bird was reported near Beeley Moor, and I dropped lucky again, seeing the bird within 5 minutes of our arrival. It was perched up distantly in a Hawthorn hedge. Here's my very best shot!!

Hooded Crow

As the post title indicates, this is my first record of this species in Derbyshire, so I was very happy to see it. Looking in the Derbyshire Ornithological Society's  The Birds of Derbyshire, it's interesting to note that this species was much more common here in the 1920s, when it was described as "numerous", and then again in the 1960s and 1970s, with up to 24 records in the latter period. Between 2000 and 2010 there was just 1 record in Derbyshire, a single bird at Carsington Reservoir on 21st October 2007, making this bird only the second record of the millennium.

Year List update:
105 – Lesser Redpoll (3 on the garden feeders on 1st March)
106 – Hooded Crow