Monday, 30 January 2017

Colour-ringed Waxwing

I was driving past Sheepbridge Business Centre in Chesterfield yesterday, when I spotted the familiar silhouette of a Waxwing perched up in trees. I pulled the car over and saw that there were in fact 30 birds in the trees, which, after a couple of minutes, flew down and started to feed on the few remaining Rowan berries. I grabbed  a few photos, but then spotted that one of the birds was colour- ringed!!

Waxwing (green over red)

Details were quickly emailed to the Grampian Ringing Group, who informed me that the bird had been ringed in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire on 27th November 2016 as a 3 male i.e. a bird born that year. My sighting was the first since ringing. Hopefully, it'll keep being reported again, either here in the UK, or possibly back as a breeding bird in northern Europe somewhere.

Other birds seen in the same tree were: Redwing (4), Blackbird (3), Bullfinch (1 female), Great Tit (1) and Mistle Thrush (1).

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Linacre Herring Gull - 29th January 2017

Herring Gull is a species that I very rarely see at Linacre. In fact, since I started recording the birds there in 2006, I've only had 3 previous records. I was very pleased therefore, when Luke and I picked one up, loafing on the top reservoir this morning. It decided to stay in the centre of the water, and was surprisingly wary, but I managed to get a record shot.

Herring Gull

When we arrived at 7.45am, it was dry, and bright, but only 1 degree. We walked around the bottom and middle reservoirs recording decent numbers of the common waterbirds: Mallard (76), Mandarin (24), Tufted Duck (23), Coot (7), Moorhen (6), Little Grebe (2), Great-crested Grebe (1 in breeding plumage), Cormorant (2), Kingfisher (1 - first 2017 record), Black-headed Gull (32) and Grey Wagtail (1). Unfortunately, when we got to the top reservoir, a heavy fog descended on the valley, meaning that we couldn't record the birds up there!

Top reservoir in fog!

We decided to walk back to the car, and spent a good twenty minutes watching, and trying to photograph, a group of c.15 Long-tailed Tits, 3 Treecreepers and at least 4 Goldcrests. Here's my best effort.


Year List update:
73 - Kingfisher

Friday, 27 January 2017

Colour ringed Turnstone - an update

Last Sunday, whilst in Scarborough, I spotted a colour ringed Turnstone feeding in the harbour. I sent off the details to the coordinator of the ringing project, and received a reply today. As I thought, the bird was one that had been ringed in Scarborough harbour back in February 2014, and one that I reported there in March 2014 and again in March 2016. Here's a photo of the bird in Scarborough in March 2016.

Yellow over Blue (March 2016)

This bird has been reported 18 times since it was ringed, all but once in Scarborough harbour. The only other location where it has been reported so far is Bridlington harbour on 19th October 2015. Interestingly, in 2014 and 2015 it was reported into July, whilst in 2016 it wasn't reported between March and the 30th August. Had it stayed around Scarborough in 2014 and 2015, before returning to its breeding grounds in 2016, or was it just not seen/reported in 2016? A sighting in the summer months away from Scarborough would be great to find out where this bird goes.

Here's a photo from last week.

Turnstone (yellow over blue), January 2016

Monday, 23 January 2017

Scarborough Birds

I was in Scarborough yesterday, with Jayne and Lydia. It was sunny, for an hour or so at least, but cold. Whilst there I managed some nice birds, including a good number of "year ticks".

First up, as always, was a stop at the Holbeck Car Park, just above The Spa, for my first Mediterranean Gulls of the year. There were 2 adult birds feeding on the grass as soon as I arrived, but the number of this species and the Black-headed Gulls increased quickly to about 30 birds, as soon as I got the bread out! In total I saw at least 4 adults, 1 2 year old bird and 2 2nd calendar year Mediterranean Gulls. The birds here come within a metre or so, allowing excellent views and photographic opportunities.

Mediterranean Gull (adult)

2 year old bird (born 2015)

2nd calendar year (born 2016)

Next stop was the North Bay, where two female/immature Black Redstarts had been reported on rocks by the Albert CafĂ©. I managed to see one, and it posed briefly for a photo.

Black Redstart

A quick drive back down to the harbour followed, where a Black-necked Grebe, a Great Northern Diver, 1 Shag, Guillemot (1 winter plumaged bird on the sea), Great Black-backed and Herring Gull, Redshank, Turnstone (c.20, including 1 colour ringed bird) and Purple Sandpiper were all on show!!

Great Northern Diver

The last birds of the day were seen on the cliff sides along Marine Drive, where Fulmar and Peregrine Falcon were noted.

Year List update:
59 - Sparrowhawk (1 seen on 21st)
60 – Rook
61 – Mediterranean Gull
62 – Black Redstart
63 – Redshank
64 – Turnstone
65 – Purple Sandpiper
66 – Great Black-backed Gull
67 – Black-necked Grebe
68 – Great Northern Diver
69 – Guillemot
70 – Shag
71 – Peregrine Falcon
72 - Fulmar

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Linacre Sightings and Chesterfield Waxwings

It was a cold (2 degrees), grey and miserable morning when I arrived at Linacre this morning with Luke. We had an hour and a half walking around the middle and top reservoirs before heading off to Chesterfield to look at a flock of Waxwings that had been reported earlier in the week.

Waterbirds seen at Linacre today were: Mallard (63), Tufted Duck (13), Mandarin Duck (18), Coot (6), Moorhen (11), Black-headed Gull (40), Cormorant (1), Little Grebe (2; 1 on the top and 1 on the middle reservoir) and Great-crested Grebe (1, showing partial breeding plumage).

Great-crested Grebe (courtesy of Luke)

The woods were quite quiet, but we did hear 1 Song Thrush singing, and recorded a drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker, 1 Mistle Thrush (by the top reservoir), 2 Treecreepers (1st Linacre record of 2017), 1 Magpie, 2 Common Buzzard, a couple of Goldcrests and several Robins coming to seed again.

Robin (courtesy of Luke again)

After looking around Linacre, we drove down to St Helen's Street in Newbold to look for some Waxwings. We saw them as soon as we arrived, and got a couple of shots before the entire group (c.100 birds), were spooked by a Sparrowhawk and disappeared.


Sunday, 15 January 2017

Garden Blackcap

I was watching the birds in the garden this morning for the BTO's Garden Birdwatch Scheme, when I spotted a small bird hopping around the bottom of the buddleia. I noticed the brown cap immediately, and thought Blackcap!

I grabbed the camera just as the bird flew up and landed in the Mahonia bush, where it stayed for about 30 seconds, before it dropped back down into the hedge and was lost from view. A nice "year tick" for January.


Year List update:
58: Blackcap

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Linacre WeBS - January 2016

We had the first snow of the winter here in Derbyshire yesterday, so I was looking forward to see a white Linacre this morning when I popped down for this month's WeBS walk. Unfortunately, most of the snow had gone, but there were a few patches left here and there.

Snow by the top reservoir

Birds were present in reasonable numbers for the time of year with the following recorded: Mallard (108), Mandarin Duck (26), Tufted Duck (26), Moorhen (15), Coot (4), Little Grebe (1), Grey Wagtail (1), Black-headed Gull (17) and Teal (3; 1 male and 2 females).

Mallard enjoying some sunflower hearts!

The woods were quite lively this morning too with Song Thrush, Wren, Robin, Woodpigeon, Blue and Great Tit all singing. Great-spotted Woodpeckers were drumming, and Mistle Thrush, Siskin and Fieldfare were also seen.

Year List update:
53 – Tawny Owl (heard calling in Chesterfield on 13th January)
54 – Song Thrush
55 – Fieldfare
56 – Mistle Thrush
57 - Treecreeper (seen at Fairholmes, Ladybower this afternoon)

Monday, 9 January 2017

Grey Partridge

Grey Partridge is always a tricky species to catch up with in Derbyshire, so I was very pleased to add this species to the "year list" today. The birds in question were found in a field in Apperknowle, one of the few regular spots that I know for this species.

I spotted the birds, a decent sized covey of 23 birds (my highest ever count), as I was driving home from school, and managed to get some photos.

Grey Partridge
Year List update:
52: Grey Partridge

Sunday, 8 January 2017

New Year Ringing, Waxwings and Year Ticks

I know its not quite the new year now, but today was the first opportunity I had to get out ringing in 2017, hence the title of today's post.

This morning I was out with 4 other members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group visiting the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Avenue Washlands Reserve in Chesterfield. We had a 3 and a half hour session, catching a super 104 birds of 15 species. Birds caught were (new/retrap): Wren 1/0, Dunnock 1/0, Robin 3/0, Blackbird 1/0, Goldcrest 1/1, Long-tailed Tit 1/7, Willow Tit 1/0, Blue Tit 8/6, Great Tit 4/9, Chaffinch 4/4, Greenfinch 3/0, Goldfinch 36/1, Bullfinch 9/2, Yellowhammer 1/1 and Reed Bunting 3/0.

As you can see, we had  a very good selection of bird species today. The most notable were the excellent number of Goldfinch, followed closely by the new Willow Tit ( a species which seems to be declining quite quickly), the Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and Bullfinch (all "year ticks" as well).

After ringing Jayne and I had a drive to Chesterfield to see a group of 18 Waxwings on Whittington Moor. We then had a drive out to Bakewell, where we had a spot of lunch and a walk by the river, adding Canada Goose to the "year list". Whilst here, we also spotted the Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid duck, that is back on the river for the winter. Details of this bird can be found here.

Hybrid Duck

Year List update:
47 – Canada Goose
48 – Willow Tit
49 – Bullfinch
50 – Yellowhammer
51 – Reed Bunting

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Linacre - 7th January 2017

Today was my first walk around all 3 reservoirs at Linacre for 2017. I arrived at 7.45am, just as it was getting light, and spent 2 hours on site. The temperature was 5 degrees, and it was dry, bright and still. During the walk, I added 4 new species to the "year list".

I started off on the bottom reservoir where the first of 90 Mallards were seen. Tufted Ducks were also present, and I managed to spot 29 in total. The first of 3 Grey Wagtails was present here, as were 2 Grey Herons, and the first of 64 Black-headed Gulls. Other water birds seen around the site today were: Coot (5), Moorhen (10), Little Grebe (3, 1 on each reservoir), Mandarin Duck (40) and Great-crested Grebe (1 on the top reservoir).

Great-crested Grebe

The woodland birds were in good voice this morning with Wren, Robin, Coal, Great and Blue Tit heard singing. Nuthatch were also heard calling, and Siskin were heard flying over. I took some sunflower hearts with me today, and a Robin (possibly the one that I'd photographed last year as it was in the same spot by the top reservoir), came down to grab a few, so I grabbed a few more photos!


Year List update:
43 – Pheasant
44 – Nuthatch
45 – Great-crested Grebe
46 - Siskin

Monday, 2 January 2017

Sheffield Waxwings

I was out early this morning down on Queen's Road in Sheffield to "tick" some Waxwings for the "Year List". 300 had been reported on Birdguides yesterday, so I thought my chances were quite good. When I arrived at 7.45am there were about 20 Redwings and 3 Blackbirds feeding on the Rowan trees,  but no Waxwings. However, at about 8am, a small group of 4 birds arrived, and then, over the next 15 minutes, numbers built up very quickly to number at least 400!! They were very flighty, and barely settled for more than a few seconds, but I managed some photos.


After looking at the Waxwings, I drove down to Worcester, and added another 10 species to the "Year List" (numbers 37 - 41)

32 – Pied Wagtail
33 – Feral Pigeon
34 – Redwing
35 – Waxwing
36 – House Sparrow
37 – Mute Swan
38 – Common Buzzard
39 - Cormorant
40 - Herring Gull
41 – Lesser Black-backed Gull
42 - Lapwing

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Wet and Windy Start to 2017

Welcome to 2017!! As the title suggests, 2017 started wet and windy here in Derbyshire. As a result, my birding year started in the garden, where all the usual suspects were busy feeding. Therefore, my first 10 species of bird seen were:

1 – Blackbird
2 – Starling
3 – Woodpigeon
4 – Chaffinch
5 – Goldfinch
6 – Dunnock
7 – Collared Dove
8 – Robin
9 – Greenfinch
10 – Great Tit

The rain continued until the afternoon, but by 3pm I was able to get out to Linacre for an hour before it went dark. Again, the usual suspects were around, but I was also lucky enough to see 2 male Teal - the first Linacre record since November 2015!! The following birds made it onto the 2017 list!

11 – Blue Tit
12 – Coal Tit
13 – Long-tailed Tit
14 – Goldcrest
15 – Moorhen
16 – Coot
17 – Little Grebe
18 – Mallard
19 – Tufted Duck
20 – Grey Wagtail (2 present)
21 – Grey Heron
22 – Black-headed Gull
23 – Kestrel (seen on the drive to Linacre)
24 – Teal
25 – Great-spotted Woodpecker
26 – Carrion Crow
27 – Jay
28 – Jackdaw
29 – Magpie
30 – Mandarin Duck
31 - Wren

My New Year's Resolution is to make sure I add all my notes to the BTO's BirdTrack, so I'll start as I mean to go on, and add these records now.