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!

Comma

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).

Dipper

Wild flowers seen were: Lesser Celandine, Dog Violet, Wood Anenome and Primrose.

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.

Cormorant

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!

Wigeon

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.

Frogspawn

Marsh Marigold

Daffodils

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.

Perch?

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.

Siskin

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

Sheffield Iceland Gull

A couple of weeks ago I was in Newcastle birdwatching, and managed to get a brief view of an Iceland Gull at North Shields Fish Quay. Unfortunately, at the time, I was unable to get a photo, so I popped across to Sheffield this morning to see a 2nd winter bird that had been reported on Effingham Street.

Luckily, this bird was much more cooperative, and sat on a rooftop by the River Don, allowing me to get some decent shots.



Iceland Gull and Herring Gull

Also seen were: Black-headed Gull (c.150), Herring Gull (c.10), Great Black-backed Gull (2), Kingfisher (1), Grey Wagtail (1), Moorhen (1), Mallard (c.10), Feral Pigeons, Domestic Geese (5)and a single Chiffchaff (thanks Andy).