Monday, 27 April 2009

One of those Remember When Moments...

(vid from the girlfriend, check out the birds at beginning and end with the dark bodies and white cheeks)

Birders nationwide will be aware of the big thing that hit us in Derbyshire at the weekend, 11 Whiskered Terns at Willington Gravel Pits (DWT) somewhere by the Trent just south of Derby. Eleven, that's a flock almost three times larger than the previous record and the first of the species for the county since, oh, only 1883! Their usual range dots pockets of south and east Europe, with the BBRC recording an average of something like 2-5 in most years since the 50's of this small elegant smoky coloured marsh tern with the attractive white cheek.

Terns on migration tend not to stick around so we zoomed straight from work down the A38 the day after their arrival when 8 were still knocking around, swooping and nipping insects in the distinctive bouyant flight these birds have. Being a county tick for all Derbys birders and a lifer for many of us in the midlands there was plenty of interest, all of us ever so polite to make sure everybody had time at the front of the small viewing platform and to discuss the unprecedented wow factor of the event. Imagine finding them, reporting them, swearing you've not been on the gin.
They've mostly dispersed now, sightings as far and wide as Cleveland, Rutland and Cambridgeshire are probably our terns.

My confession is that I hadn't done Willington before which makes me a bad birdwatcher because it's quickly becoming the best site in Derbyshire. Equally I let the side down by putting work before these kinda birds, bad birding indeed.

Anyway, cracking site, amazing spectacle. Also had Little Egret, Lesser Whitethroat, first Swifts of the year and reeling Grasshopper Warbler for the evening.

Memorable stuff indeed. That Shrike has a challenger for best personal twitch status.

Back down to Earth there's a very industrious Coal Tit in my garden right now. Cool Tit more like it.

Friday, 24 April 2009


(Willow Warbler)

Was back at Carsington this week for the Tuesday ABB. Stunning weather, anybody who's been on holiday has got to have used up all their good luck for the year. 2 Great Northern Diver remain on the reservoir and look likely to tease us with mere hints of summer plumage before disappearing in the next week or so.
The best of the rest were a couple of pristine White Wagtails. You can spend hours checking every Pied Wagtail umming and ahhing over their identity but when you actually find a White one you really know it. Shelduck was a nice record for Carsington, Little Ringed Plovers are around, plus the regular waders and warblers. Mallard ducklings are already out and about.

The House Martins have begun work on nest cups up around the visitor centre and the RSPB volunteers will spend a bit more time this year featuring them on event days, which ought to be lots of fun. Like all hirundine they're fascinating birds.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Across the Border

This past Saturday we had some time at the end of the day to head into Notts, so we did the Carburton - Budby Common double bill. Buzzards entertained from the pull-in at Great Lake and a small flock of Mandarins clattered around the trees. Give it a month or so for Honey Buzzards and perhaps last summer's Osprey will return too.
The Nuthatch vid comes from Carburton.

To Budby before sunset, again a little early in the season for the best action there, Tree Pipits with that go-bezerk trill at the end of their song were the big feature, Linnet and Yellowhammer among them. Late May to early June we'll definitely return for the Cuckoos, Woodcock and Nightjars, Woodlark ought to be singing too.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009


Happy surprise in the garden today, our first Blackcap, that's #32 on the garden bird list (since January when we moved in). You can tell the early ornithologists were all men, this being a female she clearly had a brown cap.
The bird has feasted all day on ivy berries, nice to see it bathing too. In the last week a Willow Warbler passed through, which is a nice early date anywhere never mind in my garden, and a Peregrine has gone over again. I'm in the middle of a busy Easter stretch at work, so god only knows what I'm missing when I'm away from the house.
Would have gone for some local Waxwings if I'd had the time, yes, they're still around!


On the sightings pages I see Sandwich Tern, Cettis Warbler, Osprey in the county, birds like Redstart and Cuckoo arriving back too, it's getting bloody exciting out there. Had better find the time.

Monday, 6 April 2009


Loving life in Derbyshire, albeit just about 100 yards into the county. We can take a 10 minute walk and there's Dipper, Little Ringed Plover and Little Owl variously around the village. It's also a little pleasure to see Mallards in the street when I go to work in the morning.

Went to a talk at the local RSPB group, good stuff on farming with wildlife and the Higher Level Stewardship scheme. Learned a wee bit about margins, scrapes, etc, travelling through the countryside in the week after it's easy to spot the what ifs on the local farmland. What if the hedgerows weren't all massacred at the same time, what if the roadside verges weren't mowed so short, what if more farmers became stewards of our natural heritage as well as providers for the table. I suppose there's a whole can of worms there, economically and politically, but what if it saved the future of our wildlife?

And what if I posted another video?

Down at the mill, it's the Dipper again, for a cool half a million you can get it on your garden bird list.

In Confirmation of Spring

Did another Carsington ABB last week, that's where the Chiffchaff came from there. The Great Northern Divers are still around but shouldn't be there for very much longer. Always a tease to have them disappear just before summer plumage kicks in. My first Swallows and Sand Martins of the year were scooting along the dam, plus the Redshanks and Oystercatchers look frisky and ready to begin nestwork.

Another first for the year was a Willow Warbler right on time at Kings Mill Reservoir.

Scenes from Carsington...