If you didn’t know it, you would speed past this small gem of a site alongside the A621 to Sheffield without noticing it. We soon had the first of many sightings of Pied Flycatchers but most of us missed the Cuckoo that Brian saw and heard soon after his arrival. There were good views of Redstarts and brief sightings of a Redpoll. Mid-way through our wander through the scrub / woodland Brian had us all take turns to stick our heads into a hole in a tree and report what we could see – not a lot if we were honest but a photo revealed the secret – a female Mandarin on her nest.
We lingered by Bar Brook, well away from traffic noise and were entertained by a Tree Pipit repeatedly flying up from a tree and parachuting down to the ground before returning to a tree to perch.
As we arrived in the car park by the mill, we passed a bank of photographers with their long lenses trained on the upper stories of the mill. We soon spotted the Peregrine ourselves and Brian got it in his scope for close-up viewing. Once or twice it took off in an unsuccessful pursuit of a pigeon. We moved on to the weir, adding a few more species to our list before crossing the bridge and heading up Wyver Lane.
The sun was out almost continuously for our visit and the song birds kept us entertained, including Chaffinch, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Wren. From the hide we saw swallows, several species of duck, a Lapwing and a Little Egret. A couple of Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk increased our raptor count as we continued along the lane.
Our small group travelled by car to this excellent RSPB reserve on the Dee estuary, on the south side of the Wirral peninsula. There was a chilly breeze and though there were a few showers, the visitor centre and hides gave us shelter. We benefitted from Shirley’s knowledge of the reserve and its bird population and she accompanied us throughout the morning. We had close-up views of Black-tailed Godwit and Pintail and more distant sightings of a pair of Garganey and the Marsh Harrier. Redshank and Godwit were quite numerous; in among them were a few Spotted Redshank with their noticeably greyer plumage. Eventually we spotted the Little Gull bobbing along on the surface of the water in front of the Border Hide. Towards the end of our stay flocks of Pink-footed Geese arrived to graze.
Members participating: 4 + 1 guest and Shirley, our RSPB guide
The weather was cool and cloudy for our visit to this RSBP
reserve to the south-east of Barnsley in the Dearne Valley – a dry day gave a
welcome break from the rain of recent days.
Swifts were in abundance, often flying low over the water – almost
swallow-like. We didn’t get a Bittern on
our list as the area around where the Bitterns were nesting was closed
off. However, we did manage to see a
Little Ringed Plover, a Turnstone and a few Avocet, none of which often feature
on our trips.
This was the last of our organised trips for the 20/21 season. We plan to resume in September when we hope you may be able to join us. If you live in North Derbyshire and are not already a member, do consider joining us. Contact details for Committee members can be found elsewhere on our website.
This RSPB reserve in Staffordshire is a delightful place to
go for a country walk even if there were no birds, with mixed woodland and more
open areas. In fact there was a good
selection of birds. From the car park,
we headed north on the Young Woodland Loop (clockwise direction), branching
left on to the Valley Woodland Trail before rejoinning the Loop and returning
to the car park.
Bluebells were beginning to show and a few butterflies were
in evidence, including Orange Tip and Peacock.
Before we started on the trail a woodpecker was spotted in flight at
distance and a Great Spotted was subsequently heard drumming. We saw a few Pied Flycatchers, including a
pair at Nest Box 32 but sightings were brief.
Redstarts were elusive but one was eventually seen after most members had
left (from the Woodcock Trail).
planning for the reservoir got underway in the 1960’s it wasn’t
opened until 1992 (by the Queen). Water is pumped into it from the
Derwent during the winter months and the level was low for our visit.
We parked at the Sheepwash car park and had two groups of six
members set off from there, with the second lingering longer at the
car park. The list above is a compilation of what the two groups
It was encouraging to have a good number of members turn out. There was a bit of drizzle when we arrived and more towards the end of our visit but for most of the time it was dry with just a brief glimpse of the sun. Lapwing were active over the reservoir and foreshore as we assembled and there was a group of Lesser Black-backed Gulls further out on the water. In one creek we had good views of a flock of 20 or more Goldfinch and towards the end of our stay a flock of Redwing came in and were twittering away in the trees. Some members saw a Willow Tit at the bird table down towards Lane End Hide.
Event Date: Saturday 26 September 2020, 09.30 to 13.00
Attenborough Nature Reserve is situated on the northern bank of the River Trent and is managed by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. The hides were closed because of the pandemic but we still managed to get good views over the ponds and River Trent. The sun was in and out and the cool breeze was only felt in the more exposed spots.
It was noticeably quiet on the bird-front in most of the wooded areas. The smaller species were not numerous and only tended to show up where food had been put out for them. Nevertheless, considering the time of year, we were pleased with our tally of 35 species. We had a good view of the Kingfisher (helped by having a scope); it was clinging on to a bent reed over one of the ponds.
Once again we had to compete with cyclists, runners, dog walkers and families enjoying a day out but the reserve is big enough for that not to be a major issue.
The Middleton Lakes reserve comprises a mosaic of wetlands, meadows and woodland in the Tame valley, near Tamworth. Our previous visit was three years ago, also in November. Maps were provided by the very friendly and helpful husband and wife team volunteering at the cabin.
The forecast for the day wasn’t brilliant but the weather turned out rather better. We had a decent dry period for much of our stay although the rather overcast skies and poor light made identification at a distance somewhat tricky. The woodland paths gave us close up sightings of the tits, nuthatches and chaffinches. We also had a brief view of a Twite. Over the lagoons there were numerous Greylag Geese and a Great White as well as Little Egrets – plenty to see while we demolished our sandwiches in the comfort of the Lookout hide. All in all, it was a most enjoyable day and we look forward to revisiting the reserve in the future.
Willington Gravel Pits is situated in the Trent Valley and is managed by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. There are various viewing platforms and a hide overlooking the flooded gravel workings. The day was warm and sunny for our first visit here since 2016.
The first couple to arrive spotted a Marsh Harrier and we later saw a Peregrine and a couple of buzzards. We had good, though fleeting, views of Hobbies and Kingsfishers. For most of our time in the hide, we had it to ourselves, keeping our eyes on the channels around the hide in case a Water Rail or Bittern should appear. It wasn’t our day for those species but, in addition to those seen on and over the gravel pits, there was a steady flow of birds to the nearby feeders and to the wooded area surrounding them, including a Great Spotted Woodpecker. We also heard a Cetti’s Warbler in the reedbeds.
Padley Gorge, as its name suggests, is a steep-sided valley, located to the north of Grindleford. The gorge passes through mature woodland, either side of Burbage Brook. It is an area well-known in birding circles for its population of Pied Flycatchers. Several nest boxes have been placed in the trees to encourage these and other species to raise their young.
There were a few spots of rain as we were gathering but they soon cleared and the lack of wind enabled us to enjoy the birdsong unhindered. We set off from the roadside parking area near the top of the gorge on the B6521 and headed across Burbage Brook to pick up the path that leads down the gorge towards Grindleford. Before we entered the woodland we spotted a Grey Wagtail on rocks at the edge of the Brook.
There were a number of sightings of Pied Flycatchers and two of the group saw a Spotted Flycatcher. It was encouraging to hear a Cuckoo and a Redstart, though neither were seen. However, we had several good views of both Nutchatches and Treecreepers.
We ran out of time to investigate the moorland to the northwest of our start point but there is potential there for exploring a rather different bird habitat.