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EVENT REMINDER

 Posted by on October 3, 2018  Carsington Bird Club, Events, Things To Do  Comments Off on EVENT REMINDER
Oct 032018
 

CBC Meeting Schedule for 2018/19

All CBC indoor meetings are held in the ‘Henmore Room’ in Carsington Water’s main centre and they start at 19.30h. Entrance fee is £2.00 to members and £2.50 to guests – Parking is free.

20 November  – ‘Birding debut in Australia’ by Chris Lamb – Henmore Room (7.30pm)

18 December  – ‘British Wildlife through the seasons’ by Andy Parkinson – Henmore Room (7.30pm)

 – First Sunday of the month – Birdwatching for Beginners – Meet Visitor Centre (10am-12 noon)

Outdoor Activities:
Please contact CBC with any queries or for further information.

Long Trip Rewarded at RSPB Frampton Marsh

 Posted by on October 3, 2018  Carsington Bird Club, Events, Member Reports  Comments Off on Long Trip Rewarded at RSPB Frampton Marsh
Oct 032018
 

Our latest CBC trip – to Frampton Marsh RSPB Reserve – on Sunday 30th September was well supported with 12 people making the journey to the Lincolnshire coast.  Frampton is an excellent location and at this time of year offered the prospect of passage waders and the early arrivals of wintering ducks, geese and swans, with always the possibility of a rarity thrown in for good measure.

Most of us took the opportunity of a welcoming hot drink on arrival at the Visitor Centre, while overlooking the Reedbed pools where we were able to observe large rafts of Black-tailed Godwits, estimated by the centre staff to total around 2,500.  There were also good numbers of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Avocet, as well as plenty of Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal. The bird feeders just outside the window provided close-up views of some common species, such as House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Blue Tit.

Moving round to the Reedbed hide we settled in to try and identify more waders and were rewarded with a couple of Ruff, a Greenshank and a number of Golden Plover. The numbers of Wigeon flying in were steadily increasing and we were able to pick out 4-5 Pintail among them, distinguished by their longer necks and more upright posture in the water.

After lunch, we set off round the Wash trail in search of a Little Stint which had been spotted at the southern corner of the trail and we were able to get fairly good views of this tiny wader, along with a Snipe which not surprisingly proved more difficult to locate. Further round a Spotted Redshank was seen, at least half a dozen Little Grebe and a solitary Brent Goose.

Continuing round the Wash trail, then the Reedbed trail, we encountered flocks of Linnets, Meadow Pipits and a pair of Stonechats.  Arriving back at the Visitor Centre we were treated to a female Merlin sitting on a fence across the fields, as well as Egyptian Geese in a field, and a single Whooper Swan on the Reedbed pools.

On news that a Cattle Egret had been seen, a few of our group ventured down a tree-lined path to a reservoir, picking up Chiffchaff on the way.  The egret was indeed there, scampering between the legs of grazing cattle, while some other species including Coot, Tufted Duck and Great Black-backed Gull which had eluded us so far were bobbing on the water of the small reservoir.

All in all it was a very good day which everyone seemed to enjoy, with a collective total of 61 species seen by the group.  Below is the full list …

Mute Swan, House Sparrow, Black-headed Gull, Cetti’s Warbler, Swallow, Goldfinch, Black-tailed Godwit, Wigeon, Greenfinch, Linnet, Blue Tit, Robin, Common Gull, Moorhen, Avocet, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Shelduck, Teal, Mallard, Kestrel, Skylark, Starling, Shoveler, Pintail, Golden Plover, Greenshank, Ruff, Carrion Crow, Little Egret, Little Stint, Snipe, Cormorant, Spotted Redshank, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Brent Goose, Herring Gull, Canada Goose, Meadow Pipit, Woodpigeon, Stonechat, Magpie, Merlin, Egyptian Goose, Whooper Swan, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Pheasant, Cattle Egret, Coot, Tufted Duck, Great Black-backed Gull, Collared Dove, Great Tit, Dunnock, Buzzard, Tree Sparrow, Pied Wagtail  and Jay.

Cattle Egret – Rob Chadwick

Little Stint – John Follett

Avocets – John Sykes

Black-tailed Godwit – Gary Atkins

Shoveler – Gary Atkins

Brent Goose – John Sykes

Black-tailed Godwits – John Sykes

CBC Newsletter No. 3 – September 2018

 Posted by on September 7, 2018  Carsington Bird Club, CBC Newsletters  Comments Off on CBC Newsletter No. 3 – September 2018
Sep 072018
 

First of all, apologies in advance for this ‘slimline’ newsletter, which reflects how quiet it goes over the late summer both in terms of club events and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the birdlife at the reservoir (as the following reservoir report reflects).  We are about to get things moving again, however (see ‘Diary Dates’ below), with the resumption of indoor meetings and another club trip at the end of this month.

We have a complete season of interesting talks and fabulous photos in place for 2018-19, kicking off with local photographer Paul Hobson.  Meanwhile, the club outing is a little farther afield this time, to the ever-popular Frampton Marsh which generally guarantees a few surprises and a nice long list of sightings.

Regarding club ‘admin’, we now have our general policy on data privacy posted on the front page of the website; this aims to protect members’ privacy, but if you have any queries or concerns over this document, please contact any of the committee for clarification.

We are also still in need of an auditor for the club’s accounts after being served notice by David Bennett, who audited our books for some years.  It would be really good if we could find someone within our own ranks to undertake this important task, which while not time-consuming requires professional expertise.

Gary Atkins

 

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

There are two key dates for members to note later this month (all of our events for the rest of the year are listed in the ‘What’s On’ section on the next page) —

** TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 ** – Award-winning wildlife photographer Paul Hobson is returning to talk to us on the topic of ‘Coast and Islands’.  It’s bound to be an exciting journey …

** SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 ** – For our next club trip we head off to RSPB’s prime reserve at Frampton Marsh (postcode PE20 1AY), which invariably throws up some special species and a healthy list.  Meet there at 10.30am. If you intend to come along – particularly if you need a lift – do let Chris Lamb know either by phone on 01629 820890 or by e-mail at cflamb@yahoo.co.uk

 

WATER BIRD BROODS DIP – BUT OSPREYS AND EGRET CAUSE A FLUTTER

Up to seven Little Egrets have recently been parading around the perimeter of the reservoir, but it was this species’ bigger cousin – a Great White Egret – which caused particular excitement earlier this month.  It was first spotted on 1 September but was then seen by many over the next couple of days before moving on.

Ospreys will always be a talking point, even on their return routes to wintering grounds, and there were five sightings in a seven-day period, the last of which on 3 September was seen carrying a fish over nearby Kirk Ireton.  Other raptors over the summer included four Red Kite records, a juvenile Marsh Harrier on 4 August, and nimble Hobbys which were spotted twice in June, then three times in August.  A Barn Owl thrilled one observer on 7 August at Millfields, where a Tawny Owl was disturbed a couple of weeks later.

Breeding has been mixed, with smaller birds doing well but waterfowl and waders generally producing less broods than usual, with the exception of Great Crested Grebes (8 broods) and Canada Geese.  Two pairs of Reed Warblers bred in Brownale Bay, showing how this species is expanding its range on site, two pairs of Sedge Warblers bred on Stones Island and fledged Redstart young were noted in Shiningford Creek.

As would be expected, autumn numbers of waterfowl are on the increase with 563 Coot, 456 Tufted Ducks and 282 Mallard counted during the August WeBS count, 951 Canada Geese noted on 24 August and 409 Teal on 4 September, with double-figure totals of Goosander, Wigeon, Pochard and Shoveler on some days.

Meanwhile up to seven of the scarcer Common Scoter have been recorded in each of the last three months, and a Ruddy Shelduck was an interesting diversion from 22 to 29 August, though considered a likely escapee.

The gull roost has also begun to swell, as 1,600 Lesser Black-backs were counted at the end of August, along with 280 Black-headeds.  More unusual gulls in recent months have included a Kittiwake, two Caspian Gulls, up to four Yellow-legs and an adult Mediterranean Gull that was noted on 25 July.

Sixteen wader species helped boost the July total to a site record for that month of 107, and the following month’s 113 – the fourth best August total – was also boosted by wader sightings including some scarce species such as Avocet, Ruff, Wood and Green Sandpipers, Turnstone, Knot, Sanderling, Whimbrel and Black-tailed Godwit.

Autumn movements are also now evident, with some species moving in, some through and others out, en route for their winter quarters.  Earlier this month, 20 Meadow Pipits joined the ever-active Wagtail brigade, which included seven Yellows and as many as 65 Pied and half-a-dozen Grey Wagtails in late August.  Hirundines are gathering, too, with 200-strong flocks of Swallows on 26 August and House Martins on 3 September.  There have been fewer Sand Martins recorded, but 137 Swifts were counted on 30 June, with the last of this sleek species noted flying through on 23 August.

A site-scarce Green Woodpecker was seen at Millfields on 9 August, Crossbills were recorded over Millfields and Blackwall plantation in each of the last three months, while flocks of 100+ Goldfinches were seen, often on Stones Island.

There are still quite a few of our summer visitors around, too, with 29 Chiffchaffs and 15 Blackcaps counted as recently as 3 September.

 

“PG LEGACY” NEST BOXES TO BE INSTALLED FOR TREE SPARROWS

A sizeable batch of nest boxes for Tree Sparrows, serving as a legacy to the memory of former Chairman Peter Gibbon, has been completed and delivered.  The boxes will soon be installed around the site, following the imminent completion of the current breeding season.

This effort to help consolidate the traditionally robust Tree Sparrow presence follows a survey between Stones Island and Sheepwash to determine numbers, which last year showed a worrying reduction to a maximum of 28 at any one time as against pre-breeding flocks of 40 and 50 at the Wildlife Centre alone in the previous two years.

Some of the new batch of nest boxes will replace existing ones that have fallen into disrepair, others will be located to reflect the subtle changes in location in which the Tree Sparrow population has been monitored.  Most of the numbered boxes will carry a “PG” prefix in recognition of Peter’s huge contribution to CBC during his lengthy tenure as Chairman.

 

WHAT’S ON

After a quiet summer, our programme of indoor talks is just about to get underway, with its usual wide range of subjects and brilliant photographs, and a club trip is also arranged for the end of September.   Details:

18 September   Talk by Paul Hobson: ‘Coast and Islands’ – Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

30 September   Trip to Frampton Marsh RSPB reserve, Lincolnshire  – Meet 10.30am at reserve – (see earlier notice for details)

16 October       Talk (joint with DOS) by Chris Galvin: ‘Around the World  in 80 birds’ –  Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

20 November    Talk by our very own Chris Lamb on Oz wildlife – Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

18 December    Talk by Andrew Parkinson: British Wildlife thru’ the seasons Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

 

Below are events being staged at Carsington Water over the autumn and early winter by Severn Trent Water, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust or New Leaf Catering.

Some incur a charge or require booking, so check with the host organisation for more details (via STW on 01629 540696, DWT on 01773 881188 or New Leaf on 01629 540363):

First Sunday of month     Birdwatching for Beginners – Meet Visitor Centre (10am-12 noon)

First weekend of month   Optics demonstrations – RSPB shop, Visitor Centre (10am-4pm)

Every Tuesday/Sunday   Wildlife Centre volunteers on parade – Wildlife Centre (10am-3pm)

Third Saturday monthly   Family Forest School (charges apply) – Contact DWT to book

Last Saturday monthly     Sheepwash Spinners (wool-craft) – Information at Visitor Centre

17 October                   Jazz afternoon tea (£18.95pp) – Restaurant (book via New Leaf)

12 December                ‘A Capella’ Christmas Lunch (£24.95) – Restaurant (as above)

14 December                Lunch and festive jazz afternoon (£24.95) – Restaurant (as above)

GDPR – General Data Protection Regulations

 Posted by on June 23, 2018  Carsington Bird Club  Comments Off on GDPR – General Data Protection Regulations
Jun 232018
 

Please read the important statement below.

Data Privacy Policy

Carsington Bird Club (CBC) respects the privacy of its membership and is committed to protecting any and all personal data held.

Responsibility for overseeing data is taken by the Managing Committee and the Officers of the Club.

Data Held

– Identity Data includes title, first name, last name and user name (if different).

– Contact Data includes postal address, email address, and telephone numbers.

Data is collected when a individual(s) applies for membership of the Club and is amended / updated as necessary, usually on annual renewal.

Name and email address is collected on any individual submitting sightings to the Club’s online website www.carsingtonbirdclub.co.uk (see also “ Privacy “ statement on CBC’s website).

Use of Personal Data

– As a Register of  membership of Carsington Bird Club.

– For Communication purposes which typically involves a regular activity/news Bulletin ?and Annual Report or to contact individuals about their sightings, if required.

– As a Record of subscriptions paid and donations to the Club’s finances.

 – The club may use personal information to alert membership to the expiry of subscriptions.

CBC do not use any personal information for marketing, promoting or advertising the Club.

CBC do not sell, share or divulge members personal data with any outside organisation or third party, nor do we share such data within the Club’s membership (other than the Managing Committee) without the express consent of the individual.

Security

All data is stored on private computer equipment which is protected by appropriate security software.

Data Removal

Data is deleted when any individual ceases their Membership of the Club.

Rights

Under the European Union’s General Data Protection Act (GDPR), individuals have a number of important rights.

A summary of your rights in relation to the personal data we hold is given as:

a. The right to be informed..

– A copy of the Club’s Privacy Policy will be provided to individuals at the time we collect their data. ie. On becoming a Member.

b. The right of access

– This gives the individual the right to obtain a copy of their personal data.

c. The right to rectification.

– This gives the individual the right to have inaccurate personal data rectified or ?completed if incomplete.

d. The right to erasure in certain circumstances.

e. The right to complain to the regulatory body.

f. The right to object to processing.

– An individual may be able to limit the way an organisation uses their data.

g. The right to data portability.

h. The right to withdraw consent.

It is suggested that for further information reference should be made to official documentation from the bodies involved, which for the UK is the Information Commissioners Office. https://ico.org.uk

Contact

Any concerns regarding this Policy should be made to one of CBC’s Managing Committee / Officers.

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CBC Newsletter No. 2 – June 2018

 Posted by on June 15, 2018  Carsington Bird Club, CBC Newsletters, Educational, Events  Comments Off on CBC Newsletter No. 2 – June 2018
Jun 152018
 

Welcome to the latest Bird Club newsletter. Hopefully, the recent (mainly) good weather has given you plenty of opportunities to get out and watch our breeding birds during the busiest part of the year. With much of the feverish bonding, nest building and territory defending behind them, most species are now quietly gathering food and raising their broods which, together with the explosion of greenery now covering trees, gardens and hedgerows, means the birds will from now on be a little harder to see – so getting acquainted with their songs and calls is a helpful addition to the birder’s armoury.

We have now heard from most existing members, the majority of whom have renewed their memberships – and the good news is we’ve had new members join up, too. A net increase of six, in fact, so for the first time in a several years, we can report a rise in membership numbers. We aim to keep the activities rolling along in order to maintain the interest levels for those who like to get out and about.

In this issue we report on some of those activities, including a productive trip to Carr Vale and ‘warbler walk’ at Carsington; also, as ever, we summarise the key sightings over the last three months at the reservoir. Note also that we have a further trip planned for the autumn, details of which are given below.

 

POOR EARLY SPRING WEATHER DELAYS MANY ARRIVALS – BUT NOT FLYCATCHERS

It’s that time of year when we say cheerio to our winter visitors and hello to our summer arrivals, which were in the main delayed this year because of the freezing cold of March and poor weather in April. May has been a different story, of course, and the usual species have made a late dash in … except for the Great Northern Diver which made its exit, also a tiny bit later than usual and resplendent in full summer plumage, on 13 May.

Chiffchaff (11 March), Sand Martin (28 March), Swallow and House Martin (both 3 April) and Blackcap (4 April) were the only arrivals able to exchange pleasantries with the departing winter thrushes, which were last seen in mid-April, but it didn’t take long for the other summer visitors to stake their claims around the reservoir. Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Sedge, Garden and Reed Warblers, Redstart and Swift were all noted for the first time during the third week of April.

Bucking the late-arrival trend were both species of Flycatcher, with Pied seen on 16 April and Spotted on 4 May – both dates being the earliest ever recorded at Carsington.   Other passerine highlights were the Stonechat seen on 6 March, a single Rock Pipit five days later then, in May, a single Whinchat, while the 73 Skylark flying over in early March was a site record.

 

CLUB NOTES

Advance notice of trip: It has been decided to stage another club outing in the autumn – this time a little farther afield, to the invariably very productive RSPB reserve at Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire. So, get Sunday, 30 September in your diaries. Chris Lamb expects a convoy to be the best plan, so let him know early if you want to go, as a driver or passenger.

Privacy Notice: As the new General Data Protection Regulations came into effect at the end of May, we want to assure all members that any data we hold on you is purely for administrative purposes (such as sending you reports/newsletters, updates on events and other information and membership renewals) and will not be divulged to any third party. We are presently reviewing our written policy (as appears on the website), but do not anticipate any significant changes to current practices. Meanwhile, if you have any concerns, please alert one of the committee.

Auditor appeal: Long-time CBC auditor, David Bennett, has signalled his ‘retirement’ and is doing his last audit of our accounts this year – so we are now looking for a new auditor from the membership. John Follett assures it’s not an onerous task, so, any volunteers? Please let John know if you can help.

A jaw-dropping sight for the regular birders was 240 Arctic Terns that passed through together on 2 May along with 10 Common Terns. Later in the month, smaller numbers of Sandwich and Black Terns were also spotted. Gulls have produced some variety, with Caspian and Mediterranean both recorded and Kittiwakes counted on two dates, while there were, 4,500 Black-headed, 1,300 Common and 160 Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the roost on 6 March. Great Black-backed Gull numbers, meanwhile, seem to be ever higher with 39 counted on 5 April.

A fair proportion of the Black-headed Gulls began setting up a breeding colony on Millfields Island, but they abandoned their nests and moved to Sailing Club and Horseshoe Islands, thought to be because of the presence of predatory mammals. The 400 nests on Sailing Club Island were then abandoned, too, probably for the same reason, so it’s not been a good year for this species, though some young were raised around the Wildlife Centre. We can give a better summary of all species’ breeding in the next newsletter.

It’s been a good ‘quarter’ for raptors, with six Red Kite sightings through April and May, Osprey noted on three days in April, a Marsh Harrier on 9 May, two Merlins together in March and Peregrine popping up regularly, though not as often as Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard, 20 of which were counted together on 25 March.

Barn Owls produced a good-news/bad-news story as one was found dead near the Wildlife Centre in March, but three other sightings were made during March and April. Occasional records of Tawny Owl were further rewarded when a fledged youngster was spotted on 26 May.

Waders have also been recorded in good variety and decent numbers, with 55 Curlew roosting together in March, when up to 16 Oystercatchers and smaller numbers of Little Ringed Plovers also arrived back on site. Since then, Golden Plover, Common and Jack Snipe, Ruff, Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Greenshank, Green and Common Sandpiper have all joined the more familiar and regularly-seen Redshank and Lapwing.

Other water birds making a splash were a herd of 59 Whooper Swans that visited the site between 3 and 5 March, a summer-plumage Black-necked Grebe which graced us with a visit on 5 April and a lone Little Egret that arrived on 12 May.

 

SPRING IS SPRUNG WITH A TRIP AND RESERVOIR WALKS

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Carr Vale reserve, near Bolsover, was the destination for the club’s latest members’ trip in late April and it got off to a slow start as dogs and horses outnumbered the birds at first. But before long the small group was picking up the distinctive songs of visiting Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, as well as resident Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Dunnocks, Wrens and Robins.

The distant but unmistakable ‘yaffle’ of a Green Woodpecker was noted but not heard again, while arriving at the group of lakes, ducks and geese were added to the growing list, a Grey Heron flew over – the only one of the day – and a Great Crested Grebe was seen expertly catching fish.

The raised mound proved a very good place to scan the lakes and a single Oystercatcher was seen in a distant field, while a couple of Common Terns and handful of Lapwing were dotted among a sizeable flock of Black-headed Gulls circling above the water.

Closer to, a Reed Warbler was heard singing but, as is so often the case with this secretive species, remained unseen. By contrast, great close-up views were had at the feeding tables on the fringe of the observation platform, which attracted two pairs of Bullfinches, with the males looking particularly resplendent, a pair of Reed Buntings, a male Yellowhammer that dropped in briefly and a Willow Tit.

A passing fellow birder had earlier reported hearing a Lesser Whitethroat at this location and the group picked up its distant song. Moving further round the reserve, a Skylark was picked out singing high in the sky, followed by at least two or three singing Blackcaps which did offer fleeting views as they flew across the path.

It was, ultimately, a decent morning’s walk: the weather stayed fine, after an uncertain start, and the CBC travellers logged a total of 39 species seen or heard.

Back at Carsington, the first planned walk of the spring period proved something of a damp squib as the joint Severn Trent/CBC Wagtail Walk on the evening of 24 April followed a day of unremitting rain. It did ease off and around 12 people joined David Bennett, Roger Carrington and Jon Bradley on the brisk circumnavigation of Stones Island, but apart from one Pied Wagtail together with a few breeding waders and, at the Wildlife Centre, a drake Mandarin there was not a lot seen.

Later the following month, a Warbler Walk was reintroduced to the club’s programme of events and was again led by Roger Carrington. His ears, well attuned to the songs and calls of both resident birds and summer visitors, was probably more important than the ten pairs of eyes that strained to see movement among the increasingly luxuriant vegetation.

Setting off from the Visitor Centre towards Stones Island the group soon encountered the scratchy song of a Whitethroat, which offered good views as it flew across the path on its song flight and perched obligingly at the top of a bush. Further on we heard a distinctive descending trill that signalled a content Willow Warbler which was soon found high up in a spindly willow.

A trickier challenge was differentiating between Garden Warbler and Blackcap songs – but eventually, the bird helped out by showing itself to be a Garden Warbler.  The same song was heard on several occasions as the group moved around Stones Island, while the song of a Sedge Warbler was identified, faintly, on the edge of Sailing Club Island.

It wasn’t just about warblers of course and more common species including Blackbird, Wren, Dunnock, Robin and Willow Tit were glimpsed and heard.

Two Turnstones had been spotted earlier on Sailing Club Island, but sadly had seemingly moved on, though the group did watch a number of Mallard families with young ducklings, as well as Gadwall and Tufted Duck, and pairs of Great-Crested Grebes performing their hypnotic mating display.

Moving off Stones Island and down Wildlife Centre Creek hopes were high for the sight or sound of Spotted Flycatcher or Lesser Whitethroat, both of which had been seen or heard earlier, but it was mainly silence (except for a Blackcap and the first Chiffchaff of the morning) that greeted the group. The Wildlife Centre was the final port of call, where a Greylag Goose, Lapwings and a distant Little Grebe boosted the collective total of species seen (or heard) to 37.

Those who attended were thankful to Roger not just for his help in identifying the dizzying variety of warbler songs and calls, but also for his tips on where to find various species around the site.

 

HOLIDAY REPORT: PORTUGAL – PART TWO!

If this feels a bit like ‘deja vu’, that’s understandable as I visited southern Portugal two years ago and wrote a report then. But my latest holiday to the area was rather different as it took in not just the salt pans and wetlands around Tavira, where we’d stayed before and spent a week again this time, but also several days at Alcoutim and Mertola in the Alentejo region around 100 kilometres north, which has a different topography and, so, a different range of birds to hunt for.

And those attributes also resulted in other differences – firstly I saw more species (104) than I’d ever before seen during a holiday on mainland Europe, including several ‘lifers’, and secondly, I was delighted to break the usual cycle of seeing hardly any birds of prey, this time watching in awe a total of nine raptor species.

Tavira is a great base in the eastern Algarve. Not only is it an attractive town with plenty of restaurants and places to stay, it’s also at the heart of the Ria Formosa coastal reserve which stretches for miles and contains some brilliant birding sites such as Olhao and Castro Marim virtually on the doorstep, and other excellent locations just the other side of the main town Faro and its airport.

Most old favourites were once again evident in the ‘salinas’ (salt marshes), just a few hundred yards from our apartment – Greater Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Black- and Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrel, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Little Stint, Dunlin, Common and Curlew Sandpipers, and Ringed and Grey Plovers.

More generally, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Hoopoes and Serin were everywhere, Fan-tailed Warblers pinged above our heads, and Nightingales regaled us with their beautiful flutey songs from countless fresh water refuges, though they were tricky to see, often buried deep in reeds. And it seems to be true that they sing all day long: I woke up one night at 3.30am and heard one singing!

My wife Meryl, sister Corinne (a fellow birder!) and I stayed at a beautiful hotel in Alcoutim, on the banks of the Guardiana River that forms the boundary with Spain for much of its lower length. Here, we heard Golden Oriole joining the morning chorus, while it was quite a sight to see 40-50 Bee-eaters swarming over the exact same fields we’d seen them during a day-trip to the town two years earlier.

A regional specialist is the attractive Azure-winged Magpie, ironically one of the most common birds, along with House and Spanish Sparrows and Collared Doves.

Another daily sighting was White Storks, equally impressive whether soaring high in the sky, when they can be mistaken at a glance for raptors, or conducting their complex bonding routines on the countless nests they built in all sorts of precarious positions, though often on poles provided for the purpose.

Quality rather than quantity was the order of the day as Corinne and I spent two mornings scouring the rolling, green and often sparsely vegetated plains of the Alentejo. Among this area’s big birding prizes are Great and Little Bustards, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Calandra Larks, Spanish Imperial Eagles and Rollers – none of which we’d seen before our final full day, but all of which we’d notched by the end of it.

Our earlier sortie a couple of days before had included Black and Egyptian Vultures, Black Kite, Lesser Kestrel and Montagu’s Harriers, which offered superb close views as they quartered farmland just yards from the road we were travelling along. Along with a Short-toed Eagle and Buzzards and Common Kestrels seen early in the holiday, this late rush boosted our list of raptors.

In Mertola, a quick stroll to the castle revealed Blue Rock Thrush and occasional short-lived views of Lesser Kestrel, together with smaller birds such as Blue and Great Tits, which are much scarcer in southern Portugal.

Gosney’s guide to this area was a useful aid to finding the best sites (we’d never have found the Bustards, for example, without going to one of his more out-of-the-way suggestions), and it’s always worth reading up other people’s birding reports from similar times of the year. Another informative place was the headquarters of the LPN – Portugal’s organisation for protecting nature that maintains a number of large reserves in the area – which is situated a few miles north of Castro Verde (but beware, is tricky to find!).

Gary Atkins

 

WHAT’S ON

As we hit summer, our indoor talks programme is not so far away, and below are the talks we have on offer during the ‘first-half’ (2018). We are also hopeful of staging another club trip in the autumn; details are yet to be finalised, so we’ll be in touch – but keep your eye on the website for more information.

18 September                        ‘Coast and Island’ talk by Paul Hobson                        Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

30 September                        Club outing to Frampton Marsh                                         Arrangements c/o Chris Lamb

16 October                             TBD (DOS to arrange speaker for our joint mtg)       Henmore Room (7.30pm)

20 November                        ‘Birding debut in Australia’ by Chris Lamb                    Henmore Room (7.30pm)

18 December                        ‘British Wildlife through the seasons’ by Andy Parkinson         Henmore Room (7.30pm)

 

Meanwhile, the regular events at Carsington continue courtesy of either Severn Trent or Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, together with the occasional special event. Below are those events scheduled over the summer months. Some attract a charge or are subject to booking, so it’s always worth checking for further details (to do so, call Severn Trent on 01629 540696 or Derbyshire Wildlife Trust on 01773 881188):

First Sunday of month – Birdwatching for Beginners – Meet Visitor Centre (10am-12 noon)

First weekend of month  – Optics demonstrations – RSPB shop, Visitor Centre (10am-4pm)

First Mondays of month (but not August)   – Nature Tots: playgroup with a difference;   Contact DWT for booking/info outdoor learning (booking essential)

Every Tuesday/Sunday    Wildlife Centre volunteers on parade – Wildlife Centre (10am-3pm)

Selected Wednesdays  ‘Wild Wednesday’ fun during the school holidays in late July/August (accompanied children only) – Contact DWT for information

Third Saturday monthly     Family Forest School (charges apply) – Contact DWT to book

1 July – Collie chaos: dog show and fun day – Visitor Centre (10am-7pm) – (£5 family donation to Little Buds)

22 July – Family Fun Day, including donkey rides – Amphitheatre behind Visitor Centre –    (10am-3pm)

11 August – Plant Hunters Fair – Visitor Centre courtyard (10am-4pm)

2 Septembe – Rescue Day: meet the rescue and emergency   services demonstrating how they save lives – Visitor Centre (10am-4pm)

 

KNOW YOUR COMMITTEE – Here are the club officials and their contact details……..
       
Committee Post Name Telephone Email Address
Secretary Paul Hicking 01773 827727 paulandsteph@hicking.plus.com
Treasurer / Membership John Follett 01332 834778 johnlfollett@virginmedia.com
Recorders Clive Ashton /

Dave Newcombe

01629 823316

n/a

cliveashton@btinternet.com

danewcombe@hotmail.co.uk

Publications / Indoor Meetings Gary Atkins 01335 370773 garysatkins@aol.com

 

Events co-ordinator Chris Lamb 01629 820890 cflamb@yahoo.co.uk
Ex-officio

 

Jon Bradley

Roger Carrington

 

01773 852526

01629 583816

 

jonathan.bradley4@btinternet.com

rcarrington_matlock@yahoo.co.uk

 

…..and the website address   –   http://www.carsingtonbirdclub.co.uk
Webmaster Richard Pittam n/a Contact Richard via the website

 

 

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