Welcome to the Carsington Bird Club website, containing information about the club, Carsington Water, latest bird sightings and much more!

******* LATEST NEWS *******

 Posted by on August 12, 2021  Carsington Bird Club  Comments Off on ******* LATEST NEWS *******
Aug 122021
 
For the LATEST details of Severn Trent Water’s Carsington Water site restrictions and availability of services, relating to COVID-19 – CLICK HERE

CBC Meeting Schedule for 2021

21 September 2021 – first talk of the year (Paul Bingham on Sri Lanka), New Leaf Restaurant at the Carsington Visitor Centre. Commences at 7.30pm.

03 October 2021 –  we’re planning to travel to Frampton Marsh for our second trip of the year. Details to follow….

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

 
Other Activities

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

Outdoor Activities:

For Severn Trent’s spring programme, it’s often sensible to book a place with the visitor centre (on 01629 540696).

 


 

Newsletter No 3 / August 2021

 Posted by on August 12, 2021  CBC Newsletters  Comments Off on Newsletter No 3 / August 2021
Aug 122021
 

Welcome to our August newsletter, which contains updates on planned club activities during the next three months.  There’s a summary of the wildlife seen at the reservoir over late spring/ summer, and Severn Trent’s site manager John Matkin informs us of plans for a major upgrade of the Sheepwash hide.

The easing of Covid rules has allowed the Wildlife Centre and two other hides – Lane End and Paul Stanley – to reopen, though common sense measures are expected when visiting them.  From a personal point of view, it has been hugely refreshing to be able to get out and about again, not just in Derbyshire but beyond the county borders.  Let’s hope the recent improvements, facilitated by the successful vaccination programme, can continue and edge us closer still to the way we wish to live our lives.

See the ‘Dates for Your Diary’ box below, which outlines upcoming events including a club trip scheduled for Sunday, 3 October, to RSPB Frampton Marsh.  This site generally produces an excellent list, often including a rarity or two among the autumn migration.  We also hope to resume indoor talks – in person.  The Zoom talks in 2020-21 were a good standby out of necessity, reminding us of the amazing wildlife elsewhere in the world, but it will be good also to meet up and chat over tea and coffee.

We feel that our traditional home, the ‘cosy’ Henmore Room, is still not the ideal venue in the Covid age because of its limited space, so we have negotiated with New Leaf Catering to use the restaurant for our 2021-22 talks. 

Despite losing a few members this year we have, encouragingly, gained a number of new ones and retained some of the more recent recruits despite the quiet times imposed by Covid.  Another less enjoyable ‘status quo’ is the situation of the club’s committee, which remains with lowest number of people it can have in order to represent a ‘quorum’ (excuse the sudden infusion of Latin!) and to undertake the various tasks that have to be done.  See a further note about this on page two.

The main area of concern is recording: we really cannot undertake the depth and scope of recording traditionally achieved by the club without someone to maintain an effective database.  Without a new recorder, the ethos of the club may change; they would not have to be hugely knowledgeable about birdlife – we have a number of expert birders around who regularly log their sightings and can advise on the efficacy of others’ records – but they would need to be keen and computer (mainly Excel)-literate.

DO please come forward if you can help.  The very nature and ethos of the club will have to change if we don’t pick up the slack on recording very soon.

Gary Atkins

 

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Below are the dates of upcoming events; all indoor meetings are on Tuesday at the Visitor Centre and begin at 7.30pm, except for September’s which will incorporate our belated AGM, scheduled for 7pm (please attend if you can):

** TUESDAY, 21 SEPTEMBER ** – Talk: A welcome return by Paul Bingham, who is kicking off our latest indoor season with a talk on the wildlife and wonders of Sri Lanka

** SUNDAY, 3 OCTOBER ** – Outing: our autumn offering is a trip to an old favourite – Frampton Marsh, in Lincolnshire, which never fails to produce a good day’s birding and the occasional surprise.  Meet 10.30am in the reserve car park; bring own refreshments.  If you intend to join us, please inform Chris Lamb (phone 01629 820890 or by e-mail at cflamb@yahoo.co.uk).

** TUESDAY, 19 OCTOBER ** – Talk: Our annual joint meeting with DOS will show us the wildlife mysteries of the Forest of Dean, in the capable hands of Nick Martin.

** TUESDAY, 16 NOVEMBER ** – We have Ian Newton travelling north from his home patch to tell us about the wildlife highlights of Lesvos, the Greek island that is a true birding haven.

“HELP!”

As the bird club has now reached a critical time regarding its continued and effective management, the committee makes no apologies for underlining the current situation and appealing once again for help from the membership.

Currently we still have no Chair (a light workload but providing a focal point and co-ordination role), no Secretary (to arrange meetings/venues, take minutes, and check follow-up actions) and, as mentioned earlier, no Recorder (to maintain a comprehensive database that is the foundation of records and how they are used for published data in, for example, the annual report and bird notes).

Furthermore, the club’s Constitution and Rules state that the Committee must have four to be a quorum, able to start meetings and make decisions.  As we have for some time now had just four Committee members, club management stops should one of these be indisposed!

At the Club’s AGM, on 21 September (ahead of the first indoor meeting), members will be asked to consider and discuss its future.  Can it realistically continue without more volunteers to join the committee and share in undertaking some of the roles either currently vacant or covered by existing officers?  And, if so, what should it look like, and should the goals/Constitution be revised?

 

FIRST ‘PIED FLY’ BREEDING FEATURES AMONG 2021 SUCCESSES

It has proved a busy time since the last newsletter in May, when first of all a Spoonbill dropped in but graced the site for only 20 minutes on the 11th, the long-staying ‘winter resident’ Great Northern Diver finally flew north the following day in resplendent summer plumage and then a Cetti’s Warbler made itself known in Fishtail Creek, remaining throughout May and June.

Meanwhile, in May hirundine numbers jumped with a maximum of 200 Swallows on the 4th and 5th and 300 Sand Martins on the 6th, though House Martin totals were noticeably lower.  There have been plenty of elegant flyers over the reservoir, with up to 330 Swifts through on one day, a dozen sightings of up to three Common Terns from May through July, together with half a dozen Arctic Tern records in the same period, which also contained no fewer than seven Red Kite records.

June witnessed some excellent observations, including the first three Kingfisher records since January, which was repeated in July.  A breeding ‘first’ was registered when a female Pied Flycatcher was witnessed carrying food on 19 June in Hall Wood, where a pair of Spotted Flycatchers also raised a brood of three.

Breeding was, as usual, a mixed affair.  Three pairs of Mute Swans raised two broods but all failed, though Grey Herons which bred for the first time last year were successful again with four young from three nests, and another relatively new breeding species, Gadwall, had produced at least seven broods by early July. 

A pair of Barnacle Geese with four goslings was reported on 28 May, around 200 Black-headed Gull young were around by the end of June and around 12 Great Crested Grebe broods were recorded. Away from the water, three fledged Swallows were seen at Millfields, adult Treecreepers with food were spotted in Hall Wood and there was plenty of evidence of Redstart and Chiffchaff families.  Adult Sedge Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats were regularly seen carrying food on Stones Island, and the highest count of House Sparrows – 100 at the Visitor Centre, the highest for many years – was likely to have been boosted by some young birds.

A number of the growing collection of nest boxes around the site were also known to have hosted families this year: these records are summarised in a separate short article below.

Other passerine highlights included records of up to nine Reed Warblers – a species that seems to be expanding its territory from Hopton End to Brown Ale Bay and the Wildlife Centre reedbed – and the impressive sight of 205 Pied Wagtails (along with eight Grey and one Yellow Wagtail and 80 Swallows) on the dam wall on 11 August.

August also heralded in some egret activity, with up to three Little Egrets noted on a few days, and a Great Egret dropping in on the 11th, initially flying by Stones Island but then mobile for the next hour settling on Watersports Island and Shiningford Creek before departing over Millfields.

Other raptor sightings worthy of note were the increasing number of Hobbys (nine sightings of a total of 12 birds during this period), including a pair talon-grappling, and a Peregrine seen taking a Jackdaw over the Wildlife Centre fields in mid-June.

Back on the water, Red-breasted Merganser and Goosander were star ducks along with groups of Common Scoter, one in May and three in July, with up to eight including five drakes.  Two Ruddy Shelducks were also a novelty attraction throughout June and July, generally seen among the sizeable flock of Canada Geese in front of Sheepwash car park.

Over the summer, there were six sightings of up to five Little Ringed Plovers, though there was no sign of breeding this year.  Other waders included Black-tailed Godwit, up to four Whimbrel on three occasions, a Greenshank on 9 July, Turnstones logged on consecutive days in May with Common Sandpipers seen each month and 110 of another regular, Lapwing, counted in late July.

Yellow-legged Gulls were regularly being seen in ones and twos, though a Caspian Gull in June and two Mediterraneans on 5 July were more likely to pique the interest of gull fans.

 

NEST BOX ACTIVITY

It’s not easy to be sure during the breeding season quite how many of the numerous nest boxes around the site are used to raise broods, but a careful log is nevertheless made of activity where seen or proven – and in 2021 observers noted wildlife movements at more than 35 boxes, although three of these were reckoned to contain bee nests!

The occupied boxes were spread across the site, from Stones Island to Hall Wood, Sheepwash car park, Wildlife Centre and its associated creek, Shiningford Creek, Lane End and various patches of woodland.

Of those with likely avian families, 19 were Blue Tits, 11 Great Tits, 2 Tree Sparrows and a single Nuthatch nest, with one seeing possible Pied Flycatcher occupancy.  Most sightings were of adult birds taking food, though there was excitement for one observer who saw a stoat being mobbed by both Great and Blue Tits!

 

PLANS EMERGE FOR NEW SHEEPWASH HIDE

The Sheepwash hide closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020 and due to the issues around controlling visitor numbers in the hides we took the decision to keep this, and our other outlying hides, closed.

During the time it has been closed, this hide has sadly been targeted by vandals on a number of occasions, and we’ve carried out repairs each time this has happened. Meanwhile, the consistently high water levels mean the legs of the hide have also stood in water or very damp ground for a prolonged period.  These factors, combined with the age of the hide led to a decision to have a structural report carried out before COVID-19 measures were relaxed and reopening was permitted.

The completed report showed that the hide had far exceeded its expected life span and would require a substantial amount of repair to safely reopen it.  Even with repairs its life expectancy would only be extended by a handful of years, the report further recommending that it was only reopened with limited numbers permitted and was closed in high wind and heavy snow – all of which would prove quite challenging to manage.

At present we’ve taken the decision to keep the hide closed, and are speaking to a couple of companies to obtain quotes to replace the Sheepwash hide entirely.  If this is feasible we would look to carry out this work after the busy summer months, and while water levels are relatively low.  We are keen to explore options but would ideally like to replace it with something similar.  We hope to share more updates in due course as plans firm up.

John Matkin, Severn Trent

 

RESUMPTION OF CLUB TRIPS BEGINS AT MIDDLETON LAKES

Taking advantage of the easing of Covid restrictions, an enthusiastic group of six CBC members headed to the Middleton Lakes RSPB Reserve on 30th May, keen to enjoy the opportunity of being able to visit a reserve and go birding together once again. This is always a popular destination, which we have visited before, and offers a variety of habitats including woodland, reedbeds, scrapes and lakes. 

We were not disappointed with the variety of birds seen and heard either, with more than 50 species recorded collectively by the group. On a bright sunny morning we were treated to the sights and sounds of many of our summer visitors, including Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Reed Warbler.  As expected, ducks and geese were well represented, but the small numbers of Shelduck and Shoveler also present were welcome additions to our list.  Among the large numbers of breeding Black-headed Gulls were small numbers of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, along with a single Great Black-backed Gull and four Common Terns.

Common woodland species, such as Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Blackbird and Dunnock, were all seen in good numbers and we were able to watch an adult Great Spotted Woodpecker returning to its nest hole with food for its young, which judging by the noise they were making were very demanding!  The highlight of the day perhaps was the excellent views we had of two Hobbys, both in their aerial pursuit of prey and obligingly perching in nearby trees.

Hopefully if the Covid situation continues to show positive signs of improvement, we can continue looking forward to maintaining our programme of walks and trips.

Chris Lamb

 

KNOW YOUR COMMITTEE – Here are the club officials and their contact details……..

 

 

 

 

Committee Post

Name

Telephone

Email Address

Secretary

Vacant

 

 

Treasurer / Membership

John Follett

01332 834778

johnlfollett@virginmedia.com

Recorder

Vacant

 

 

 

 

Publications / Indoor Meetings

Gary Atkins

01335 370773

garysatkins@aol.com

 

Events co-ordinator

Chris Lamb

01629 820890

cflamb@yahoo.co.uk

Ex-officio

Roger Carrington

01629 583816

rcarrington_matlock@yahoo.co.uk

…..and the website address   –   http://www.carsingtonbirdclub.co.uk

Webmaster

Richard Pittam

n/a

Contact Richard via the website

         

 

Newsletter No 2 / May 2021

 Posted by on May 9, 2021  Carsington Bird Club, CBC Newsletters  Comments Off on Newsletter No 2 / May 2021
May 092021
 

Welcome to our second newsletter of the year, at a point when we seem to be heralding in some slightly more optimistic hopes for the coming months following a year of Covid misery.  The reservoir has, of course, been open for visitors even during the second lockdown earlier in the year, but in line with the government’s ‘roadmap’, more is now possible with the take-away cafe opening and the 17 May milestone likely to mean other facilities, notably the restaurant and the Wildlife Centre (and, possibly, other hides) reopening their doors.

I hope you have been able to get out and about and enjoy the sunny, dry but rather chilly spring and, with it, the steady arrival of the migrants, most of which are now being observed in reasonable numbers.  Our website ‘sightings’ page, having been ‘frozen’ for a while, is now back in regular use, so keep your eye on those records reflecting what’s around.  And the article on the next page gives a summary of the birding highlights over the previous two or three months.

Club activities have limped along with our welcome chance to join several online illustrated talks over the winter courtesy of DOS and the local RSPB group, who kindly extended their Zoom licences to CBC members.  I hope a number of you were able to view some of these interesting presentations, one of which was given by our own members, John and Louise Sykes.

We very much hope that our 2021-22 season of indoor meetings at the Visitor Centre – the majority of which are booked and due to resume in September – will be possible, so we can finally meet up with fellow members and chat over tea, coffee and biscuits during the break!  This, together with the precise venue, will depend on the situation as we follow a hopefully successful and effective roadmap.

Meanwhile, we have a trip planned – on Sunday, 30 May, to RSPB Middleton Lakes in Warwickshire – though we will still be observing the ‘rule of six’.  See the separate note below for more details about visiting this excellent location. A further trip in the autumn will be another event we intend to target, so long as conditions remain positive.

You should all now have received a copy of the 2020 Annual Report; if not, please contact me at garysatkins@aol.com (or 01335 370773) and I’ll send one on.  We are hugely grateful this year to fellow member Pat Lawless who has kindly funded the production of the report. 

This 60-page document is one of the benefits particular to members, so make sure you’ve paid your subs for 2021 in order to get the next report together with future newsletters this year.  A small handful of members are yet to renew for the current year; if you intend to renew but have yet to do so, John Follett (johnlfollett@virginmedia.com or 01332 834778) will be delighted to hear from you!

Finally, I have to relate the sad news of the passing of one of our longest standing members, Nigel Unwin.  When hale and hearty, he was a very keen birder – a regular visitor to the reservoir and to our indoor meetings.  Nigel had been poorly for a while and latterly had been living in a care home near Rocester.

Gary Atkins

 

TRIP TO MIDDLETON LAKES – 30 MAY

Middleton Lakes, our planned destination later this month, is an RSPB site and, for those who have not been before, the following link tells you where it is, the sort of site it is and the sort of species likely to be seen:  https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/middleton-lakes/

Note that parking can be tight in the RSPB car park, and we believe the car park adjacent to the courtyard with its cafe and retail units may be allocated to those visiting Middleton Hall, so we suggest an early arrival (9.30-9.45).  A toilet is available in the courtyard and take-away food from the cafe, but it may be advisable to take your own food.  With many Covid rules still applying, anyone intending to go will need to arrive by their own transport, but it would be useful if you let Chris Lamb know (call 01629 820890 or email cflamb@yahoo.co.uk ) if you’re intending to go, in order to gauge numbers. 

 

VISITORS ENJOY USUAL SPRING BONANZA AT THE RESERVOIR

As Carsington remained largely open to visitors during the second lockdown, the site continued to produce its usual array of excellent records throughout what is an exciting time of year as winter visitors depart and a host of migrants arrive and establish their breeding territories around the reservoir.

As well as ‘our’ high-profile winter favourite the Great Northern Diver, another scarce water bird, a Red-necked Grebe decided the reservoir looked a nice place to spend some time, staying for almost two months before being seen for the last time on 11 April.

A Barn Owl was seen a few times earlier in the year and another single sighting of this impressive hunter was logged on 6 April.  A female Marsh Harrier was seen a week later, while a male of this species flew through on the 21st, and at the other end of the size spectrum only the site’s third ever Cetti’s Warbler was heard in late April, and a scarce Grasshopper Warbler was heard reeling, and seen briefly, on Stones Island on 4 and 6 May.

Back onto the water, two Avocets were seen on the 7 March, then three more were noted on 28 April, a female Red-breasted Merganser was off the Wildlife Centre on the first day of May and a single White-fronted Goose was briefly seen on the final day of March.  During a busy time for tern passage in late April, the unusual sight of over 160 Arctic Terns impressed observers on the 28th.

As well as the Marsh Harriers, other raptors to enjoy Carsington this spring include the ever more common Red Kite which has been recorded on nine separate dates in March and April, Ospreys which were seen on 30 March and 14 April, single Hobbys viewed on consecutive days in late April, as many as 12 Buzzards aloft at any one time, plus the always impressive Peregrine recorded on 28 March then on five dates during April.

At the time of writing, we are still not sure if Fieldfares are still around as nine birds were seen at Hopton end as late as 6 May, though the final Redwing was recorded on 14 April, the last Goldeneye six days later, and a surprisingly late Brambling was noted in flight on 29 April.

Many more species were moving in the opposite direction with Sand Martins being among the first migrants to arrive: one seen on 17 March but numbers soon building to 300 on a single day in early May.  Two hundred or more Swallows were also being seen, the first having been noted in late March, and House Martins are now being seen in greater numbers after a sparse beginning.

Chiffchaffs over winter, so precise visiting numbers are difficult to assess, but during a count around the perimeter of the reservoir on the final day of April included 102 Chiffchaffs, along with 68 Blackcaps, 27 Willow Warblers, 10 Garden Warblers, seven Common and three Lesser Whitethroat, along with healthy numbers of resident species, while a few days earlier eight Sedge Warblers and three Reed Warblers were recorded.

A perimeter walk a month earlier had also found three-figure total of Chiffchaffs, but also 136 Wrens, 122 Robins, 101 Blue Tits, along with double-figure counts of Blackbird, Dunnock, Great Tit, Jay, Blackcap and Song and Mistle Thrushes, plus the arrival of the very first Redstart at Hopton end.

Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears passing through were often found early morning on the dam, up to 150 Meadow Pipits were flying north on 22 March, 750 Starlings were heading in the same direction a couople of weeks earlier, while the first Swifts of the year were seen on 26 April.

Early breeding came in the shape of two Greylag Goose broods, a pair of Oystercatchers producing a brood of four chicks on Horseshoe Island, and evidence of at least one of two pairs of Ravens raising young as an observer witnessed food being taken to the nest. 

Another regular breeding species is Black-headed Gull and there are plenty of these noisy birds at a number of locations around the reservoir.  After last year’s first ever Heron brood, three more pairs have established nests in a remote part of the site.

As many as 5,000 were Black-headeds were counted in March, but theirs and gull numbers in general were down in April, yet there were still plenty of interest for the gull enthusiasts as 13 Little Gulls were counted in late April and single-figure appearances by Kittiwakes and Mediterranean, Caspian and Glaucous Gulls were recorded.  Yellow-leg Gull sightings increased in regularity with two records in March and five in April, and Carsington seems a popular destination for Common Gulls, 175 of which were in a daytime roost on 9 March.

Healthy groups of up to 46 Curlew were counted in early March and other notable wader sightings included Bar-tailed Godwits on four dates in April, plus nine Icelandic race Black-tailed Godwits on the 21st, the same day a single Greenshank was spotted, while single Whimbrel were recorded on consecutive days again in late April, when a single Great Egret also made an elegant appearance.

A summer plumage Grey Plover was a good record, and up to six Little Ringed Plovers have entertained observers as they flew to and from the shore and seemed to be frolicking over the water on several dates in March and April.  Still on the water, Shelducks became a regular sight in April with records of up to three birds on six dates, two male Mandarins were picked up on the 27th and a pair of Common Scoter was among the April WeBS count.

A month earlier, the WeBS count on 14 March included 261 Canada and 39 Barnacle Geese, 136 Coot, 68 Mallard, 46 Tufted Duck and 20 Little Grebe, while Great Crested Grebe numbers seemed to increase as the month went on reaching a peak of 60 on the 24th

Water Rails are noted fairly regularly at Carsington, chiefly at Hopton end, though there was a record this time from Wildlife Centre creek, too; meanwhile, as many as five Woodcock were counted flying into Hopton end in the early morning of 4 March, with the last of this elusive species recorded on the 20th of that month.

 

‘THANKS’ TO ZOOM – BUT FINGERS NOW CROSSED FOR ‘REAL’ TALKS THIS YEAR

As a small club, without the ready ability to acquire a licence to use the Zoom online system, we remain hugely grateful to those larger local wildlife organisations – DOS and RSPB Derby – that could and offered to extend their own programmes of talks to our members over the winter and early spring.  A number of us took advantage and we certainly were treated to an enjoyable and varied selection of topics.

The first talk delivered this way (in fact our joint ‘meeting’ with DOS in October) was a real highlight as Tony Davison recounted two trips taken to Mongolia in search of Snow Leopard.  His was a dramatic and, ultimately, successful story, though not without its downside as he was quarantined for weeks in Asia at the front end of the Covid pandemic.

Places visited vicariously after that included Tanzania and Morocco in Africa, Lake Prepsa in eastern Europe and a breakneck journey down the western edge of the Americas, from Alaska to Argentina.  Other talks looked at subjects such as tropical forests, ‘magical Merlins’ and ultra-fast photography required to ‘freeze’ the fastest moving wildlife.  All, of course, had brilliant photographs in common!

So, while we give three cheers to Zoom, for our 2021-22 season we hope to be able to get back indoors with speakers on the spot at the Visitor Centre (along with tea, coffee, biscuits and ‘half-time’ chats).  With fingers firmly crossed, we hope that our first speaker – the ever-entertaining Paul Bingham – will be able to stand in front of us and tell us about the wildlife he encountered in Sri Lanka.  This meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, 21 September.

Nick Martin is then due to take us into the mysteries of the Forest of Dean in October, while Ian Newton, who we had to postpone from last season, will carry us from the shade into the sunshine with a talk about Lesvos.

Two further presentations are organised, and two more are still to be arranged, but hopefully we’ll have a full season.  Whether we can stage these in the Henmore Room is uncertain; we had negotiated with New Leaf Catering the alternative of using the much larger restaurant, which might prove to be more suitable while Covid remains a concern.  We will keep you informed precisely how and where these talks will take place.

 

KNOW YOUR COMMITTEE – Here are the club officials and their contact details……..

 

 

 

 

Committee Post

Name

Telephone

Email Address

Secretary

Vacant

 

 

Treasurer / Membership

John Follett

01332 834778

johnlfollett@virginmedia.com

Recorder

Vacant

 

 

 

Publications / Indoor Meetings

Gary Atkins

01335 370773

garysatkins@aol.com

 

Events co-ordinator

Chris Lamb

 

cflamb@yahoo.co.uk

Ex-officio

Roger Carrington

01629 583816

rcarrington_matlock@yahoo.co.uk

…..and the website address   –   http://www.carsingtonbirdclub.co.uk

Webmaster

Richard Pittam

n/a

Contact Richard via the website

CBC Newsletter – No 1 / February 2021

 Posted by on February 20, 2021  Carsington Bird Club, CBC Newsletters  Comments Off on CBC Newsletter – No 1 / February 2021
Feb 202021
 

Twelve months ago, when the first CBC newsletter of 2020 was being prepared, there were already distant warnings about Coronavirus, but in the same breath we continued talking optimistically about the events – talks, walks and trips – the club had got planned for the year.  Well, as we now know, the situation soon became grave on a global scale and virtually all those things we had hoped to do were cancelled.

Now, in early 2021 there is a ripple of optimism as the vaccination programme is rolled out across the various age groups and we might now hope, with a little justification, that some walks and trips might be possible at some point later in the year.  The traditional indoor season – with speakers visiting us to talk on a wide range of wildlife topics – was decimated but, with the emergence of Zoom as a social media outlet linking many people in real-time sessions, we have been able to ‘piggy-back’ online talks provided by two of our local wildlife peer groups, DOS and RSPB Derby.

Indeed, a small handful of these online talks remain to be staged in the next several weeks, so there will be more opportunities to join these enjoyably varied presentations, generally packed with fine photos.  We would, nevertheless, hope to be back to ‘normal’ for the 2021-22 indoor season, beginning in September, with real-time in-person presentations at the Visitor Centre … with tea, coffee and biscuits provided!

As Covid restrictions (hopefully) loosen over the spring and summer, we could also expect to be able to support wildlife walks at the reservoir and perhaps stage club trips farther afield (as we all strive to expand our annual bird lists, even if overseas travel remains very difficult, as seems likely).  With luck, our next newsletter in May will contain some better news in this area.

As for the club itself, we are currently at ‘that time of year’ when we ask existing members to renew their subscriptions.  Somewhere around half of last year’s membership have already, but if you’re one of those still to do so, please contact Treasurer John Follett.  The membership fee remains unchanged, as it has for very many years, at £7.50 for an individual and £10 for a family.  John is happy either to receive a cheque (sent to him at 8 Buckminster Close, Oakwood, Derby DE21 2EA) or via a bank transfer (contact him for details on 01332 834778 or by e-mail at johnlfollett@virginmedia.com).

As a member, of course, you will continue to receive four monthly newsletters plus the annual report that reviews club activities, the Carsington site and, in fine detail, what species were recorded – where and when and in what numbers – in 2020.   The report should arrive before the next newsletter, hopefully in April.  And, as touched on above, we also hope to be able to organise walks and trips as the weather – and Covid conditions – improve.  Watch the website, online notices and the newsletter for updates.

Things are, however, not in such good shape administratively, where we are skating on very thin ice.  We lost two committee members late last year, when our Secretary and Recorder stood down from their roles.  That means there are only four of us now conducting the club’s affairs … so, please, if you think you can help out in any capacity, do let us know. 

One area of immediate deterioration is the non-appearance of the monthly bird notes.  We hope to be able to reintroduce some form of regular round-up, but it may not be in the same form or level of detail as before (and may only be a wrap-up in the newsletter).  Looking to the future, a recorder is very important; if we remain without one, the depth and richness of real-time data will be reduced and the information in the annual report may also be considerably diminished. 

Similarly, with the lockdown and far fewer visits to site by either casual or regular recorders, recent sightings have been incomplete.  For a number of reasons, sightings have not been appearing on our own website, though again we hope this will resume when the lockdown eases. 

But in the meantime, those who do visit the reservoir and have a decent list – particularly any unusual species – please ensure you report it via the DOS website on their “report a sighting” page (https://www.derbyshireos.org.uk/cgirecord2.php).

Meanwhile, I hope you are all keeping well and most of you have had at least your first Covid jab, the first step to a return to something like normal life.

Gary Atkins

 

FEWER RECORDS – BUT STILL PLENTY OF BIRDS ON DISPLAY

Although the Carsington site’s car parks and paths have been open, the lockdown that began in early January has meant that visits to the reservoir have been necessarily much fewer and farther between.  Some reports have nevertheless been received – and the regular WeBS count (which is undertaken for the BTO’s statisticians) was completed in February – so the report below is a short summary of what was around in January and February.

Before lockdown, there was growing concern that our annual star winter visitor – the Great Northern Diver – may not be turning up as two birds, an adult and junior, had briefly dropped in during November only to disappear and not return … then nothing for the following month.  Until 25 December, in fact, when another adult, thought likely to be our regular traveller, gave at least one observer a Christmas present.  This bird looked very much at home and at the time of writing was still around, often seen far out towards the centre of the reservoir.

A bird present every month last year was Red Kite but apart from a single sighting on New Year’s Day, this attractive raptor has been keeping a low profile, while other regular birds of prey Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Peregrine have all been observed, and as many as six Buzzards have been seen overhead at any one time. 

Tawny Owls have been located several times, up to four on a single day, and a Barn Owl has been seen at least three times recently around Tail Bay and over the road between the sailing club and main entrance.

Water Rails are often heard rather than seen and there have been five records this year, the most recent being on 13 February.  This skulking species was an absentee the following day, however, when the monthly WeBS count was carried out.  Another absentee on the 14th was Pochard, which had been seen in very good numbers – up to 267 – during January, but sightings rapidly dropped to single figures in February. 

Coot was unsurprisingly the most numerous species on display across the site, with 476 individuals, but there were also good numbers of Tufted Duck (211), Wigeon (184), Canada Goose (172), Mallard (119), and Teal (105) plus exceptionally good turnouts by Gadwall (121) and Great Crested Grebe (70).  Fifteen Goldeneye were still around and the Great Northern Diver duly turned up on parade.

Only 29 Lapwings were spotted on the WeBS count, but this was clearly an aberration and contrasted sharply with the maximum of 590 that had been seen ten days earlier.  Otherwise, just 2 Oystercatcher, a single Redshank and a long-staying Ruff represented the wader community.  On other days, Woodcock, Snipe and Curlew were observed.

An overwintering Chiffchaff was noted in mid-January, and the ever popular Kingfisher was recorded only once during the first two months, though other passerines were not in quite such short supply.  Up to 200 Redwings and Starlings were counted in a day, as were other winter favourites including 55 Fieldfares and 60 Siskins and single figure counts of Lesser Redpoll.

Common residents look to be in good shape, as 65 Blackbirds, a remarkable 93 Robins, 79 Blue Tits and 38 Great Tits were healthy daily counts, along with 43 Skylarks and a dozen Willow Tits.

Overall, during January and (most of) February, 89 species were recorded, which is not far short of the typical species counts at Carsington for those individual months in recent years.  Hopefully we’ll be back up to full speed once the lockdown eases in the coming weeks and months.

 

BIG THANKS TO DOS AND RSPB DERBY FOR ‘SHARING’ THEIR SPEAKERS

One of the big disappointments over the last several months has been our inability to meet up in the cosy environment of the Carsington Water Visitor Centre, enjoying the company of our fellow members, over tea and coffee, and marvelling at wonderful photographs as a succession of talented speakers tell us about their wildlife experiences.

Our usual venue, the Henmore Room, was never going to be big enough once key Covid restrictions like social distancing became a way of life and even our alternative plan of using the much larger New Leaf restaurant fell foul of the rules once group sizes were limited.

But while we have been unable to stage any of our own planned programme, a welcome substitute (for those with the will and patience to adopt Zoom online technology, at least!) has been a succession of ‘virtual’ talks arranged by those larger local organisations – DOS and RSPB Derby – who have been kind enough to allow us to link in to their programmes.  Each of them has been staging a talk every month since late autumn, actually enabling CBC members potentially to access twice as many talks as usual!

The subjects on offer have been quite varied – from Tony Davison’s exciting hunt for the elusive Snow Leopard (and brush with Covid) in Mongolia to Peter Holden’s review of the “Good News, Bad News” of UK wildlife and environment, using detailed case studies. 

In the meantime, we’ve also enjoyed the pin-sharp specialist photography of Michael Leach, and have travelled twice to Africa – firstly to Tanzania in December, with CBC members John and Louise Sykes who showed many of their huge list of birds and mammals recorded there, and then to Morocco, a key migration point with its surprising range of both common and less recognisable birds, in the company of Neil Glenn.

As mentioned earlier, a few more talks will be available before the end of DOS’s and the local RSPB group’s respective seasons.  On 28 February Keith Offord will be talking about ‘Magical Merlins’ and in early March Mark Cocker will describe the birds and wildlife of Lake Prepsa, and Dr Martin Sullivan will speak on ‘Tropical Forests in a Changing World’.   Finally, on 14 April, Nick Martin (who is due to give the club a talk next October, hopefully in person) will be showing ‘A Photographer’s Wild Britain’.

As usual, you will be e-mailed information and links enabling access to these talks nearer their scheduled times.

KNOW YOUR COMMITTEE – Here are the club officials and their contact details……..

 

 

 

 

Committee Post

Name

Telephone

Email Address

Secretary

Vacant

 

 

Treasurer / Membership

John Follett

01332 834778

johnlfollett@virginmedia.com

Recorder

Vacant

 

 

 

 

Publications / Indoor Meetings

Gary Atkins

01335 370773

garysatkins@aol.com

 

Events co-ordinator

Chris Lamb

01629 820890

cflamb@yahoo.co.uk

Ex-officio

Roger Carrington

01629 583816

rcarrington_matlock@yahoo.co.uk

…..and the website address   –   http://www.carsingtonbirdclub.co.uk

Webmaster

Richard Pittam

n/a

Contact Richard via the website

         

 

No 4 / November 2020

 Posted by on November 15, 2020  Carsington Bird Club, CBC Newsletters  Comments Off on No 4 / November 2020
Nov 152020
 

First of all, best wishes to everyone.  I hope you’re keeping well and safe in the continuing difficult conditions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

We might reasonably have hoped that by now we would be returning to some form of ‘normality’, but from a slightly easier position mid-year, we are now once again enduring a national lockdown, though perhaps not quite as stringent as we encountered in March/April.  One silver lining around the massing clouds is that Severn Trent have decided to keep the site open – enabling people to exercise and, of course, witness the reservoir’s wildlife.

There are some important changes, however, while the month-long lockdown continues.  The Visitor Centre, together with its restaurant, cafes and shops are closed, as is the Wildlife Centre along with all other viewing hides. The car parks, paths and toilets do remain open, however, but visitors should be vigilant in maintaining social distancing and any other restrictions required.

The Covid situation has hit our planned events programme, though we did manage to link up with DOS for our annual joint ‘meeting’, which took the form of an online Zoom presentation – centring on a brilliant talk by Tony Davison on his hunt for Snow Leopard (and quite a lot of birds!) in Mongolia.  But more of that later. 

We had already recognised that the Henmore Room was not going to meet our indoor meeting needs when set against the general Covid restrictions; social distancing would have meant not being able to accommodate anything like our usual numbers.  Meanwhile, we had negotiated with New Leaf Catering to use the wide open spaces of the centre’s restaurant but the imposition of the ‘rule of six’ put paid to that idea, too.  We may be able to return to this alternative location later … and, in time, to our original home.  Developing circumstances around controlling the pandemic will dictate as and when.

As a result of all this, like September, our November meeting has been cancelled, but we are planning to join another Zoom talk by members John and Louise Sykes on 9 December (see below).

We had also hoped for an autumn club trip and had settled on a couple of potential locations – and a November date – but that is now also ruled out for the time being.  Outside exercise has generally been encouraged, so with luck we’ll be able to restore that trip to our programme soon.  Keep a watch on the club website for any upcoming trips and talks as and when the current situation changes for the better.

Unsurprisingly, news is a bit thin on the ground, but almost-daily recording has continued as strongly as ever and this newsletter contains a fulsome reservoir report.  Most months have seen high species counts, including more records, and there have been plenty of interesting birds about.  There was also an ‘all-day watch’ by a team of regular recorders and they noted 92 species in a 24-hour period.  This impressive achievement is reported below as well.

If the latest lockdown serves its purpose, there’s a chance we can enjoy Christmas with loved ones, so, with fingers firmly crossed, I wish you all the best for the festive season.  Meanwhile, please read on for our latest news …

Gary Atkins

 

WE ARE JOINING LOCAL RSPB GROUPS TO ENJOY A ‘ZOOM’ TALK ON ‘TANZANIA’ BY JOHN AND LOUISE SYKES ON WEDNESDAY, 9TH DECEMBER … KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR E-MAIL INBOX NEARER THE TIME AS WE WILL BE SENDING YOU DETAILS OF HOW TO LINK TO THIS PRESENTATION

AUTUMN BRINGS ANOTHER MONTHLY RECORD – AND IMPRESSIVE MIGRATION FLY-BYS

Following two record months for species counts over the summer, another was achieved during the autumn as 119 were recorded in September, beating 2002’s previous record by just one.  Among birds boosting that total were three records of Great Egret (two of which were also seen in late August) and a juvenile Garganey that was sighted on several dates spreading into October.

As well as the departure of many summer visitors, the autumn as ever delivered increasing duck, geese and gull numbers and impressive migration movements overhead as well as the arrival of a few species likely to spend their winter at the reservoir – though as of mid-month the Great Northern Diver was yet to turn up!

More than 500 Canada and Greylag Geese were often counted, and Coot numbers had risen to 1,270 by the last week of September and remain at a similar level.  Teal and Wigeon both topped 350 by the second half of October, along with 300-plus Pochard and Tufted Duck, 166 Mallard and 79 Gadwall. 

Smaller numbers of Pintail, Red-crested Pochard, Goosander and, most recently, Red-breasted Merganser freshened up the wildfowl list, as did a couple of non-counters – a Black Swan that seems to have formed an attachment to the reservoir, and two Nene (Hawaiian) Geese spotted among a group of 40 Barnacles.

Gulls have predictably been massing in recent weeks, and peaked at 10,000 Black-headed and 4,000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls leaving the roost at dawn on 28 October, with 520 Common Gulls counted three days later.  Up to four Yellow-legged Gulls are regularly seen, as are three Great Black-backs including ‘One-foot’ whose deficiency doesn’t seem to affect this ability to catch a breakfast feast of crayfish.  Two Caspian Gulls were identified on 17 October, and a Kittiwake was noted a week later, while the highlight of a relatively sparse tern passage was a juvenile and three adult Sandwich Terns.

Fifteen wader species were listed during September, including a nap hand of plovers as Grey and Golden joined the Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers that have been evident over the summer, plus the sizeable groups of Lapwings seen daily. 

Knot and Little Stint were more unusual arrivals, while a Jack Snipe was identified among a group of its ‘Common’ cousins on 21 October, and early the following month 50 Common Snipe were flushed from the dam wall during foggy conditions.  Meanwhile, Water Rail was fairly regularly heard more often than seen, but was spotted in the reeds at Hopton end on 8 November.

A few Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap were still being recorded in November, so they are probably planning on a winter at Carsington, but the amazingly late Swift seen on 22 October – a full 28 days later than the previous latest ever Carsington record for this species – was very definitely getting a move on, heading south.

Among those many departing summer visitors, the final Swallow was logged on 15 October while, a little earlier, the last recorded Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Reed and Sedge Warblers and Lesser Whitethroat all set off to warmer climes between 10 and 23 September.

Within a few days, the first Redwings had arrived, and by early-mid October were arriving in droves, with 1,678 Redwings and 286 Fieldfares counted moving through on the 11th.  The absolute highlight of the large autumn migration, however, must have been the phenomenal 43,200 Woodpigeons counted flying through in waves, heading south, during a three and a half hour ‘visimig’ from Stones Island in early November.

Up to 1,000 Jackdaws, 160-plus Rooks and healthy numbers of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits also filled the skies above the reservoir in October, and 30 Brambling were also noted on the wing.

But the most noteworthy passerines of late were in October, when a Yellow-browed Warbler was seen near the Wildlife Centre in poor weather conditions, and a Lapland Bunting – the first at Carsington for more than 10 years – on the 18th.  Others included a handful of Crossbills occasionally heard and less often seen, and a Hawfinch that flew north over the site on 8 November.

Red Kites have spearheaded the raptor sightings over this period, with three on 20 August, two at the same time on 2 September, four on 17 September, two more singles in October and one in November.  A juvenile Marsh Harrier flew low over the reservoir on 7 September, while a handful of Ospreys inevitably passed through on five dates in August and two in September.  Most recent raptor highlight was a Merlin that was spotted perched on a fence post during one of the recent foggy days.

 

“ALL DAY WATCH” NETS IMPRESSIVE 92 SPECIES

Last year some of the regular Carsington birders had the bright idea of spending a whole day – well, dawn to dusk – at the site just to see what we might spot.  We did this twice: on 21 May we recorded 81 species and the same number again on 10 September.  For obvious reasons we were unable to repeat the exercise this spring but five observers – Roger Carrington, Alan Stewardson, Neil Moulden, Andy Butler and myself – did muster in September, with at least one of us present from 05:45 to 20:00hrs.

The first areas that we covered were Hopton reedbed and Brown Ale Bay, which yielded Hobby, Reed Warbler and five Tawny Owls but disappointingly few wildfowl.  At Millfields, three Yellow Wagtails were among the Pieds on the dam wall, a Kingfisher put in an appearance, while fly-over Crossbill and Siskins were useful additions. 

With the total mounting to 60, I joined Roger on Stones island, Neil arriving shortly afterwards and promptly finding a Common Scoter out on the water, while Andy had walked the dam wall and seen single Wheatear and Skylark.  The weather went a little bit downhill at this point, as low cloud and heavy drizzle descended, but the total nonetheless rose to 73.

New birds kept appearing and a pair of Shelduck spotted by Neil took us to 76, while it was the appearance of two Red Kites that took us beyond last year’s total, still with much of the day remaining.  Just after midday the probable highlight of the day, a juvenile Marsh Harrier, flew the length of the reservoir, raising the tally to 85 species.

At least one of us remained on Stones Island at all times while others checked other discrete areas of the reservoir.  Constant scanning and listening yielded Swift, a single flying Red-crested Pochard, a Willow Warbler, a surprise flock of four Lesser Redpoll that dropped into Wildlife Centre creek and then, to take us to the 90 mark, a distant Pheasant – something of an anticlimax to reach that milestone but hey, birders can’t be choosers!

It was inevitable that further additions would be slow to come, but a Common Gull appeared in the early evening, the only one of the day.  Just two of us remained to watch dusk fall and count the incoming Lesser Black-backed Gulls (2,300 in total by the time we left).  But finally, just as we were about to finish for the day, a Great White Egret flew over Stones island and headed north-east across the reservoir.  This was certainly a quality end to a very enjoyable day – and hoisted our day’s total species list to 92.

Simon Roddis

 

TOP TALK: HUNT FOR THE ‘GHOST CAT’ … AND A BRUSH WITH COVID

As mentioned earlier, it’s not been our greatest year for events, with the September and November talks cancelled (or, hopefully, only postponed) and any thoughts of an autumn trip disappearing into the distance as the second Covid lockdown bit.

We did, though, have the most amazing presentation in October – our joint ‘meeting’ with Derbyshire Ornithological Society (DOS), via Zoom – when Tony Davison told us the awesome (and at the same time tense) story of his two visits to Mongolia in search of the “ghost cat” or Snow Leopard.  Admitting his treks were something of an obsession, Tony told us of his disappointment in failing to catch up with this magnificent Asian big cat first time around, but still managed to pepper his presentation with some fantastic photos of a variety of other wildlife, notably birds such as the iconic Lammergeier.

That initial journey was in 2019, but his appetite was truly whetted by that ‘dip’ and he quickly organised a second trip to the remote regions of Mongolia with hope ever in his heart of finally getting shots of the Snow Leopard. 

He gave us an insight into the travelling and living conditions while there which were, to say the least, basic, but said he was with a very good and knowledgeable local team that eventually delivered on their promise … and the photos we all saw on our screens via Zoom were truly memorable.

That was not the end of Tony’s story, though, because while he was hunting the ghost cat, the Mongolian authorities were hunting him!  He’d nothing wrong – except on his inward flight to sit next to a Frenchman who, it turned out, had brought Covid-19 into Mongolia … and Tony was the last person on the flight they had yet to trace. 

He had been out of mobile phone range for several days because of their remote location, and it wasn’t until he hit an area with signal that he picked up the messages indicating he was well and truly wanted!  Ultimately, he had to stay an extra two or three weeks in Mongolia, much of it in isolation, until cleared to leave the country and catch virtually the last flight out of Japan home to the UK.

 

KNOW YOUR COMMITTEE – Here are the club officials and their contact details……..

       

Committee Post

Name

Telephone

Email Address

Secretary

Peter Fletcher

01332 383682

petefletcher1@hotmail.com 

Treasurer / Membership

John Follett

01332 834778

johnlfollett@virginmedia.com

Recorder

Clive Ashton

 

01629 823316

 

cliveashton@btinternet.com

 

Publications / Indoor Meetings

Gary Atkins

01335 370773

garysatkins@aol.com

 

Events co-ordinator

Chris Lamb

01629 820890

cflamb@yahoo.co.uk

Ex-officio

Roger Carrington

01629 583816

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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