It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of CBC committee member Dave Edmonds who was until very recently, along with his wife Sue, our joint membership secretary. Dave was a keen birder, who livened up a room with his inquisitive nature and enthusiasm for the subject. He will be sorely missed.
As well as a member of his local bird club, Dave’s wider love of wildlife was illustrated by his commitment to Birdlife Malta, an organisation focused on stopping the annual slaughter of tens of thousands of birds by local hunters. Not only did Dave talk to the club about this, convincing us to become ‘corporate’ members and subscribe much-needed funds, but he and Sue devoted some of their personal holiday time most years on the island to support the cause.
Dave’s funeral is taking place at Ashbourne Bowls Club at 12 noon, on Thursday, 4 December.
As we come to the end of 2014 I have to say that this has been a very significant year in the history of our club due to changes in the personnel of your committee. Firstly, as you’ll just have read, we have sadly lost Dave Edmonds who had been ill for a while. He and his wife Sue had recently given up their joint committee role dealing with memberships which they had performed admirably for some years. As a result, I have temporarily assumed the Membership Secretary post for the immediate future.
As most of you also will know, Roger Carrington had to give up his position as our recorder, which he had held for over 11 years. Being responsible for the club’s bird records and publishing notes every month, together with the massive job of putting together the annual report at the end of the year, has not been his only job, huge as that all is. He has been the person who has worked with Severn Trent management, its volunteer rangers and RSPB volunteers to help coordinate and guide efforts for the good of wildlife at Carsington.
It has become evident that these various tasks that Roger seamlessly took on for over a decade have now to be taken on by more than just one person. As you may have noticed, Dave Newcombe and Clive Ashton have taken on the recording work and written the last couple of monthly reviews. I am very grateful for their willingness to do this valuable work.
I am also pleased to say that Gary Atkins has volunteered to undertake the editor’s job for the annual report with support from Roger and the rest of us.
All this however means that our committee is now woefully short of members. The officers and their roles are now basically carried out by just five people, which means that some things are not being executed efficiently – and other tasks are simply not done at all.
Speaking for myself (as I now hold three positions!) and on behalf of them, I am appealing for more club members to join us on the committee and hopefully to spread the work around more people. If you would like to join us don’t wait until our AGM in January to offer your services; please contact me as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01629 534173. Your help will be most appreciated. Thank you.
AUTUMN PROVES A QUIET TIME ON THE RESERVOIR – MOST OF THE TIME!
It’s been a relatively quiet time on the reservoir during the late summer and early autumn period. Both September and October total species records were below average, yet quite regularly the unusual and even spectacular sighting brightened up the day for someone.
And those quiet days were occasionally punctuated by huge flocks darkening the skies: Among the autumn movement, 5,430 Woodpigeons were counted flying south on 20 October, while on the final day of that month an influx of 1,352 Redwings and 352 Fieldfares was recorded, and it was pure delight to see a flock of 571 Lapwings on 16 November.
Up to 20,000 gulls have been estimated in the autumn roosts, with 6,000 Black-heads alone counted on one occasion. Such high numbers have made the rarer gulls harder still to spot, though a second winter Mediterranean Gull was recorded on 17 October and, the following month, an adult ‘Med’ plus a Caspian Gull were noted on 22 November.
Meanwhile, birders were scratching their heads over a possible Baltic Gull (sub-species of Lesser Black-backed) on 27 and 30 October, and the reservoir continues to be a magnet for ‘bonxies’ with the second Great Skua site record for the year in October. Carsington has, amazingly, produced half of all Derbyshire records of Great Skua.
Of the numerous waterfowl using the reservoir, Coot has as ever produced the highest count, with 1,318 in October, though Tufted Duck (638), Wigeon (342), Teal (277) and Pochard (131) have also been seen in some profusion. Other winter ducks returning, though in considerably smaller numbers, have included Pintail, Goosander, Goldeneye and Common Scoter, with Red-crested Pochard also seen fairly regularly.
Those enjoying the monthly ‘Birdwatching for Beginners’ walk in October, were amazed to see (and, with a bit of help, identify) a Snow Goose, which was seen on a couple of further occasions among other geese. It was a pure bird, but highly likely an escapee – as was a Brent Goose seen among Canadas on 27 October.
By the end of November we are still awaiting our regular winter visit from one or more Great Northern Diver; one did turn up on 28 October but stayed only briefly, as did a Black-necked Grebe earlier that month, though another turned up five days later, on 9 September, and stayed nearly two months, much to the delight of the numerous birders that spotted it.
Great-crested Grebes have numbered up to 60, while the absence of Brutus – the cannibal Yellow-legged Gull – allowed the Little Grebe population to climb to 35 in September, the highest total since 2010. We’re all hoping Brutus’ GPS is faulty this year and he fails to return.
Egrets have been notable for their variety as much as their quantity this year. A first ever Cattle Egret was recorded earlier in the year, while September brought a second 2014 record for the Great White Egret. Little Egrets, meanwhile, have popped up most months.
September was a brilliant month for raptors as an Osprey passed through on the 1st, a Red Kite was seen on the 12th, and a juvenile Marsh Harrier called in on the 14th, followed by two Hobbys the following day. Merlins were seen on separate dates in October, and throughout the period the most commonly seen birds of prey were, as usual, Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, with Peregrines also regular.
A Reed Warbler on 15 September was the latest ever for that species at Carsington by some margin, while other summer visitors left more or less on schedule: 130 House Martins were mobbing the visitor centre on 9 September, the last Wheatears were seen on 22 September and the final seven Swallows seen passed through on 5 October. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to be sure when the last Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs are recorded, since they are believed to overwinter with increasing regularity in Derbyshire.
Those passerines seen in greater numbers during the winter – like Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Linnet – have duly arrived and made their presence known, along with true winter migrants such as Brambling. White, Yellow, Grey and Pied Wagtails were all recorded during this period, with the latter logging the highest total, at 115, while a Rock Pipit was a noteworthy sighting on 15 October.
THRILLING TALKS WARM UP OUR WINTER PROGRAMME … NOW FOR XMAS PARTY!
Visitors to our indoor season of illustrated talks this autumn have experienced a breathtaking whirlwind tour of the globe, calling in on no fewer than three continents!
We began in September with a look at the brightly-coloured birds of south-west Australia, courtesy of our own chairman Peter Gibbon following his recent holiday there. Peter had stepped into the breach at short notice when Carol Taylor was unavoidably unable to show her presentation on Svalbard, Land of the Polar Bear, which may have taken the temperature down a degree or two. Carol has promised to return later.
Then, in October at our meeting staged jointly with DOS, Ian Newton whisked us away to the dreamy island nation of Trinidad and Tobago for a close-up look at some of the amazing birdlife found in the Caribbean.
Finally, in November, we were treated to an amazing display of photographs by Chris Ward, taken during a recent holiday in The Gambia, one of Africa’s birding hot-spots. Like his talk on Morocco last season, Chris’s talk this time gave viewers some extra insight into the geography of the area and the logistical considerations of visiting relatively remote areas of African nations.
In each of these talks, the stunning standard of photographs virtually carried the audiences right into the hot and exotic locations (or maybe it was just the Visitor Centre’s air con!), and certainly in some cases (your editor included) whetted the appetite for overseas birding trips.
In December, at our Christmas party (catering and raffle prizes welcome!), we will travel to a fourth continent and glimpse some of the more rarely-visited corners of Europe rich in birdlife. This is courtesy of CBC webmaster Richard Pittam who is due to deliver a talk describing his field trips to Eastern Europe, where he has patiently tracked down a plethora of interesting avifauna in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.
See ‘What’s On’ below for news of future CBC and Severn Trent events.
WINTER HERALDS A BUSY TIME FOR CARSINGTON’S RANGERS
This year the warm summer seems to have extended well into the autumn, resulting in 2014 being another very busy year on site for the Severn Trent Water Rangers and Volunteer Rangers.
As visitor numbers reduce, this is the time of year that we focus our energies on ensuring Carsington Water remains an excellent location for both our visitors and our wildlife. A big focus this winter will be on our maintenance programme – designed to ensure the habitats we have remain in a great condition and continue to flourish in the coming year.
Much of this work involves cutting back growth both old and new in order to protect and improve existing habitat. When we do this it can look quite striking … and where chainsaws are involved it can also sound quite dramatic, but it ensures we retain a variety of habitats and thus a rich and varied birdlife.
Perhaps the most pressing task we have to undertake is the thinning of our 20 year-old plantation woodland, something I have written about previously in more detail. If you are out and about look for the areas where thinning has taken place in previous winters to see the improvements this brings in terms of increased light and dense regeneration, which are great for plants, invertebrates and the species that feed on them.
Woodland blocks to the south of the reservoir, particularly those below the dam, will again be a strong focus this winter and the volunteers will also reopen the three rides through the Sitch Plantation at Fishtail Creek, allowing views of the water and glimpses of species like Willow Tits that take advantage of this woodland edge habitat.
As well as the trees that were deliberately planted, there are plenty more trees that have set themselves, and not all in the places we’d like them to grow. An example of this is the amount of willow and alder that is growing in the reed bed at the northern tip of the reservoir. It’s amazing how quickly this has sprung up and we’re keen to take this out during the winter to protect the reeds.
This is particularly important as this habitat is becoming a great place to hear, and occasionally see, Reed Warblers in the spring and summer as well as the Reed Buntings, Water Voles and wildfowl that inhabit this small corner of the site. We’ll also need a healthy reed bed if we’re to woo any passing Bearded Tits, such as those that arrived in good numbers at Ogston Reservoir recently!
Our final priority will be to launch a second attack on the rhododendrons in Hall and Middle Woods. You may remember a few ago the volunteers did an amazing job of tackling the thick blanket of sprawling rhododendron. You may have also noticed some young plants springing up and it is these we will taking on this winter in the ongoing efforts to eradicate this species.
This work, combined with tree thinning, has transformed these woodlands allowing the carpet of bluebells we witness each spring, enabling a varied under storey to develop and attracting a range of woodland birds – not least Woodcocks which should be skulking through the leaf litter in the coming winter months.
John Matkin, Severn Trent Water Ranger
We are now half-way through our autumn/winter series of indoor meetings, and the next one is also our Christmas party, at 7.30pm on 16 December, which will be strongly supported by a debut talk from our webmaster Richard Pittam; Richard has put together a talk based on his many photography trips to the birding hot spots of Eastern Europe.
Meanwhile – PLEASE! – anyone attending that meeting can help out the organisation of the night in one of two ways: firstly, if you’ve a raffle prize or two you could bring along for the Xmas draw it would be appreciated, and secondly, help with catering is always very welcome (but check with Peter Gibbon on what you want to bring along – either on 01629 534173 or by e-mail at email@example.com – as he’ll have the full picture of what’s already pledged and what’s still required).
The first 2015 meeting, in January, will be our Annual General Meeting, which begins a half-hour earlier than usual, at 7am on the 20th, and will be followed by a talk by Peter Gibbon on how Carsington Water’s records contribute to the overall picture of wetland bird health through the monthly WeBS counts which often throw up some unusual birds.
Please note there will be NO meeting in February, and a speaker for the March meeting on the 17th is yet to be finalised.
Meanwhile, forthcoming Severn Trent Water events, including regular activities, are as follows (there is often a small charge, and, for some events, it’s recommended to book on 01629 540696):
First Sunday Birdwatching for Beginners (enjoy a gentle two-hour stroll led by Visitor Centre 10am-noon
each month experienced STW volunteer ranger, David Bennett)
Tues/Sundays Spotting wildlife (join STW volunteers in the Wildlife Centre) 10.30am-3.30pm
29 December Winter wildlife mosaics (charge; minimum age 6) Visitor Centre 10am-12.30
|KNOW YOUR COMMITTEE – Here are the club officials and their contact details……..|
|Committee Post||Name||Telephone||Email Address|
|Chairman / Indoor Meetings / Membership||Peter Gibbon||01629 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Secretary||Paul Hicking||01773 email@example.com|
|Treasurer||John Follett||01332 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Recorders||Dave Newcombe / Clive Ashton||Not email@example.com@ashton7906.freeserve.co.uk|
|Publicity / Annual Report||Gary Atkins||01335 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Outdoor Trips||Peter Oldfield||01629 email@example.com|
|Ex-officioEx-officio||Jon BradleyRoger Carrington||01773 85252601629 firstname.lastname@example.org_matlock@yahoo.co.uk|
|…..and the website address – http://www.carsingtonbirdclub.co.uk|
|Webmaster||Richard Pittam||Contact Richard via the website|