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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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)