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

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



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.



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



Email Address





Treasurer / Membership

John Follett

01332 834778








Publications / Indoor Meetings

Gary Atkins

01335 370773



Events co-ordinator

Chris Lamb

01629 820890



Roger Carrington

01629 583816


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


Richard Pittam


Contact Richard via the website



By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.