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

Nov 242023

As Christmas approaches and the nights draw in, the daylight available for wildlife watching slowly diminishes, and since early October it’s been a fairly bleak prospect, anyway, with the succession of Atlantic storms bringing extremes of wind and rain and damage to a number of areas of Derbyshire.  Getting out there is half the battle, but westerly ‘blows’ can bring some interesting birdlife (as, indeed, they have this year) – and Carsington Water will always be one of the best sites to see them.  So, put an extra layer on, grab your ‘bins’ and pop along.  There’s always a warming cup of coffee, or even lunch, at the end of a walk there.

A brief visit by a Glossy Ibis proved to be this year’s only brand new species so far. Over 77,000 Woodpigeons, mostly flying south, were counted on six days in early November when the recorders settled down for visual migration (vismig) watches, which had also produced a site record Stock Doves and a single-day count of over 18,000 Redwings in late October.  There were a few more surprises, too, but go to page two for our full report of bird activity at the reservoir.

Last month we also witnessed a milestone in the proposed new Sheepwash hide development, as the old one was dismantled and taken away.  The path down to that area is still sealed off, but hopefully a new hide design will soon be decided upon and work commence.  If this was promising news for the birders, good news for the birds was the resumption of bird feeding at the reservoir, following the diminished threat of Bird Flu after a lengthy period without any cases at Carsington.

Our activities away from the reservoir’s edge continued as the 2023-24 season of talks got underway, as usual in the Henmore Room.  We had, though, to change the October date by a week due to non-availability of committee support, and then that meeting was jinxed further by a spate of parking fines, which had to be investigated as theoretically they should not occur.

Our events programme was further thwarted when we heard that RSPB St Aidan’s was under a considerable amount of water following incessant rains following Storm Babet.  The forecast leading up to the Sunday in question didn’t look too clever either, so we reluctantly decided to postpone … only for it to be sunny that day!  You can’t win!  We will, though, reschedule this as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, we had some very sad news that Dorothy Evans – one of our longest-standing members and a willing soul that undertook several committee roles in the 1990s and 2000s passed away in late August.  She dedicated much of her spare time to the practical support of multiple wildlife organisations including Carsington Bird Club and, latterly, the Bird Study Group in Bakewell, where she lived and was still undertaking committee work at the time of her death.  Dorothy had many friends in CBC and a wide network beyond, and will be greatly missed by all.

Gary Atkins



Our 2023-24 series of indoor meetings is well underway, and below is the list of remaining scheduled talks, which all take place on the third Tuesday of the month, in the Henmore Room, beginning at 7.30pm except for the March meeting when we’ll hold our AGM (7pm start) …

19 December:  Andy Parkinson describes ‘A Year in the Life of a Wildlife Photographer’

16 January:  Craig Round will take us around ‘Scottish Highlands and Islands’

20 February:  Nigel Slater shows us the wildlife of ‘Botswana and Zimbabwe’

19 March:  Andy Broadhurst details the ‘Derbyshire Swift Conservation Project’


Over the late summer and early autumn, it’s been a case of regular species making the headlines by their huge numbers just as much as the rare birds that turned up in single figures. 

Five Spoonbills – the largest group ever at Carsington – and a site-scarce Garganey boosted August’s monthly total to 125, which was the most species ever recorded at the reservoir in that month.  The following month saw the only brand new species for the site (so far this year, at least), when a Glossy Ibis dropped in briefly on 25 September, and also a Manx Shearwater, the first since October 2019.

Then, in October, the first Hen Harrier for 17 years graced the reservoir on the 22nd, and another site-scarce species, a Shag turned up eight days later.  By now, huge flocks of migrating birds were heading south, notably the humble Woodpigeon whose numbers swelled further still in November; the maximum day count was 32,570, but a grand total from half a dozen ‘vismig’ counts in the first half of the month was over 77,000 birds.  A site record of 89 Stock Doves were counted on 10 November, mostly flying south – except for one bird whose radar seemed off as it headed north.

Up to 1,000 Starlings were counted leaving their regular roost in the Hopton end reedbed on a number of mornings, and other arriving species did so in huge numbers, too, notably Redwings, over 18,000 of which were logged in just a few hours on 9 October.

Gulls joined the party, too, with 7,000 Lesser Black-backs counted on 27 October, along with 5,000 Black-headed and 1,000 Common Gulls.  Again, the scarcer species were of just as much interest, as the long-staying Caspian Gull remained, and up to four Yellow-legged and a few Great Black-backed Gulls were seen often, while Mediterranean Gulls were noted on two dates in August.  The tern passage was light, but Black, Arctic and Common were recorded, the latest being a single Black Tern on 10 September.

Waterfowl numbers grew, as usual, as the year progressed: there were 1,144 Coot on the reservoir in early November, along with 338 Pochard. In the previous month or so, 950 Canada Geese, 285 Tufted Ducks, over 150 Teal and Mallard, more than 80 Gadwall and smaller quantities of Shoveler, Goosander and Wigeon were recorded.  Goldeneye were proving more elusive.

The opposite happened with waders – as August proved to be a bumper month, with 17 wader species noted including Ringed, Little Ringed and Golden Plovers, Ruff, Whimbrel, Jack Snipe, Green and Common Sandpipers, Turnstone, Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit.  Since then, not helped by the steadily increasing water levels over the late summer, there’s been something of an exodus, as only seven wader species were logged in September, and six in October, although a Woodcock was spotted at Millfields on 12 November and a very late-staying Oystercatcher was still being seen as late as 14 November.

Summer visitors hit their departure dates roughly the same as usual, leaving a small smattering of Chiffchaffs that may be considering overwintering at the reservoir.  Swifts and Pied Flycatchers were not seen after August, while Lesser Whitethroat, Garden, Willow and Sedge Warblers and Spotted Flycatchers were all last seen on various dates in September.

While Redwings and Fieldfares spearhead the winter arrivals, a few other species more often seen at this time of year have been showing up.  Six Crossbills were noted on 30 October and 11 November, a Hawfinch was logged on 10 October, and there have been a few sightings of Brambling and more regular records of flocks of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll.  Come on you Waxwings!

Apart from the Hen Harrier, two Marsh Harrier sightings and single Ospreys seen on four dates in September, it’s been an unexceptional time for raptors, although up to five Red Kites were seen on selected days in September and October, and Hobbies were seen throughout the late summer, the final one logged on 25 September.  Up to four Tawny Owls have been heard during several early-morning visits to Hopton end in recent weeks, but better still was the Barn Owl seen around the dam wall on 12 November.



Our 2023-24 programme of indoor meetings got underway in September with a talk by Tony Slater describing how the Covid lockdowns gave him the chance to look much more closely at the very familiar birds we see every day.  With a multimedia combination of excellent photos and videos set to music, it proved to be an entertaining evening.

Brazil was the destination for our next meeting in October. This was our traditional annual joint meeting with members of the Derbyshire Ornithological Society (DOS), who joined us for the evening.  One of their members, Sally Oakes, gave a very interesting talk on the incredible biodiversity and birdlife found in the state of Minas Gerais in southern Brazil.

We continued our travels at the November meeting, when Chris Lamb kindly stepped into the breach at very short notice as a replacement for Louise Sykes who, along with husband John, were scheduled to speak to us about their exciting tour of prime birding sites in peninsula Malaysia.  Chris reset the compass 4,000 miles east south east to Tasmania and a discrete look at its varied and often-endemic wildlife.

For our final talk this year on Tuesday 19th December, we will welcome award-winning Derbyshire-based wildlife photographer Andy Parkinson to talk to us about a year in the life of a wildlife photographer.  Andy’s stunning work appears frequently in magazines such as National Geographic and BBC Wildlife, as well as in countless books and other publications.

Looking ahead to the new year, our indoor meetings continue with destinations as far apart as the Scottish Highlands and southern Africa, then returning closer to home with a look at the Derbyshire Swift Conservation Project at our final meeting of the season in March.



One disappointment on the events front was the reluctant decision we took to postpone our planned trip to the RSPB St Aidan’s reserve in Yorkshire that had been due to take place on 29 October.  We had to take into account some feedback earlier that week from the reserve that indicated some sections and paths were impassable due to flooding caused by Storm Babet’s unremitting rainfall that had left few areas of the country unaffected.

The forecast was for more rain later in the week and, as the reserve has no hides in which to take refuge, we opted to err on the side of caution.  Ironically, and rather gallingly, the Sunday itself brought plenty of sunshine, but the reserve itself was still rather soggy in places.  We plan to monitor the weather and try again – and hope, when we get there, that things have improved and the whole reserve will be available to us.  We’ll notify members as and when a new date is decided.

Following the advice of members, we are trying shorter, sharper trips and have had one more local walk (see immediately below) and also plan to visit Wyver Lane, on the outskirts of Belper, which in recent weeks has suffered similar fortunes to St Aidan’s in being very wet.  Again, we hope to get there soon and will alert members to any date that emerges.

Another more local trip we expect to undertake in the new year will be to Attenborough.  The goal is to get our bird lists off to a healthy start good and early, so we hope to pop over into our neighbouring county as soon as possible in the new year.  Again, keep your eyes and ears open.



We stayed quite close to home for our first outing of the autumn, with a walk at Carsington Water on Sunday, 24 September. The monthly Birdwatching for Beginners walks, which are attended on a regular basis by some of our members, traditionally follow a route around Stones Island and on to the Wildlife Centre, so we thought we would start our walk by exploring a different end of the reservoir to see what we could find there.

Setting off from the Sheepwash car park on a wet, murky morning, we followed the path along the northern edge of the reservoir.  Unsurprisingly, various species of ducks made up most of the birds we initially saw, with good numbers of Mallard, Gadwall and Tufted Duck.  A single Grey Heron was observed patrolling the shoreline surrounded by a multitude of Coots.  A colourful male Mandarin Duck was found in Brown Ale Bay by two members of the group.

Coming back to the Paul Stanley hide to shelter from the increasing drizzle, we added Great Crested and Little Grebes to our list, along with a handful of Cormorants, Mute Swans and Canada Geese.  The sizeable flock of gulls on Flat Island were mostly identified as Black-headed or Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

As we continued our walk past the Bombing Tower towards the Lane End hide, a section of trees and bushes next to the path proved particularly productive with a variety of birds flitting between the branches, including a Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Great and Blue Tits, as well as a party of Long-tailed Tits and a Goldcrest.

The Lane End hide didn’t really offer up anything new, so after a while for most of us it was time to call it a day.  Two members of the group, however, did carry on to the Wildlife Centre where they were rewarded with more birds for our collective list for the morning, including Red-crested Pochard, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and great views of a Willow Tit.

In all, the 45 species that follow were recorded by the group, which was a pretty good total considering the somewhat damp weather:  Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Gadwall, Mandarin Duck, Teal, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Cormorant, Heron, Pheasant, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Willow Tit, Swallow, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch.

Chris Lamb



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





Committee Post



Email Address


Chairman and Publicity

Gary Atkins

01335 370773


Treasurer / Membership

John Follett

01332 834778



Rob Chadwick

07876 338912


Events co-ordinator

Chris Lamb

01629 820890



Louise Sykes

01335 348544


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


Richard Pittam


Contact Richard via the website



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