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

Aug 272023

Welcome to the latest newsletter.  I hope you’ve been enjoying the ‘summer’ so far.  We’ve had some decent weather, and even extreme temperatures in short doses but it’s been inconsistent to say the least.  The birds are still around, though, so let’s hope we’ve all had a good birding year.

This edition gives you plenty of potential activity later in the year, with a trip to Yorkshire and a couple of more local walks planned, plus the start next month of our 2023-24 series of indoor meetings, kicking off on Tuesday, 19 September.  Immediately below are some dates for you to scribble into your diaries.  The usual report details the highlights on and around the reservoir and Chris Lamb has provided more detail on the upcoming events.

One thing discussed at out most recent committee meeting earlier this month – and something we will be consulting with members on in the near future – are our plans to spend some of the growing club funds presently in the bank.  The balance sits at more than its traditional level due to a number of factors: firstly, the brilliant fund-raising by our secretary Louise Sykes and her husband John, secondly a donation of £250 from the Severn Trent Volunteer Rangers who have wound up their own accounts and wanted funds to go to like-minded nature loving organisations, and thirdly money from the general public, via the collection box in the Wildlife Centre, which Severn Trent has said we can use for the benefit of the local birdlife.

Certainly one thing we want is to improve feeding facilities at Paul Stanley hide and, most probably, at Sheepwash as and when that hide is replaced.  If there are any budding carpenters among our members, do let us know! These goals may dovetail nicely with another desire – to create a meaningful memorial to long-time club recorder Roger Carrington, who passed away last year. 

Severn Trent’s Carsington Site Supervisor, John Matkin, has recently indicated that the Sheepwash activity – demolishing the old hide and installing a new one – is still on track to begin this autumn … and that bird feeding around the site will resume when the Avian Flu outbreak is deemed to be under control locally, which will allow us to begin feeding birds in that area of the site.

Gary Atkins



Below are the dates of upcoming events.  Don’t forget that all indoor meetings are on the third Tuesday of the month in the Visitor Centre’s Henmore Room – and begin at 7.30pm:

** TUESDAY, 19 SEPTEMBER ** – Talk: Lockdown and Unlocked; Tony Slater contrasts birding during the pandemic, focusing on local species, with the thrill of visiting places farther afield once again.

** SUNDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER ** – A walk at the less-often-visited ‘Hopton’ end of Carsington Water, with its two hides and woodland paths

** TUESDAY, 17 OCTOBER ** – Talk: Birding in Minas Gerais, Brazil.  Our annual joint meeting with DOS welcomes Sally Oakes, who will describe this highly biodiverse state with its 123 endemic bird species.

** TUESDAY, 21 NOVEMBER ** – Talk: Malay Peninsula.  Our very own well travelled couple, John and Louise Sykes will present their wealth of exciting finds and ‘lifers’ encountered during a recent south-east Asian holiday.

** Watch out, too, for another more local outing we’re planning in November – to Wyver Lane, Belper; a wetland site alongside the Derwent that often produces surprises.  Details will be announced nearer the time, on the website and at our indoor meetings.


Species have been turning up in droves, contributing to two new monthly site records, and probably the main highlight was a visit on 4 August by five Spoonbills – only the fifth Carsington record for this elegant bird (which like most white herons seems to be moving ever more northward) and the first to involve more than one individual.

June’s total of 102 species proved to be the highest ever for that month since records began in 1993, while the 110 species recorded the following month equalled last year’s record for July.  We’re yet to work out the total for August, but it’s sure to be a healthy number.

A Caspian Gull, affording good views and seen almost daily at the reservoir since the end of July, is thought to be the same bird as the sub-adult noted both here and at Ogston last winter.   Another gull highlight were the single Kittiwakes that dropped in on two dates in June, while Yellow-legged Gulls were reported on six dates in July, when a Mediterranean Gull added further interest on the 17th.  A Little Gull flew over Stones Island early on 7 August, the day before 2,350 Lesser Black-backs dropped into the roost. 

Nine Black Terns and 11 Arctics were counted through on consecutive days in early June, and up to five Commons Terns have been recorded on several dates in June, July and August.

Counts of water birds were sparse in June and early July but began to increase in recent weeks as 455 Coots, 917 Canada Geese and 150+ Mallards and Tufted Ducks were logged in late July.  The Teal complement rose to 87 by 20 August, when 51 Gadwall were also counted.  A scarce Garganey turned up in July, with another in August, when 13 Pochard and three Red-crested Pochard were spied together near the sailing club on the 21st.  Little Grebe numbers have been improving and a stealthy pair, with four young in attendance, was found in Wildlife Centre Creek.

A pleasing total of 24 Moorhens were found on 26 July, though the group was reduced by one when a Peregrine was seen predating an adult in mid-August. Little Egrets were only making occasional appearances until 5 August when 10 were recorded, along with the first Great Egret for a while. 

Nine Sanderlings, seven Black-tailed Godwits and single Whimbrel seen on two dates were among the June wader highlights, though 14 species were logged in July, including a Greenshank on the 28th and Turnstone on two dates, with another seen around Stones Island on 15 August.  Another good August record was a Golden Plover on the 7th.

Red Kites continued to make regular appearances, with up to four on any one day, but the scarcer Marsh Harriers perhaps represented the raptor highlights recently with good views of individuals on 30 July and 8 August.  Two individuals were the only Osprey sightings, again in July and August , but Hobbys were more regular, seen on five occasions in July, then two over pastures on 1 August and a couple more singletons speeding around on a couple more August days.

Various species have been having a busy time raising new families, including many of the smaller birds on site.  Kingfishers seem to have done quite well, the Marsh Tit presence has resumed between Paul Stanley hide and Sheepwash car park and a juvenile Spotted Flycatcher was noted near Paul Stanley Hide on 9 August. Five days earlier, both Spotted and Pied Flycatchers were seen at Sheepwash; this is the latest record for Pied Fly at Carsington, the first in August. 

The Wildlife Centre creek fields also seem to become busy at breeding times, and lately have been a good source of sightings of Redstart, Common and Lesser Whitethroat and, on 15 August, a Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail and a fly-over Tree Pipit.  Garden Warbler was also logged there on 21 August, and Yellow Wags have been seen fairly regularly in the vicinity.

The reservoir, particularly around Stones Island, has become a favourite for Sedge Warblers, 16 of which were counted on 16 June, and a healthy complement of nine Reed Warblers were noted on a single day the following month.  Two site-scarce Crossbills were recorded in mid-July, and despite the Swift’s acknowledged decline (see later article), 57 of these impressive scimitar-winged birds was a decent count on 30 July.  If anything, hirundines have been more thinly spread this year.



We have now got most of our winter programme of indoor presentations firmly established and, following the advice of our membership, have begun to sprinkle some shorter-range outings to local reserves or birding spots into our programme in order to increase the regularity of CBC activities.

We kick off the 2023-24 season of indoor meetings with our first indoor meeting on Tuesday, 19 September. Tony Slater’s talk describes how lockdown gave him the chance to look much more closely at the very familiar birds we see every day.  Moving on to when the restrictions were lifted, and he was able to get out and visit nature reserves and local wildlife sites again, Tony describes that feeling of excitement catching up with other birds not seen for much longer.

At our next meeting on Tuesday, 17 October, we head down to Brazil with Sally Oakes.  The state of Minas Gerais in south-east Brazil contains incredible biodiversity and birdlife, including 123 endemic bird species, more than any other state in this huge country.  Sally’s talk introduces us to some of the wonderful birds and other wildlife there.  This will be our traditional annual joint meeting with members of the Derbyshire Ornithological Society (DOS), who will join us for the evening.

Continuing our virtual travels, the November meeting (Tuesday 21st) will see us take a tour of some of the most productive Malaysian birding sites, courtesy of our own members, John and Louise Sykes, who visited the Malay peninsular recently. On this exciting holiday, they experienced many spectacular birds, including Pittas, Broadbills, Buffy Fish Owl, Gould’s Frogmouth, Hornbills and Trogons and so much more.

For our final talk this year on Tuesday, 19 December, we 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.

Moving on to outdoor activities, we have a list of walks and outings that we are firming up.  We start the autumn with a walk at Carsington Water on Sunday, 24 September, meeting at the Sheepwash car park at 9am. The monthly Birdwatching for Beginners walk, which are attended on a regular basis by some of our members, traditionally follows a route around Stones Island and on to the Wildlife Centre, so we thought we would start this walk by exploring a different end of the reservoir to see what we can find there.

Then on Sunday, 29 October we plan a longer-range sortie – heading up to West Yorkshire to visit the St. Aidan’s RSPB Reserve, near Leeds.  Formerly an opencast coal mining area, this is now a haven for wildlife and promises to be a great day out.  The brother of one of our members is a volunteer warden at St. Aidan’s and has very kindly offered to act as a guide for us, so that should really add to what we get out of our visit.

We will meet at 10am at the reserve’s visitor centre. The address is Astley Lane, Swillington, Leeds, LS26 8AL.  Toilet facilities as well as hot drinks and light refreshments are available at the reserve, but bringing a packed lunch is recommended.  If you are intending to make the trip please let Chris Lamb know, either by phone on 01629 820890 or by email at cflamb@yahoo.co.uk.

More information can be found on the RSPB website at: https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/st-aidans/

In November we will be staying closer to home once again, with a visit planned to the Wyver Lane, a Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Reserve on the fringes of Belper. The precise date, time and meeting place for this walk will be advised on the website and at our indoor meetings beforehand.



By August, many chicks and adult Swifts have already left for Africa after what looks to have been a mixed breeding season across the UK, with some colonies further south doing well while others seem to have fared badly due to the cold, wet weather.

Where these conditions have been prevalent, the insect food stocks have been poor and adults have had to either favour a particular chick or abandon broods altogether, leading to the numerous reports of desperately starving and underweight swiftlets found in recent weeks.  The species needs help, so if you find a young Swift out of the nest bring them indoors and arrange a source of warmth (such as a hot water bottle filled with warm water and wrapped in a tea towel). But please don’t feed them. Then find an experienced rehabber from this list: 

  • If you live in or near Sheffield call Chet Cunago, an expert carer on 07850 799891
  • Ashford’s Animal Rescue, Bakewell (07853 987378)
  • Overdale Vets, Buxton (www.overdalevets.co.uk)
  • Pet Samaritans, Chesterfield (www.petsamaritans.co.uk)
  • Bev Rhodes, near Ilkeston (via Nick Brown: nbrown@derbyshirewt.co.uk)
  • Swift Conservation has a list of UK rehabbers, plus useful advice about what to do when a Swift is found (www.swift-conservation.org)
  • Online/social media via www.facebook.com/groups/swiftsos/?ref=share

And appropriately enough, just a few weeks before next year’s Swifts begin to arrive back in Derbyshire (hopefully in droves), we have Andy Broadhurst from the Derbyshire Swift Conservation Project guesting at our indoor meeting on 19 March 2024 to update us on this project and suggest how people can get involved to help this fabulous species.



We have all probably felt the well-being benefits of a walk involving nature spotting, and that notion is now being harnessed by the medical profession who are trialling ‘nature prescriptions’ in Derbyshire, following a successful pilot in Scotland.

Birdsong is one of the specific aspects highlighted by the scheme being led by the RSPB and Peak District National Park Authority, which are working with two social prescribing services in the High Peak that receive referrals from 13 GP practices in the area.  “Evidence is emerging that time outdoors is good for our health,” says Buxton GP Tom Miller, who is involved in the project.

The nature prescriptions trial includes a leaflet and a calendar giving people ideas of when and where to connect with nature as a means of boosting their health and well-being.  The approach is believed to help reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression, and is straightforward in being self-led by individuals from home, on their own or in organised groups.


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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