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

Nov 232022
 

Well, here we are barely a month away from Christmas, and I’m tempted to say where has the year gone – and yet, when I looked back at the equivalent newsletter last year we had only just begun to get back to ‘normal’ post-Covid.  There was a trip to Frampton Marsh in the autumn (which does feel a long time ago!) and we had just resumed our ‘in-person’ meetings, albeit caution led us to stage them in the New Leaf restaurant, which offered plenty of scope for spacing (remember that phrase) in case of continuing nervousness about the Covid bug. 

I’d like to thank New Leaf Catering heartily for providing that alternative, but 12 months on we are back in our traditional ‘home’ – the Henmore Room – having made the decision over the summer to move back.  This meeting room has been upgraded and can take 30-35 people which is generally ample for our needs, and we are once again using the annexe next door to set up the refreshments table.  We’ve now had the first three meetings of the 2022-23 indoor season there and it’s worked well, even accommodating the elevated numbers at the joint meeting with DOS in October.  You can read more about those meetings later in the newsletter.

As many of you will be aware, we have recruited a new club secretary this year: Louise Sykes has thankfully taken on this role, but with the extra string to her bow as chief promoter and fund-raiser (not an official title!).  She has participated in a number of public events under the CBC banner, where table sales and tombolas have generated generous amounts of cash … so when we hold our AGM in the new year, John Follett will be able to report a healthy financial position.

We have, however, since the last newsletter, sadly lost a member of the committee: Roger Carrington passed away after a short illness. He was an incredibly valuable long-time member of the club, for many years holding the post of Recorder, when he produced the current information-packed template of annual report, put solid processes in place for detailed recording at the reservoir and, in his subtle advice on managing habitat for wildlife, forged strong relationships with the senior staff of Severn Trent and its complement of rangers.  Roger’s quiet and unassuming expertise is greatly missed.

We hope to be able to mark the part he played in the club’s development by using some of the aforementioned financial reserves to create a lasting and meaningful tribute that will, of course, involve supporting the local wildlife.

Our membership levels are much the same as 12 months ago, having acquired several new people or households, which is encouraging set against the rather challenging times in which we’re living.

Gary Atkins

 

JOIN US AT OUR REMAINING INDOOR MEETINGS

Now back in the Henmore Room, remember all meetings are held on the third Tuesday of the month, and begin at 7.30pm ……

20 December:  Dr John Reilly reflects on life in the far north – in Svalbard

17 January:  Jack Perks shows us ‘Birds of the Water’

21 February:  David Parkin describes the miracle of bird migration

21 March: Moroccan Spice – from the Atlas Mountains to Sahara Desert by Neil Glenn

GET TO KNOW THE BTO AND BOOST LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

Early next month, CBC members and those of other birding organisations in the county will have a rare opportunity to find out more about the British Trust for Orthithology (BTO) by meeting some of its staff and local representatives on a Zoom call that will also outline how bird populations are faring across Derbyshire. 

The Zoom session is free and will take place between 7pm and 8.30pm on Monday, 5 December.  All you need to do to participate in this online meet, or simply to observe is to book onto the session via this link:  https://www.bto.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=1295 

Please note that registration for this session will end at 9am on Friday, 2 December.

If you have any questions or queries, please contact the BTO’s Engagement and Surveys Officer for England, David White – by e-mail at david.white@bto.org.uk or by phone on 01842 750050.

 

AND TALKING OF BTO – ANYONE FANCY DOING A WEBS COUNT?

In a recent edition of the DOS Bulletin, Phil Hampson put out an appeal for volunteers to take on a monthly WeBS (Wetland Birds Survey) count.  Simon Roddis and Jon Bradley undertake one at Carsington each month, but there are several dozen vacant sites that are not currently being surveyed.  Some of these are classed as large (sizeable reservoirs like Foremark) – but many are rated as medium-sized (eg Flash Dam, Osmaston Lakes) or small (eg Toyota Pool or Mercia Marina).

Surveys gather, for the BTO, valuable information about the status of waterbird populations, including ducks, geese, swans, waders, rails, divers, grebes, cormorants and herons. 

There is more information on the BTO website, though Phil Hampson, who is the local organiser for Derbyshire, is more than happy to explain the background via his e-mail address: btowebspjh@icloud.com or on the phone (07545 465069).

 

LOW WATER LEVELS HINDER BIRDING … BUT NOT THE BIRDS

Despite much of the past three months seeing very low water levels in the reservoir, which makes a telescope virtually essential for any serious water bird watching, the variety of birds visiting Carsington has remained impressive.  September’s 120 species was the second highest ever for that month, while the 111 species noted the following month was an October site record.

Whether November will prove similar is difficult to say right now, but certainly the surprise appearance of a juvenile Common Crane on Stones Island on 21 November – only the second record for Carsington, and the first for 20 years! – can only help.

Wintering waterfowl have still been around in reasonable numbers: 950 Canada Geese were counted in early September, while other maxima have been 480 Teal, 238 Wigeon, 83 Gadwall and an impressive 57 Shoveler.  In smaller numbers, scarcer ducks have included Red-crested Pochard, Goosander, up to 9 Pintail, Red-breasted Mergansers recorded on three dates and Garganey on five occasions.

The advance of the Great White Egret seems to be continuing, as four were seen on 10 October and single birds logged on no fewer than 18 dates across the late summer/early autumn period.  Little Egrets are also regularly on recorders’ lists.

September was a good wader month with 16 species recorded including Avocet, Ruff, Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Turnstone, Spotted Redshank, Golden Plover and Ringed Plover, 28 of which were counted on 23 September.  A Little Stint was moving around in a flock of up to 20 Dunlin for several days, and the highest Dunlin count of the year – 40 – was made on 20 November.  The maximum Lapwing count in this period was 300.

The wide-open shoreline off Lane End hide has afforded good gull-watching.  Numbers have been impressive and, though difficult to gauge, over 10,000 has been estimated, mostly Lesser Black-backs, Black-headed and Common Gulls.  Dedicated and patient watching – and good-quality telescopes – have nevertheless found some scarcer species among the masses including a Ring-billed/Lesser Black-backed hybrid, some Yellow-legs, a Caspian Gull on several dates, and winter-plumage Mediterraneans were particularly tricky to find among the Black-headeds.  A Kittiwake was also spotted on 10 November, and a fairly late Arctic Tern drifted through on 9 October.

As many as nine Red Kites on one day spearheaded the raptor highlights, though there was generally good variety in October when Merlin, Hobby and Marsh Harrier joined the more regular roster of Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard, while Peregrines were seen on 14 days that month with another seen tucking into a snack on the Lane End shore in early November.  Up to four Tawny Owls have been heard calling at dawn or dusk.

If 5 November is Bonfire Night, then the day before should henceforth be called the Day of the Woodpigeon, as a mammoth 62,600 individuals were noted flying south during a three and a quarter hour vigil.  The arrival of winter thrushes also heralded large flocks, particularly on 19 October when even the 286 Fieldfares counted were dwarfed by the phenomenal stream of 29,190 Redwings that passed through over a six-hour period.  Up to 1,000 Jackdaws were witnessed leaving their roost one morning, and flocks of Starlings were up to 500 strong.

Other passerines seen more readily over autumn-winter began arriving in decent numbers as Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Brambling became regular sightings.  Whinchat and Stonechat were each seen twice during both September and October, up to three Wheatears were observed and double-digit numbers of Skylarks were noted overflying the site. 

Meanwhile, most of the summer visitors departed during the first half of September, though the final Swallow was recorded on 5 October and House Martins, still numbering 60 on the 3rd, were not seen after 7 October.  Blackcaps were still being observed in October, and at least one Chiffchaff looks like it’s decided to overwinter as it has been heard or seen on or around Stones Island in recent days.  The recently-discovered Marsh Tit also seems set to stick around among its ‘Willow’ cousins and is often seen or heard around Paul Stanley hide or Sheepwash areas.

Lastly, an ‘oops’ is required for failing to mention in the last issue a Pomerine Skua – only the third record for Carsington – that called in on 2 August.  Sorry!

 

WILLOW TIT SURVEY SHOWS DERBYSHIRE BUCKING NATIONAL DECLINE

A national survey focusing on the Willow Tit has confirmed Derbyshire to be one of the strongholds for this species which has, nevertheless, seen a population decline nationwide of 86 per cent between 1995 and 2020.

Described as our fastest-declining resident bird, the Willow Tit survey was deemed essential to gather data, gauging its numbers and range, to underpin future conservation efforts at both the local and national level.

The survey was undertaken between 2019 and 2021, with county-level surveys undertaken by Willow Tit study groups, county bird clubs, other conservation organisations and volunteers.  It was organised by RSPB, with support from the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh Ornithological Society, and drew data from 1,900 tetrads.

Results show that the Willow Tit population in Britain is estimated at just short of 5,700 breeding pairs, of which 76% were in England, 21% in Wales and 3% in Scotland.  North Yorkshire and County Durham as well as Derbyshire were found to have the highest populations in England, while in Wales, most Willow Tits were in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Breconshire and Montgomeryshire. Almost all of Scotland’s Willow Tits were in Dumfries and Galloway.

At Carsington, as in other Derbyshire spots, Willow Tits abound, and it is the Marsh Tit (much more prolific nationwide than its similar-looking cousin) that is more scarce.  Indeed, a gap of several years went by without any Marsh Tit records at Carsington – until one was heard, ironically during a Willow Tit survey.  Since then, and keeping an extra special eye out, at least one Marsh Tit has been noted fairly regularly around Paul Stanley and Sheepwash areas. 

If you’re keen to add a species to your site list, one way of differentiating between these species is their respective sounds, which do differ.  An excellent website for checking these (and any other bird songs/calls) is https://xeno-canto.org/ … and use the search box.

 

BACK IN THE HENMORE ROOM FOR MORE FASCINATING TALKS

For the first indoor meeting of our 2022/23 programme in September we welcomed back renowned wildlife photographer Paul Hobson. As always, Paul treated us to stunning images of wildlife in the changing seasons of the year, visiting some amazing places around the world on the way.

In October we made the long journey down to the colder climes of the South Atlantic in the company of Tony Davison to hear about the birds and other wildlife of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica. This was our traditional annual joint meeting with members of the Derbyshire Ornithological Society (DOS), who joined us for the evening.

Returning to a location much closer to home for our November meeting, Tim Sexton from the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust described the wildlife year at Rutland Water.  He gave us a truly interesting insight into the depth of scientific research work which goes on behind the scenes at this excellent reserve.

For our final meeting of 2022 in December, and perhaps fittingly for our pre-Christmas get-together, we head up to the Arctic Circle and Svalbard to experience a mixture of travel, birds, mammals and evolution presented by Dr John Reilly.

Looking ahead to the new year, our indoor meetings continue with talks ranging from birds of the water, the miracle of migration and the birds of Morocco (see box on front page for details).

 

BURTON MERE ONCE MORE PROVES A HIT FOR CBC TRAVELLERS

On Saturday, 1 October a group of eight CBC members journeyed over to Cheshire to visit the Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB Reserve on the Dee Estuary. This is a site we have visited before and it always offers a good mix of wetland and woodland birds.

Starting off with a welcoming cup of coffee in the Visitor Centre with its panoramic views over the reserve, we spent some time checking through the large flocks of ducks and geese which were starting to gather on the lakes.   Teal were by far the most numerous, with smaller counts of Shoveler and Shelduck and a single Pintail adding to the variety. A lone Pink-footed Goose was spotted hanging out with the many Canada Geese.

Sadly, the effects of avian flu were very much in evidence with one or two wildfowl corpses seen out on the water. Hopefully, species most affected by this terrible disease will in time recover their numbers.

Relatively small counts of waders were seen, mostly Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwings, but a single Curlew Sandpiper was a notable find as well as a solitary Avocet.  Late in the day a Ruff was spotted to complete our tally of waders.  Marsh Harriers were often observed during the day quartering the reedbeds, and a pair of Buzzards, along with a Kestrel and a Peregrine Falcon, added variety to our haul of birds of prey.

As we walked round the reserve, at least 3-4 Cetti’s Warblers announced their presence but, as usual, none were seen.  A pair of Stonechats did show well atop some bushes, and a flock of 15-20 House Martins were hawking for insects, no doubt building up fat reserves ready for their long migration flight south.  Returning to the Visitor Centre later in the day, the blue flash of a Kingfisher was briefly seen by some as it darted along the stream, but then quickly disappeared from view.

It was a very enjoyable day, with the weather turning out to be much dryer and brighter than at first forecast, and a collective total of 40 species were recorded by the group:

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Shoveler, Mallard, Pintail, Teal, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Pheasant, Avocet, Lapwing, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine, Kingfisher, Magpie, Carrion Crow, House Martin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Cetti’s Warbler, Wren, Robin, Stonechat, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Committee Post

Name

Telephone

Email Address

Chairman and Publicity

Gary Atkins

01335 370773

 

Treasurer / Membership

John Follett

01332 834778

 

Recorder

Rob Chadwick

07876 338912

 

Events co-ordinator

Chris Lamb

01629 820890

 

Secretary

Louise Sykes

01335 348544

 

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

Webmaster

Richard Pittam

n/a

Contact Richard via the website

         

 

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