£*£*£ PLEASE NOTE THAT SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE NOW DUE £*£*£
A surprisingly large number of members are yet to renew their subscriptions for 2019, so this is a final reminder that John Follett will be delighted to deal with your renewal: please send your remittance (£7.50 for single, £10 family, £1 junior) to John at 8 Buckminster Close, Oakwood, Derby DE21 2EA.
AGM HIGHLIGHTS A GOOD YEAR – BUT SOME CONTINUING CHALLENGES
While committee officials at the club’s Annual General Meeting in February were able to reflect on an active year in 2018 – with a range of talks, walks and trips to look back on, a review of finances that showed a healthy balance and a membership that had increased for the first time in several years – there were still a few areas of concern on the horizon, chiefly around the flimsy make-up of our committee following the departure of two long-serving members.
Secretary Paul Hicking decided late last year not to stand again in 2019, and co-recorder Dave Newcombe also resigned his position. Thanks go to them for their years of service, but their departure leaves us with just six people on the committee. Not all of these can generally make committee meetings – and with a quorum of four required at meetings to plan activities, administer tasks and make decisions on behalf of members, we are now at the bare minimum capability for running the club.
Roger Carrington has kindly volunteered to step into the Secretary’s shoes, Clive Ashton soldiers on as now sole Recorder, Chris Lamb continues to co-ordinate our outside events, Jon Bradley supports the recording side notably with the monthly WeBS count (undertaken with non-committee member Simon Roddis) and both John Follett and Gary Atkins currently perform two committee roles. We do desperately need one or two more people to join the committee – not just to share out the tasks more evenly, but also to breathe some new life and fresh thinking into how the club functions.
If anyone is willing to give it a go – even if simply on an exploratory basis initially – just contact one of the committee (whose contact details are at the end of the newsletter).
A more detailed review of CBC in 2018 is given in the club’s Annual Report, which is in the final stages of production and should be posted to you later this month.
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
Two dates are fast approaching that you may want to put in your diary. Firstly, on Sunday, 28 April, the club’s next outing is being staged to Rutland Water Nature Reserve with its wide diversity of birdlife. As has become the norm in recent years, the plan is to make our own way and meet there around 10am. If you need transport, however, Chris Lamb (01629 820890) can arrange a lift, so give him a call.
Those making their own way should head for the Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre, Egleton, Oakham LE15 8BT. The centre is clearly signposted from the A6003, around 1 mile south of Oakham. Group permits (for groups of 10 or more, which we hope to achieve) are available at £4 per person; if not adults are charged £6, concessions £5.
The other date to scribble in your diary or on the calendar is Sunday, 12 May, when a Warbler Walk is being arranged to bring everyone up to speed on the sights and sounds of our summer visitors. One of our leading experts, Simon Roddis will be on hand to help identify the birds. Meet outside the Carsington Visitor Centre at 9am.
FEBRUARY’S ‘FALSE SPRING’ SPARKS EARLIER THAN USUAL ARRIVALS
April is always an exciting time as we see the departure of our winter species – though not, as yet, the Great Northern Diver, still developing his summer plumage – and the gradual arrival of our spring/summer visitors.
One species that arrived a full eight days earlier than ever before at Carsington (possibly urged on by the warm weather experienced during February’s false spring!) was a Sand Martin on 3 March. Another species, Little Ringed Plover, also broke its own record when a single bird arriving on 14 March was the earliest ever on site.
Three Waxwings flew over on 17 January, and the same number of Snow Buntings made one observer’s Valentine’s Day that little bit more special when they flew over the Visitor Centre – the first site record for this species in seven years. Two weeks later an enthusiastic Chiffchaff found its voice to became the earliest singing example at Carsington, though just a month later more than 100 Chiffchaffs were located (mostly by song) during a walk around the full perimeter of the reservoir.
Next migrant to arrive was a Blackcap, noted on 24 March, and a few Swallows had turned up by 30 March, with the complement of Sand Martins growing to 80 just two days later.
Raptors had a quiet start to the year, with the most common trio – Kestrel, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk – seen most days and Peregrines getting closer in the regularity stakes, but by late March and early April some more unusual species were turning up. A Red Kite was spotted on 25 March, four days later an Osprey was observed carrying a fish appropriately enough into Fishtail Creek, and just three days after that an adult male Marsh Harrier was recorded.
Five to six Tawny Owls were regularly heard calling at Hopton end in the early morning, and a Barn Owl was spotted at dusk near the dam wall on 9 February.
On the water, good numbers of grebes have been recorded, with up to 32 Little and 58 Great-crested, 17 Whooper Swans dropped in on 17 January and Little Egrets were noted on five dates. Over it, 70 Pink-footed Geese were through on 1 February, while the previous month saw a dark-bellied Brent Goose.
Winter species’ numbers diminished as 403 Teal in January had reduced to just 17 by March, though there were still small numbers of Wigeon, Goldeneye, Goosander and Pochard around. Other ducks worthy of note in March were a single Shelduck and seven Mandarin.
Water Rails have been seen regularly in Brown Ale Bay and occasionally at Hopton end, which is also a favoured haunt for Woodcock, which have been seen every month, while a Jack Snipe was also in the vicinity in January, when elsewhere 44 Snipe were counted.
The first returning Oystercatcher arrived on 28 January with numbers of this tenacious wader growing to 15 by late March. Four to five Ruff have remained over the winter and are recorded regularly, while other wader highlights include a single Golden Plover on two dates in January and, in larger flocks, 490 Lapwing in January and 42 Curlew in March.
The most numerous birds, not for the first time, were Black-headed Gulls which reached totals of 10,000 in the roost during January, when 900 Common and around 420 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also counted. The gull enthusiasts were more excited by a Kittiwake that turned up after a blow on 16 March and an increasingly site-scarce Mediterranean Gull on 25 March. Up to 45 Herring Gulls have also been observed, along with six Great Black-backed and three Yellow-legged Gulls.
Last month’s circular walk mentioned earlier, as well as finding over 100 Chiffchaffs, also produced 116 Blue Tits, 91 Robins, 87 Wrens, 75 Great Tits, 57 Blackbirds and double-figure counts of Song Thrush, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Magpie and Willow, Coal and Long-tailed Tits.
TEAM EFFORT HELPS NEST BOX PROJECT SPEED INTO ACTION
Back in 2016/17 it was realised that Tree Sparrows were not as numerous around their favourite feeding stations as they had been. A survey was set up, spearheaded by Alan Stewardson, that noted numbers and confirmed the fears of reducing flocks, concluding that the cause was likely to be a mixture of habitat, the availability of food and the facility for breeding.
Suitable feeders were installed to provide a more consistent food source for Tree Sparrows (the more general feeding hoppers were being raided and emptied rapidly by other species), while it was also decided that a significant number of nest boxes also needed to be either replaced or supplemented.
This winter, thanks largely to the enthusiastic efforts of Severn Trent rangers, an intensive project was launched to install 50 new boxes around the site in both existing and new locations (such as Millfields and Sheepwash, to which Tree Sparrows in recent times have begun to migrate), with a supporting system established to record activity at these and existing boxes via a clear numbering system.
CBC provided black and white numbered discs to fix to the boxes, and along with STW also supplied some metal protection plates to see off the threat of predators such as Woodpeckers that try to widen the holes in order to raid the nests. 28mm plates allowed birds up to the size of Tree Sparrows to use them, while 32mm plates were fixed to others, creating boxes suitable for birds up to House Sparrow size.
The CBC committee some time ago decided to dedicate the name of Peter Gibbon to the Tree Sparrow project and the new boxes at Sheepwash and Millfields car parks are carrying specially-numbered “PG” discs in honour of the club’s hard-working former Chairman.
Teamwork will again come into play in maintaining the nest boxes, with the Severn Trent ranger team organising an annual cleaning programme, supported by CBC to help identify the species that have occupied specific boxes through the nest material used. The results of this exercise will then be collated and, together with other information sources such as hide diaries, sightings and rangers’ site data, a breeding bird report will be compiled that will be included in the club’s annual report.
A TASTE OF AMERICAN, AFRICAN AND MOUNTAIN WILDLIFE
Our 2018-19 season of indoor meetings concluded last month with a brilliant presentation by Paul Bingham (taking time off from organising DOS talks to deliver one to us) on the wildlife encountered during his other life-long interest, mountain climbing and hill-walking. As well as a range of exciting photographs, Paul (aka ‘Mountain Man’ for this talk) also explained how the two pastimes often merged perfectly into seamless and memorable experiences.
Earlier, in January – in the midst of our monochrome winter – we were treated to a generous splash of colour courtesy of Glyn Sellors’ talk on American warblers encountered during a trip to Ohio. He projected numerous images onto the screen of multi-coloured small birds (there were very few ‘LBJs’) that bloom in America in the spring and summer.
In February, we were transported by Max and Christine Maughan to the hot plains of Botswana for a close-up view of the wildlife found in Chobe National Park, the Okavango Delta and the northern Kalahari Desert. Birds featured prominently, but such is this couple’s broad interest in nature the talk included a wide range of mammals and reptiles and even butterflies, all recorded with pinpoint precision by Christine’s lovely photographs.
We now look forward to getting out into the fresh air – with our club outing to Rutland Water later this month then, next month, a warbler walk to hone our identification skills! More details for both these events are on page 1.
We have now completed our series of indoor talks for another season, and are off into the outdoors with two events planned in the next couple of months. As advertised earlier, and highlighted below, we have a club outing plus a walk on the agenda. We hope to stage a further trip later in the year, but more of that nearer the time. Meanwhile, below are the details of the forthcoming events:
28 April Trip to Rutland Water: own transport but contact Chris Meet around 10am at the Anglian
Lamb if you need a lift (see details below) – Water Birdwatching Centre LE15 8BT
12 May – Warbler Walk at Carsington Water – Meet 9am outside Visitor Centre
Below are events being staged at Carsington Water over the spring and early summer by Severn Trent Water or Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. Some incur a charge or require booking, so check with the host organisation for more details (via STW on 0330 678 0701 or DWT on 01773 881188):
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)
First Monday of month Nature tots (3-5 years … booking essential) Contact DWT to book
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
13-28 April – Easter Egg Trail (£2 pack incl prize) – Trail sheets from VC reception
26 May – Air Ambulance Dog Show – In front of Visitor Centre
27 May – Plant Fair – From 10am in front of Visitor Centre