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Holiday Report: Australia / New Zealand – Gary Atkins

 Posted by on January 24, 2019  Carsington Bird Club, Features, Member Reports  Comments Off on Holiday Report: Australia / New Zealand – Gary Atkins
Jan 242019
 

This 40-day holiday with my wife Meryl was almost a year in the planning (with a fair bit of help from Trailfinders, who did a good job with the plentiful detailed arrangements).   Having been to New Zealand before 15 years earlier to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, but never to Australia, we decided to combine the two while still spending more time in NZ than we had before, so it was always going to be a long one.

In retrospect, the itinerary (involving 12 flights, 19 accommodations and 3,000 miles driving in three separate hire cars) was perhaps a little over-ambitious for a couple of 60-somethings.  Next time (if there is one) we’ll feed in a few extra days

Nevertheless, that and a cancelled flight were the only slight negatives in a truly memorable journey, as each day rewarded us with either amazing scenery, jaw-dropping city-scapes, fascinating cultural tastes and, for me at least, above all exciting and varied wildlife at every turn. 

We had stopovers in Singapore on the way out and Bangkok on the way back.  Here are a few pictures that give a flavour for the brilliant time we enjoyed ……

This pair of Yellow-vented Bulbuls posed beautifully for me in the Gardens by the Bay, which was just a short walk from our centrally-located hotel in, and big enough to swallow up all the joggers, cyclists and tai-chi exponents and still leave plenty of space, peace and quiet for the surprisingly plentiful wildlife.  Meryl and I really enjoyed the city, which is forensically clean (don’t take chewing gum – you might get arrested!), but also an exciting and vibrant place with amazing buildings and creative attractions for locals and tourists alike …

… and here is one of those buildings, the amazing Marina Bay Sands hotel (pictured during one of the regular light shows at the inner harbour), which cost $8 billion to build, has over 2,500 rooms, and its extended roof platform towers 200 metres above the ground, has an infinity pool and gardens of its own, including full-sized palm trees!

This striking Black-naped Oriole, a fairly common site in Singapore’s green spaces, was one of 24 species I managed to log during a brief two-day stay in the city state.

NEW ZEALAND

This holiday’s plentiful new entries to my lifetime bird list began to accumulate during our week in the north island of New Zealand, when we stayed in Auckland briefly en route to Paihia in the Bay of Islands and Whitianga in the Coromandel Peninsula, but it wasn’t until we got to magical Stewart Island, located off the southern trip of south island, that the ‘lifers’ really started to arrive thick and fast.  On a late evening boat trip, we caught up with a small colony of these Fjordland Crested Penguins ….

…. plus some New Zealand Fur Seals before landing on a remote beach and tracking down a few Brown Kiwis, which seemed unaware of the spooky red torchlight that was just about good enough to enable a snatched photo or two …

 

Large groups of Kaka parrots were a regular sight on Stewart Island as they tore into the seemingly-endless swathes of giant flax and other vegetation with their powerful beaks.  New Zealand has a number of endemic parrots including the Kea, which enjoys mountains and snow (we’d seen them at Fox Glacier on a previous trip, but not this time around), and the endangered Kakapo, a huge flightless parrot whose population has been decimated by ground-dwelling mammals. 

Having been brought to the edge of extinction, Kakapo conservation is focused on on a few remote islands where stoats and possums have been eradicated.  I discovered that one of these – Codfish Island – is just off Stewart Island.

Although a rarity is general terms, the Saddleback with its prominent wattles can be fairly readily seen on conservation-conscious Stewart Island; I saw a few of these on another of Stewart Island’s own offshore wildlife havens, Ulva Island

Another iconic New Zealand endemic is the Tui, after which a rather pleasant beer is named!  The Tui with its rich array of unusual calls, including mimicking human voices, is seen throughout New Zealand.  It is one of the larger members of the honeyeater family and because of its trademark white throat tufts was called parson bird by early settlers.

In New Zealand I saw 83 bird species, including several lifers despite having previously visited the country.

AUSTRALIA

Australia was the most daunting – and, at the same time, exciting – prospect when it came to birding ‘down under’, not least because there are over 900 species to go at, all beautifully detailed in the 1.5kg field guide I had to lug around in my rucksack (yes, I should have downloaded an app!).  There are some 60 species of Honeyeater alone, and one of my earliest spots was this New Holland Honeyeater, feeding on nectar just outside our hotel window on Kangaroo Island …

Possibly the most amazing bird in terms of behaviour was this Satin Bowerbird, with its bewildering range of calls, many unbird-like and some sounding almost human.  Bowerbirds are noted for creating elaborate courtship ‘bowers’.   Although I’m slightly cheating here, by photographing a bird in a walk-through aviary, I did see this species in the wild too – and it was, true to form, picking up debris left by humans in a car park.

After first seeing Koalas in a wildlife park, which we’d visited in frustration after initially seeing more road-kill than live animals, we then began to see them (and other indigenous wildlife including wallabies, kangaroos and echidnas) more regularly in the wild.  This mother and youngster were in the Tower Hill Wildlife Park, one of the best and most natural reserves I’ve ever visited …


Royal Spoonbills were an impressive sight, seen here with some of the Australasian White Ibises that could be found almost anywhere – including rummaging through rubbish bins in the centre of Sydney!

The almost prehistoric looking, stiff-tailed Musk Duck was completely new to me, and this male (I hesitate to say ‘handsome’!) was about to launch into a courtship display which involves erecting its tail and inflating the leathery lobe beneath its bill …

Surely the most colourful bird I saw in Australia – not an easy claim to maintain with so many species with outrageous plumage – was this Rainbow Lorikeet, which were readily seen in Sydney and Melbourne.

The prettiest bird in my wife’s eyes (and why not!) was this Splendid Fairy Wren.  I saw them most places we visited in Australia, and I did get closer views, but this was my favourite shot ..

My Australian species total eventually reached 104.

BANGKOK

The Asian Koel is widespread across Asia and often heard rather than seen as the male is very vocal during the breeding season.  It is a large cuckoo and, typical of the family, it is parasitic, laying a single egg in the nests of birds such as crows and shrikes.  This bird, a female, is attractive enough, but possibly not as striking as the all-blue-black male with its beady red eye).

I was quite surprised to see this Chinese Pond Heron right slap bang in the middle of a well-peopled Bangkok park.  Away from water, it was probably looking for a reptilian snack …

Newsletter – No 1 / January 2019

 Posted by on January 12, 2019  Carsington Bird Club, CBC Newsletters  Comments Off on Newsletter – No 1 / January 2019
Jan 122019
 

Can I first of all apologise for the non-appearance of the November newsletter (unavoidable because I was on a lengthy holiday ‘Down Under’ – see holiday report later in this issue!).  I had hoped to put out a short edition in December, but I didn’t get back to the UK until the 10th and then the long journey plus Christmas caught up with me!  I do aim to issue four editions this year, though, on a quarterly basis, but rather than wait for the usual first issue timing, February, we have enough to catch up on right now so January it is.

Indeed, this earlier-than-usual first issue is useful in reminding members that it’s time to renew memberships.  John Follett, our treasurer and membership secretary will be delighted to hear from you.  The fees remain (as they have for a decade or more) at £7.50 for a single, £10 for family and £1 for junior membership.  Please send cheques – together with your address and membership number if you know it – to  John at 8 Buckminster Close, Oakwood, Derby DE21 2EA.

I should also inform you that our Annual General Meeting, which usually coincides with our January indoor meeting, has been postponed until February when it will precede the indoor meeting.

At the AGM, as well as reporting on a relatively busy year and one that has actually seen membership edge up slightly for the first time in several years, we will be seeking election/re-election of committee members – and one piece of bad news is that we are losing our secretary Paul Hicking.  Paul has decided to stand down after a number of years’ sterling service. 

This will leave us thinner than ever on the ground going forward … so, in time-honoured fashion, I need to ask the membership at large if there is anyone out there who would like to join the committee.  It doesn’t have to be a specific role, and you can begin on a ‘see-if-I-like-it’ basis, but we do need to keep numbers up in order to have a ‘quorum’ for actions and decision-making at committee meetings.  If you want to give it a try, please contact me or any of the existing committee (see our details at the end of the newsletter).

Meanwhile, looking forward, we still have three indoor meetings to go in the current season (see ‘What’s On’) and initial plans are afoot for another club trip, though the precise location is yet to be decided.  Watch this space.

Gary Atkins

LARGE FLOCKS OVER CARSINGTON … AND SINGLE DIVER RETURNS, AGAIN!

Detailed statistics for 2018 are presently being compiled, but the157 species recorded across the year is a little below average, the lowest since 2014 though only 16 less than the highest ever. One invariable event, however, was the arrival of ‘our’ Great Northern Diver, which booked in for its annual winter holiday in early December.

Two Red-throated Divers dropped in two months earlier but did not stay very long, while visits by Great White Egrets in both September and October were also highlights. 

It’s been a busy time for gulls, too, with up to 10,000 Black-headed counted on separate days in November and December and, also in the roost, up to 3,800 Lesser Black-backs and 1,800 Common Gulls.  Of more interest to the gull enthusiasts, however, were Caspian and Glaucous Gulls, a Kittiwake, and a couple of hybrids (a Caspian type in September and a Lesser Black-backed/Ring-billed cross in November) that really tested their expertise.

There have also been large flocks of our winter thrushes, as 1,210 Redwings were counted in December and 930 Fieldfares a month earlier.  But even these impressive totals were eclipsed by the large daily movements of Woodpigeons, which maxed at 6,450 in mid November and the 3,600 Starlings logged on 28 October, when huge murmurations were noted nationwide.

An estimated 1,100 Jackdaws roosted below the dam wall at dusk on 2 October, and another large flock included 710 Meadow Pipits on 26 September.  Three days earlier 266 House Martins flew through, en route to a warmer place for winter, while the last migrating species were a Blackcap on 3 October and, two weeks later, a

Chiffchaff … though further evidence of overwintering warblers came with two Chiffchaff sightings in Brown Ale Bay in late December.

Other winter visitors have included Hawfinch, viewed a few times between 23 and 27 November, but this was not a signal for a repetition of last year’s influx as none have been noted since.  Four Waxwings – the first sightings of this attractive species at the reservoir for six years – flew over on 29 December.  Maybe more will follow.

Small parties of Ruff, Redshank and Dunlin seem to have settled in for the winter, no doubt enjoying the wide expanses of exposed mud, while Golden Plover were recorded each month from October to December, with an impressive 72 counted circling the site on 10 November.

A Grey Phalarope, one of a number blown inland by westerly gales, turned up at Carsington on 21 September and stayed for three days.  Up to 500 Lapwings and 47 Snipe were maximum counts during the last four months of the year, and a site record eight Woodcock were roosting at Hopton End at dawn on 24 November.

Coot numbers have hovered around the 1,000 mark throughout the autumn and early winter, while there have also been good numbers of Teal (up to 460), Pochard, Mallard and Gadwall, and among the winter duck arrivals have been regularly-seen Goldeneye, Wigeon and Goosander, plus a sprinkling of Scaup, Common Scoter, Mandarin, Shelduck and Red-crested Pochard.

It’s been a quiet time for raptors with just September records of a Red Kite, two Hobbys and an Osprey on several days earlier in the month, plus more regular sightings of Peregrine, breaking the steady pattern of more common raptors – Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Kestrel.

The welcome sound of a Little Owl calling at Hopton End on 17 October was the first Carsington record for five years of this seemingly scarcer Strigiform, while records of the more common Tawny Owl were boosted by up to six individuals calling, also at Hopton End, on two dates in September.

BIRD OF THE ISSUE: GREAT EGRET

Ardea Alba is being seen with increasing regularity at Carsington and other inland lakes and reservoirs, though it is more likely to be seen at or near coastal locations.  The RSPB website states around 35 individuals spend the winter in Britain, though that number is almost certainly on the increase.  Indeed, this species is heading north rapidly – rather like its smaller cousin, the Little Egret, which until a couple of decades ago was considered a rarity but is now widely recorded, including most months at Carsington.

The spread north should not be that surprising as one or other of the four sub-species of Great Egret (aka Great White Egret, Large Egret and Great White Heron) is found on most continents of the world, and is a bird you’re just as likely to see in south-east Asia, the Americas or Africa as well as Europe.

They look rather like other family members such as the Little Egret, but are significantly larger – about the size of a Grey Heron – have a different ‘stance’ when feeding (on fish, frogs and insects, primarily) and have black feet (rather than the Little Egret’s yellow feet) and juveniles and non-breeding adults have a yellow rather than dark bill.

FRAMPTON MARSH IS A HIT – WHILE BRILLIANT TALKS TAKE US FARTHER AFIELD

The choice of Frampton Marsh for the club’s latest trip at the end of September got a resounding thumbs-up from the dozen members who made their way to the RSPB’s Lincolnshire site that never seems to fail to deliver.

More than 60 species were recorded collectively by our group, the stars of the show possibly being a Cattle Egret and a good range of waders including Little Stint, Avocet, Golden Plover, Snipe, Ruff, Little Egret, Spotted Redshank and Greenshank, together with a huge raft of 2,500 Black-tailed Godwits.

Other highlights included a pair of Stonechats, a Whooper Swan, Egyptian geese and a solitary Brent Goose out on the marsh, while a Merlin on a distant fence post was an excellent spot by one of the group with a scope.

Another trip is planned soon – probably in early spring – but a precise date and location are yet to be decided … so watch this space.

Meanwhile, our 2018-19 season of indoor talks is now in full swing after the first four offerings.  Award-winner photographer Paul Hobson got us off to a salt-laden start with a tour around coastal and island locations, and this was followed in October by our joint meeting with DOS, at which Chris Galvin took us around the globe with his talk Around the World in 80 birds … though we suspect there were rather more than that number of images!

Chris Lamb reprised his first-ever trip to Australia, showing pictures of birds and other wildlife, and describing how challenging it was going to a country and attempting to identify such diverse and vibrant bird species and other wildlife.

Then, at our pre-Christmas meeting, Andrew Parkinson demonstrated his love affair with nature rather closer to home with his talk entitled ‘British Wildlife through the Seasons’ which, as with all of our speakers, contained some brilliant photographs – mostly taken at locations just a few miles from his home.

HOLIDAY REPORT: FIVE WEEKS IN NEW ZEALAND/AUSTRALIA

I greatly appreciated a sneak preview of Chris Lamb’s talk on Australian wildlife (mentioned above), because it demonstrated some of the bird species I was most likely to see in Australia, which was one of my destinations – along with New Zealand, with stopovers in Singapore and Bangkok – when my wife and I set off on 1 November on a five-and-a half-week adventure to mark our 40th wedding anniversary.

Even the highlights are too numerous to list here (I’ll include a longer article, together with some pictures, on the CBC website) but certainly the wildlife everywhere was truly memorable, as was the breathtaking scenery in New Zealand and some amazing cityscapes en route – most particularly the exciting architecture and event venues and forensically clean streets of Singapore.  After 12 flights, 19 accommodations and nearly 3,000 miles added to the clocks of three different hire cars in just 39 days, here’s a word of advice: when you get past 60, feed in some extra relaxation time!

We used thorough and efficient Trailfinders to organise the details of the ambitious itinerary, which included wildlife havens such as Stewart Island, off the southern tip of New Zealand, and Kangaroo Island and Phillip Island which sit at either end of the Great Ocean Road between Adelaide and Melbourne. 

Stewart Island is entirely geared towards wildlife, particularly preserving some of New Zealand’s rarer and more fragile bird species.  The only settlement on an island nearly five times the size of the Isle of Wight is Oban, which has a permanent population of just 320 – so the island’s population density of one person per five square kilometres speaks for itself. 

With only a couple of dozen miles of tarmac roads, most of it is remote bush, and is gently managed for the benefit of the local wildlife – and is perfect for someone like me who could just wander freely and be guaranteed to see something different every time I ventured more than a few yards from our B&B.  Ulva Island, which could be reached by water taxi, was a discrete, quiet location where most of the scarcer species such as Weka, Saddleback, Brown Creeper and Kaka (and Yellowheads, which I dipped on) were readily found, while a pre-booked trip a little farther afield netted the promised Brown Kiwi.

Kangaroo Island, 100 miles south of Adelaide in South Australia is also bigger than I first imagined.  Initially I was a little depressed to see only dead kangaroos at the side of the road and, after seeing more road kill in the form of a dead koala, we decided to visit a wildlife park in the centre of the island, which was enjoyable and enabled us to get close to some of the country’s landmark species.  Ironically, after that, we saw plenty more in the wild – wallabies, kangaroos, koalas, emus and even an echidna shuffling down the side of the road.

Another highlight was being close to penguins when they came ashore at dusk on Phillip Island.  Unbeknown to us, we were allocated two of just 10 VIP tickets for the daily ‘Penguin Parade’.

We discovered that this meant we didn’t join the massed crowds on a viewing platform above the main beach, but got right down and dirty onto the sand of a private beach above which large numbers of the Little Penguins nested (along with thousands of Short-tailed Shearwaters which whistled around our ears while we watched the rafts of penguins waddle up the sand).  It was a true privilege to be so close to the little birds as they filed past us just yards away.

Unsurprisingly, with over 900 species, Australia’s birdlife was rewarding pretty much wherever we went, even in large conurbations including Sydney (where we spent an unscheduled day due to a cancelled flight) and Melbourne where I sought out the green areas – and where, unlike New Zealand which we’d visited previously, four out of each five species I managed to identify were ‘lifers’. 

There were a few species I’d never seen before in New Zealand, too, plus a handful of lifers in Singapore and Bangkok, two cities that could not be more different … though both could boast a number of spectacular birds.

Overall, I logged 185 species (83 in New Zealand, 104 in Australia and 20+ in each of the Asian cities, but allowing for duplication), of which more than 90 I was able to add to my lifetime list.

Gary Atkins

WHAT’S ON

After a brilliant autumn/early winter programme of talks, we can still look forward to some further exciting illustrated presentations in the coming months, whisking us off to North America, Botswana and into the rarefied atmosphere of hills and mountains.  See below for details, and remember, talks begin at the Visitor Centre’s Henmore Room at 7.30pm, and the February meeting will be preceded (at 7pm) by our AGM:

15 January        Talk by Glyn Sellors: ‘American warblers in Ohio’  – Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

19 February       AGM, followed by talk from Max & Christine Maughan on ‘Brilliant Botswana’ – Henmore Room, Visitor Centre (7pm)                     

19 March          Talk by Paul Bingham: Mountain Man’s perspective on birds’ – Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

Below are events being staged at Carsington Water over the autumn and early winter 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 01629 540696 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

16-24 February  Love Bug Trail (collect packs from reception)       Visitor Centre (10am-3pm)

KNOW YOUR COMMITTEE – Here are the club officials and their contact details……..
       
Committee Post Name Telephone Email Address
Secretary Paul Hicking 01773 827727 paulandsteph@hicking.plus.com
Treasurer / Membership John Follett 01332 834778 johnlfollett@virginmedia.com
Recorders Clive Ashton / Dave Newcombe 01629 823316 n/a cliveashton@btinternet.com danewcombe@hotmail.co.uk
Publications / Indoor Meetings Gary Atkins 01335 370773 garysatkins@aol.com  
Events co-ordinator Chris Lamb 01629 820890 cflamb@yahoo.co.uk
Ex-officio   Jon Bradley Roger Carrington   01773 852526 01629 583816   jonathan.bradley4@btinternet.com rcarrington_matlock@yahoo.co.uk  
…..and the website address   –   http://www.carsingtonbirdclub.co.uk
Webmaster Richard Pittam n/a Contact Richard via the website

Swarovski Optical Equipment For Sale

 Posted by on December 6, 2018  Carsington Bird Club  Comments Off on Swarovski Optical Equipment For Sale
Dec 062018
 

FOR SALE – USED SWAROVSKI EYEPIECES AND ACCESSORIES

Suitable for –  ATS / STS / ATM / STM spotting scopes

ALL ARE OPTICALLY EXCELLENT WITH NO MARKS ON GLASS AND HAVE BOTH END CAPS AND IN ORIGINAL ‘GREEN’ BOXES.

20-60x S – Zoom – Good condition – £120

30x S W – Wide angle – slight mark on mount, otherwise Good condition – £120

45x W – Wide angle – slight mark on mount, otherwise Good condition – £110

DCA Zoom – Digital Camera Adapter – c/w M28, M37, M43, M52, Kood 55-52mm thread reducer, Kood 30.5-37mm thread adapter – Good condition – £90

Contact Richard on 07966 167019.

Long Trip Rewarded at RSPB Frampton Marsh

 Posted by on October 3, 2018  Carsington Bird Club, Events, Member Reports  Comments Off on Long Trip Rewarded at RSPB Frampton Marsh
Oct 032018
 

Our latest CBC trip – to Frampton Marsh RSPB Reserve – on Sunday 30th September was well supported with 12 people making the journey to the Lincolnshire coast.  Frampton is an excellent location and at this time of year offered the prospect of passage waders and the early arrivals of wintering ducks, geese and swans, with always the possibility of a rarity thrown in for good measure.

Most of us took the opportunity of a welcoming hot drink on arrival at the Visitor Centre, while overlooking the Reedbed pools where we were able to observe large rafts of Black-tailed Godwits, estimated by the centre staff to total around 2,500.  There were also good numbers of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Avocet, as well as plenty of Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal. The bird feeders just outside the window provided close-up views of some common species, such as House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Blue Tit.

Moving round to the Reedbed hide we settled in to try and identify more waders and were rewarded with a couple of Ruff, a Greenshank and a number of Golden Plover. The numbers of Wigeon flying in were steadily increasing and we were able to pick out 4-5 Pintail among them, distinguished by their longer necks and more upright posture in the water.

After lunch, we set off round the Wash trail in search of a Little Stint which had been spotted at the southern corner of the trail and we were able to get fairly good views of this tiny wader, along with a Snipe which not surprisingly proved more difficult to locate. Further round a Spotted Redshank was seen, at least half a dozen Little Grebe and a solitary Brent Goose.

Continuing round the Wash trail, then the Reedbed trail, we encountered flocks of Linnets, Meadow Pipits and a pair of Stonechats.  Arriving back at the Visitor Centre we were treated to a female Merlin sitting on a fence across the fields, as well as Egyptian Geese in a field, and a single Whooper Swan on the Reedbed pools.

On news that a Cattle Egret had been seen, a few of our group ventured down a tree-lined path to a reservoir, picking up Chiffchaff on the way.  The egret was indeed there, scampering between the legs of grazing cattle, while some other species including Coot, Tufted Duck and Great Black-backed Gull which had eluded us so far were bobbing on the water of the small reservoir.

All in all it was a very good day which everyone seemed to enjoy, with a collective total of 61 species seen by the group.  Below is the full list …

Mute Swan, House Sparrow, Black-headed Gull, Cetti’s Warbler, Swallow, Goldfinch, Black-tailed Godwit, Wigeon, Greenfinch, Linnet, Blue Tit, Robin, Common Gull, Moorhen, Avocet, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Shelduck, Teal, Mallard, Kestrel, Skylark, Starling, Shoveler, Pintail, Golden Plover, Greenshank, Ruff, Carrion Crow, Little Egret, Little Stint, Snipe, Cormorant, Spotted Redshank, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Brent Goose, Herring Gull, Canada Goose, Meadow Pipit, Woodpigeon, Stonechat, Magpie, Merlin, Egyptian Goose, Whooper Swan, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Pheasant, Cattle Egret, Coot, Tufted Duck, Great Black-backed Gull, Collared Dove, Great Tit, Dunnock, Buzzard, Tree Sparrow, Pied Wagtail  and Jay.

Cattle Egret – Rob Chadwick

Little Stint – John Follett

Avocets – John Sykes

Black-tailed Godwit – Gary Atkins

Shoveler – Gary Atkins

Brent Goose – John Sykes

Black-tailed Godwits – John Sykes

CBC Newsletter No. 3 – September 2018

 Posted by on September 7, 2018  Carsington Bird Club, CBC Newsletters  Comments Off on CBC Newsletter No. 3 – September 2018
Sep 072018
 

First of all, apologies in advance for this ‘slimline’ newsletter, which reflects how quiet it goes over the late summer both in terms of club events and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the birdlife at the reservoir (as the following reservoir report reflects).  We are about to get things moving again, however (see ‘Diary Dates’ below), with the resumption of indoor meetings and another club trip at the end of this month.

We have a complete season of interesting talks and fabulous photos in place for 2018-19, kicking off with local photographer Paul Hobson.  Meanwhile, the club outing is a little farther afield this time, to the ever-popular Frampton Marsh which generally guarantees a few surprises and a nice long list of sightings.

Regarding club ‘admin’, we now have our general policy on data privacy posted on the front page of the website; this aims to protect members’ privacy, but if you have any queries or concerns over this document, please contact any of the committee for clarification.

We are also still in need of an auditor for the club’s accounts after being served notice by David Bennett, who audited our books for some years.  It would be really good if we could find someone within our own ranks to undertake this important task, which while not time-consuming requires professional expertise.

Gary Atkins

 

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

There are two key dates for members to note later this month (all of our events for the rest of the year are listed in the ‘What’s On’ section on the next page) —

** TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 ** – Award-winning wildlife photographer Paul Hobson is returning to talk to us on the topic of ‘Coast and Islands’.  It’s bound to be an exciting journey …

** SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 ** – For our next club trip we head off to RSPB’s prime reserve at Frampton Marsh (postcode PE20 1AY), which invariably throws up some special species and a healthy list.  Meet there at 10.30am. If you intend to come along – particularly if you need a lift – do let Chris Lamb know either by phone on 01629 820890 or by e-mail at cflamb@yahoo.co.uk

 

WATER BIRD BROODS DIP – BUT OSPREYS AND EGRET CAUSE A FLUTTER

Up to seven Little Egrets have recently been parading around the perimeter of the reservoir, but it was this species’ bigger cousin – a Great White Egret – which caused particular excitement earlier this month.  It was first spotted on 1 September but was then seen by many over the next couple of days before moving on.

Ospreys will always be a talking point, even on their return routes to wintering grounds, and there were five sightings in a seven-day period, the last of which on 3 September was seen carrying a fish over nearby Kirk Ireton.  Other raptors over the summer included four Red Kite records, a juvenile Marsh Harrier on 4 August, and nimble Hobbys which were spotted twice in June, then three times in August.  A Barn Owl thrilled one observer on 7 August at Millfields, where a Tawny Owl was disturbed a couple of weeks later.

Breeding has been mixed, with smaller birds doing well but waterfowl and waders generally producing less broods than usual, with the exception of Great Crested Grebes (8 broods) and Canada Geese.  Two pairs of Reed Warblers bred in Brownale Bay, showing how this species is expanding its range on site, two pairs of Sedge Warblers bred on Stones Island and fledged Redstart young were noted in Shiningford Creek.

As would be expected, autumn numbers of waterfowl are on the increase with 563 Coot, 456 Tufted Ducks and 282 Mallard counted during the August WeBS count, 951 Canada Geese noted on 24 August and 409 Teal on 4 September, with double-figure totals of Goosander, Wigeon, Pochard and Shoveler on some days.

Meanwhile up to seven of the scarcer Common Scoter have been recorded in each of the last three months, and a Ruddy Shelduck was an interesting diversion from 22 to 29 August, though considered a likely escapee.

The gull roost has also begun to swell, as 1,600 Lesser Black-backs were counted at the end of August, along with 280 Black-headeds.  More unusual gulls in recent months have included a Kittiwake, two Caspian Gulls, up to four Yellow-legs and an adult Mediterranean Gull that was noted on 25 July.

Sixteen wader species helped boost the July total to a site record for that month of 107, and the following month’s 113 – the fourth best August total – was also boosted by wader sightings including some scarce species such as Avocet, Ruff, Wood and Green Sandpipers, Turnstone, Knot, Sanderling, Whimbrel and Black-tailed Godwit.

Autumn movements are also now evident, with some species moving in, some through and others out, en route for their winter quarters.  Earlier this month, 20 Meadow Pipits joined the ever-active Wagtail brigade, which included seven Yellows and as many as 65 Pied and half-a-dozen Grey Wagtails in late August.  Hirundines are gathering, too, with 200-strong flocks of Swallows on 26 August and House Martins on 3 September.  There have been fewer Sand Martins recorded, but 137 Swifts were counted on 30 June, with the last of this sleek species noted flying through on 23 August.

A site-scarce Green Woodpecker was seen at Millfields on 9 August, Crossbills were recorded over Millfields and Blackwall plantation in each of the last three months, while flocks of 100+ Goldfinches were seen, often on Stones Island.

There are still quite a few of our summer visitors around, too, with 29 Chiffchaffs and 15 Blackcaps counted as recently as 3 September.

 

“PG LEGACY” NEST BOXES TO BE INSTALLED FOR TREE SPARROWS

A sizeable batch of nest boxes for Tree Sparrows, serving as a legacy to the memory of former Chairman Peter Gibbon, has been completed and delivered.  The boxes will soon be installed around the site, following the imminent completion of the current breeding season.

This effort to help consolidate the traditionally robust Tree Sparrow presence follows a survey between Stones Island and Sheepwash to determine numbers, which last year showed a worrying reduction to a maximum of 28 at any one time as against pre-breeding flocks of 40 and 50 at the Wildlife Centre alone in the previous two years.

Some of the new batch of nest boxes will replace existing ones that have fallen into disrepair, others will be located to reflect the subtle changes in location in which the Tree Sparrow population has been monitored.  Most of the numbered boxes will carry a “PG” prefix in recognition of Peter’s huge contribution to CBC during his lengthy tenure as Chairman.

 

WHAT’S ON

After a quiet summer, our programme of indoor talks is just about to get underway, with its usual wide range of subjects and brilliant photographs, and a club trip is also arranged for the end of September.   Details:

18 September   Talk by Paul Hobson: ‘Coast and Islands’ – Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

30 September   Trip to Frampton Marsh RSPB reserve, Lincolnshire  – Meet 10.30am at reserve – (see earlier notice for details)

16 October       Talk (joint with DOS) by Chris Galvin: ‘Around the World  in 80 birds’ –  Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

20 November    Talk by our very own Chris Lamb on Oz wildlife – Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

18 December    Talk by Andrew Parkinson: British Wildlife thru’ the seasons Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

 

Below are events being staged at Carsington Water over the autumn and early winter by Severn Trent Water, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust or New Leaf Catering.

Some incur a charge or require booking, so check with the host organisation for more details (via STW on 01629 540696, DWT on 01773 881188 or New Leaf on 01629 540363):

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)

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

17 October                   Jazz afternoon tea (£18.95pp) – Restaurant (book via New Leaf)

12 December                ‘A Capella’ Christmas Lunch (£24.95) – Restaurant (as above)

14 December                Lunch and festive jazz afternoon (£24.95) – Restaurant (as above)

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