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 Posted by on May 22, 2018  Carsington Bird Club, Educational, Features, Member Reports, Miscellaneous, News  Comments Off on WARBLERS PUT ON A SHOW … OR MOST OF THEM!
May 222018

A group of nine assembled at the Visitor Centre at 9am last Sunday (20 May) for the club’s Warbler Walk. As well as the lovely sunny weather, we also benefited from the expertise of Roger Carrington, one of the club’s most experienced recorders at Carsington Water, who led the walk and was able to pick up many of the species we saw simply from their songs and calls.

Setting off from the Visitor Centre towards Stones Island we soon encountered the scratchy song of a Whitethroat, which flew across the path on its song flight and perched obligingly at the top of a bush to give us good views.

Further on we heard the descending trill of a Willow Warbler, which again we managed to see very well as it flitted around the bushes. We then had the challenge of trying to differentiate between the song of a Garden Warbler and a Blackcap, but fortunately the bird obliged by showing itself as a Garden Warbler. We heard the same song a number of times moving around Stones Island before picking up faintly the song of a Sedge Warbler on the edge of Sailing Club Island.

It wasn’t just about warblers of course and as we were walking we did of course see and hear the songs and calls of many ‘non-warblers’ – birds such as Blackbird, Wren, Dunnock and Robin, and we had brief views of a Willow Tit.

Earlier in the morning two Turnstones had been spotted on Sailing Club Island, but had moved on by the time we had got there (shame – as three were seen there the following day!). The water itself was very calm and we saw a number of Mallard families with young chicks, as well as Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Great-Crested Grebes in pairs displaying to each other.

Moving off Stones Island, we walked along Wildlife Centre Creek where we were hoping to catch sight or sound of a Spotted Flycatcher or Lesser Whitethroat, both of which had been seen or heard in that area in the previous 24 hours … but they were not playing ball as we stared into the trees, eyes and ears primed.

Surprisingly it wasn’t until this point that we heard our first Chiffchaff, singing its name at the top of a tree by the path, and Roger strongly suspected we identified a Blackcap, though it remained heard but not seen! Finishing up at the Wildlife Centre we got good close-up views of the usual ducks, geese and gulls to be seen there, as well as a distant Little Grebe.

It was a pleasure to welcome some recently joined members of the club to our walk and we hope everyone who came along enjoyed themselves. A big thank you must go to Roger for all his advice in helping us to identify the warbler songs and calls, as well as passing on some of his tips on where to find the birds around the site.

That time of year – but definitely NOT a warbler!

The species seen during the walk (or, at least, those we could remember!) were: Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Blackbird, Canada Goose, Great Tit, Robin, Wren, Cormorant, Black-headed Gull, Coot, Magpie, Grey Heron, Jackdaw, Chaffinch, Woodpigeon, Willow Warbler, Swallow, Mute Swan, Mallard, Long-tailed Tit, Carrion Crow, Garden Warbler, Gt Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Redshank, Willow Tit, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, Sedge Warbler (heard), Blackcap (heard), Pied Wagtail, Blue Tit, House Martin, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Greylag Goose and Little Grebe

Chris Lamb

Spring visitors on show at Carr Vale for CBC visitors

 Posted by on May 2, 2018  Carsington Bird Club, Events, Member Reports, Things To Do  Comments Off on Spring visitors on show at Carr Vale for CBC visitors
May 022018


Our latest CBC outing took us to the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust reserve at Carr Vale Flash near Bolsover on Sunday 29 April.

It was a slow start to the morning and we thought at first we might see more dogs and horses than birds, but soon we picked up the songs of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, as well as Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Dunnocks, Wrens and Robins.

A single ‘yaffle’ of a Green Woodpecker was heard in the distance, but this proved to be the only time we heard it.  Arriving at the lakes we added ducks and geese to the list, and a Great-crested Grebe was seen catching fish. A single Grey Heron flew over, also the only one of the day.

The lookout point at The Mound was a very good place to scan the lakes and a single Oystercatcher was seen in a distant field, along with a couple of Common Terns and handful of Lapwing among the large number of Black-headed Gulls circling above the water. A Reed Warbler was also heard singing but, as is so often the case, not seen.

Great close-up views were, however, to be had at the feeding tables here which attracted two pairs of Bullfinches, with the males looking particularly resplendent, a pair of Reed Buntings, a male Yellowhammer that dropped in briefly and a Willow Tit.

A birder we spoke to earlier in the morning had reported hearing a Lesser Whitethroat at this location and we were fairly sure we heard onemoving away from us. Moving further round the reserve, a Skylark was picked out singing high in the sky, followed by at least 2-3 singing Blackcaps which did offer fleeting views as they flew across the path.

All in all a good morning’s walk with a total of 39 species seen or heard, and the weather stayed fine which was an added bonus.

Following is the full list of species seen:

Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Great-crested Grebe, Coot, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Skylark, Swallow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Willow Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Reed Warbler, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Bullfinch .

Bullfinches, Reed Bunting and Chaffinch

Chris Lamb.

At last – overseas and I see some raptors!

 Posted by on May 2, 2018  Carsington Bird Club, Member Reports, Miscellaneous, Things To Do  Comments Off on At last – overseas and I see some raptors!
May 022018

It’s usually guaranteed when I travel to mainland Europe that I’ll struggle to see even the odd buzzard, kestrel and, if I’m lucky, kite or harrier … but my latest trip (accompanied by my wife Meryl and sister Corinne) was to Portugal and turned out to be something of a raptor-fest.

Not that raptors were the only birds of interest on my ‘seen’ list. For the first time in Europe I topped the 100 mark, and notched several ‘lifers’ which was particularly pleasing.

We’d been to Portugal two years earlier, using the lovely eastern Algarve town of Tavira as our base, and saw plenty of waders, gulls, herons and other species befitting a coastal area with plenty of marshes and lagoons. In 2016 we made only one sortie inland, as far as Mertola on the edge of the Alentejo region, but realised that this was an equally rich area for birdlife and worth investigating.

So, this time we followed a week in Tavira with six nights ‘up country’ – two in Alcoutim and four in Mertola, both pretty whitewashed towns on the banks of the River Guadiana that for 30-40 miles north of its mouth in the Med represents the border with Spain.

From Tavira, Corinne and I (Meryl isn’t really interested in birding, so we have to choose our moments!) made two morning trips to specific locations – the Ria Formosa HQ reserve on the edge of Olhao and the Castro Marim reserve just a few miles from the Spanish border – the rest of the time footling around the varied coastal highlights around nearby Tavira itself.

All the old favourites were in the ‘salinas’ (salt marshes), just a few hundred yards from our apartment – Greater Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Black- and Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrel, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Little Stint, Dunlin, Common and Curlew Sandpipers, and Ringed and Grey Plovers – while Crested Larks, Corn Buntings and Serin were everywhere and Fan-tailed Warblers pinged above our heads.

Yellow Wagtail


Crested Lark


Whimbrel with Spider Crab

Colourful Hoopoes were seen most days and wherever there was water combined with tall reeds and compact vegetation, those consummate songsters the Nightingales trotted out their flutey, non-stop signature tunes (I woke up one night and heard one singing at 3.45am!) – and in Alcoutim it was quite a sight to see 40-50 Bee-eaters swarming over the exact same fields I’d seen them two years earlier.

European Bee-eaters

Blue Rock Thrush

A regional specialist is the attractive Azure-winged Magpie, which ironically was one of the most common birds where we explored, along with House and Spanish Sparrows and Collared Doves. Another daily sighting was White Storks: these are impressive birds, often seen soaring high in the sky and mistaken at a glance for raptors. We had seen them regularly enough during the first week, but inland they were on virtually every roadside pole and chimney as well as many precarious rooftop positions.

Azure-winged Magpie

Though we didn’t see quite so many birds in total during the second half of the holiday, there were some spectacular sights in the Alentejo, where Corinne and I spent two mornings scouring the rolling, green and often sparsely vegetated planes of this distinctive area.

Woodchat Shrike

Among the big birding prizes in the Alentejo are Great and Little Bustards, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Calandra Larks, Spanish Imperial Eagles and Rollers – none of which we’d seen before our final full day, but all of which we’d notched by the end of it.


Great Bustard

Our earlier sortie a couple of days before had included Black and Egyptian Vultures, Black Kite, Lesser Kestrel and Montagu’s Harriers, which offered superb close views as they quartered farmland just yards from the road we were travelling along.

So, along with a Short-toed Eagle and Buzzards and Common Kestrels seen early in the holiday, this late rush raised my raptor total to nine!

White Stork

In Mertola, a quick stroll to the castle revealed Blue Rock Thrush and occasional short-lived views of Lesser Kestrel, together with smaller birds such as Blue and Great Tits, which are much scarcer in southern Portugal.

Gosney’s guide to this area was a useful aid to finding the best sites (we’d never have found the Bustards without going to one of his more out-of-the-way suggestions), and it’s always worth reading up other people’s birding reports from similar times of the year. Another informative place was the headquarters of the LPN – Portugal’s organisation for protecting nature that maintains a number of large reserves in the area – which is situated a few miles north of Castro Verde (albeit tricky to find!).

Gary Atkins.

CBC Newsletter – No 1 / February 2018

 Posted by on March 3, 2018  Carsington Bird Club, CBC Newsletters, Events, Member Reports, Miscellaneous, News  Comments Off on CBC Newsletter – No 1 / February 2018
Mar 032018

ANNUAL SUBS NOW DUE!! Could those of you yet to renew your membership for 2018, please send a cheque for the requisite amount as soon as possible to John Follett at 8 Buckminster Close, Oakwood, Derby DE21 2EA. Please note that for the umpteenth year, these are unchanged at £10 for family/joint, £7.50 single, £1 for junior. Thank you – and happy birding!



As we moved into 2018 we were able to report at our AGM, in late January, that the club is in a pretty healthy position, with donations boosting our bank balance, membership holding steady (albeit not increasing) and moves underway to stage a few more events for members. Furthermore, the lifeblood of our club – the birds – continue to proliferate at the reservoir and are being spotted and detailed more comprehensively than ever by our current crop of dedicated recorders.

We do, however, need to ensure these trends continue – and as we went to press on this newsletter less than half of the membership had renewed for this year (if you haven’t, please see the notice above!). And there are gaps on the club’s committee to fill – notably that of Chair which, since Peter Gibbon’s death at the end of 2016, has still not been filled. Furthermore, with two of its members undertaking more than one officer’s duties, things could work a little more efficiently if one or two more people cane forward and volunteered to join the committee to take an active role.

The efforts of Chris Lamb as events co-ordinator has proved this point well, with his added focus enabling more club trips to be undertaken in 2017 than in the previous few years and more planned for this year (for the first of these – see below) plus other activities in the pipeline.

We’ve been getting good calibre speakers at our indoor meetings, which have for the past season or so been well attended with 20-25 people regularly turning up and one or two of the sessions in the Visitor Centre’s Henmore Room almost bursting at the seams! We hope this can continue in 2018-19 … not forgetting there’s one more talk still to go, on 20 March when we’ll hear about Lincolnshire reserves and the wildlife they hold.

With several experienced birders recording on a regular basis we’ve probably never been quite so well served in this department and, unsurprisingly, one or two monthly species total records have been broken in the past 12 months or so. Long may this enthusiasm and industry continue.



We don’t need to venture too far to find good sites for birding in Derbyshire, so after looking around at some of the favourite local sites, we have decided on a new venue for the club’s next outing – Carr Vale, a Derbyshire Wildlife Trust site near Bolsover, on Sunday, 29 April (meet 10am). Like Carsington, this wetland reserve is thought to be among the top five birding sites in the county.

Anyone interested in going should make their own way there by car, although if you are struggling to get there under your own steam, events co-ordinator Chris Lamb (see contact details at the end of the newsletter) will try to organise a lift.

From Chesterfield, head towards Bolsover on the A632 and, shortly after going over the M1 motorway, turn right at the second island you come to – along Riverside Way (there’s a sign to the Peter Fidler Reserve, which is adjacent to Carr Vale) – and park in the small car park at the top of this lane, beyond the industrial units. Please note there is no visitor centre here, so no cafe or toilets are readily available.

Another outing a few days earlier and closer to home – in fact at Carsington, chiefly around Stones Island – is the annual Wagtail Walk, which hopes to track down visiting Yellow Wagtails in particular. The 2018 walk will take place on Tuesday, 24 April, beginning at 6pm.

The following month, we are also planning to reintroduce the ‘warbler walk’, at which we will try to find, among other things, as many summer visitors as possible. This walk is scheduled for Sunday, 20 May, meeting around 9am outside the Visitor Centre.



Just when we hoped spring might be around the corner, and our first summer visitors might be arriving back, we seem to have plunged into the depths of winter again. Before the snow arrived, however, birds seem to have been flocking in decent numbers to the reservoir. Indeed, January’s total of 96 species seen was the best ever total for that month since records began at Carsington.

One bird that was part of that total was Hawfinch, an influx of which has been witnessed across the UK and Carsington certainly did not miss out as small numbers were seen almost daily during December and January, often near Millfields.

Other highlights included a female Stonechat that was seen at the Paul Stanley hide twice in December then regularly throughout January. Two Black-necked Grebes touched down for several hours on 16 December, 12 Whooper Swans swooped in on 27 January, while adult Kittiwakes were seen briefly on separate days in January and February. Up to four Jack Snipe were located at Hopton end either side of the New Year, and another was seen close to the Wildlife Centre on 24 February – the same day four Woodcock flew in to Hopton reed-bed at dawn.

The adult Great Northern Diver that arrived in late November has remained throughout the intervening period, and is seen pretty much daily. Staying almost as long has been a group of five Ruff which are regularly recorded at various locations around the shoreline.

On the water itself, the highest numbers recorded in the last quarter (often during the monthly WeBS count) were 948 Coot, 424 Teal, 240 ‘Tufties’, 198 Mallard, 143 Pochard and 66 Wigeon, with smaller numbers of Goldeneye, Gadwall and Shoveler. More unusually, two Red-breasted Mergansers were seen on 25 January, two Shelduck called in five days later, with 10 Goosander and four Pintails showing up during the previous month.

It’s been a quiet time for raptors, with several Sparrowhawk and Buzzard and a couple of Peregrines being the best daily records, but it’s been far from quiet for gulls. In the roost, an estimated 6,000 Black-headed have figured on more than once occasion, and a site record 2,000 Common Gulls were counted on 7 December. Up to 660 Lesser Black-backs are also in the roost, with smaller numbers of Yellow-legs and Great Black-backs.

As many as eight Tawny Owls have been heard calling in the early morning, and a Barn Owl was quartering the dam wall on both 20 and 21 January.

It’s always encouraging when birds reckoned to be in decline are the subject of sizeable counts – such as the 900 Lapwing totted up on 11 January, coincidentally the same day that 16 Willow Tits and a site-record 17 Ravens were also counted. Tree Sparrows seem to have suffered a sudden decline in breeding numbers locally, so a survey is underway to keep a track of current numbers and on 12 February 21 were located.

Meanwhile, the prodigious numbers of winter thrushes last year is not being replicated this time around, with 180 Redwing in early January being the highest count. Among other winter visitors, 80 Siskin were noted on 3 January, and Brambling have pleasingly figured regularly in the records, usually in small numbers and often around the Sheepwash feeders.


Local birders have traditionally had to trudge down to the tall woodland around St Mary’s Church in Cromford in winter to stand any chance of catching a glimpse of Hawfinches, but an invasion this winter has meant people at many more locations – including Carsington Water – have regularly witnessed this impressive member of the Fringillidae family and been able to make an early addition to their year’s list!

Hawfinch is Britain’s largest finch, at seven inches long with a wing span up to 13 inches. With only around 500-1,000 pairs reckoned to breed in Britain each summer, and being an inherently shy and retiring species, they can often be overlooked, but in winter – particularly this winter when the greater numbers around mean their haunts are more well known – with less foliage around they can be relatively easy to see.

And once seen, never forgotten with their spectacular brown, black, orange, grey and white plumage, and huge metallic-looking triangular bill with which it can crush seeds up to the size of cherry and plum stones. Like its closest relatives, certain Grosbeak species, Hawfinches forage chiefly on seeds, berries and shoots.

They must have one of the more impressive sounding scientific names – Coccothraustes coccothraustes – and while they have a reasonably stable global population, Hawfinch now appears on the UK’s ‘Red List’ following a 76 per cent decline in the UK population between 1968 and 2011.



Getting away from the Derbyshire winter at the end of 2017, my wife Nicole and I enjoyed a fabulous trip to Australia, sightseeing, visiting family and friends and, of course, birding. It was our first time there, so everything was new and amazing – the spectacular scenery, the iconic sites such as Uluru (Ayers Rock), Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House and the fabulous variety of birdlife.

It is difficult to pick out highlights of the birds we saw, but among the most memorable must be the Southern Cassowary (Australia’s largest and allegedly the world’s most dangerous bird!), the Bush and Beach Stone-curlews, the Bowerbirds of the Queensland rainforest, the Whipbird with its cracking whip-like call, the laughing of the Kookaburras, the tiny colourful Fairy-wrens and the constant noise of the Cockatoos and Parrots. One interesting challenge always was trying to distinguish between all the different types of Honeyeaters.

In total we saw 170 species of which 67 were endemic to Australia, some of which are only found in one small area of the country. As well as all the birds, we saw many different types of marsupial of all shapes and sizes, from the tiny musky rat kangaroo to possums, quokkas, pademelons, wallabies and kangaroos, along with the occasional lizard and fortunately only one snake!

For the full report, click here.

Chris Lamb



Following the first three talks of the 2017-18 indoor season, which had taken us on a global journey, the next three brought us back to the UK and delivered three very different views of Britain and its wildlife.

In December it was the turn of Burton-based film-maker and photographer Dave Hollis, who focused on the wildlife of the Shetlands. Dave’s talk described his visit during the Shetland summer – or Simmer Dim – when the pressure to take photos before the light fades hardly applies, as it barely gets dark at all! He certainly made the most of the extended daylight with a stunning array of wildlife and landscape photographs taken among the bleak beauty of this remote island group.

Then in January, speaking after our AGM, Andrew Lowe took us into Sherwood Forest and told us how he and his merry band of men have been ringing birds for many years, outlining the techniques of ringing and the wide range of birds – resident and rarities – they have ‘captured’ in that time.

Perhaps the most educational of our talks this season was February’s talk by Christine Gregory on Brown Hares. An experienced journalist, author and photographer, Christine not only gave a fascinating insight into (along with intimate pictures of) the lives of these attractive lagomorphs, but also warned about the threat to hares and many other countryside creatures posed by changing farmland management practices.



There is just one more talk to go in our current winter indoor meetings programme, and March’s speaker will be horticulturalist, tutor and lecturer Steve Lovell, who will be telling us about wildlife reserves in Lincolnshire and showing us some of the wildlife that inhabit them. We also have two walks planned at Carsington in April and May, and also plan to run a trip for club members away from the reservoir in late April. Details as follows:

20 March                Talk by Steve Lovell: Lincolnshire Reserves/wildlife                                  Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

24 April                   Wagtail walk                                                                                                Meet Visitor Centre (6pm)

29 April                    Club trip to DWT Carr Vale, near Bolsover                                                      Meet Riverside Way car park 10am

20 May                    ‘Warbler walk’                                                                                             Meet Visitor Centre (9am)

Plenty of other events are on offer at Carsington during the next three months, many of them regular dates, and organised by either Severn Trent Water or Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. Below are the offerings through to June. Note that some are chargeable and some are subject to booking, so it’s always worth checking for further details by calling Severn Trent on 01629 540696 or DWT on 01773 881188:

First Sunday of month        Birdwatching for Beginners                                                Meet Visitor Centre (10am-12 noon)

First Monday of month    Nature Tots – outdoor activities (charges apply)  Starts 10.30am; DWT for more info

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 for information/bookings

Last Saturday monthly      Sheepwash Spinners (wool-craft)                                  10am-3pm (info at Visitor Centre)

24 March- 9 April                Easter Bunny Trail (entry charge; prizes)                       Pick up map at reception

25/28 March                           Plant Hunters Fair                                                                       Free entry at Visitor Centre

16 June                                      Chip off the Old Morris Dancers                                        Free entry in VC courtyard

17 June                                     Ashbourne Songs of Praise                                                    3-4.15pm (free entry at amphitheatre)

24 June                                     Air Ambulance Vintage Car Show                                  10am-4pm; free entry


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




Publications / Indoor Meetings Gary Atkins 01335 370773 garysatkins@aol.com


Events co-ordinator Chris Lamb 01629 820890 cflamb@yahoo.co.uk


Jon Bradley

Roger Carrington


01773 852526

01629 583816





…..and the website address   –   http://www.carsingtonbirdclub.co.uk
Webmaster Richard Pittam n/a Contact Richard via the website




 Posted by on February 28, 2018  Carsington Bird Club, Events, Things To Do  Comments Off on NEXT CLUB TRIP – CARR VALE, 29th APRIL 2018
Feb 282018

As we’re spoiled for choice in Derbyshire for good birding sites, we have decided to stay fairly local for the next Club trip and are aiming for Carr Vale, a Derbyshire Wildlife Trust site near Bolsover, on Sunday, 29 April 2018.

Like Carsington, this wetland reserve is thought to be among the top five birding sites in the county.

We suggest meeting at 10am. Anyone interested in going should make their own way there by car, although if you are struggling to get there under your own steam, contact Chris Lamb (either by phoning 01629 820890 or e-mail at cflamb@yahoo.co.uk) who will try to organise a lift.

DIRECTIONS: From Chesterfield, head towards Bolsover on the A632 and, shortly after going over the M1 motorway, turn right at the second island you come to – along Riverside Way (there’s a sign to the Peter Fidler Reserve, which is adjacent to Carr Vale) – and park in the small car park at the top of this lane, beyond the industrial units.


Please note there is no visitor centre here, so no cafe or toilets are available.

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