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Lockdown Wildlife Experiences

 Posted by on May 25, 2020  Carsington Bird Club  Comments Off on Lockdown Wildlife Experiences
May 252020

In our last newsletter (below), we appealed for people’s experiences (and even photographs) of nature and wildlife – and most particularly birds – during the lockdown, enabling us to maintain a strong connection to the natural world at a time when some of us were having to spend extended periods at home, never too far from our front doors.

The first offering in response is from committee member Gary Atkins.  Below he describes the highlights of his springtime walks mainly along the lanes and footpaths surrounding his home in Hulland Ward …

“ I’m usually champing at the bit to visit as wide a variety of places as possible when spring arrives, with the exciting prospect of migrants arriving, but this year right at that key moment I, like so many others, had to be content with walks around my local patch.  And very refreshing and rewarding this turned out to be: slower, sometimes longer walks, taking more care over what I was observing and occasionally taking time to photograph them.

Essentially, I discovered that both in the garden and in the surrounding countryside within a few miles’ radius of my home (I was luckier than some and able to exercise each day), there was still plenty to see, including species I’d forgotten were on my doorstep – the Lapwings and Curlews in the farmers’ fields, Yellowhammers singing on tree and hedge tops barely half-a-mile (as the bunting flies!) from my front door, Skylarks blasting out their familiar flight songs in just about every direction I set off … and Grey Wagtails breeding alongside a small stream in a shallow valley nearby.

There were some special bonuses, too, like a Red Kite (below) that hung almost motionless on the wind just  40 feet above my head as I crossed “the Mountain” on the edge of Kirk Ireton village and, of course, the gradual arrival of all those migrants – Chiffchaffs, then Blackcaps (it took me three weeks to get a decent shot of one …. below), a Redstart, Willow Warblers and Lesser Whitethroat and, during a more recent sortie down Wyver Lane, a couple of Sedge Warblers.  I’m still waiting for a confirmed sighting of a Garden Warbler!

As a result of the lockdown, I spent more time in my lounge and conservatory than usual, too, and was rewarded by seeing a Blue Tit first of all shyly investigate then finally enter my sole nest box for the first time ever (to my knowledge, that is … though sadly no breeding ultimately took place in there once again).  Pheasants and, more often, Red-legged Partridges also turned up to hoover up the seed scattered by raiding parties of Sparrows and Starlings.

In some ways, despite barring travel, it felt like the lockdown actually brought me a little closer to wildlife in that I took more time to study what popped up in my vision (and not just birds, but butterflies, dragonflies and other insects, too) and sensed more accurately the spring cycle of new life as it emerged.

Whether that will continue I’ll have to see, as the temptation to go a bit farther afield to experienced different and more varied habitats (and build my year’s bird list!!) is strong.  Whatever, I think the focus is likely to be exclusively British wildlife for the next 12 months or so! ”

This Red-Legged Partridge was one of two regular visitors to my garden, until the Starlings were quickest to polish off the fallen seed.

Snapped during a walk around Bradley Dam, I was surprised to see TWO male Mandarins accompanying this female with her brood of eight ducklings (not all in sight!)

If anyone else has any lockdown wildlife experiences and thoughts they’d like to share please contact us.


Newsletter No 2 / May 2020

 Posted by on May 5, 2020  Carsington Bird Club  Comments Off on Newsletter No 2 / May 2020
May 052020

Newsletter No 2 / May 2020

Welcome to this unusual newsletter – unusual because there’s little by way of news to pass on to you, though we do have a treat in store by way of a peep behind closed doors from Carsington Water site manager, John Matkin, who has put together a great summary of the last several weeks at the reservoir and the wildlife he and the other Severn Trent staff have seen and noted.  This means we won’t go without any records at all in April – and their observations also serve to give us an elusive flavour for what spring has brought to the area.  You can read this insightful article below.

Another important piece of information we need to ensure members are aware of is that the two events we had got planned for the month of May – a warbler walk on the 17th and a club trip to the Humber estuary on the 31stwill both have to be cancelled … for obvious reasons!  We do still hope to hold a club trip later in the year, when we would also hope to be able to resume our programme of indoor meetings at the Visitor Centre, scheduled to begin in September.

We’re certainly living in a very different world from the one we were inhabiting when the last newsletter appeared in February.  Just around the corner then was the Covid-19 pandemic which, even up to the third week of March (the last record from our happy band of club recorders was on 22 March), we did not realise was destined to have quite the devastating effect that it has had globally.  Quite what the final outcome will be – on all manner of aspects of life – is yet to be determined, but it is fair to say that the natural world has carried on regardless of the human plight.  And for those of us shackled to our homes, our gardens or, at least, our local area, the dry and warm April gave us the chance to get outside to witness spring and see resident birds and our summer visitors arrive, establish territories, build nests and raise broods as usual – and a whole range of flora and fauna blossom and burst into life.

I’ve been walking more miles than usual (or certainly that’s what my knees tell me!) courtesy of my daily dose of exercise, discovering footpaths close to home that I’d not walked for years and almost forgotten, and taking my camera with me to record this vital time of year far more fully than I’ve ever done before.  Such simple pleasures have provided succour during the difficult times – and maybe in future we’ll take them less for granted.

We’d like to think the reservoir will be able to open its gates (and car parks) fairly soon, but until then, enjoy whatever birding you’re able to do and we would be delighted if you could help put a little extra pleasure into others’ days by sharing your precious wildlife moments.  With that in mind, we’d like members to send in their sightings, experiences – and photos – to one or other of the committee team (our e-mail addresses are listed at the end of the newsletter) and we’ll post a regular summary on the website so we can share collectively members’ highlights.

Gary Atkins



I’ll begin by sending our warm wishes to members of Carsington Bird Club at this challenging time.  As a team we miss hearing what’s been seen on site and also miss the conversation and chance to catch up with both those we see almost every day and those who pop in now and again.

The rangers and I have been mindful of how tough it is for many of you to remain at home, especially at such an exciting time in the birding calendar.  That said, I’ve seen some of the brilliant sightings you’re recording in your gardens and your local areas.  It seems your time is not being wasted or idled away!

We’ve also been aware that the current hiatus could potentially leave a hole in the Carsington Bird Club’s sightings so after the lockdown began we started to compile a list of the birds and other wildlife we spotted around the site as we went about our work – closing the site, patrolling the paths, carrying out maintenance work, and generally catching up after a slightly chaotic few months. Despite our efforts it’s fair to say that April’s Bird Notes won’t be as packed as a usual spring edition but we’ve done our best!

We’ve been lucky enough to get occasional views of the Great Northern Diver, hear Water Rail, and to see Red Kite, Red-crested Pochard, Little Ringed Plovers and a fantastic Spoonbill.

We’ve ticked off the migrant species as they have arrived; the early warblers, the hirundines, then Yellow Wagtails, Whitethroat, Common Sandpipers and Redstarts, plus a very early record of Reed Warbler (though we’ve yet to catch up with a few that we’ve missed so far).  My personal highlight was arriving on an unusually drizzly morning in mid-April to be greeted by the sight of hundreds of swallows and martins skimming the water’s surface: An incredible sight at any time but very welcome after they had passed through in just dribs and drabs before this.

During April alone – that transitional month when we said farewell to winter visitors such as Redwings, but hello to a raft of summer migrants – almost 100 species were noted during our day-to-day work. 

Perhaps the most interesting observation for many is how quickly the wildlife seems to have reclaimed the site without the throngs of human visitors out enjoying the sunshine.  We’ve seen Stoats and Yellow Wagtails in the main car park, Roe Deer in the fields, and grebes, Coots and geese nesting close to the shoreline in good numbers – partly helped by the high water level (which, at the same time, has also made the wader migration a bit tricky).

While we continue to follow the Government’s advice, we are preparing for when and how we can reopen our site while also doing all we can to keep our visitors and our staff safe.  It’s sensible to assume reopening will be a phased process with tracks and car parks opening before play areas and indoor dining.  It’s therefore likely that bird watching from the paths, and potentially the hides too, will be one of the earlier activities available, and we look forward to sharing that news with you, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime thank you once again for continuing to keep yourselves, our staff and our communities safe by following governmental advice.  It must be hoped that with such a quiet site the resident species have every chance of a successful breeding season – meaning more birds around for us all to enjoy when you re-join us on site.

John Matkin



As everything above has indicated, future activities are decidedly uncertain.  The regular Severn Trent and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust events at Carsington are currently on hold, and the Bird Club has had to cancel its springtime offerings, but we are hopeful that by the autumn we might be able to resume our programme of indoor talks, so a few dates for your largely inactive diaries and calendars, are as follows:

15 September – Talk on ‘Lesvos’ by Ian Newton – Henmore Room, VC (7.30pm)

20 October – Joint meeting with DOS (talk topic TBA) – Henmore Room (7.30pm)

17 November – Talk on ‘The Scillies’ by Nigel Slater – Henmore Room (7.30pm)


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





Committee Post



Email Address


Peter Fletcher

01332 383682


Treasurer / Membership

John Follett

01332 834778



Clive Ashton


01629 823316




Publications / Indoor Meetings

Gary Atkins

01335 370773



Events co-ordinator

Chris Lamb

01629 820890



Roger Carrington

01629 583816


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


Richard Pittam


Contact Richard via the website




New website for birdwatching in Europe

 Posted by on April 9, 2020  Carsington Bird Club  Comments Off on New website for birdwatching in Europe
Apr 092020
The health crisis caused by the Coronavirus forces most of us to stay at home as much as possible. In these difficult times, for the good of the community, it is better to stay at home. But you can keep on birding. On the new website www.birdingplaces.eu you can discover hundreds of bird-watching areas all over Europe online. All in one place. With next to every birdingspot exactly the information you need for some fine hours of birding.
You can also place your own favourite bird areas on the map. Just click on “Add a birdingplace” and follow the instructions. It’s easy and fun to do with time on your hands when you have to stay at home in these times of self-isolation.
www.Birdingplaces.eu  is made by and for birders and non-commercial. It’s an easy-to-use platform that connects bird watchers from all over Europe, allowing you to discover prime locations to observe birds in the UK and the rest of Europe. When you log in, you can also leave tips and comments, check out the “Birdingplaces League” or use the “Find a Bird”-tool. It’s all free!


 Posted by on March 13, 2020  Carsington Bird Club, Events, Things To Do  Comments Off on REMINDERS
Mar 132020

CBC Meeting Schedule for 2020/21

All CBC indoor meetings are held in the ‘Henmore Room’ in Carsington Water’s main centre and they start at 19.30h. Entrance fee is £2.00 to members and £2.50 to guests – Parking is free.


– First Sunday of the month – Birdwatching for Beginners – Meet Visitor Centre (10am-12 noon)Outdoor Activities: Please contact CBC with any queries or for further information.2

Hope to see you there.

No 1 / February/March 2020

 Posted by on March 9, 2020  CBC Newsletters, News  Comments Off on No 1 / February/March 2020
Mar 092020

Welcome to the first Bird Club newsletter of 2020.  The dawn of the new decade has certainly not been without incident, with Britain battered by the weather, and now the world watching anxiously to see how the threat of Corona virus will affect us in terms of health, travel, economy and, in the short term at least, societal changes.

Thankfully, the birds are going about their business in blissful ignorance of such human concerns, and the following pages include the usual reservoir report – though the site itself has been adversely affected by the wind and rain of recent weeks – together with a report of what the club has been up to in recent months, and a quick look ahead at the calendar of events.

Before all that, though, I would like to pass on three important messages to members, as follows:

Firstly, it’s time to renew your annual memberships if you have not already done so.  The fees are the same as they have been for many years – £7.50 for single and £10 for family memberships – and you can renew by sending a cheque for the appropriate amount to our treasurer, John Follett, at 8 Buckminster Close, Oakwood, Derby DE21 2EA.  If you’ve any queries, the committee members’ (including John’s) telephone/e-mail contact details are included the back of the newsletter.

Secondly, if you have not already heard, the parking arrangements at Carsington were changed on 25 February to a system of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), whereby vehicles’ registration numbers are filmed on entry and exit and charged the relevant amount.  People can pay at machines before they leave or online within 24 hours.

The Visitor Centre Car Park charge is £3 for 2 hours, £5 all day or £49 for an annual ticket (with those registration numbers automatically logged by the system).  Millfields Car Park is £2.50 for 2 hours or £4 all day, again by ANPR.  The only exception is Sheepwash Car Park, which has no facilities and remains a pay and display system, with drivers paying £1.50 for 2 hours or £3 all day.  Blue Badge parking is free, but drivers must still initially register onto the system.  If you’ve any doubts, please visit Severn Trent’s own website: https://www.stwater.co.uk/wonderful-on-tap/our-visitor-sites/come-visit-us/carsington-water/parking-at-carsington/

And finally, we have two future events to tell you about … A warbler walk is taking place at Carsington Water on Sunday, 17 May (9am, meet outside the Visitor Centre), led by Roger Carrington and Simon Roddis, who will help you find as many of our summer visitors as possible – by sight and sound! 

Two weeks later, on the 31st, a members outing will set off to Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s reserve at Far Ings,   situated close to the southern end of the Humber Bridge.  This reserve includes a number of different habitats, including reed-beds, wetlands and woodland, so should give us a good variety of birds.  Time permitting we will also visit Alkborough Flats, a wetland where the Trent and Ouse meet to form the Humber.  We will meet up in the Far Ings Visitor Centre car park at 10.15am (the address is Far Ings Road, Barton-upon-Humber, DN18 5RG).  The centre has toilets and refreshments.   If anyone would like to share a lift, please contact Chris Lamb by email at  cflamb@yahoo.co.uk  or on 01629 820890.



Preceding the talk at February’s indoor meeting, we held our Annual General Meeting where we were able to announce a new member of the committee.  Peter Fletcher had attended a meeting last year as an observer and agreed, in principle, to join the committee as club secretary but had to wait until the AGM to be formally voted on.  At the same time, we announced that ex-officio member of some years Jon Bradley had decided to stand down, leaving six people on the committee (see panel at end of newsletter).  This means we are still thinly spread organisationally and more help in future would be welcome.

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