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

No 1 / February 2017

 Posted by on March 3, 2017  CBC Newsletters, Events  Comments Off on No 1 / February 2017
Mar 032017


Could those of you yet to renew your membership for 2017, please send a cheque for the requisite amount (£10 for family/joint, £7.50 single, £1 for junior) as soon as possible to John Follett at 8 Buckminster Close, Oakwood, Derby DE21 2EA. Thank you – and happy birding!


We have traditionally included here a ‘Chairman’s Thoughts’ column, which has for the past nine years been written by Peter Gibbon. But Peter’s sad death in late December after a short illness means we now have a big hole to fill – not just in the newsletter but also in our club, which relied so heavily on his thoughtful leadership and hard work spanning nearly a decade, and the local wildlife world that Peter was devoted to for so many years.

Furthermore, the warm tributes at Peter’s funeral on 17 January in his home village of Holloway clearly demonstrated that his passing leaves a huge void in his family and network of friends – and we pass on the club’s collective condolences to wife Jacqueline, son Jamie, stepson Jake and step-daughter Lucy.

Peter was born in Manchester and remained a fervent ‘United’ fan but had spent the latter half of his life in Derbyshire. Here, he made an impression wherever he went – not least as a teacher at Anthony Gell School in Wirksworth. He actively fought against inequality and supported many worthy causes. He packed a lot into a life that lasted just 69 years.

The ‘Thoughts’ he expressed in the newsletter were, it’s fair to say, rather random, but that’s because he pondered deeply on things he’d read, heard about or seen on the TV. He liked to air his thoughts and conclusions with those he thought would be interested. So, for us, he wrote about nature, wildlife and conservation issues … or shared some of the amazing birding experiences and exciting holidays he had. It was often very much like a rather one-side chat with a pal!

This month, our thoughts should be about Peter and the multi-faceted role he played in the club. He had been Chairman for nine years, and his quiet, thoughtful and pragmatic leadership meant we maintain to this day a good solid base, with birding at our core, despite steadily falling membership.

Over the years Peter ‘inherited’ other roles, usually when we lost a committee member and could not fill the gap. Almost unnoticed, he would pick up the reins and do a fine job. For a while he took on the Treasurer’s role, until John Follett joined the committee, and then, following the sad death of Dave Edmonds, he took on the membership secretary’s duties. And all that while he’d also been organising several seasons of indoor meetings, often taking the stage himself when a speaker was unable to turn up at short notice – or, on occasion, just to save the club a fee!

Imagine then, the loss to the club of such a hard-working individual. Not just in terms of the hours spent on CBC duties, but also in the important link – through well-earned mutual respect – that he created with our hosts, Severn Trent, with the county’s birding authority DOS and as the local area WeBS organiser (as well as actually conducting the monthly WeBS surveys in tandem with Jon Bradley).

It’s a lot to lose and while we can’t replace Peter’s unique qualities, we will need help from the membership at large if we’re to find ways of operating the club at anything close to level of activity, efficiency and empathy that we managed under Peter’s leadership. Do, please, let us know if you’re able to help.



The Club’s annual general meeting was put back a month when the speaker at our January meeting had to postpone his planned talk until later in the year. When the AGM did take place a month later, those members attending learned that there are still key officer roles in the club to be filled – notably that of Chairman.

Those people who had been on the committee in 2016 were re-elected with the obvious exception of Peter Gibbon, and also that of Peter Oldfield who last year resigned as trips organiser. Gary Atkins said that he’d agreed to undertake the organisation of indoor meetings for the time being, and John Follett had agreed on a temporary basis to pick up the membership secretary’s tasks in addition to his role as treasurer. It would be preferable if permanent replacements could be found for indoor meetings and for membership administration, to lend focus to each role, and it will be important to find a new Chairman in the near future.

One member did volunteer to join the committee: Thanks go to Chris Lamb, who agreed to attend forthcoming meetings to see which tasks need particular attention before committing to a particular role. Once again, let us know if you, too, think you can help on the committee in some capacity.



Towards the end of November, a Cetti’s Warbler turned up on Stones Island, becoming the third new species for the reservoir during 2016 and taking the site’s definitive list since records began to 231. Though this ‘LBJ’ habitually hunkers down, mainly out of sight, it was spotted on occasion and heard more regularly during its long stay over the winter.

Another long-staying winter regular, the Great Northern Diver, gave cause for concern as it failed for the first time in years to turn up in November. An adult bird finally did arrive on 20 December, providing an early Christmas present for local birders, along with the sight of 280 Golden Plover among a flock of nearly 1,000 Lapwings.

A Ruff has been here all winter, too, and Hopton end seems to have become a popular refuge for some of the scarcer birds seen at Carsington. The developing reed bed seemed to have an almost irresistible hold on a Reed Warbler that stayed a month later than any previous record for this species, finally leaving on 20 October, and in succeeding months, Water Rail, Jack Snipe and Woodcock have been seen or heard in the area, along with up to 15 Grey Wagtails recently roosting among the reeds.

Huge flocks of several species were a notable feature of late autumn and winter: top of the flocks were 870 Starlings, several hundred Jackdaws and Fieldfares and many thousands of Woodpigeons, but the No1 daily count goes to our Scandinavian visitor, the Redwing, with 9,270 counted late last November.

Six species of goose were noted in December, when 250 Pink-feet and the regular Greylag, Canada and Barnacle Geese were joined by two White-fronteds (the second occurrence in three months) and a single dark-bellied Brent Goose, three of which turned up the following month, too.

Thirty-eight Whooper Swans swooped in on 20 January, while the previous month saw three-figure totals of Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard and Wigeon, plus good numbers of Little Grebe (16) and Moorhen (11) – birds that had suffered considerable declines in the past year or two. Little Grebes, in fact, had increased to 19 during February, when a very healthy 45 Great-crested Grebes were also counted.

Among the waders dropping in, most unusual was a Knot on 22 January while earlier that month a very large group of 95 Snipe were seen from the Wildlife Centre. One Oystercatcher returned in January, but by 9 February three pairs were on site and by the 20th nine birds had assembled, so hopefully breeding is about to begin again for this species.

Gulls have not been witnessed in particularly large numbers recently, but 4,000 Black-headed were in the roost on 25 November and, three days later, 900 Lesser Black-backs were counted. In early January, an excellent total of 1,400 Common Gulls were recorded, and for the fourth time in 2016 a Kittiwake dropped in.

As well as Redwings and Fieldfares, other winter visitors have included Brambling and good numbers of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll, while in December Crossbill made a sixth appearance of 2016. By February, Skylarks were witnessed flying over several times, and birds were beginning to find their voices.

On 21 February, a count of smaller birds away from the water found 51 Blue Tits, 19 Great Tits, 13 Long-tailed Tits, 10 Coal Tits and four Willow Tits (up to nine were recorded on a different day), three of which were singing, 18 Bullfinches, eight singing Chaffinches and five Reed Buntings. The same walk, from Hopton end to Stones Island also discovered 88 Robins (62 singing), 27 Dunnocks (20 in song), 35 Wren (28 singing), 18 Song Thrush (all but three singing), 28 Blackbirds (mysteriously and in stark contrast, only one of which was singing) and seven Goldcrest (three singing).



It is very nearly a quarter of a century since Her Majesty The Queen opened Carsington Water, and a Fun Day is currently being arranged to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the reservoir that is not only a crucial part of the Severn Trent Water system but also an iconic honey pot for visitors from far and wide who enjoy exercise, wildlife and the big outdoors.

On Saturday, May 20, there will be a wide range of games, stalls and attractions on offer to visitors, chiefly adjacent to Visitor Centre, but locations like the Wildlife Centre are also likely to prove popular venues, too. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for brilliant weather on the day.



Unfortunately, our January indoor meeting had to be postponed (Ken Smith, our planned speaker, will however be returning in the autumn!), but either side of that we were treated to two presentations packed with brilliant photographs, both of which involved a quick trip across the Atlantic.

In December, Tony Davison spoke about ‘winter birding in New Jersey’ and the amazing diversity of birdlife that exists in the 130 miles of heavily ‘lagooned’ coastline along this stretch of America’s eastern seaboard. Though also a prime holiday location for US citizens, the birds don’t seem to mind sharing!

Then, in February, Paul Bingham kindly stepped into the breach at short notice to speak immediately after our postponed AGM about the birdlife of Costa Rica. If New Jersey’s birdlife was exciting, then the wildlife of this small country (about the size of Wales) 3,500 kilometres south is quite simply breathtaking.

Costa Rica is well known for its exotic birds but the sheer volume of species is mind-boggling. Paul said he saw more birds there in two weeks (nearly 400 species!) than he had in 30 years birding in the UK. He slotted in some shots of other wildlife, including two- and three-toed sloths, a reptile or two and some wonderful butterflies (another astounding fact is that Costa Rica has more butterfly species than the whole of Africa). Paul’s mouth-watering talk left most of us in the audience wondering how we could pull together the funds to visit this stupendous country as soon as possible!

An eagerly-anticipated talk by Richard Pittam on 21 March will be the final event of our current indoor schedule, and planning is already underway on an interesting 2017-18 programme of talks.



The final talk in our winter indoor meetings programme in March will see our very own webmaster Richard Pittam delighting us with an enigmatically titled presentation together with a selection of his excellent photos, and the following month the annual ‘wagtail walk’, in collaboration with Severn Trent, will go in search of the main prize, migrating Yellow Wagtails. Details as follows:

21 March                Talk by Richard Pittam: ‘What a Year this would be!’ – Henmore Rm, Visitor Centre (7.30pm)

25 April                   Wagtail walk – Visitor Centre (6pm)

A broader range of events – some regular and either arranged by Severn Trent Water or Derbyshire Wildlife Trust – are also on offer. Below are the offerings from now into spring. Some are chargeable and some are subject to booking, so it’s always worth checking for further details (call Severn Trent on 01629 540696, or Derbyshire Wildlife Trust 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)

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

6 March – Nature Tots – Owl Babies (charges apply) – Contact DWT to book

3 April – Nature Tots – Spring Flowers (charges apply) – Visitor Centre (10.30am-12noon)

9 April – Walk and cycle ride in aid of Teenage Cancer – For information call 01773 596073 /(organised by Vaillant Group UK)  07767 377968

23 April   ‘Collie chaos’ (details to be confirmed) – TBC

20 May – Carsington Water 25th anniversary fun day               Visitor Centre (10am-4pm)


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


Jon Bradley

Roger Carrington

Chris Lamb

01773 852526

01629 583816

01629 820890




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



 Posted by on January 2, 2017  Carsington Bird Club  Comments Off on IMPORTANT NEWS FOR CBC MEMBERS
Jan 022017

Can we remind members that it is now time to renew your memberships for 2017 (the fees are unchanged at £10 for family/joint and £7.50 for single).  Treasurer John Follett has taken on membership duties for the time being, so you need to send him your remittance, made payable to “Carsington Bird Club”, to his home address: 8 Buckminster Close, Oakwood, Derby DE21 2EA.

Could you please also confirm your up-to-date details (where possible home address, contact phone number and e-mail address) – you will receive a membership card by return.

Thank you.
Gary Atkins.

No 4 / November 2016

 Posted by on November 28, 2016  Carsington Bird Club, CBC Newsletters, Events, Features  Comments Off on No 4 / November 2016
Nov 282016


As I watched the first episode of Planet Earth II, I once again realised how wonderful modern technology has improved our experience when watching the world’s wildlife. Nine million of us tuned in and that was more than viewed the ‘X Factor’! During the 50 minutes before the final section (showing how perilous it was to film the Chinstrap Penguins) there was 20 minutes devoted to avian life. Admittedly the point was made that only birds can reach some of the islands shown but that’s still a good chunk of a programme featuring birds.

The poor three-toed pygmy sloth sequence, the awesome Komodo dragons fighting and the absolutely enchanting Lemurs of Madagascar were all brilliant, and the baby iquanas pursued by lightening fast snakes was incredible. A further scene, on an island taken over by crabs that in turn have now found a new enemy in the form of an ant, was then really upstaged by the soaring and nesting Buller’s Albatross, which breeds on the same Snare’s Island as Shearwaters and Snare’s Penguin. What a place this island off the south coast of New Zealand must be if you are there in summer.

The programme then transported us to the Seychelles – somewhere I’ve always wanted to go to see birdlife and my wife would like to go to sunbathe and relax! My favourite bird, the Fairy Tern, lives there and was the immediate focus of the camera people. I think they are as pretty as any bird can be, and am always left wondering why so many white, or even black and white, birds are so striking. It showed the precarious nest site and, after one egg was partially eaten by another bird, it then showed a chick, suggesting the same bird laid again and was successful the second time. I once went to Buxton to hear Bill Oddie speak and he, too, mentioned that this was his favourite bird.

Unfortunately Noddys on the island didn’t fare so well with sticky seeds on the ground getting round young birds’ feathers, sometimes causing death. The finale featured a remote active volcanic island in Antarctica, where Chinstrap Penguins, in the largest such colony in the world, choose to live because the warm land means it can nest earlier. But as the programme showed, getting on and off the island to fish for food is a hazardous gamble. Fantastic photography from a brave camera crew is what we expect from this programme and I am sure birds will play a prominent part in future episodes. If you missed it, catch up on BBC iPlayer as soon as you can.

Finally, I am sorry to say this will be my very last newsletter offering. After nine years as Chairman as well as other committee roles, I have to give up all posts forthwith due to ill health. I thank everybody in the club for your help and assistance throughout those years and especially members of the committee, who have worked so hard to keep this club going in the last 25 years. I will sincerely miss you all and the progress we have made.

Peter Gibbon


As we, and the wider wildlife-loving community, wish Peter Gibbon all the very best in battling his ill health in the coming weeks and months, his sad news brings along with it something of a crisis for Carsington Bird Club.

Peter has been the mainstay of the club for several years. Not only has he held the Chairman’s post for nine years, he’s also been undertaking the Membership Secretary and Indoor Meetings Organiser’s duties for some years after the holders of these posts left and appeals to the membership to fill these roles fell on deaf ears.

And as if this wasn’t bad enough, Secretary Paul Hicking is also soon to leave us, as he and wife Steph expect to move out of the area. The net result of all this is that we now have four important committee roles unfilled – and even the danger of no quorum at future committee meetings if we can’t increase the number of participants.

While Treasurer John Follett and Publicity Officer Gary Atkins have agreed – for the time being – to manage the membership and indoor meeting activities, respectively, we should not expect individuals to handle two or three separate roles permanently. So, for the long-term we need members to come forward to fill some of these roles – although in the short-term any offers of help or provisional attendance at committee meetings will help. Please contact us (details on the website www.carsingtonbirdclub.co.uk) if you think YOU can help.


It’s been a busy autumn at the reservoir with huge movements of more common birds often darkening the skies in late October/early November, and three Carsington ‘firsts’ turning up. These were a White-winged Black Tern (also only the seventh county record) among a 50-strong flock, also including Arctic, Common and Black terns, that flew through on 12 September; a Richard’s Pipit that was spotted among a group of Meadow Pipits; and a Cetti’s Warbler that took a liking to Stones Island and was heard calling and singing regularly after its ‘debut on 19 November.

Other highlights included a Yellow-browed Warbler – a species not seen at Carsington until last year; this specific bird was likely to be one of a large number that spread inland following an influx on the east coast. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Blackwall Plantation was the first on site for five years, and a Reed Warbler last seen at Hopton End on 20 October was the latest on site by a clear month and was only a couple of days short of the county record.

Among other summer species departing, one of the latest was Swallow, last recorded on 16 October. Meanwhile, the usual influx of winter birds has included up to 420 Redwing and 610 Fieldfare noted earlier this month, but prize for the largest flock goes to the humble Woodpigeon, 6,710 of which flew over on 2 November, when 515 Starlings were also counted in a mini murmuration.

A site record 33 Brambling flew through in late October, when a flock of 100 Siskin were also noted at Sheepwash, and a pair of Stonechat first appeared in Wildlife Centre creek and were also seen regularly during November. A site-scarce Whinchat, meanwhile, was spotted on thistles on 15 September.

Wildfowl numbers have predictably been on the rise in recent weeks. November’s WeBS count on the 13th included 837 Coot, 180+ Tufted Duck and Pochard, 140 Mallard, 121 Wigeon, 104 Teal and smaller numbers of Gadwall and Goldeneye. Two Common Scoters were also logged that day and were still around on the 19th. Little Grebes continued their comeback (after the welcome disappearance of ‘Brutus’, the carnivorous Yellow-legged Gull!) and 21 were counted this month, while one of its Black-necked cousins was seen in October.

Maximum counts of geese include 420 Pink-feet on 20 October, 391 Canadas the previous month, an unusually high 154 Greylags on 17 October, and the 25 or so Barnacles that seem to regard Carsington as their home. Two White-fronted Geese were also spotted in early October.

Nearly 300 Lapwing were among the November WeBS count, but the following day their number had risen to 480. Jack Snipe was noted in both October and November, and Common Snipe, Dunlin and Redshank were regularly seen. Other waders logged occasionally in smaller numbers included Turnstone, Greenshank, Green and Common Sandpipers, Grey and Ringed Plovers, Ruff and, on 9 November, a single Knot.

It’s been a quiet time for raptors, although the steady flow of Ospreys this year continued with a single bird through on 5 September. Two Merlin sightings were logged, in September and October, while a single sighting of two Hobbys was made on 17 September. Buzzard records were regular, and Peregrines were noted on several dates. Particularly pleasing was the sound of up to 10 Tawny Owls calling at various points around the reservoir at dawn on 30 October.



Regular attendees of the club’s indoor meetings have in the last three months been transported to Iceland, the islands and more remote mainland sites of Scotland and, reminding us that good birding is always available closer to home, the Dearne Valley in South Yorkshire.

We were delighted to welcome back an old favourite, Paul Hobson, for our very first meeting of the year in September. As ever, excellent photos of birds, other fauna and flora and fascinating landscapes were assured as Paul demonstrated the distinct delights of Scotland – from Mull to Shetland, and the Uists to Speyside.

If some of Paul’s shots showed chilly conditions in the far north of the UK, the same applied to most of those displayed by another returning speaker, Ian Newton, whose talk in November focused on Iceland.

Even though he travelled at a relatively hospitable time of year, the inherent cold of this country – which sits just below the Arctic Circle – was apparent in the bleak but beautiful landscape that was sometimes the main feature and sometimes the backdrop to astounding wildlife in his photographs. While for us, the colourful Red-necked Phalarope, Harlequin Duck and Red-throated Diver were a particular delight; it was amazing to see how beautiful Redshank and Whimbrel are in fine close-up detail.

Sandwiched between these two photo-fests, was the annual joint meeting with DOS in October – which drew a record number of attendees (38 – but don’t tell our hosts!), and when Matthew Capper was our guest speaker. Matthew, who used to be the RSPB’s representative at Carsington during the early days of ‘Aren’t Birds Brilliant’, now manages the Old Moor reserve plus the development of other burgeoning wildlife sites along the Dearne Valley in South Yorkshire.

In an eloquent, detailed and well-illustrated talk, Matthew outlined how the site became a reserve, what improvements are being done today, and gave us a few hints of some exciting potential future developments that would reflect the Society’s desire to develop more extensive areas for wildlife along the valley.



As many of you will know Severn Trent Water operates not just Carsington Water but a number of other reservoirs across our region, some vast estates like the Upper Derwent Valley in the north of the county and Lake Vyrnwy in Wales, and others much smaller local reservoirs such as Thornton Reservoir in Leicestershire or Shustoke in Warwickshire.

The management of the smaller sites often falls to the teams of rangers based at larger sites. Carsington is no exception, and we also look after Ogston Reservoir in the Amber Valley, on the other side of Matlock.

Ogston’s connection with Carsington runs much deeper than just the management of its habitats and facilities. It is also linked by an aqueduct and via Ogston Reservoir the water from Carsington is treated and then distributed. This is why Ogston’s water levels can often appear to go up as our own go down.

Ogston is also a renowned birding spot within the county with an impressive number and variety of species recorded here. The site draws in passage migrants, gulls flock to roost here in the winter, there’s a heronry and in recent summers Ospreys have lingered here – occasionally popping over to Carsington to catch fish but avoiding going anywhere near our nesting platforms!

Ogston Reservoir is considerably smaller than Carsington and has an active bird club, a popular sailing club and is fished by the Derbyshire County Angling Club. This means it’s a busy place and just as at Carsington balancing the rights and requests of the sites’ user groups with the sites’ role in the water network groups takes patience, compromise and generosity from all involved.

The impressive bird counts and the variety of bird species at Ogston have seen the site designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This means we work closely with Natural England who help guide the management practices we employ at the site and monitor the work we do. With a mosaic of woodlands and grasslands not dissimilar to Carsington we’ll be replicating much of the much we do here at Ogston.

For visitors to Carsington who haven’t ventured to many of our other sites, a trip to Ogston is highly recommended. There are three car parks around the reservoir and the water can be viewed from various points. There are hides for the use of Ogston Bird Club members but also a public hide at the main car park.

For those more familiar with Ogston look out for the Carsington team as they’re on site and hopefully enjoy the benefits of some of the work we’re carrying out.



Our hosts at Carsington Water, Severn Trent, do an amazing job of balancing their primary role with supporting the goals of various local organisations that utilise the many benefits of the reservoir – and they periodically update these groups (which include the sailing club, fishermen and local community as well as CBC) on latest developments.

At a recent meeting of this Carsington Water User Liaison Group, good news for the birding community was that a former volunteer ranger had bequeathed a legacy, which is to be used to provide an additional hide or viewing platform on Stones Island, affording one of the best open views across the reservoir.

Conservation activity during the coming winter will focus on clearing excess willow around the other hides, completing work in the woodlands and a variety of maintenance tasks associated with the High-Level Stewardship scheme. And various methods were being investigated to reduce the disruption to wildlife caused by such things as dogs let off the lead, unauthorised swimming (often very early or late by triathletes in training!) and the growing popularity of drones.

We were also informed that visitor numbers were up 11 per cent this year, and the Visitor Centre’s retail units were now all let following the arrival of the Air Ambulance. And, thankfully, despite the constant pressure on employment levels, the ranger team has been maintained at six – though the staff will now have additional duties at Ogston and Linacre reservoirs.

Severn Trent also reminded everyone that 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the reservoir – and associated celebrations would aim to involve schools. STW invited the user groups to participate in a special event provisionally planned around the weekend of 20-21 May.



CBC’s winter programme of talks continues at the Visitor Centre’s Henmore Room either side of Christmas, though we still have to secure speakers for our February and March meetings.

There have been very healthy numbers attending recent meetings, so it will be good if that trend continues – and remember our January talk will be preceded by our Annual General Meeting, which is particularly important this year as a recasting of the club’s officers will prove essential following the enforced retirements of long-serving committee members, Peter Gibbon and Paul Hicking (as described on the front page of this newsletter) – plus Peter Oldfield’s recent decision to stand down as outdoor trips organiser.

Please get along if you can: the AGM begins at 7pm – half-an-hour earlier than our regular meetings – and will be followed by a talk by Ken Smith.

20 December                        ‘Winter Birding in New Jersey’ by Tony Davison

17 January                               AGM followed by a talk on ‘wildlife near and far’ from Ken Smith

21 February                             TBA

21 March                                  TBA

Severn Trent Water, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, RSPB and New Leaf Catering also organise a range of activities. To check if events need booking, call either 01629 540696 (STW), 01773 881188 (DWT) or 01629 540363 (New Leaf). The programme for the next three months is as follows:

Every dayAnima –  Antics Trail (trail pack £1)  Visitor Centre (10am-5pm)

First Sunday of month – Birdwatching for Beginners with STW ranger   Meet Visitor Centre (10am-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 of month – ‘Family Forest School’ (three sessions daily) – Millfields car park (contact DWT)

2 December – Make your own herbal Christmas present – 10.30am-1pm (contact DWT) (Charge applies)

5 December – Nature Tots: Winter Wander (charge applies) – 10.30am-noon or pm (contact DWT)

16 December – Jazz Evening (tickets available to book) – From 7pm (contact New Leaf)

9 January 2017 – Nature Tots: Snow Tots (charge applies) – 10.30am-noon or pm (contact DWT)

6 February – Nature Tots: Muddy Puddle Tots (charge applies) – 10.30am-noon or pm (contact DWT)

CBC Newsletter No.3 August 2016

 Posted by on August 25, 2016  Carsington Bird Club, CBC Newsletters, Events, Features, Miscellaneous  Comments Off on CBC Newsletter No.3 August 2016
Aug 252016


It’s August, with migrating birds now flying back to warmer places – and Carsington is playing host to some of these travellers. Sometimes we see birds we may not immediately recognise or get confused with others. During the July WeBS count I saw a female duck immediately in front of the Wildlife Centre Hide. After some quick thoughts I recognised it as a Garganey, which is not even a yearly record with us. Last year’s report describes it as a ’scarce passage visitor’ and it only had a single record. When recorded, it’s usually a male and in May, so this was unusual.

If you do doubt the evidence of your own eyes, you can write a note or draw a picture or even take a photo, which I tried to do with my very small and not very efficient camera. So, it’s good practice to have a notepad and pencil/pen handy or, even better, a good and appropriate camera.

The bird’s plumage might firstly alert you and, in my case, the duck I was looking at was very different from three other species of dabbling duck close by, so size and behaviour may also give you some clues. It was dwarfed by female Mallards and two female Shovelers but similar in size and quite happy beside a pair of Teal. You can also eliminate other unusual species which might be about like Mandarin if you have seen one of them before.

Another worthwhile action is to get somebody else to verify it for you … though for me, of course, there was nobody about! It wasn’t there the next day either when checked out by others and they only usually stay for a short time. What next? Well, it’s always best to have an identification guide, either in book form or as an ‘app’ on your phone, like I have. When you finally get home check it out again in books, on the computer and even see if it’s been reported by someone else or if there have been records anywhere else that day (there had actually been a report of a single Garganey in South Yorkshire).

I also turned to another source – my membership of the BTO – for more help. Their website hosts 59 short videos (each around six minutes long) on identifying certain species. They are just brilliant and you don’t have to be a member to use them. In fact, they had one on ‘Female Dabbling Ducks’!

But there were plenty more to help Carsington birdwatchers: How about the one on Winter Divers or another on Winter Grebes for anybody coming to our reservoir at that time of year. For springtime, the video on Yellow-coloured Wagtails might be useful, while the one on Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers is excellent. All are brilliant and a free-to-use resource for anyone with tricky ID problems.

This year at Carsington we have had the first records of breeding Gadwall and perhaps you have seen them but thought they were Mallard broods. Well, the above-mentioned video on female dabbling ducks is worth looking at to sort out these two species when only females are around with their broods. However, I waited for Garganey to turn up in this video and believe it or not it stated at the end that this would be on a future video in the making. The fact it wasn’t included just shows how scarce this bird is.

Peter Gibbon



There have been pockets of breeding success around the reservoir this year, including the first ever record of Gadwall broods, as two pairs succeeded in bringing new life onto Carsington Water. By early August, 26 Mallard and 16 Tufted Duck broods were noted, four Barnacle broods were dotted among countless Canada goslings, a single Mute Swan pair had produced a brood of cygnets, while Little and Great Crested Grebes had each produced three broods.

No fewer than 183 young Black-headed Gulls have been noted at one time, the large majority on Millfields Island, which local birders have begun to dub ‘Bass Rock’! Waders have had a fair year, too, with broods for four Oystercatcher pairs and for three Redshank and Lapwing pairs.

But it wasn’t just water birds that have done well. Both Swallows and House Martins have produced young on site; one day maybe that other hirundine, the Sand Martin, will take an interest in the nest bank. Warblers and other summer visitors – including Redstart, Garden, Reed and Sedge Warblers and Common and Lesser Whitethroats – have produced numerous broods of youngsters, as have our diverse spread of residents, comprising all the tit species (including Willow), Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Tree and House Sparrows, and Bullfinch among others.

A juvenile Kingfisher spotted on 2 July seemed to indicate breeding success again for this iconic species. Meanwhile, a pair of Kestrels occupying a nest-box produced four young, one of which was predated by a Buzzard, and there was a further sad note struck when a dog-walker found a dead young Tawny Owl.

Though overall numbers of species were close to the norm from June to August, as ever there have been a few highlights including Ospreys observed in each of the last three months, including two at the same time on 21 June; the latest observer on 18 August had the pleasure of seeing this expert hunter catch a fish. Red Kite was seen once again, in June, while apart from regularly seen Buzzards, Kestrels and Sparrowhawks, Hobbys have been recorded fairly often, too, once in June, three times in July and once again in August.

Little Egrets – as we’ve noted before – seem to be arriving more regularly and in greater numbers at the reservoir, and a site record six were noted on 31 July. Meanwhile, another site record was the 19 Common Sandpipers seen on 12 July. As many as six Grey Herons have been keeping their end up against the egrets, and Green Sandpiper has been logged regularly in Brownale Bay. Other notable waders have been Ruff, Greenshank, Whimbrel and Black-tailed Godwit all observed during July.

A female Garganey showed up at an unusual time of year on 25 July, and other interesting ducks included drake and female Mandarin in early June, three Red-crested Pochard on 7 July, and groups of 11, then 17 Common Scoter in late June/early July. With autumn just around the corner, Coot numbers have begun to swell, reaching 443 during the late-August WeBS count.

A group of seven Crossbills were first heard then seen above Blackwall Plantation at the end of June, and a site-scarce Yellowhammer was heard singing at Shiningford Farm on 28 June.

Finally, the 2015 annual report noted a number of species awaiting the results of formal evidential submissions to DOS (Derbyshire Ornithological Society): two of these – Black Kite and Yellow-browed Warbler – were recently accepted so in future will be appearing on our site species list without asterisks!


It’s worth pausing to consider that the above report would not be possible without the sterling efforts of a dedicated band of observers who visit the reservoir regularly – many almost daily at certain times of the year – and take the trouble to record what they see.

People like Clive Ashton who took over as our official Recorder last year, and his predecessor Roger Carrington who still visits the reservoir regularly and brings his expertise to bear. Then there are Peter Gibbon and Jon Bradley who spend hours scouring the site to undertake the monthly WeBS counts, whatever the weather!

Your editor (who also puts in the odd record from time to time) was amazed to discover how many species another regular birder, Simon Roddis, can see in a day. He’s logged up to 80 species in a single visit, and as recently as 18 August noted 72 including three Kingfishers, Yellow Wagtail, Hobby, Greenshank and Green Sandpiper, Little Gull, Little Egret and his first Meadow Pipit of the autumn.

Simon usually visits the main ‘hot spots’ around Millfields, the Stones Island/Wildlife Centre area, Sheepwash and Brownale Bay and the Hopton end with its developing reedbed … and, importantly, is always fastidious in adding each visit’s highlights to the ‘latest sightings’ page of the bird club website.

There are many, many more people who put in records, of course, and apologies to those I’ve not mentioned by name, but our grateful thanks go to everyone who visits Carsington Water, enjoys the excellent birding the site offers and then takes the trouble to share their enjoyment by letting others know what they’ve seen.

Our Chairman’s thoughts in this issue (see page 1) underlines the value of maintaining records, and gives a few hints as to how, even if you’re not sure what you’re seeing, you can use various sources to help identify birds.



Anyone who has visited Carsington Water during the school summer holidays knows what a busy place the site can be – and the Severn Trent Water team of rangers are always busy looking after our visitors and keeping the facilities ticking over. An added problem for us as the temperature rises is people looking to escape the heat and have some fun with a dip in the reservoir.

We can’t argue with the fact that a swim can seem an inviting prospect; however, you only have to watch the news during the summer months to see that inexperienced swimmers attempting to swim in unsuitable or unmonitored waters can have tragic consequences.

Each summer we do our best to educate our visitors about the dangers of swimming here: the deep mud, hidden currents, the depth and temperature of the water all add to the risk and, quite simply, if you do run into trouble there may be no-one able to get to you in time.

In recent years as outdoor swimming and triathlon competitions have grown in popularity (and our Olympics success will have raised the profile of such ‘extreme’ sports even more in recent weeks), we’re also seeing more people trying to swim here early in the morning or late in the evening, presumably around their own working times and to avoid detection.

Of course these individuals may see themselves as more experienced swimmers than the youths and children who take a dip in the heat of summer, but they face the same dangers and unpredictable conditions. Furthermore, they’re often swimming at times of the day when no-one would ever see them get into trouble, let alone be able to offer help.

Safety aside, these swimmers cause big problems for our birdlife, especially during the winter months when the site is an important refuge for wildfowl and waders, and many of you may have witnessed the sad sight of hundreds of birds being flushed from the islands and designated conservation areas we manage for them.

The police are keen to help but in order to act they need evidence to help them understand who is swimming and at what times, something we can record and pass on. Therefore, if you’re out on site at any time of the day and you spot people swimming please make a note of the time, locations and any additional details and pass them to the rangers on site or in the visitor centre at the earliest opportunity. However disheartening and infuriating the disturbance to our wildlife is we’d nevertheless always ask that you avoid confrontation.

As well as working with the police we’re working towards the implementation of byelaws to help us protect our conservation areas and the birds that rely on them. We also regularly review our policy towards swimming here and at our other reservoirs to explore solutions and resolve conflict.

Whatever your view on our no swimming policy, we wouldn’t tolerate visitors practising a new sport in our terrestrial conservation areas so neither can we permit it in the water. Our aim is to operate a site that’s great for wildlife and safe for people.

John Matkin, Severn Trent Water



Carsington Bird Club has joined a consortium of 11 organisations, led by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, attempting to improve the lot of wildlife living on two sizeable estates in northern Derbyshire – Hope Woodlands and Park Hall Estates. The National Trust, which owns these estates, while recently revoking the grouse-shooting licences of the tenants managing these areas, has indicated its intention to renew the shooting tenancies when the current licences expire.

The consortium is promoting a petition asking nature lovers both to praise the National Trust for revoking licences on estates not being managed appropriately, and to call on them not to renew the shooting tenancies.   This is, however, not a call for a ban on shooting. Rather it is urging the National Trust to seize a rare opportunity to create one fair-sized area within the Peak District where land and habitat management is not driven by the needs of maximising grouse production at the expense of most other wildlife – notably top predators such as Peregrine Falcons and Hen Harriers.

If you agree with this goal, and feel strongly enough about it, you can use your search engine to access the link below (which is also on our website) and either sign the petition online or, better still, print one off, and obtain as many signatures as you can before sending it off the to address provided …




Our winter season programme of illustrated talks, which runs through to next March is about to get under way next month with the return of an old favourite Paul Hobson as he unveils some of the more secretive and spectacular wildlife in Scotland. The full list of talks up to the end of the year is given below. Please note that the Christmas meeting is, unusually, the second Tuesday of the month – and remember that all of our talks will be held in the Visitor Centre’s Henmore Room, starting at 7.30pm:

20 September – ‘Scotland – the very best of UK wildlife, Speyside, Shetland, Mull and the Uists’ by Paul Hobson

18 October – ‘A Year of Birds at Old Moor’ by Matthew Capper (this is our joint meeting with DOS)

15 November – ‘Iceland’ by Ian Newton

13 December – ‘Winter Birding in New Jersey’ by Tony Davison

Severn Trent Water, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and RSPB also stage both regular and one-off activities on site. For STW events, it’s worth checking the Visitor Centre reception, on 01629 540696, to see if events need booking and, if they do, get your name down. The programme in the coming weeks and months is as follows:

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 of month   Family Forest School for youngsters; chargeable   Contact DWT (01773 881188) for more information and to book

Last Saturday of month    Sheepwash Spinners   Visitor Centre (10am-3pm)

Every Monday(after 12 September) –  Nature Tots: different wildlife theme each week Contact DWT (01773 881188) to book.

24 September  – Wild Play for Adults: learn forest skills; charge applies – 10.30am-1.30pm; book with DWT.

26 October  – Wild Wednesday gets batty: learn about bats      Contact DWT to book and build your own bat boxes


KNOW YOUR COMMITTEE – Here are the club officials and their contact details……..
Committee Post Name Telephone Email Address
Chairman / Indoor Meetings / Membership Peter Gibbon 01629 534173 peter.gibbon@w3z.co.uk
Secretary Paul Hicking 01773 827727 paulandsteph@hicking.plus.com
Treasurer John Follett 01332 834778 john@jlf.demon.co.uk
Recorder Clive Ashton 01629 823316 cliveashton@btinternet.com
Publicity / Annual Report Gary Atkins 01335 370773 garysatkins@aol.com
Outdoor Trips Peter Oldfield 01629 540510 peter.oldfield2011@gmail.com


Jon Bradley

Roger Carrington

01773 852526

01629 583816



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


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