Saturday, 27 February 2016

February 27th, 2016 - A morning in Sherwood Forest

After the frustration of the previous weekend's poor weather, it's a coffee and chocolate twist from Cafe Nero and I'm on the first bus to Edwinstowe.  

I alight at the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre at 9.20 and at this time of the day have the place almost to myself.  There's a few Redwings about and a Song Thrush evades my camera as I pause briefly at the Major Oak before checking out the feeder on Broad Drive, which was so productive in January.

Sure enough, the bird table and fatballs are inundated by tits and Nuthatch, and I manage to get two pretty good photos of the latter species and a Coal Tit

Blue Tit


Coal Tit

I take a right and head slightly up hill until I reach a conifer plantation with a clear fell area and a footpath, which leads to an official access point of Budby South Forest.  The usual suspects are in full song and a Common Buzzard is mewing as a pair of Carrion Crows get frisky.

Forest clearing north of Sherwood Forest NNR

Budby South Forest

I continue to walk south between the fenced areas until I reach Ladysmith Plantation, where a few Yellowhammers are still adorning the hedgerows and Siskin are singing in the trees.  I linger here but see nothing remarkable and head west on the track where it seems every Jay in the forest has come out for the day.

Looking towards Budby Village from the south

At the big cross roads, I head north towards Budby Pumping Station, where the ever present John Colclough is watching the from the view point with Derek Tinker.  There's a Common Shelduck on the 'Flash' and a stack of Tufted Duck and other common birds.  A Water Rail squeaks from Meden marsh, behind us.

Meden Marsh

My interest is diverted towards the feeders and a good selection of species are feeding from the various cunningly constructed bird tables, some of which are modified tree trunks!  I get a procession of common birds, including a rather bold, male Greenfinch, a pair of Chaffinch and a couple of Coal Tit.  Suddenly a Marsh Tit puts in an appearance, and then another.  They give me the real run around, playing hide and seek, before one perches up in full view.  The bird has the classic small bib, and also shows the pale spot nicely, on the upper mandible.

Marsh Tit

Male Chaffinch

Male Greenfinch (foreground) and hen Chaffinch

I head back to Sherwood Forest where I connect with a nice flock of around 40 Siskin, including a good number of singing males, but the light is all wrong for a photo.  I grab a coffee at the Centre and get the early afternoon bus back to Nottingham.

That would have been that, except as the bus turns left towards Farnsfield out of Bilsthorpe, there's a mixed flock of Black-headed Gulls and a few Common Gulls in the fields with the pigs and Rooks.  I scour the flock from the moving bus and right next to the road, there's a gull that's bang to rights for a 2nd winter Med, but just don't get enough on it.  I half consider shouting 'STOP!' but think better of it.  One that got away!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Monday, 22 February 2016

February 22nd, 2016 Tricky Siskins

A mixed flock of Siskins and Goldfinch have been feeding in the alders along the the River Leen at Lenton.  

I go out at lunch time, with the skies clearing after a cloudy morning.  The birds have been frustrating my attempts at a photo, often feeding silently on the alder cones or preening in the blackthorn, when they become invisible.

I have a go at the main flock, which are viewable from the car park at work, but the light is all wrong.  I decide to check out the bushes along the Leen footpath and suddenly sitting on the end of a branch is a female Siskin, not four feet away, completely in the open.  I move my camera to focus as quietly as possible but to my dismay the bird moves.  Fortunately it only goes about a foot back in the bush, but is now partly obscured by a twig, partly spoiling what would have been a cracker of a shot!  


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

February 16th, 2016 - Rambling for Brambling

With my dentist having moved to Clifton and a friend holding a meeting at East Leake, I managed to wangle a lift to Gotham for the Bramblings, which had numbered 200 at the weekend.

It was 4.40pm before I was on site and I was concerned that the birds would have gone to roost. However, within a minute I was onto a flock that were drifting over head and into a clump of trees. The birds gave their subtle 'turrup' call, confirming their identity, and I watched them in the bins before attempting any photos.

Initially the birds took flight and went down into the adjacent fields but a few appeared in the hedgerow behind me and I got a few record shots, but the breeze, poor light and nervous birds didn't collude to produce anything remarkable. However, it was a cracking spot and well worth a visit later in the year, methinks.


male Brambling - shame about the sticks!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

February 13th, 2016 - Woodpeckers and Tits

Having spent a fruitless two hours at Wollaton Park the previous day, searching for Lesser Pecker I decided an early start was called for.  I'm up at six and out at 45 minutes later and get on the park at first light.

I begin my walk up the tree-lined avenue adjacent to the golfer's car park and within minutes I hear the distinctive drum of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, shortly followed by another.  It's quite different from Great Spotted, being a noticeably longer sound and ending abruptly compared to the larger bird's drum, which fades at the end.  It drums again, and then something must have spooked it, as a flock of 40 Redwing take off from the ground and I don't hear it again.

I continue to the lake and slowly work down the east side, where I see a few Siskin feeding on the ground. The birds are quite approachable, but with the sun barely up and with thick cloud, a photo is out of the question. Suddenly the whole lot get up and I realise there's about 70 birds and they all begin working their way through the alder cones. I also get good views of Tree Creeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker and hear Green Woodpecker.  I keep one eye on the time and decide I need to head to the Derby Road entrance, as a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calls briefly from the golf course.

I get on the 36 to town and then take the tram replacement bus to the station, where I get a train to Sutton-in-Ashfield. I'm disappointed to find that AMT Coffee has closed and my Froffee fix no more.  I get a chocolate croissant and coffee from Morrison's but it's not the same.

I'm soon trundling north on the train and alight at Sutton Parkway.  My mate Paul Naylor is at the station, and together we head north west to Stanton Hill and the entrance to Brierley Forest.  I have directions from Stevie Dunn on a bird feeding station where Willow Tit are nailed on.  I remember when these were common birds, but now you have to be extremely lucky or know where to look.

We find the feeders, which are receiving attention from a good number of Long-tailed Tits, eight Robins, a Coal Tit and the usual common birds.  A nice Yellowhammer puts in an appearance but is nervous and doesn't stay still long enough for me to get a decent shot, in the poor light.

After 30 minutes, we're beginning to wonder if Stevie was pulling our leg, when the unmistakable, nasal  'Zi zi daaa daaaa daaaa' emits from the bushes and we see a Willow Tit at the back of the feeding area.  Rather than grace the feeders it shoots off to our left and continues to call intermittently and makes one more brief appearance above the feeders.


Great Tit and Long-tailed Tit

Paul drops me back at Sutton and I get the train back to 'Notts.'

Saturday, 13 February 2016

February 5th, 2016 - What's Smew? Second time lucky

I persuade my Mum to take a detour on her trip to Asda. How Holme Pierrepont is a detour to Hyson Green is not obvious, but happy to give her new Renault Captur a proper spin, she obliges.

I make my way from the lay by at Blotts to the viewing screen, where a Notts Trust working party are getting their orders from the pretty, be-wellingtoned botanist.  I'm informed that the Smew is on Sky Larks.  I head off, as a Meadow Pipit flies over, which is a year tick.  I set up my scope and get on the Smew immediately.  What a nice bird.  A really russet head and everything. Just a pity it's at the back of the pit, but musn't grumble!

February 3rd 2016 - No Smews is not good Smews

I don't need to be at work till 9 o'clock, so I get the early bus and head off to Holme Pierrepont.  A redhead Smew has been seen in the Blotts area on and off, and it would be a nice one for the year list.

I'm there for first light and head for the viewing screen, where I get good views of lots of Goldeneye at close quarters.  There's a lot of Coot, but despite searching thoroughly, no Smew. Knowing it gets on the smaller pit on the Sky Larks reserve, I check that out, but again no luck!

I wait for my taxi to work and get a little consolation in two flyover Little Egrets and an Oystercatcher 'kleeping' over the rowing course.