Sunday, 18 September 2016

Willington Gravel Pits..again!

Willington Gravel Pits is our local birding reserve, therefore its is our most visited site and a good job too, because I love it! There are 4 fantastic platforms and one of which has a magnificent hide (which you have to be a member of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to get into).

This morning Abby, my mum and I went on a guided walk run by the Derbyshire Ornithological Society, with about 5 others, including our guide.

We straight away saw the usual: Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long Tailed Tits, Robins etc. We also heard and caught a glimpse of the wonderful Cetti's Warbler, which you can often hear walking down the path in the dense vegetation either side of you. Its amazing really. You just stroll on the soft mud of the track and listen to the powerful bursts of the delicate bird. I hear it every time we visit! At one of the platforms we stopped at, we saw a beautiful Mandarin duck, full of colour, which was nice to see.

We soon made our way to the hide at the end of the path, where we spent most of our time observing the vast amount of birds. We enjoyed fabulous views of 3 Water Rail emerging from the vegetation to the edge of the water, as well as a couple of Snipe hiding in the overhang of the plants for a while.

One species I sat watching for a while was the Little Egret. I usually see it at Willington but this time I paid more attention to it! I zoomed in on my travel Opticron MM3 60 ED scope, getting crystal clear views of it and watched it. I found its movement so amusing to watch. It would pace slowly through the water, gliding smoothy. Then, suddenly it would see a fish and run as fast as it could through the water lifting its legs high up. It looked almost excited when it ran!

After a few more minutes we headed back, raring for our next trip to Willington Gravel Pits!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Our Trip To Spurn

Last year I took part in the 'Young Birder of the Year' competition at the Spurn MigFest, one prize I won was a free stay in the new Spurn bird Observatory. Last weekend I decided to use my free stay with my family and spend our time birding. Since we live in Derby I saw this as a good opportunity to improve my wader skills!

As my family and I are trainee ringers, we want to improve our ringing by experiencing ringing with different groups and people, learning individual approaches and methods. We contacted Paul, the warden, to ask him if we could help out and on the Saturday morning we headed out. It was a fantastic opportunity as I got to ring a House Martin and a Swallow, two species I had never done but always wanted to.

Spurn is a fantastic place, on the Humber estuary there were several species of waders, some of which included: Dunlin, Knot, Curlew, Redshank and Golden Plovers.

Saturday evening we watched murmurations of thousands of Dunlin and Knot, creating patterns in the sky. Not only that, but a pair of Peregrines appeared to catch their meal amidst the thousands of waders however they unsuccessful. And to top it all off, just as we were leaving to head off to bed, a Barn Owl flew into the sunset with its prey in its claws.

Sunday involved more ringing, however due to the weather conditions, there weren't many birds about only a few birds were caught. We then went to the canal hide which was quiet, although there were some Yellow Wagtails and a Swallow nest inside the hide, which was being regularly fed by the parents. We also spent some time sea watching a skill I want to develop and hearing the experienced sea watchers shouting out what they have seen was inspiring.

It was also nice to see Georgia Locock, who has been staying there during the week, helping out counting the birds for Spurn.