09 March 2008

Off to a flying start!

Just how long it will last I don’t know, but at the moment I have the birding bug again! I set the alarm to wake me at 7:00AM this morning, at 5:50AM I lay in bed listening to the first Blackbird start to sing outside. At 6:00AM, I could hear a Robin singing too, it was time I was out of bed. As I ate my breakfast a few minutes later a Collard Dove joined the early morning songsters - the birds were out there, I just needed to go and find them!

Allestree Park lake.

Allestree Park was my first port of call, not an area that would give me a big bird list but one that would hopefully give me a species that will prove tricky within my 10-mile radius, Mandarin Duck. Although there have been reports of up to 30 Mandarin there so far this year, I drew a blank. My first real outing within my new “zone” and I had dipped out! What to do next? Should I hang around and hope the ducks might turn up or should I move on to another site? Thankfully, I chose to check the wooded area near the lake for woodpeckers and anything else that may be there.

There’s a Lesser ’pecker in there, somewhere!

Of the three woodpeckers that are resident in the UK the Lesser Spotted is by far the most difficult to locate and see. The last time I saw a Lesser was two years ago, today I saw two! And, from exactly the same spot in the wood I also saw a Green Woodpecker and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers - who cares about Mandarin?!

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

After watching the ‘peckers for a while I decided to head for Willington Gravel Pits, and a change of habitat. The 1½ hrs I spent at Allestree saw me leave with a list of 34 species. The Lesser ‘peckers may prove to be the only ones I see this year. Three Siskin were good birds to get on my list and a single Treecreeper means I don’t have to suffer the embarrassment of going six months without seeing one, like I did a few years ago!

Willington Gravel Pits

At Willington I met up with my good friend Mike and we set about covering as much of the area as we could over the next three hours. The better mix of habitat here gave us a wider range of species than Allestree, 58 in total. For me, the best finds had to be two Dunlin and a pair of Raven (saves me going looking for them in Derby city centre). All the other birds were ones that I would expect to see again without any problems over the coming months.

Some of the other species seen included Goldeneye, Goosander, Common Buzzard, Ringed Plover, Skylark, Willow Tit and Linnet.

After returning home and washing the car, I checked off all the birds seen on my new 10-Mile List. I have a total of 71 species in the bag. With the spring migration about to start at any time I should be over the 100 species barrier within the next month or so.

Choosing to chase a local list may not give me the biggest number of species I’ve seen in a single year but it does look like it will make me work harder for each and every bird. As I said to Mike this morning, after he swore at me for finding the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers... “Watch out, the boy is back!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a good day birding. Glad to hear you're off to a good start.