01 June 2008


If you take work out of the equation, it’s been a cracking weekend! Yesterday I picked up the Avocet and Knot at Willington and today I added another three ticks to my "10-Mile List" - Turtle Dove, Red-crested Pochard and Sanderling.

This morning started early for me again; I was up and about at just before 5:00AM, had breakfast and then set off in search of Turtle Dove. I had a couple of sites in mind for the doves and luckily the first site I visited came good. Within minutes of arriving on-site I could hear a dove calling but I then had to spend the next 45 minutes searching the woodland before I finally located the bird.

Turtle Dove - taken through my 'scope.

When I did get to see the Turtle Dove it was sitting out on a telegraph pole just clear of the wood and gave good views for around 15 minutes. As I watched this bird a second appeared, briefly, as it flew between the trees. Whilst searching for the doves, and walking back to the car, I noted a further 21 species including Buzzard, Kestrel, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Goldfinch, Linnet and Bullfinch. I also found a rather nice wild rose too.

Wild Rose.

With Turtle Dove added to my list - species number 121 - I abandoned my plans to visit the second site and instead headed to Calke Park. Calke Park is an ancient woodland site with some of the oldest trees in the UK, and Europe. It has also been a site for Spotted Flycatcher in the past, but not today! My three hours of birding in the park did turn up a total of 36 species and I also stumbled across one of the 1000 year old trees - The Old Man of Calke.

The Old Man of Calke.

Bird highlights included Common Tern, Stock Dove, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, Mistle Thrush, Treecreeper and Tree Sparrow. The walk around the park was very pleasant with nothing but bird song to break the peace and quiet and I only saw a couple of other people all morning. All very peaceful! Oh, and I got some great views of the Fallow Deer that are kept in the parkland.

Fallow Deer.

From Calke I had planned on returning home, for a coffee, but that idea got thrown out the window when I received a text message about two male Red-crested Pochard at Willington. Within the blink of an eye I was on my way! I have to admit I twitched the Pochards - I was only at Willington for just under an hour. I parked the car, walked quickly to the end of the lane, saw the birds, checked the rest of the pits for a short while and then headed for home. Species 122 was ticked off in record time.

By mid-day the car was back in the garage and I had finished birding for the day, or so I thought. At just after 1:30PM, whilst enjoying my lunch, I received another text message; a group of eight Sanderling had turned up at, you guessed it, Willington Gravel Pits! Now, I had a dilemma - I needed the Sanderling, having missed them a couple of times already, but there was home made rice pudding in the oven and I love Lynda’s rice pudding! A compromise was reached; the Sanderling would have to wait around for an hour or so whilst I enjoyed my meal. I would then pay them the respect they deserved by going to have a look.

By the time I arrived at the Canal Scrape there were only four Sanderling still there but the quantity didn’t really matter to me; one bird or four, I had species 123 for my "10-Mile List". Other than the Sanderling it was a little quiet with the only birds of any note being a Buzzard, three Red-legged Partridges and a sight of around 400 Swift feeding over the water. Smaller numbers of Sand Martin, Swallow and House Martin were also in amongst the Swifts and gave some great views, often down to just a few feet!

To top the day off... I returned home to be told by Lynda that I had won £60 on the lottery! It’s been a cracking weekend!

The "10-Mile List" has now reached 123 species.


  1. Nic (birdnerdblog)02 June, 2008 13:41

    Cracking weekend indeed!! Red-crested Pochard, £60, and rice pudding! Sounds like my kinda weekend lol.
    Liverpool gig was fantastic, Kaiser Chiefs were brill, and Dave Grohl joined Macca onstage which was pretty cool!

  2. Another good read. Funnily enough, I picked up my Turtle Dove for the year this morning. Not within 10 miles of home, but not too far away. Willington GPs sound great.