My first stop was Swarkestone Sailing Lake and the chance of adding Scaup to my “10-Mile List”. Up to four birds have been reported from this location over the past two weeks so I was reasonably confident of finding at least one bird. This was also to be the one and only bird that I would be twitching during the morning - I admit, I did check one or two websites late last night for the latest details of Scaup sightings!
An hour spent checking the lake and surrounding trees and hedges rewarded me with a total of 22 species including Scaup. I failed to locate the male bird but did get good views of two females. Other sightings of note included 6 Great Crested Grebe, c50 Greylag Geese, 55 Tufted Duck, a male Goosander and 6 Stock Dove. Three Rook that flew over the car just as I was about to get back into it were a welcome sight as they were the first within my 10-mile zone this year.
Having gotten the twitching out of the way for the morning I moved on to Dimminsdale Nature Reserve on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border, a small woodland reserve that I’ve not visited for something like 15 or 20 years. Here, I hoped to pick up a few of the more common species that have escaped me so far this year. I also took the opportunity to try out my new mobile phone or to be more precise the camera on my new mobile! I don’t think it will replace my trusty old Kodak compact but, at 5 mega pixels, it should have it uses.
I lost myself amongst the peace and quiet of Dimminsdale for almost an hour and a half and in that time recorded 17 species. It may have been a little quiet bird wise but, to be honest, I really wasn’t bothered; today was about slowing things down, enjoying being outside and not having to worry about work. Things were working out just fine. Pick of the birds at Dimminsdale were 3 Buzzard, a Kingfisher, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 male Bullfinches. New birds for my “10-Mile List” came in the form of Goldcrest and Treecreeper. The flowering snowdrops at the south-western end of the reserve were also rather nice to see too.
The walk from the reserve back to the car park took me past the southern end of Staunton Harold Reservoir and also gave me my fifth, and final, new species for the day when two Raven flew directly overhead. Just a few years ago Raven, along with Buzzard, would have been a very special sighting for me in Southern Derbyshire. Now, I come across both species on a fairly regular basis - how times have changed. The reservoir itself, or at least the bit of it I could see from the road, held 3 Little Grebe, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Grey Heron, 40 Wigeon, 55 Teal numerous Mallard and Tufted Duck and 5 Goldeneye. A Buzzard soared overhead for a while; it’s mewing call alerting myself and the birds to its presence.
My final stop-off was the Carvers Rocks Nature Reserve at the southern end of Foremark Reservoir. Here I had hoped to find Marsh Tit but it wasn’t to be. Once again the woodland proved to be very quiet with just seven species being located actually within the woodland. Two Treecreeper held my attention for some while - have you ever studied these birds closely? They have the most stunning plumage! A friendly Robin came to within six feet of me and half a dozen Long-tailed Tits performed their crazy acrobatics directly above me at one point.
Out on the reservoir I counted a further 10 species, these included 12 Great Crested Grebe, 8 Wigeon, 4 Gadwall, c40 Mallard, c100 Tufted Duck and 2 Goosander. A large gull roost was starting to gather at the far end of the reservoir but time was now getting on, and I was getting very hungry, so I didn’t have the time to walk close enough to check for anything unusual. I did manage to pick out quite a few Common Gull in flight but that was about all.
My 4½ hours out birding today gave me five new species for my “10-Mile List” - Scaup, Rook, Treecreeper, Goldcrest and Raven - but more importantly it slowed life down to a steady crawl again. Quite a result I reckon!
Tomorrow is already planned, or at least the full cooked breakfast that will precede the birding is!
My “10-Mile List” now stands at 81 species.