30 January 2010

Saturday stroll...

A relaxing morning’s birding kicked-off at Swarkestone Lake today, with a gorgeous, clear blue sky and a light covering of frost on the ground. It was cold, around -4°c, but that was just another plus as far as I was concerned - I’d much rather have a cold winter's day than a very hot summer’s one. Just so long as it’s dry that is!

A frosty approach to Swarkestone Lake.

One of the very first birds I came across was a stunning male Smew. The bird had been around for a few days and was the main reason I’d decided to start the day here. After missing out on this species last weekend I was rather pleased to find this one so quickly. Unfortunately, the bird kept its distance and I was unable to even attempt photos.

Other birds of note, of the 27 species recorded here, included 1 Little Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 65 Canada Geese, 4 Teal, 92 Tufted Duck and 2 Goosander. Away from the water a Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, a few Redwing and 4 Bullfinch were the pick of the bunch. Just a short distance from the lake a group of 64 Greylag Geese were feeding in a field alongside the entrance to the sailing club.

Swarkestone Lake.

A quick scan of the fields and river by Swarkestone Bridge revealed a large herd of swans grazing. The total count was 85 Mute Swan, but not a single Whooper again. I’ve still not given up on finding Whooper within my 10-mile zone but they are proving to be rather tricky so far!

From Swarkestone it was just a short drive to Willington Gravel Pits where I spent a couple of hours just enjoying the day and unwinding after a none-to-enjoyable week at work. A steady stroll along the lane to the viewing platform at the end, an hour or so viewing the two main pits, and the walk back to the car resulted in a total of 46 species, plus one fox.

Flyash Pit, Willington.

Birds noted in the lane included Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 8 Redwing, 2 Willow Tit, 2 Goldfinch and 4 Bullfinch. A Song Thrush kept me entertained for a while as it smashed it’s way into a snail shell and sightings of Treecreeper and Goldcrest were both noteworthy for this site. The Treecreeper is the first I’ve seen here since 2002 and Goldcrest is a species I only tend to see around once a year on the reserve.

On the water, which is now ice free, were a Little Grebe, 9 Mute Swan, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 74 Greylag Geese, 68 Canada Geese, 2 Shelduck, 60 Wigeon, 1 Gadwall, 30 Teal, 1 Shoveler, 30 Pochard, 12 Tufted Duck, 4 Goldeneye and 8 Goosander. Mallard were also noted but once again I failed to do a count. Birds in flight included 2 Buzzard, 2 Lapwing, a small number of Black-headed Gulls and a single Jackdaw.

Sleeping Wigeon.

The addition of Smew and then Greylag Goose takes my “10-Mile List” on to 75 species.

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