07 March 2010

Five more...

The “10-Mile List” has suffered a little of late, with no serious birding having taken place since the end of January. On Thursday, a brief stop-off at Alvaston Lake, whilst cycling to work, gave me another new species for the year, a Common Gull. I’m not quite sure where all the Common Gull have been hiding over the past three months but this is the longest it has taken me to see one locally at the start of a year. Species 78 was duly added to the year’s list.

A rather lazy start to today saw me arrive at Willington Gravel Pits at just after 9:15am with the sole aim of seeing the Whooper Swan that has been on the reserve for the past few weeks. The walk down the lane was rather quiet with just Willow Tit and Bullfinch being of note. The heavy overnight frost, that was still lingering where the sun hadn’t managed to melt it, and the clear blue sky made for a pleasant walk all the same.

In the lane.

Viewing the main area of water from the first viewing platform, soon revealed that, thankfully, the Whooper Swan was still there and I had species 79 for my local year list. Having already seen Mute Swan and Bewick Swan in Derbyshire this year, the Whooper means I have now seen all three of the UK swans in the county, in the same year, for the first time since I started birding.

Other birds out on the water included Little Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Shelduck, 10 Teal, 4 Shoveler, 20 Pochard, 1 Goldeneye and 7 Goosander. Two or three Water Rail were calling deep within the reed beds but, of course, they never showed. A pair of Oystercatcher were another new species for the year and they spent a while flying around the reserve before coming to rest on the spit. A couple of Snipe were seen skulking around on the edge of Gull Pit and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull was roosting on the spit, along with a small number of Black-headed Gull.

Four Buzzard were seen in flight at the rear of Flyash Pit, a single Lapwing flew over and both Pheasant and Green Woodpecker were heard but not seen. Yet another new species for the year was a single Skylark that flew low over the third viewing platform whilst in full song. By now, time was getting on a little and I had to head back to the car. On the way back up the lane I stopped off at the first viewing platform again and was rewarded with close views of 8 Curlew as they flew slowly overhead and onto the reserve. The call of the Curlew has always been a favourite of mine and I was very pleased to hear all of this group calling as they flew by. A great end to the morning's birding.

The addition of Common Gull, Whooper Swan, Oystercatcher, Skylark and Curlew takes the “10-Mile List” on to 82 species.

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