As many are aware we have some birdwatchers who are social members and come and watch from the corner, or watch the bird feeders they have put up beyond the Flying 15 area. We have asked John one of the regulars to let us know what they see. The Terns are nesting on the raft so please give that a good berth (they will let you know if you get to close!). If you want to know more stop and ask.
Whilst it was a relatively quiet month there were still some interesting sightings. Numbers of birds using the gull roost were not as large as in previous winters but it still produced a rare Iceland Gull on the evenings of the 14th/15th. This species breeds in Greenland so it was quite a journey for this young bird to make all the way to then Sailing Lake. A beautiful Barn Owl was seen hunting in fields to the rear of the Annexe Pit on a number of occasions, often coming out well before dark. A Stonechat was a surprise visitor on the 14thfrequenting the reed bed area between the barrier and the tree. They are not common on site and no birds were seen at all last year. The Great White Egret continued to be reported, usually in the company of a Little Egret. The unseasonal warm weather produced some early summer migrants in the UK but it was quite remarkable to see a Sand Martin feeding over the Sailing Lake on the 28th. This represents the equal earliest arrival date ever in Nottinghamshire for the species. Other species of note included Green Sandpiper, Red Kite, Pink-footed Goose, Redshank, Golden Plover, Shelduck and Raven.
January 2019.The month produced a nice assortment of birds. Best of all were the ducks, three species in particular. A drake Common Scoter, a sea duck, appeared on the 4thbut unfortunately was not present the following day. Two Smew were seen on the 20thand were probably different from the bird which has been noted up at the Railway Pit on a number of occasions. The drake Scaup finally departed from the Annexe Pit where it had been present for several weeks. Long staying birds included the Great White Egret and up to five Pink-footed Geese in with the large mixed goose flock. The gull roost provided interest although numbers of birds were down on previous winters. A Mediterranean Gull was observed on the 8thand there were several sightings of both Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls. Three Whooper Swans flew through west on the 18th. Two Ruddy Shelducks were exotic visitors on the 28thbut in all probability they were escaped feral birds rather than genuine wild vagrants. Other notable sightings included three Ravens, two Red Kites, Jack Snipe, Peregrine Falcon, two Shelduck, two Oystercatchers, Marsh Tit, 40 Golden Plovers and two Redshanks.
December 2018 was a relatively quiet month but there were still some interesting sightings. Best bird of all was a Slavonian Grebe which frequented the Sailing Lake from the 6thto 17th. This was the first on site since 2005. The first-winter Greater Scaup continues to reside on the Annex Pit where it remained until the end of the month in the company of the Tufted Duck flock. Several Little Egrets remain around the complex and their larger relative the Great White Egret was also observed on a number of occasions. A flock of 12 Whooper Swans flew through south-east on the 14thand a Marsh Harrier was a rather unseasonal visitor on the 12th. The numbers of roosting gulls increased during the month and at least three difficult to identify Caspian Gulls were picked out amongst them. Other birds of note included three Pink-footed Geese, Raven, Common Snipe, Peregrine Falcon, Goosander, Redshank and Tree Sparrow.
During the year approximately 140 different species of bird were seen around the immediate vicinity of the Sailing Lake which is an excellent total.
November 2018 produced some interesting sightings, assisted with the spell of cold easterly winds. The Merlin was noted again on the 1st. I mentioned last month that a Great White Egret, the larger cousin of the regular Little Egrets had been seen. This month it was joined by a second individual, the first time that two birds have been seen together on site. We were very fortunate to have a beautiful Short-eared Owl grace the site for two days on the 15thand 16th. This species of owl is not strictly nocturnal and this bird was flying around between the barrier and the tree during the late afternoon.
A Scaup, which is primarily a sea-duck, appeared on the Annexe Pit on the 23rdand was still present at the end of the month although it is quite difficult to pick out from the resident flock of Tufted Ducks. Another rarity was a flock of three Red-breasted Mergansers which were present only briefly on the Sailing Lake during the morning of the 27thTwo Whooper Swans were observed on the 19thand a flock of 25 Pink-footed Geese flew over on the 25th. Common Buzzards are a daily occurrence, in fact it is almost impossible not to see one if the weather conditions are favourable. Red Kites are more unusual, so it was nice to see two birds enjoying the bright and breezy conditions on the 30th. Other sightings in the month included Peregrine Falcon, Raven, Green Sandpiper, Redshank and Red-crested Pochard.