Drakelow Nature Reserve: Thursday 16th February 0945 – 1530. At long last a somewhat spring like day with temperatures starting to rise although by the afternoon there was a return to cloud and even some light rain. The Long-tailed Duck, not reported on the 15th, was located on the station Secondary Lagoon (usually logged as OPHUT) amongst Coots, Tufted Ducks, Gadwalls, Shovelers and Pochard. It was there from early morning until at least 1500. Strictly speaking this lagoon is outside the reserve but is easily viewed from the roadway that bounds it on the west, north and south sides. Ducks on this water are generally tolerant of watchers provided a modicum of care is taken. A round up of the duck numbers showed that, in the main, numbers were beginning to fall with Shoveler down from 60 to 40 but Tufted Duck were still maintaining their number of between 55 and 65. On the 15th a flock of some 48 Wigeon had dropped in but had moved on. The L apwing flock that had arrived on the 14th were down to 21 on the 15th and just four today. A small group of Snipe is hanging on and two Oystercatchers are regular visitors to the Strip. Other species reported or recorded were Jay (three), Goldcrest (four), Goldfinch (30), Fieldfare (six), Siskin (two) and Peregrine (one on station pylons). With thanks to RW, MJH, AL, NC, RS, JS, KW and AG.
After the recent murky mornings today was a bright but cold start with a SW wind force 2 blowing. This increased to force 3 by late morning. The water levels of the pools continues to be high and the main track is very damp and muddy and wellington boots are really needed. Duck numbers were again poor but the highlight were 3 Smew including a drake on one of the lakes, the first I have seen here for 3 weeks and the most I have seen here all winter. Also noteable were 3 Shelduck and 20Goldeneye. Numbers were as follows:-
1 Little Grebe, 7 Great Crested Grebes, 15 Cormorants, 3 Grey Herons, 2 Gadwall, 4 Teal,3 Shoveler, 3 Pochard, 83 Tufted Duck, 20 Goldeneye, 3 Smew, 1 Common Buzzard and 4 Blackbirds. Elsewhere on site were another 2 Shelduck, 3 Goosanders and an adult Caspian Gull which flew off West.
A good total of sixteen bird species on the reserve this afternoon (16th), 1 Moorhen, 23 Woodpigeons, 2 Wrens, 1 Dunnock, 6 Robins (singing), 2 Blackbirds, 1 Goldcrest, 4 Blue Tits, 5 Great Tits, 1 Jay, 2 Magpies, 4 Carrion Crows, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Greenfinch, 4 Goldfinches & 1 Bullfinch.
Recent sightings from Carr Vale are on 11th ten Grey Lag Geese, 178 Wigeon, three Goosander (two males), Water Rail and Chiffchaff. 12th was awful weather wise so only a short visit producing just two Goosander but 13th was a much improved day both in terms of weather and birds recorded. Highlight was a flock of 41 Whooper Swans, 40 of which flew north but one, which appeared to have a deformed or injured neck, split off from the flock and landed on the flashes where it remained until dark. Also during the morning visit ten Grey Lag Geese, 174 Wigeon, 32 Gadwall, three Water Rails (one showing well) and two Chiffchaffs. Another visit late afternoon produced 12 Goosander (groups of five and seven) north to roost, 1600 Black-headed Gulls south-east (probably to roost at Kings Mill reservoir and 90 Pied Wagtails. 14th saw three adult Whooper Swans (including the one from 13th) which left north at 0908, Grey Lag Geese now numbered 12 and were accompanied by a lone Pink-footed Goose, 170 Wigeon, 37 Gadwall, 78 Teal, 18 Tufted Ducks, male Tawny Owl hooting at 1115, adult female Peregrine with a kill and two Chiffchaffs. Bird of the day though was a cracking adult male Waxwing that joined two of us on the mound for a few minutes.
Drakelow Nature Reserve: Tuesday 14th February 1000 – 1530. The day got off to a bright start but clouded over by 1300hrs although an ESE wind kept the temperature down. The Long-tailed Duck put in an appearance around lunch-time and was still on the ML at 1530. Shovelers numbered 60 and were split between the ML and the North Pool. A single Shelduck was on the Tertiary Lagoon and two Egyptian Geese were on the Strip. Also on the Strip were two Oystercatchers and a search my telescope located 12 Snipe. Later in the afternoon a party of 35 Lapwings descended onto the Strip when they joined some 60 B.H.Gulls and a Common Gull. Six Mute Swans on the ML was a surprise given how the resident male reacted to the last interloper. Today there was only a mild reaction and four left around 1500 of their own accord. On the way out a search of the fishpond Poplars proved fruitful when a mixed party of winter thrushes landed in the tree-tops with the b ulk of the group being Fieldfares. They were joined by several parties of Starlings that amounted to 100 or so birds. By the Hairpin the perimeter fence was covered with Carrion Crows as was the solar farm fence. Whilst counting the crows a Red Fox came out from the grass and galloped down the roadway. With thanks to AB, DH, MJF, RS and JS