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China Birds (Nick Sismey) 2014 List (1 Viewer)

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
This is my first proper listing since 2011

Wednesday 1Jan14 - The first day of the year started very wet and very windy therefore Steve Whiteley and I decided to delay our birding trip to North Derbyshire and Southern Yorkshire until Thursday when the forecast was much better.

Throwing back the curtains from my rear bedroom window looking out across Chaddesden Park the first bird of the year was..............a Woodpigeon (1) high up in a dead tree.

Later in the morning I camped out upstairs again in the back room and a Collared Dove (2) was in the same tree as a Carrion Crow (3) flew over.

Black Headed Gulls (4) were taking advantage of the sodden grass in the park trampling for worms etc.

With the window only open a little the driving rain was still forcing itself in. The sound of a Great Spotted Woodpecker (5) flying to the top of leafless tree and a Kestrel (6) fighting against the strong gusts of wind took my mind off my discomfort.

Blackbirds (7) were darting between hedges from one berry laden bush to another.

To confirm Redwings (8) feeding in tree's across the park and a Mistle Thrush (9) high up in a tree in the church yard I needed my telescope. Luckily we have no-one over looking our garden to wonder why I was using the 'scope.

The tenth bird of the day and year took 45 mins longer than the first, a Robin (10) in next doors garden. Time for a coffee with my grandson Leo and my lovely wife Suzy.

With no let up in the weather I decided to take a brief drive South East through Borrowash, Draycott and onto Church Wilne next to the River Derwent. A lone Starling (11) flew overhead in Borrowash while there were a couple of Chaffinch (12) in the bushes of St Chad's Church yard. Opposite feeding on St Chad's Water were Mallard (13), Canada Geese (14) and Coot (15).

Moving on along the single track road avoiding the enormous puddles the majority of fields were Set-aside and For Sale. These were heaven sent for several Magpie (16), Rook (17) and Stock Dove (18). But these where totally outdone by a huge "clattering" or "train" of Jackdaws (19). I can't remember seeing so many in one place before. They filled the field and the air.

A little further along the road Goldfinch (20) were flitting along the hedge parallel to the car.

Having dipped on the Little Owl that is usually guaranteed in a willow tree at the far end of a horse paddock I returned to St Chad's Water car park where Great Tit (21), Blue Tit (22) and Long Tailed Tits (23) were on the feeders. A couple of Dunnock (24) we're skulking under the tits snapping up any "tit bits"! Out on the water were several Tufted Ducks (25)

Promising not to be too long I was soon back at Draycott where House Sparrows (26) were ignoring the rain as they noisily nestled in a hedge close to the road.

Driving through Elvaston Castle car park before heading home the first day of the year finished with a small flock of Feral Pigeons (27)
 
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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
Thursday 2Jan14 - Day 2 of 2014 was indeed much better than Day 1 with clear blue skies as I arrived at the Rugby Club car park in Cromford, Derbyshire at 8am. Steve had already arrived, although he only had a five minute drive from Matlock Bath.

Walking up to the canal the first new year bird of the day was a Moorehen (28) followed by a Mute Swan (29). But our main reason for being there was the Hawfinch so we made our way to the bank of the River Derwent close to St Mary's Parish Church. Atop a large tree (Photo1) near the bridge were a flock of Greenfinch (30) and amongst those four Hawfinch (31), a wonderful start for the day with the best bird of the year to date.

Just as we were about to leave the car park a couple of other birders arrived which we helped to locate the birds.

Passing through Matlock Bath and Matlock, in Darley Dale we turned off up the steep Sydnope Hill on the B5057 Chesterfield Road to the cross roads of Flash Lane and Jaggers Lane. A quick nip down the latter stopping near the Darwin Lake Holiday Cottages we picked up a couple of Buzzards (32) feeding in a field and then high up the nearby group of trees a female goldfinch turned into a female Brambling (33).

Having to set up the 'scope, it was soon justified when I flock of distant finches revealed the first Yellowhammer (34) of the year.

Along Flash Lane we picked up both Coal Tit (35) and four beautiful Bullfinches (36) showing their very best in the winter sunshine.

Turning left out of Flash Lane onto the other Chesterfield Rd we stopped off at Wrags Quarry near Bent Lane looking for the Great Grey Shrike. No luck but four more stunning Bullfinches flew by. We therefore set off down Bent Lane looking for more Brambling near Bumper Castle Farm. Sure enough there were several Brambling wheezing up in the trees as well as a first year Nuthatch (37).

Wondering past the farm entrance two large dogs ran up towards us but stopped short of leaving the farm thank goodness. Over their barking Steve suddenly shouted "There's the Great Grey Shrike!" (38). Sure enough the shrike (Photo 2) was perched in a tree across the road from the farm. Our first High Five of the year.

Driving back up to the Chesterfield Road and heading right towards Beeley Triangle I hauled on the brakes after a couple of hundred yards as I had spotted a Stonechat (39) on one of the posts alongside the road. We made a quick U Turn and found the bird deep inside a bush (Photo 3)

Continuing on we soon arrived at the grass field alongside the four way junction at the end of the road where Steve took time out to photograph a large flock of Fieldfare (40).

Turning left we headed through the Beeley Triangle and down the hill towards the village of Beeley. Parking in a gateway before reaching Beeley we had perfect views of Lindop Wood across the valley in the Chatsworth Estate. A Raven (41) croaked as it wheeled overhead however our 'scopes were scouting the woods for Goshawk. There were several Buzzards taking advantage of the thermals but little sign of the bird we really wanted.

"There!" I exclaimed, "Where?" Asked Steve, but it was gone. I was 90% sure I had seen a Goshawk flying along the tree line. Another 20 minutes later and another bird showed which was 100% a Goshawk (42), unfortunately it was again too brief for Steve to get on it. He did however spot a Sparrowhawk (43) a little later that flew through the valley.

Although we wanted to stay longer we needed to get to Broomhead Reservoir west of Sheffield. Over the moors a Red Grouse (44) flew across in front of us.

We missed the turning towards Broomhead just after Cutthroat Bridge near Ladybower a Reservoir (I think I was over taking another car at the time) and then the next turn off had a road closed sign so we were nearly in Sheffield before we took a left turn! It was torturous route via single track roads but we soon arrived at the reservoir. Steve knew where we were going having been there before and the large number of birders already there when we arrived (Photo 4) confirmed what we were looking for were indeed there.

A small flock of Two-barred Crossbills (45) were feeding high up in some Larch Trees alongside the reservoir. Well they were until a car stopped by and a lady leant across from the passenger seat to see what we were all looking at and accidentally hit the horn scaring off the birds. They did return but were very flighty. A great result as they were my first lifer of the year. High Five number two

Close by a little way into the woods was a feeding station. Thirty minutes after arriving we headed there where Common Crossbills (46) were feeding on the cones in the trees above. Two species of crossbill in one day, that was a first!

While there were no new year birds at the station there were an incredible number of tits, of various species, blue, great, long-tailed and coal. In the trees nearby were Treecreepers (47) and Goldcrest (48) while a Pheasant (49) wondered under the station.

As dusk was falling we took a quick look at the gull roost out on the reservoir with a Lesser Black Backed Gull (50) being the fiftieth bird of the year. Herring Gull (51), Common Gull (52) and Goosander (53) near the dam soon followed before we left for home.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
Saturday 4Jan14 - Now the plan for today was for Steve and I to leave early morning from my mums in Manthorpe, near Bourne in Lincolnshire, for a day’s birding on the North Norfolk Coast. However on the way to Manthorpe the previous evening, having had to pick Steve up from Matlock Bath as he had damage his car earlier in the week, I heard an unfamiliar noise coming from my car's engine department.

To cut a long story short we aborted the trip and returned to Derby where it was diagnosed as a split turbo pipe and that the car was safe to drive before it could be fixed later in the week.

During the drive back a Red Kite (54) was added to the year list while passing through the village of Castle Bytham

Although the weather was dire with steady rain we were determined to make good of a bad thing so we decided to head for Swithland Reservoir the other side of Loughborough. Near Elvaston there were several Red Legged Partridges (55) hunkering down from the weather.

At Swithland the weather took a turn for the worse and yet there were still some hardy birders on the dam (Photo 1) who put us on the Black Throated Diver (56). I had only seen one once before, this bird seemed totally unfazed by so many of us trying to get a good photo of it at close quarters.
Further out on the reservoir were Goldeneye (57), a family of Scaup (58), while Teal (59) and Wigeon (60) were feeding in the muddy margins.

Cormorants (61) and Great Crested Grebes (62) were in plentiful supply. As we searched for more year birds we were met with a wonderful site as one of the Great Central Railway’s steam locomotives pulled carriages along the viaduct that crossed the reservoir.

Our final bird at Swithland was a Little Egret (63) that must have been feeding close to the dam. It effortlessly flew past us an out across the reservoir.

As I needed to take Steve back to Matlock Bath we then decided to call in at Carsington Reservor. The rain had stopped but it still wasn’t a very pleasant day. After a coffee at the centre we headed out onto Stone Cutters Island in search of the two Great Northern Divers out on the water. A Pied Wagtail (64) was feeding along the stony shoreline while a flock of Lapwing (65) flew noisily overhead. Steve was the first to spot some Pochard (66) near the sailing club while a Wren (67) found us.

Greylag Geese (68) were mixed in with some Canada Geese on the next island but there was no sign of the divers although we could see some birders up on the dam looking at something that we just couldn’t see. Before we decided to check out what they were looking at Steve added some Redpoll (69) to our year lists. They were feeding in long grass growing at the top of the beach.

Taking to the car we stopped to ask one of the birders returning from the dam whether they had seen the divers. He said they had in a bay to the north of the dam. We headed there and from the car park met some other birders who said the divers were in fact back down the reservoir. Luckily one of the birders was on one of the Great Northern Divers (70) with his ‘scope so our chase was over.

Our final year bird of the day was at the Wildlife Centre where the Tree Sparrows (71) were just settling in the bushes for the long night ahead.

Not a bad day in the end….
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
Sunday 5Jan14 While out on my mountain bike with my neighbour we stopped to watch the Derby Peregrine (72) flying between the Cathedral and the roof of the Jurys Inn Hotel
 
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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
Sunday 19Jan14 – Today’s birding destination was somewhat different to what I had expected as I should have been in Thailand on a business trip. I had arranged for another trip to Pak Thale to see the Spoon Billed Sandpiper again but the trip was postponed on security grounds.

Nevertheless the skies started to clear as Steve and I arrived at the South end of the dam at Rutland Water, who needs the hot and beautiful Pak Thale when you have Rutland Water!

There was no sign of the reported Black Redstart on the dam when we arrived therefore we tracked down the side of the grassed dam to a small wood to try and locate the Siberian Chiffchaff. Having walked the circumference of the wood without any luck we were joined by another couple of birders (Photo1). Just as we were going to return to the dam the very grey Siberian Chiffchaff (73) appeared at the far end of the wood and worked its way along the tree line in front of us. Not bad, the first year bird of the day being a lifer!

When the chiffchaff disappeared we moved back up onto the dam. The redstart had been seen ten minutes earlier. While waiting for it to reappear we picked up Little Grebe (74) and Gadwall (75). It was another good 20 minutes before I spotted the Black Redstart (76) a couple of a hundred yards along the dam (Photo 2) feeding with a Pied Wagtail. A great start to the day!

Back at the car on the Normanton Park Road a couple of Skylarks (77) were displaying in the adjacent field.

We then drove round to the North Arm parking at the end of the road that passes Tim Appleton’s cottage. It was only short walk to the edge of the reservoir and before I had my scope set up Steve called out “Got the Long Tailed Duck (78)”. There were in fact two males and a female, all three being very restless as the males were trying to impress.

Steve made it 2 out of 2 a few minutes later being the first to spot one of the four Black Neck Grebes (79) across the other side of the North Arm. Soon we had all four birds in our scopes just as we were joined by the same birders as earlier. After guiding them onto both bird species we set off for the Anglian Water Bird Watching Centre at Egleton but not before adding Egyptian Goose (80) to the year list.

The car park was packed so we ended up parking on the grass. While Steve picked up a coffee at the centre I scanned a flock of Lapwing in Lagoon 1 and found a pair of Golden Plover (81). These were closely followed by Pintail (82), Shoveler (83) and Shelduck (84).

Heading North alongside Lagoon 2 a Song Thrush (85) was feeding in the large grass field alongside the large pools that had formed following the weeks of rain. Looking through a gap in the nearby hedge I surprised a Jay (86) and had to set up my scope to confirm the flock of birds high up in a tree were Linnets (87).

Entering Redshank Hide the gentleman there told us that there were a couple of like named birds feeding on the edge of a small island. Steve gently explained that in fact they were both Green Sandpipers (88), which was a nice bird for the time of year!

Lagoon 2 was full of birds (probably the best I had ever seen it, although they didn’t show up too well in Photo 3!) and it took a while to check everything out. At the far side feeding amongst the bull rushes was a male Smew (89), we were starting to realise we were having a very special day!

In between Redshank and Grebe Hide Steve stopped the conversation having heard the Pitchoo of a Marsh Tit (90). At least that stopped him mentioning the fact that he had seen one earlier at the feeding station while I put the parking ticket in the car!

Grebe did in fact provide me with my first Redshank (91) of the year. Then a Curlew (92) flew across the horizon, Steve just picking it out before it returned to terra firma. Hey and then I spotted my very first Grey Heron (93) of the year, it must be the first time a heron has been my 93rd year bird, especially after seeing so many rare birds!

There was nothing new from Osprey but I as we crossed the bridge towards Lagoon 4 and before I finished saying “There must be a Water Rail (94) somewhere here” I spotted the tell-tale red beak at the far end of the stream right next to Osprey. We were both amazed but birding can be like that sometimes. It took Steve a couple of minutes to get on the bird but we were then heading for Shoveler Hide on Lagoon 3 with an extra step in our stride.

We met two birders leaving Shoveler who said there wasn’t much about, which left is puzzled when we arrived in the hide as a photographer there was on a Jack Snipe (95). He skilfully guided us onto the bird which was extremely well hidden, just showing the side of its unmistakable head. Close by were 12 sleeping Common Snipe (96). I then overheard a lady telling her husband there was a Green Woodpecker (97) feeding on the large area of grass to the West of the Lagoon (Photo 4). We were soon on the bird.

There now seemed to be the real possibility that I would reach 100 UK year birds during the day, which would be the first time I had done that in a year without visiting the coast.

I settled into scanning the reeds at the far end of the Lagoon watching for anything that moved. This was rewarded after 20 minutes or so when a Bittern (98) flew into my vision of view. It doesn’t matter how many times you see a Bittern it always makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. I made sure everyone in the hide got onto the bird and most seemed as excited as me. There was one guy who was rather indifferent though, I wondered whether he was in the wrong hobby!

I had to make 100 now! Even more scanning of the distant reeds produced a small flock of Reed Buntings (99) in the bushes just above the reeds. The wonders of a good telescope, without my Swarovski there would have been no bird number 99.

Having exhausted Shoveler we checked out all of the other hides on Lagoon 3 as well as Sandpiper on Lagoon 4, zilch!

Slowly making our way back to the car Steve’s keen ear heard a Siskin (100) calling as it fed in an Alder. Bingo my 100th bird of the year. What a great way to conclude a fantastic day. To quote Steve “That’s all of the target species seen Nick”. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
Monday 27Jan14 - While visiting my mum in Linolnshire a quick check of their usual haunt near Wilsthorpe produced a decreasing number of Corn Buntings (101)
 

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
Wednesday 12Feb14- Returning from my dad's at Kirkby Underwood during yet another stormy night my heart was lifted by the sight of a Tawny Owl (102) on the edge of Callan's Lane Wood
 

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