21st April – mainly Attenborough, Notts   Leave a comment

Attenborough NR is an excellent reserve near Nottingham. Lying beside the River Trent it comprises a  series of well vegetated old gravel pits with some wet meadows and reed beds. Recent management has increased the area of reed bed and has constructed islands for LRPs and artificial cliff for Sand Martins. The reserve is close to Long Eaton where my late wife Janet’s family lived and I have been visiting there since the late seventies.

Attenborough nature reserve with the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in the distance.

 

Recent habitat improvement has included planting new reed beds and building nesting islands.

 

It’s obviously further away from Simon’s house than say Carsington reservoir, but the range of habitats and hence birds, is greater. I left Simon’s at 0730 and spent about two and a half hours at the reserve. I normally go on a long hike to search for Willow Tit, but having recently seen a pair I spent my time around Clifton Pool with some success.

 

Coots were nesting ..........

.... and vigorously defended the area against all comers.

 

Common Tern and Sedge Warbler were new for my year list, I heard Reed and Grasshopper Warbler and Cetti’s were singing all over the place. Introduced Egyptian Geese and Red-crested Pochards provided further photo opportunities.

 

A singing Sedge Warbler.

This is the first time I have seen the highly vocal Cetti's Warbler at Attenborough.

Tree Sparrows were present here in the seventies, but this is the first time I have seen them here for 34 years.

This dainty Stock Dove was giving excellent views on the branch .....

..... and whilst feeding on the ground below.

Although some Red-crested Pochards seen in the UK are thought to be from wild European populations most are of feral origin.

These three male Red-crested Pochards were particularly tame......

.... and gave stunning views.

This Egyptian Goose flew past on its way to the car park looking for a free handout.

 

There is no question about the origin of Egyptian Geese, they certainly don't arrive here from sub-Saharan Africa.

 

A quick visit to another site near Derby gave me the far the most interesting bird of the day, an immature male Ruddy Duck. Half a dozen of this rather cute American species escaped from Slimbridge in the 1950s and before long a feral population of several thousand pairs had built up, mainly from the Midlands southwards. This bird looked to become a welcome addition to our avifauna, until it was demonstrated conclusively that Ruddies were spreading across Europe and hybridising with the highly endangered White-headed Duck in Spain. Population modelling showed that this would lead to the global extinction of the White-headed Duck. The argument that Ruddies in Spain were actually wild transatlantic vagrants was disproved genetically. The outcome was that the government initiated not just a cull, but a whole scale eradication program. This has been successful and only a handful of Ruddies still exist and these are to be removed this year. My personal feelings are that it is a shame they have to be shot, but if this is what it takes to stop White-headed Ducks becoming extinct, then so be it. Either way, with my ‘year listing hat’ on I was delighted to see this bird, as I had written off any chance of finding one this year, indeed this will almost certainly be the last one I see in the UK.

 

This first year male Ruddy Duck is very like the bird I saw. Photo from the internet.

 

The adult male Ruddy Duck is a very attractive bird and it is easy to see why its eradication has not been popular with birders. Photo from the internet.

 

... all to protect the globally endangered and charismatic White-headed Duck. Photo taken in Armenia in 2010.

I was back in Duffield at Simon and Viv’s by 11.30 and Simon and I went to the nursing home to see Mum. There will be no photos this time, she is now bed bound and spends almost the entire 24 hours asleep. I felt sadness of course, but it was not to the following day when I listened to a track by sixties singer Melanie Safka called ‘the saddest thing’ that the true enormity of the situation hit me.

The return journey was much better than the drive up. I was pleased to see so many Red Kites between Oxford and Newbury, including six together near the M4 / A34 junction and one well south of Newbury.

Posted April 23, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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