Saturday, 31 March 2012


After a week of glorious weather i was rather surprised/relieved to have had very little news from Pugneys. I naturally assumed that everybody must have been to busy sun-bathing, queueing for petrol, stocking up at Greggs or desperately saving money to pay for a seat at the PM's for supper to get out and go birding!

Been some movement with the police regarding fence vandalism, hopefully we might finally be getting some action taken - fingers crossed!!

Anyway, this morning (31st Mar) dawned overcast and stayed that way all morning with a stiffening cool breeze from the north which was presumably the reason for a quiet 6+ hours on site. Main highlight was a single  Whooper Swan on the main lake although it has a slightly damaged left wing and has apparently been in the area a few days, hanging about with the non-breeding Mutes. 

Migrants were represented by 60+ Sand Martins, 4+ Blackcaps, 1 LRP, and upwards of 20 Chiffchaff.

Sand Martins
 Other birds of note included at least 9 Goosander and c18 Goldeneye hanging on and 9 Fieldfare west. 2 Ringed Plover seem settled on 'Tommy Mads' field along with the territorial Lapwings

Imm drake Goosander.


A few LBBG's about with the settled pair on the reserve lake and this apparent pair on the wetlands. Definite difference in mantle shade with almost appearance of a graellsii/intermedius pairing ? presumably just variation or possibly sex based - will gen up later!! Any thoughts, please comment !

Mixed race pair?
So, lets hope tomorrow is a little more productive - Willow Warbler due but i need a Pugneys Osprey please!!

Monday, 26 March 2012


Sat 24th March:

The day started stupidly foggy and took ages to clear but despite this it was really good! First hour from dawn was mostly spent listening to varying numbers of Oystercatcher (4+), Fieldfare(2North) and Curlew(1west). As the gloom slowly lifted it revealed 2 Ringed Plover and 3 Snipe. 1st good bird was a Little Ringed Plover on the north bank of the main lake which quickly disappeared. later this bird was relocated on the wetlands with a second bird joining it!

CN had a brief Peregrine fly through the wetlands whilst me and DD had some murky views of the 2nd year Y L Gull again. The number of Chiffchaff and Pied Wags was clearly up with around 20 of each but no hirundines were noted.

With the fog now lifting was finally able to see the reserve lake and i quickly picked up a surprise in the shape of a belting drake Gargeney ! Less than annual here so a great record and quickly seen by the birders on site as it fed and rested in front of the hide. the pics below were taken later in the day by MH - cheers Mick!



Also on the reserve lake was the drake Smew and 4 Shoveler. Back on the wetlands the now semi-resident Green Woodpecker was again showing well on its chosen telegraph pole and c60 Golden Plover  were noted whilst DD and DP had an imm Little Gull for a couple of minutes over the mainlake which left high SEast. 

Considering the weather a pretty brilliant day made just a liitle sweeter with the news that 'over the hill' they were fog-bound all day ! 


Sunday, 18 March 2012


The view across Ewden Valley.
A quick update of weekend activities and sighting for the past few days...

FRIDAY 16th. the first Wheatears of the year were found by KP this morning with 2 birds on 'Eddies mounds'. I had an early finish so nipped down mid-afternoon and quickly located the 1 remaining bird - a smart male which showed pretty well.

Male Wheatear

Male Wheatear

Also seen were the male Smew, 3 Scaup and 8 Sand Martin. More news with the fencing being replaced across the back of the reserve area on the wetlands - more of this later!!

SAT 17th. 2 Shelduck back on the wetlands this morning, presumably the regular pair which breeds and provides tasty little chicks for the Mink to snack on...little else of note until DP picked up a Little Gull with the blackheads on the wetlands. An Ad Win plumaged bird, it was constantly harassed and left east after a couple of minutes.
   Sadly, this morning the newly erected fencing has been comprehensively removed/vandalised by someone using heavy duty wire cutters. Bits of fencing were thrown in the reserve reedbed and adjacent willows. A little later several dog walkers began entering the area and when challenged became rather 'heated'. The damage has been reported to the police but I'm not holding my breath!!

SUN 18th. A quick check of the patch was rewarded with 10 Snipe, male Smew, 3 Scaup still and an increase in Chiffchaff and Sand Martin numbers. 60 Golden Plover still over fields to the south and a small passage of Starlings totalling c350 heading east.
  Myself and MF then headed down to the Ewden Valley and immediately scored when I picked up the wintering Rough-legged Buzzard sat in a small tree out on the common.We were soon joined by K+MP and good views were had for the next couple of hours as the bird toured the moor and was mobbed by corvids. Rather proud of the worst photos to grace the blog thus far!!

It is one....Honest!

I Think.......
Other birds seen in the area included a Red Kite, 4-6 Common Buzzard, Peregrine and plenty of common moorland stuff - pretty good eh! Only slightly depressed then when DD text me to tell me he had an Ad Kittiwake on the wetlands at c11am ( a small passage inland it seems today).

Sunday, 11 March 2012


Saturday 10th was a pretty quiet day on the patch although a fly through Green Woodpecker was a good year tick for the site, another species that is barely annual in the recording area!

This is a Grey Heron. Not a Green Pecker.
Otherwise 10 Siskin flew north and the 3 Scaup still on the wetlands and showing well.

Away from the birding i took a train to Sheffield on Sat night and met @monkey_nut from off of that there Twitter. He recently commissioned a couple of painting from me and we decided a few scoops were in order so between 6 and 10 o'clock we got so drunk on real ale, guinness and single malts that he fell over INSIDE a taxi and my legs stopped working - Awesome fun all round!!

Sunday 11th was a little more interesting on the patch despite my hangover... drake Smew, 3 Scaup, 1 Sand Martin over the rapids and a Chiffchaff singing on the soap stack. 6 Greylags were making a nuisance of themselves and 3 Oystercatcher included a displaying pair.

Best bird however was a Peregrine that flew west through the wetlands at 8.30 as me and MF were sat scanning for raptors! only saw 2 Sparrowhawk but MH later had 6 Buzzards up together to the sw.

View from the Soap Stack watchpoint .

Also DP showed me this L T Tit nest that he found yesterday, bit hard to photograph through the trees but you get the idea!


Thursday, 8 March 2012


A family engagement in Notts yesterday gave me the opportunity today to try and catch up with Hawfinch, a species i really like and which i recently realized i had not seen for several years - lazy!!

Recent regular sightings of several birds in Cromford, Derbys seemed to offer a good chance and i arrived in the Rugby Club car park at about 7.30 am. Several birders already present told me birds had been seen in there favored Beech tree earlier but had been flushed - not getting into it but the 2 cars with 3 toggers (no bins) camped out 20 feet away staring at empty lenses might not be helping!...

After standing about for a short while someone picked up 3 over the road in the church area which i saw briefly but they remained flighty for the next hour or so before settling distantly west  of the car park and giving nice scope views. Eventually up to 8 birds were counted - possibly worst pics yet below!

From here i headed up to the Langsett/Ewden valley area and had a pleasant if rather chilly couple of hours. Bit too breezy really and not much raptor action with only Common Buzzard, and 2 each of Sprawk and Kestrel. Similar regular birds to last week but no Wheatear or Ring Ouzel!!

Last stop was the patch where earlier M. Hemingway had found an apparent imm drake Scaup with the 2 semi-resident birds. saw this briefly but was running out of time. Still - HAPPY DAYS!!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


Pugneys has recorded a total of around 240 species in its 30 or so year history, not bad for a heavily used public area within walking distance of a city centre. The local patch lads have again been discussing some of the more glaring omissions and possibilities for future new species.

With this in mind i have canvassed 2 predictions each from most of the locals and have decided to put them here as a bit of fun! not really a competition but the winner gets a painting of the bird in question - i would suggest using it to either cover up that nasty stain on the wall in the downstairs bog or as a makeshift paperweight in the bills drawer!...

So here are folks predictions, guess i should start with mine;

JH - Great White Egret and Glossy Ibis.  with 4+ records locally in recent years GWE seems likely although it will surely be just a fly through, similarly Glossy Ibis is only getting commoner and must occur sooner or later.

DP - Bonapartes Gull and Lesser Scaup. Maybe Bonapartes seems a bit ambitious but with a record at Fairburn and our regular roost of BHGs you never know! Lesser Scaup is a popular pick although ruling out a hybrid seems to bit getting more and more difficult so a nice male please!

KP - Spotted Crake and Bairds Sandpiper. Both possible although tracking down any Crake would be an acheivement! Bairds has occured as close as Broomhill so could happen, get there quick as the dogs will love this one!!

DD - Rough Legged Buzzard and Lesser Yellowlegs. RLB could occur anywhere so a migration watcher might get lucky one day whilst L-Legs has a slightly better chance than most rare waders due to our small population of Redshank.

IB - Red Rumped Swallow and Purple Heron. both very possible, we have large gathering of Hirundines on the main lake and P Heron has occured several times locally.

SC - Common Crane and Bluethroat. Crane seems very likely to reward the migration watchers and whilst Bluethroat may seem fanciful we do have the habitat though so you never know!

CN - Hoopoe and Broad Billed Sandpiper.  Hope you are right Chris! Hoopoe could occur anywhere in spring and there are odd inland records of BBS so fingers crossed!

MH - Great White Egret and Lesser Scaup. Popular choices Mick, now get out and find either!

CP - Lesser Scaup and Glossy Ibis. Again, more than 1 vote for both of these, although CPs chances of connecting are slim as he lives in Scotland !

MF - Wryneck and Penduline Tit. Interesting picks from Mark, Wryneck certainly a possibility for the bush basher whilst Wintersetts recent Penduline gives hope as we have equally suitable habitat for that species.

MP - Wryneck and Cattle Egret.  Another vote for Wryneck, and with 2 records from 'over the hill' why not although at least 1 was found in a net! Cattle Egret is another good shout although no livestock on site so its another fly through probably!

EA - Spotted Sandpiper and Rose Coloured Starling. Spotted Sand has been recorded a couple of miles away and several other times locally so seems a good shout. R C Starling may be harder as even Starlings are getting pretty scarce! One recorded in a garden a few miles away in the 90s gives hope though...

So there we have it, loads of good birds to aim for this spring and nobody even mentioned Grey Phal, Great Skua, R B Shrike, Y B Warbler, Night Heron, etc etc .... GOOD HUNTING!!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Hopefully the link HERE will get you a free copy of the 2011 Pugneys Bird Report ! if you are having trouble sleeping you really should check it out ! and if someone could tell me if it works that would be great !!

Record falls!

A great weekend on the patch although the rain today put a bit of an early finish to play.

Saturday 3rd. Nothing new early doors just a couple of Fieldfare leaving the roost in the willows on the wetlands and the 2 drake Scaup still on the motorway pool. The SEO seems to have moved on having not been seen for over a week, a check of its regular roosting site revealed plenty of pellets and general muck and feathers!
                                                                            SEO PELLET.

A  little passage in evidence with the good early spring for Curlews continuing as a flock of 5 headed west and then the finding of a Black-tailed Godwit with the resident redshank on the 'wader scrape'. Only just above annual status here so a good early record, the bird was present for about 10 mins before being booted by some tetchy BHGs and heading of west at 8.35am.

                                                             Black-tailed Godwit.

                                                              Black-tailed Godwit.

Not much else new after this, drake Smew still tarting about on the main lake and later in the day DD and SC had 2 Ringed Plover,Bittern and a singing Chiffchaff - new in or winterer ? 

Sunday 4th. A damp start but immediate pay off with 4 Sand Martins chirruping about overhead on the wetlands!! These birds later moved to the main lake and are the earliest ever recorded at Pugneys, beating the old record by 3 days.

Very little else new in the way of new/moving birds until DD called to inform us that 18 Whooper Swans had just dropped in on the main lake. Legged it over and had a look at these whilst drinking a Latte in the cafe - posh!!

                                                       Some of the Whooper Swans.

Still drake Smew (in flight west over wetlands) and 2 Scaup and 4 Shovellor was the best of the rest.

So, a good couple of days. Lets hope the early migrants are a sign of things to come and also lets hope the reasonable levels of coverage continue! To encourage folks to get out looking i am gathering votes for a bit of a fun sweep to predict the next new species for the recording area - you will read it here first !!