Where did April Go

Okay, so Christmas and the New Year are now a distant blur, but April seemed to fly by.  Perhaps it was the school holidays and Easter that helped, but it does seem to have gone past in a flash.  And what a month of extremes we had, early in the month, we had a weekend with temperatures in the mid 20’s bringing thoughts of summer, whilst towards the end of the month, snow, frosts and winter returned much to the annoyance of gardeners and early nesting birds.

Overall though April was a very dry month across the midlands with rainfall well below the monthly average. The average temperature was also higher than the 30 year average, with an average temperature of 10.8C.

Average Temp

The picture below shows the monthly weather, with the highlighted warmest day, summer 2017

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Whilst the graphs below highlight the contrasting coldest day of the month, when winter returned

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On the birding front, it was a welcome return for many migrant birds, with many warblers, swallow, sand martins and house martins returning. Further afield, the ospreys have returned to Rutland.  April has also been a good month for rarer birds, with spoonbills, little terns, red rumped swallows amongst some of the rarer birds seen in Nottinghamshire.

image1Sedge Warbler (Attenborough NR)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a very long time

it’s been a rather long time since I visited this blog, and I thought I would re-visit the blog and look to add more articles and allow a wider range of topics.  Spring is just round the corner, or so the daffodils would have you believe but the weather clearly does not believe it’s finished with winter.

Whilst spring migrants including sand martins and ospreys are returning, some of the winter birds such as the beautiful waxwing remain in good numbers, although the red wings and field fare numbers have declined sharply. 

On the home front, I have purchased a weather station and I hope to be able to develop a local historical records and graphs of our weather. 

For more information and to see this in more options, then visit my data online at weather underground.com and search for weather station IBEESTON14.  Monitoring the station, it appears to be relatively accurate and records similar ranges to other local weather stations and the nearby met office stations.

Below is a summary of the weather for the last 7 days here in Beeston. As you can see, Wednesday was the warmest day, whilst Saturday was the wettest.


Well that’s all for now, more next week.

Yorkshire Coast Bonanza

IMG_6033The Yorkshire coastline from Bridlington to Whitby is a great location for a family holiday.  It is also a superb place for birdlife, and the last few days of May has proved that this coastline is great for migrant and rarer species of birds, whilst the more common birds are present in good numbers.

A party of bee eaters had graced Flamborough on the Thursday and FridayReed Warbler prior to our holiday trip to the coast, but would these colourful birds remain into Saturday as we set off on our holidays.  Unfortunately the answer was a resounding no, as news reached that the birds were flying south and had crossed the Humber as we reached our destination.  The weather during the week was variable to say the least, with rain, sun and more sun, with a little more rain for good luck.

SpoonbillSunday afternoon saw us take to the high seas, as we took a trip on the Bridlington Belle out of Bridlington.  The plan had been to take an hours cruise up to Flamborough along the coast, but a high sea swell put paid to this, and we had to make do with a trip into the bay, with the boat rolling quite nicely as the tide and sea swell made the journey less than pleasant for some.  As we left the boat, news came through of a Night Heron turning up at Filey Dams, just down from our caravan.  An opportunity not to be missed, so a quick trip saw an even briefer view of the night heron, which was roosting in trees at the other end of the pond.  A Spoonbill present on the same site was a pleasant surprise and a good start to a birding week.

IMG_5452IMG_5510A trip to the Yorkshire coast is not complete without a trip to Bempton Cliffs RSPB site to see the seabirds in all their glory.  Puffins were high on the agenda, and they obliged with good views within minutes of our arrival. Gannet’s and Kittiwakes are another big presence on the cliffs.

IMG_5499If we thought Bempton was a great place for Puffins, we were IMG_5894surprised and delighted to find more puffins, and even closer views on the cliffs and rocks around North Landing, Flamborough.  The puffins were coming and going over our heads as they headed out to sea to feed.  North Landing is a great little cove, with caves, rocks and IMG_5941 rock pools as well as a small beach and is a great favourite.  It is also a short 2 mile walk to Flamborough Lighthouse around the coast, with continuous great views of sea birds, and at times porpoises, whales and dolphins off the coast.

IMG_6178The week finished with another good migrant rarity, a superb Male Red Backed Shrike at the sailing club at Filey. This bird was amazingly confiding, whilst the Icterine Warblers IMG_6156in the nearby scrub at Filey Country Park were less confiding.

Whilst some great birds were seen, other rarities, including the Bee Eaters, Common Rosefinch, Red Breasted Flycatcher and a possible White Tailed Sea Eagle were all reported on the coast during the week or before we arrived / left.

Again more pictures are available on my Flickr page.

 

It’s Been a While

Well, with a title like this, what could I mean. Well it’s been a while since I last posted, well not since the end of March!  It’s also been a while since my favourite football club have been relegated to the third tier of English football and it’s certainly been a while since Danny Wilson took my club out of the English championship.  But today, all these points have beenIMG_3747 resolved, as I post this, Barnsley get relegated and 17 years to the day since Danny Wilson led Barnsley to the premier league, he leads us down in the opposite direction.

IMG_3706 - CopyStill the birds keep coming, Easter weekend involved a long weekend at Filey, North Yorkshire and a return to RSPB Bempton Cliff’s, a great reserve, to see the puffins.  Disappointingly the puffins decided not to play fair, and decided to sit it out on the sea, with just a couple of distant shots possible.  As usual the IMG_3723 - Copyrazorbills and gannets were far more accommodating. Other good birds included the first grasshopper warbler of the year for me, whilst Swallows were flying around, making it a summer.

The migrant birds are certainly in at Attenborough NR, with several local rarities being recorded recently including a pair of common cranes making a brief flypast, whilst Ring Ouzel was a nice find for someone.  Please though, will someone have a word with these birds and ask them not to appear whilst I am at work.

IMG_4200 - CopyStill, it was great to hear the reed beds and woods alive with bird sound, whilst a very confiding common sandpiper was a pleasant surprise outside the new sand martin hide. Other waders included ringed and little ringed plovers and wimbrels.

Meanwhile on Malta, Chris Packham is doing a fantastic job of getting the news of the mass slaughter of birds on the Island. The indiscriminate murder of
thousands of birds, including critically endangered species is 14030609673_6c477b6d71_znothing short of scandalous, and I hope that Chris along with his colleagues and bird-life Malta achieve their aims of stopping this cruelty. To find out more on what is happening, visit Chris’s site at http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/ Malta-560

British Summer Time Returns

As March draws to a close, and April knocks at the door, British Summer Time came along inIMG_2989 all its glory, and as if to say summer was here, temperatures IMG_2978reached up to 21C in parts of the UK.  Attenborough NR was a very popular location this weekend, with numerous stalls and events designed to encourage children and families.  Many birds are now nesting, with coots and moorhens clearly leading the way.

Another good sign of summer, is the number of migrants coming into the reserve.  Good ChiffChaffnumbers of Warblers are returning, with Cetti’s, Garden, Chiff Chaff, Blackcaps and even Grasshopper warblers recorded over the last few days.  Common Terns have also been observed across the ponds, whilst sand martins have returned, just in time for the opening of the new sand martin hide and nesting facility.

A rather confiding Little Egret was also on show this weekend.  Little EgretIt is not too long ago, that Little Egrets were considered major rarities, Egyptian Goosehowever, they have expanded rapidly across the UK, with breeding having been recorded in Nottinghamshire during 2013.  Other birds that have expanded over the last few years, are Buzzards, and these are now regularly observed across the reserve, and are also often seen from our garden soaring overhead.

Buckthorn BlossomIn the plant world, blackthorn is now in flower, whilst many other trees are coming into flower, with bees and butterflies being seen readily across the reserve, another sure sign that winter has probably left us for now.

 

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Ospreys are Back

IMG_2770Well football was depressing yet again, with another last minute defeat and another performance that has relegation written all over it. So what better way to cheer up than a trip to Rutland Water to see those magnificent Osprey’s.

IMG_2793Rutland’s osprey population is well established, with seven or eight birds back already, and several of the breeding birds due back imminently. A visit to the Rutland Osprey Project website at http://www.ospreys.org.uk/ is well worth a visit, with the HD stream making fascinating watching. Indeed the featured picture is taken from the live stream, as i was struggling IMG_2748to get a close up picture of the osprey’s today. I would strongly recommend a visit to Rutland water to see these magnificent creatures and many more in the heart of England, close to Stamford, Leicester and Nottingham.

IMG_2890Rutland is not just about ospreys, the large expanse of water, the UK’s largest man made lake, has a 25 mile cycle route around the shores for those more athletic, whilst fishing, boating and walking are IMG_2911popular past times. There are two reserves at Rutland, the Lyndon Reserve is the best bet to see the reserve, but other birds of prey can be readily seen including Buzzards, Sparrow Hawks and Kestrel’s.

IMG_2656Meanwhile at Attenborough NR, the wintering ducks and visitors look to have departed, and the slow trickle of migrants will soonIMG_2860 hopefully become a flood.  Chiff Chaff’s are numerous, whilst the odd common tern and sand martin have been reported across the reserve.  Would be nice to see Ospreys one day making Attenborough NR a home, now that would be a great day.

Again more pictures can be seen on my flickr page.

Wall to Wall Sunshine

Spring has definitely sprung, with several spring migrants observed at Attenborough NR this IMG_2537weekend, with good numbers of Chiff Chaffs singing from the tree tops and sand martins obserrved over Clifton pond.  Meanwhile down the road at Rutland Water, the first of the returning Ospreys returned from their winter retreats in Africa.  I wonder how many ospreys will be sighted over Attenborough NR this year, would be nice if one decided to take up residence, but I suspect we will have to hope.

IMG_2623With the bright sunshine, today proved to be a great day for photography with some fantastic shots of both ducks and herons were obtained on the ponds, whilst the finches and tits were resplendent in their bright colours and showing well.  Check out IMG_2595my Flickr page for more pictures. Attenborough NR is becoming a very popular visitor attraction, and the car park was full to over flowing today, with everyone out to enjoy the sunshine, countryside and of course the wildlife, which can be found within 5 miles of Nottingham City Centre, and don’t forget the ice creams and the fantastic cafe at the visitor centre.

IMG_2585It was not just the birds that were apparent in numbers, but IMG_2476several species of butterflies and bees were out collecting nectar from the early flowering trees and bushes.  This week, looks like a return to cooler conditions, with possibility of some rain, however I do not expect it to stop the onward March of Spring.

IMG_2593The next couple of weeks should see migration in full force, and it will be interesting to see what rarities turn up in the UK and especially at Attenborough NR.  Already one or two IMG_2637glossy Ibis’s appear to be frequenting the east of Nottingham, whilst a Great Spotted Cuckoo in Pembrokeshire could be the forerunner of what is likely to come over the next 6-8 weeks.

A Very Special Day

March the 6th is a very special day to our family, it is the birthday of our mum, sadly she is no longer with us in person, although still in our hearts, after she passed away 15 months ago.  Our mum really loved Filey, especially the Brigg and the Yorkshire Coast.  This is now her final resting place, so she can look over Filey Bay as she pleases.  So today, I visited Filey, to leave some flowers and have a chat with her, then I did what she would have wanted, I went to Bempton.

A visit to RSPB Bempton Cliffs is always something special and there is always something to see.  A truly fantastic nature reserve and IMG_2155somewhere mum loved to go to watch the Puffins and Gannets.  Whilst a few puffins are coming into the cliffs earlier than normal, the gannets, GuillemotsIMG_2087 and Razorbills are back and making their presence known.

The nature reserve at Bempton Cliffs is certainly amazing for it’s views, and gives you great opportunities to get close up to that magnificent seabird the puffin, May-July are normally the best times to see these fascinating Auks.  The Gannet colony is one of the largest in the UK.  Peregrine Falcon’s are frequently observed, chasing the pigeons up and down the cliffs, IMG_2097whilst Owls are also regularly seen.  The car park is a great place to see the finches and tree sparrows are a definite speciality.

The Yorkshire coast is a fantastic place for birds, with Spurn Point, Flamborough, Bempton and Filey regularly mentioned in despatches for the rarities and vagrants that are seen during migration.

Another Week More Rain

Canada SquadronWell half term has been and gone, one weeks holiday seemed to sail past as fast as the storms had been visiting the UK.  Whilst the last seven days have been a lot quieter, weather wise, we have still seen rain and some winds, but this was more probably typical for the time of year.  What is not typical is the temperatures, and whilst this has been the wettest winter on record in the UK, it has also been warmer than most.  The question to be asked as winter draws to a close, and spring is certainly coming up fast, with a swallow reported today in the South West UK, we do wonder if there will be a sting in the tail.

IMG_1790 IMG_1801A trip to the North Kent coast did not yield much in the bird front, especially as I spent more time trying to drive round the floods, however a few snaps were obtained.  Attenborough NR did not produce much, often because as soon as we set foot on the reserve, the heavens opened again or the light was very poor and no quality pictures could be obtained.

Blackbird

At home, I was glad to see the blue tits still in residence and I am hopeful that they will use the nest box as and when spring comes.  Bird species has increased to 11 for the garden for the year to date, not too bad for a suburban garden.

 

IMG_1920Eventually a change in approach was taken, and we tried a bit of train spotting.  The Great Central Railway, that runs between Loughborough and Leicester IMG_1896was the chosen location, as they were running a special weekend with steam trains and Diesels operating on both Saturday and Sunday.  A very excited four year old enjoyed several trips up and down the train line, whilst a visit to the works yard fascinated him, to see trains in all stages of repair and restoration.   Certainly for a day out, I would recommend this venue for kids of all ages, and I mean ALL ages.  I get the feeling that we may be back in a few weeks as I was informed by Ben that Peppa Pig would be riding on the trains.

Anyway, it is back to work next week,  I gather the weather will not be showing many signs of improvement, but we can hope.  Watching the forecast it looks like more rain, showers and strong winds, with low pressure again dominating as fronts rush in from the Atlantic.

Spring is round the corner

Sing UpSpring is round the corner if the birds are to be believed.  The string of winter storms that have battered the UK over the last month might suggest different, and the snow storms over the USA and Canada certainly do not support this, but a walk round Attenborough NR has Robin’s singing from the top of their voices from every available tree top, whilst the Canada Geese and Mallards are all pairing up, whilst other birds are clearly on territory.

The gale force winds and heavy rain have certainly taken their toll on Southern Britain, with widespread flooding across the Somerset Levels, and 90ft waves reported in Cornwall as 80mph+ winds have swept through the UK as storm has followed storm every couple of days.

Attenborough NR has suffered it’s fair share of flooding, but fortunately today,Flooding at Attenborough it is clear that the flood waters may be receding and hopefully the reserve can get back to normal in the near future, before nesting season gets in full flow.

Forecasters are now predicting a decline in the “super storms” that the country has had to endure, but it is worrying that so far we have not had a prolonged cold snap, and what will the impact be on the environment and nature if we get through to April without a cold snap, or more worryingly will there be a late sting in the tail with a cold snap just as the nesting season starts in earnest.