Langford Lowfields

Its the end of March and there are Ospreys and Garganey turning up all over the place. Ospreys especially seem to move through very quickly in spring, and i’ve never actually managed to luck in on finding one at this season. So as i’ve been roped in to doing a self-found year list again this year, I thought I’d go to my local RSPB reserve at Langford Lowfields in search of both Osprey and Garganey. For those that don’t know, Langford is situated adjacent to the Trent a few short miles north of Newark. In my last role at RSPB i was Restoration Advisor on the Nature After Minerals project and I used Langford as a case study on best practice in restoring quarries to nature conservation (see  http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/l/langfordlowfields/index.aspx and http://www.afterminerals.com/docs/langford%20lowfields.pdf for more info on the reserve, its history and its restoration). Its not currently open to the public as its actually still a working quarry, but as I used to work with the team there its a priviledge for me to be able to access the site. Everytime I visit there seems to be more of a transformation to a supreme wetland reserve, and its pretty mouth watering to look into the future here and think of extensive reedbeds, marsh and open water attracting all of the expected species. I wrote about it in Birds magazine recently too, so there’s no excuse not to be excited about it!

The birding Gods were against me today though, and my several hours on site failed to produce the hoped for Osprey or Garganey. However, the first bird i did see was this Peregine.

Some interesting barring on the rear flanks on this bird, wish I’d have seen it better in the field. Instead it was just a shape that I snapped away at and hoped for the best.

After this, there were at least three Little Ringed Plovers knocking around giving a taste of spring, and at least three Green Sandpipers were leftover from the winter.

Not the World’s greatest shot of LRP, but its my first of the year.

Around the edge of the site, the rough grassland is a haven for several Skylarks, and it was great to hear several males in territorial disputes.

This un-cropped Mute Swan did an incredibly close fly by at one point, and gave me probably my best flight shot of this species.

Away from the wetland, the hedgerows have a decent population of farmland birds, and a screen overlooks a feeding station where you can get great views of Tree Sparrows, Reed untings and Yellowhammers etc. This part of the reserve is accessible to the public, and you can also look over part of the wetland from here. A super site that will go from strength to strength, and will without doubt be the best site in Notts in a very short time.

Reed Bunting

Yellow Bunting

Quick trip to the Broads

Having a few hours inbetween jobs back on Mar 8th, I decided to have a look around the Broads for a few hours with Rachel Coombes. After seeing the Lesser White-front back in Feb, a quick trip to the Hickling area was the order of the day. Never having been to Barton Broad, I was hoping for a skulky Fudge or Ring-necked Duck, but instead had to be content with a showy Marsh Tit.

 Moving on to Stubbs Mill, we only had to wait a short while before a flock of 4 Cranes flew north in front of us and landed out of view in the fields beynd the reedbed, while another pair were located on the ground out in the marsh.

But the unexpected treat of the afternoon was a close Short-eared Owl that quartered the marsh in front of the viewpoint. Unfortunately not close enough for great photos, but managed to get the odd pot shot nonetheless.

Not bad for a quick run around a couple of sites on the spur of the moment.