Stamford U3A Birding and Nature Group 2019

Stamford U3A Birding and Nature Group 2019

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Birding and Nature – Eye Brook Reservoir, Stoke Dry, November 2019

This was a typical, murky, overcast November morning: bird-watching at ‘the sharp end!’ However, the rewards were worth attending the Stamford U3A Birding and Nature groups’ monthly meeting. Eight intrepid naturalists assembled at the bottom of the hill, below Stoke Dry church: and stopped at the car park.
From this vantage point, time was spent: telescopes and binoculars at the ready. Winter wildfowl (many from the far north), and in smart new winter/ breeding plumage, included: flocks of Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck, Coot, Mallard; stunning looking male Pintail, small group of Goldeneye (males and females), a hand-full of Gadwall, and Pochard, were logged in the note books.
The group then turned around, and viewed the bird-feeders, which were hanging on the large tree. Coal tits, Blue and Great Tits were busy feeding on the seeds, and below, on the grass, Chaffinches fed on the spilt grains. A Great Spotted Woodpecker frequently flew in to a nearby tree, giving the observers good views: it then flew away; showing its diagnostic undulating profile.
Suddenly, everyone turned back to the reservoir, as a loud ‘honking’ hit the air waves, and a massive flock of Canada Geese flew along in formation, towards the bridge end. The group then moved on in convoy a short way, and stopped, to view the large flocks of wintering Lapwings and Golden Plover. A ‘sharp-eyed’ member trained her telescope on to the shallows, and spotted two Snipe, and one Redshank. One Little Egret fed along the shore-line. Then we witnessed another amazing winter scene, when a Red Kite flew low over the water, ‘spooking’ the flocks, and a fantastic flight of the Lapwings and Golden Plover filled the sky, superb!
Further along the road, near the bridge end, suddenly approx 150 Fieldfare exploded from the trees, and flew over us, and on to the farm fields; their super loud calls breaking the silence.
Finally, the last stop was at the bridge. Some interesting behaviour was noted, when four Dunnocks called incessantly from the scrub below: a few minutes later, the cause of this commotion was identified, as a Fox emerged from the scrub, and made off in to cover.
The U3A group then made a short journey, and had a welcome pub-lunch at Don Paddy’s Restaurant, in the market-place at Uppingham.
Philip Rudkin

Birding and Nature Group – RSPB Frampton Marsh, September 2019

Despite the torrential rains on Sunday, the weather was perfect on Monday morning, as 14 members of the group assembled in the RSPB Visitor Centre, at 10:00am. After signing in, and viewing over the reed beds, the naturalists made their way south-east, along the trail: taking in the open farm fields, with Skylarks singing high up in the heavens; whilst down in the grass verges, Roesel’s Bush Crickets, and Long-winged Coneheads were heard stridulating their individual sounds.

At the bend, turning left, and a short walk north, the favourite 360 Hide was reached, and it was in here that the group spent much of their time; telescopes and binoculars finding species such as: Black-Tailed Godwits, Redshank, flocks of Teal, Greylag Geese. However, the highlights from this hide were a small group of the lovely duck, the Shoveler: sifting with their massive ‘spatula’ bills in the water, searching for food. And a fabulous Curlew Sandpiper; observed feeding along the shore-line.

Leaving the 360 Hide and carrying on a short ramble north, to another very popular hide: the Reedbed Hide. From here the ‘piece de resistance’ of the morning was sighted – we had excellent views over the saltmarsh of two Avocets in company with two Spoonbills; both pairs busily sweeping their bills side to side, as they sought insects in the shallows. Other species added to the notebooks included: Ringed Plover, female Sparrowhawk, Ruff (male and female), and large flocks of Lapwing, and Golden Plover, which provided great pleasure; as the flocks suddenly took off together, and flew over the onlookers. A wonderful picture of nature to finish with! All in all, Pat Dale logged 25 species.

The satisfied group (including two welcome new members), then headed 3 miles towards Boston; to enjoy a pub lunch at the ‘Spirit of Endeavour’ restaurant.

Philip Rudkin

Birding and Nature Group – Ketton Quarries, July 2019

After a weekend of heavy rain, it was a welcome surprise for the Stamford U3A Birding and Nature Group, when 14 members assembled in the car park, at the Ketton Quarries Nature Reserve, SSSI.
Monday morning, 29th July, turned out hot, clear sky, dry and calm. Birds were at an absolute minimum, (many species now in the moulting period)! So, the focus was on flowering plants and the insect populations on the reserve.
The group started in the BBQ area, where butterflies were abundant: Silver Washed Fritillary and Gatekeepers were notable. Meadow Grasshoppers were seen and heard. Everyone then moved on in to ‘The Valley’, which was lush and thick with flowers and bushes. Chiff Chaff warblers could be heard in the trees; identity confirmed by their call-notes. The range of butterflies increased, and included: Ringlets, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Painted Lady, Marbled White, Brown Argus, Brimstone, Large Skipper, and the day flying moths: 6 Spot Burnett. Roesel’s Bush Crickets were heard stridulating in their masses, and many were observed in the vegetation. More Meadow Grasshoppers were seen and photographed; and Field Grasshoppers were also noted. Calls were heard from Green Woodpeckers!
The group then headed back in to Stamford, where a few members had a welcome pub lunch at ‘The London Inn’.

Photographs of the species were taken by Clive Adkin.

Philip Rudkin

Birding and Nature Group – Lyndon Reserve, June 2019

Humid, overcast, calm and dry: These were the weather conditions, as 14 members of the Stamford U3A Birding and Nature Group, assembled inside the Visitor Centre, at the Lyndon Nature Reserve, Rutland Water, on Monday morning, 24 June 2019. From here, the group made their way west, on the trail towards their quarry: the nesting Osprey family!

On the way, passing the Deep Water, and the Tufted Duck hides, they were accompanied by the songs of Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Blackcap, Dunnock, and numerous Wrens; belting out their loud melodies.
The entourage eventually arrived at Waderscrape Hide, and spent time in the hide enjoying views of Coot, Great Crested Grebe; and listening to the rasping songs of Sedge Warblers. Last stop of the journey was the ultimate destination: The new double Decker, Shallow Water Hide. The upper deck was the favourite, and time was well spent, observing the nesting Ospreys (four young seen popping their heads above the nest rim). The adult pair seen flying around, and settling on the nest, and occasionally perched in a nearby tree. On the fence-line, a pair of Common Terns provided great interest, as they engaged in ‘food passes’, with accompanying excited trilling calls. Adult and fledgling Pied Wagtails were on the fence also. The final treat was a Great Crested Grebe on its nest, brooding the eggs: the nest was situated just below the Hide, which provided superb opportunities for the photographers.

The group made their way back, via the farmland track, and the convoy headed to ‘The Horse and Jockey’ in Manton, for a well- deserved pub lunch.

Phil Rudkin

Birding and Nature Group – Clipsham Yews, May 2019

A warm and sunny, dry morning, greeted the Stamford U3A Birding and Nature Group, on Monday morning, 20th May 2019. Eight members assembled in the car park, at Yew Tree Avenue, Clipsham .
The entourage moved off down the avenue, listening intently to the fabulous bird-song. Although the resident birds were busy feeding young, the summer migrants were in good voice; including, the warblers: Chiff Chaff, Blackcap, and Garden Warbler. Time was taken to explain the various song patterns; and to add one resident singer , the Chaffinch.
The naturalists then moved on to the woodland trail area, where the Garden Warblers were singing their wonderful deep, throaty song from the thick scrub cover. Suddenly, the listeners were delighted to hear 2 Cuckoos (at either end of the trail), singing constantly. ‘Time stood still’; as this was a precious moment: the Cuckoo is a declining species, and not heard very much in recent years.
After admiring the seasonal wild flowers, and the beautiful sight of the masses of flowers on the Hawthorn bushes; they made their way gradually along the trail, back towards the car park; the silvery wisps of songs from Willow Warblers floated through the trees. Finally, the songs of the resident Dunnocks were noted: which is good news for the Cuckoo; the Dunnock being the main host for the female Cuckoo to lay her egg in the nest: in this habitat of woodland and farm hedgerows.

Members then visited the Stamford Garden Centre Restaurant, in Casterton Road for lunch, and a convivial chat on the mornings proceedings.
Phil Rudkin

Birding and Nature Group – Twyford Woods, April 2019

The Forestry Commission’s Twyford Woods was the site for the Stamford U3A Bird Group; when thirteen members met in the car park at 10 am on Monday morning, 29th April 2019. Thirteen members attended the meeting, and retired to the Blue Cow, South Witham, for lunch.

Photographs by Ian Baugh – the bird is a buzzard.

Birding and Nature Group – Wakerley Woods, March 2019

The Forestry Commission’s Wakerley Woods was the venue for the Stamford U3A Bird Group; when 20 members assembled in the car park at 10.0am on Monday morning, 25th March 2019. Weather conditions were excellent; with a bright, cool and dry sunny day. The group walked along the main ride but the birds were keeping a low profile amongst the imposing tall conifer plantations. Therefore, it was time for everyone to “brush up their skills” and listen for the lovely songs and calls, to identify the singers!
The resident Wrens, Chaffinches, Blue, Great and Coal Tits were all in good voice, and the ornithologists were delighted to locate the “rattling, metallic trill” of a small number of Lesser Redpolls, deep in the pines. The only summer migrant heard was the Chiff Chaff and a few were observed in the trees, giving good views of this small warbler.

At 11am the far away ‘hooting’ of a Tawny Owl, drifted through the trees. This behaviour is normal for this species, which often wakes up briefly, and gives this contact song! As the sun got warmer, butterflies were encouraged to ‘take wing’, including the attractive male Brimstone, Peacock, and Comma. Patricia Dale logged 15 species of birds for the morning! Spring is here at last! The group then retired to The Royal Oak, at Duddington for a convivial chat and excellent lunch!

Philip Rudkin – photographs by Ian Baugh And Phil Rudkin.

Birding and Nature Group – Ferry Meadows, February 2019

On a cool morning, dry and calm, with a clear blue sky, 16 members of the Stamford U3A Birding and Nature Group, assembled in the car park, at Ferry Meadows Country Park, Peterborough. The entourage headed to the large lake, flanked by woodland. This proved an excellent watch point: and the remarkable courtship display of several pairs of Great Crested Grebes was witnessed with delight by the onlookers -see photo by Clive Adkin. Suddenly, the temperature began to rise, and the sun became warmer and warmer! This spring-like weather encouraged the birds to sing, with: Wren, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Great and Blue Tits, Robin, Reed Bunting all joining in the woodland chorus; and a few ‘yaffles’ were heard, from Green Woodpeckers. On the lake: were Heron, Mallard, Coot, and flocks of Gulls: the highlight being a Common Gull, spotted with the telescopes at the ready! Large numbers of Cormorants were perched in the trees, and many with their wings held out to dry. On the bridge, a Blue Tit pair were observed, exploring a nest box, and Magpies were building their large stick nest, high in a conifer. Patricia Dale logged a total of 30 species for the morning! It was now very hot, and the group headed for the ‘Beefeater’ for a welcome pub lunch. Later that day, it was headlines on the Radio and TV news, that this day, was the hottest February day, since records began!
Philip Rudkin

Birding and Nature Group – Christmas Meal, January 2019

22 members of the U3A Birding and Nature Group, met at Easton on the Hill, Village Hall, at 2:30 pm for their Annual Christmas get-together. Co leader of the Group, David Needham, gave an expert presentation, on the successful introduction of the Osprey to Rutland Water, in the mid 1990s.

David has a wonderful collection of slides, showing the work of the staff and volunteers, preparing for the arrival of these majestic fish-eating birds. Followed by the young birds being introduced to their temporary new home, and the new surroundings. The speaker used Power Point, for his presentation, (of which he was a member of the introduction team).
Members then settled down for a Buffet lunch and convivial conversation. The lunch was provided by the members themselves!

Carol and David Needham were thanked for organising the event.

Photos from earlier years –

Stamford U3A Birding and Nature Group Meetings 2018

Stamford U3A Birding and Nature Group Meetings 2017