Trip reports

Field Trip - Attenborough Nature Reserve

Little ringed plover wading in shallow water

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Having left Sheffield in slightly dull conditions, we arrived at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust's Attenborough nature reserve an hour later to brighter weather. The area was already busy with cyclists and dog walkers, as well as other birdwatchers.

After most of us had taken advantage of the café in the Nature Centre, one of the site managers gave us a talk about the reserve, including what was about and where we would be most likely to see it.

Some of us then visited the adjacent hide from which we obtained excellent views of the Sand Martins around their artificial nesting bank. We were also excited to see Tree Sparrows in the garden between this and the Nature Centre and to get close to a number of Red-crested Pochard on Coneries Pond - along with other wildfowl, including Egyptian Goose. Here, towards the end of the day, we were also treated to a courtship display and mating by a pair of Mute Swans.

Heading out along Barton Lane, we soon located our first Cetti's Warbler and this usually furtive bird provided us with some remarkably good views. In total, seven singing Cetti's Warblers were located during our visit, along with eight other warbler species; Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. With the leaves now mainly out, many of these serenaded us unseen. However, great views were obtained of a usually secretive Garden Warbler, which was clearly seen singing from the top of a tree on Church Path, close to the Elevated Hide.

On the nearby scrape, we were treated to two Little Ringed Plovers and a Little Egret. Later in the day in the same place, some of us got great views of a Grey Heron attempting to eat - with great difficulty but ultimately successfully - an extremely large fish.

The Elevated Hide provides great views across Clifton Pond. Numerous Common Terns were present, joined by what was for many of us the 'Star Bird' of the day, a Little Tern, which flew around very actively before landing on the edge of an island, providing excellent views. Here and elsewhere were abundant Great Crested Grebes and other waterfowl seen during the day included Moorhen, Coot, Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Shelduck

Elsewhere, a heronry gave us the opportunity to watch an adult Grey Heron bringing food to the nest to feed its boisterous young, which were clearly seen flapping their wings eager for food. From the hide overlooking the Delta Sanctuary, a Kingfisher was seen several times flitting between reed beds and it even perched for some of us - providing outstanding views. A Cuckoo was heard several times but never seen.

As well as birds, several butterfly species were seen, including Small White, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Orange-tip and Green-veined White. Several colourful beetles were found but the insect that attracted most interest was a beautiful damselfly, the Banded Demoiselle.

Attenborough covers a large area so, by the time we had taken an approximately four mile walk all around it, many of us were in need of tea and cake back in the café! Although at times it had looked as if it might rain, it had thankfully remained dry all day and the sun had even come out for a while.

Our short journey home passed quickly and was enlivened by sightings of Buzzard and a Red Kite over the M1 near Woodhall Services.

28 people attended
69 bird species seen
Star Bird: Little Tern