Bird Sightings

As many are aware we have some birdwatchers who are social members and come and watch from the corner, or watch the bird feeders they have put up beyond the Flying 15 area. We have asked John one of the regulars to let us know what they see. The Terns are nesting on the raft so please give that a good berth (they will let you know if you get too close!). If you want to know more stop and ask John is always willing to talk about what is down, let you look through the scope etc, contact him at 


APRIL 2024: An interesting month which saw the arrival of several summer visitors. A great White Egret was noted on the 2nd but not seen subsequently. The first Swallows of the year, four birds, were seen on the 4th. Three Curlew flew south on the 5th, a species that is far less common now than it used to be. The first Sedge Warbler arrived on the 8th which also saw a Mandarin Duck and a late Redwing observed. A Little Gull was a good find on the 9th and the first Yellow Wagtail was also noted. Perhaps the best day of the month occurred on the 22nd when heavy rain and a favourable wind prompted birds to move. Two Bar-tailed Godwits were present along with a Whimbrel. Arctic Terns were seen at several locations in the Trent Valley and Hoveringham scored with a party of nine birds that flew north. A Short-eared Owl was seen in the evening. The first Lesser Whitethroat was recorded on the 25th whilst the first Swift and Garden Warbler were reported on the 28th. Other sightings during the month included Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Red Kite and Pink-footed Goose. An exotic duo of ducks was made up of a Fulvous Whistling Duck and a Ruddy Shelduck with both enjoying their time after escaping from captivity. 

JANUARY 2024: Near record water levels during the early part of the month meant getting around the site was extremely difficult. Later in the month a cold snap resulted in the complete freezing over of the Annexe Pit and a partial freezing over of the Sailing Lake. Only a few Little Egrets remained during the period although three Great White Egrets were noted on the 5th. A count of 350 Lapwing on the 10th was the highest for several years, 14 Dunlin were associating with them. A single Barnacle Goose and two Pink-footed Geese were mingling in with the massive Canada/Grey Lag Goose flock. A party of eight Grey Partridges were in the field beside the track on the 26th. They hadn’t been seen for quite a while so it is pleasing to know they are still around. A Ruddy Shelduck was an exotic but probably feral visitor at the end of the month. Common Snipe favoured the wet areas with a maximum count of 26 birds. A single Jack Snipe was noted amongst them. Up to three Stonechats remained throughout the period. The first Oystercatcher returned at the end of the month.

DECEMBER 2023: Three Cattle Egrets were noted on the 1st and there were sightings of two Great White Egrets and several Little Egrets throughout the month. Two Whooper Swans were on the Annexe Pit on the 1stand another nine birds flew over on the 8th. A Water Rail seen on both the 6th and 13th was the first sighting of the year. Two Pintail were reported on the 15th. Several of the regular birds continued to be observed and included Stonechat, Barnacle Goose, Common Snipe, Red Kite, Raven and Peregrine Falcon. Approximately 125 different bird species were recorded during the year around the general area of the Sailing Lake which was a pleasing total.

NOVEMBER 2023: A Cattle Egret was a notable sighting on the 3rd along with both Little Egret and Great White Egret on the same day. A count of 23 Common Snipe on the 8th was the highest for several years. Fieldfares have remained rather scarce so far this winter so a count of 500 birds on the 10th was an excellent one. A single Chiffchaff was observed on the 15th. Eighteen Dunlin which flew through on the 22nd represented the highest count of the year. A Red Kite was seen on the 28th and a party of 18 Pink-footed Geese were recorded on the 30th. Two Barnacle Geese remained throughout the month hiding amongst the large Canada Goose/Grey Lag Goose flock. Up to four Stonechats were noted on most visits and a juvenile Peregrine Falcon gave some wonderful views towards the end of the month.

OCTOBER 2023: The quiet trend of the last couple of months continues. A skein of 25 Pink-footed Geese were noted moving north-east on the 2nd and the same date also produced a late Wheatear. The final four Swallows of the year flew south on the 10th. A Great White Egret was accompanying the Little Egrets on the 13th. The highlight of the month came on the 27th when four drake Common Scoters were located resting on the Sailing Lake. A single Dunlin was observed on the same day. A lone Whooper Swan continues to be seen amongst the large Canada/Greylag goose flock. Up to five Stonechats were in the area and a party of eight Grey Partridges were seen on a few occasions.

SEPTEMBER 2023: Another relatively quiet month. A Barnacle Goose was located amongst the large mixed goose flock on the 6th and was seen again on the 8th. The early date would suggest this was a feral bird rather than a genuine wild individual. Whatever its origins it was still nice to see. The early part of the month was very uneventful and the majority of birds seen were just the usual suspects. Things improved on the 21st when a party of three Black-necked Grebes were found on the Sailing Lake. Their stay was a brief one and there was no sign of them the following day. The 22nd proved to be the best day of the month when a Grey Plover flew over and a Whinchat was near the barrier. Both birds were new for the year on site. The same day also produced a Stonechat and two Sand Martins. The 27th was also a decent day with some waders moving through in the form of two Ruff, three Dunlin and a Common Snipe. The first Grey Wagtail of the year was also noted. Good numbers of Swallows were still around at the end of the month with 140 moving south recorded on the 29th.

AUGUST 2023: Another relatively quiet month with Birds of Prey providing the main highlights. A juvenile Marsh Harrier was noted on the 24th. This was followed by an Osprey flying upstream along the River Trent on the 29th.  It has a long journey ahead of it as it may well spend the winter in West Africa. There were also sightings of Peregrine Falcon, Hobby, Red Kite, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Two Curlew flew through on the 3rdand seven Redshanks were seen on the 4th. There were also a few sightings of both Common and Green Sandpipers. A Great White Egret which appeared on the 10th was the first for several weeks. A single Common Tern was observed on the 31st. Some of our summer visitors departed but plenty will still linger into September before making their way to warmer climates.

JULY 2023: Another relatively quiet month although migration is starting to gain momentum and there were a couple of notable sightings. Best of all was a party of four Spoonbills that flew high to the west on the 20th. Although they are a more regular bird in the county than they were a few years ago it is always exciting to see them and this was probably the largest flock ever recorded in Nottinghamshire. The following day a juvenile Marsh Harrier flew low over the Sailing lake and carried on its journey south. The flock of noisy Oystercatchers were still around and reached a peak of 18 birds. Other wader species observed were Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper. There were sightings of Red Kites and Ravens on several days. A Hobby was seen on at least two occasions and a Peregrine Falcon also put in an appearance.

JUNE 2023: Always a very quiet month and this June was no exception. Spring migration comes to an end and autumn migration is only just beginning to start so very few birds are moving. The best sighting was three Black Terns that remained for only a few minutes on the 2nd. A Cuckoo was heard calling on several occasions and at least two Red Kites were noted on almost every visit. Two Grey Partridges were on the track one morning. A couple of Common Sandpipers on the 29th were definitely autumn migrants. The breeding Little Egrets on the Trentside Pit raised several young. On the tern raft a pair of Black-headed Gulls fledged two young which were seen swimming across the water and up on to the bank. The pair of Common Terns were feeding a growing youngster towards the end of the month. The pair of Oystercatchers which nested again on the clubhouse roof managed to raise one young from their three eggs.

MAY 2023: After an exciting April, May turned out to be a very quiet month. The Cattle Egret which arrived at the end of April remained until the 3rd. What was presumably the same bird then reappeared on the 18th and stayed until the 21st. Two Wheatears were present on the 1st and another was located on the 5th. Red Kites were very much in evidence throughout the month with two birds seen on numerous occasions. It was very pleasing to hear a Cuckoo calling on several dates. A Whimbrel was noted on the 22nd and single Common Sandpipers were observed on four different dates. The pair of Oystercatchers nesting on the clubhouse roof hatched at least one young which was visible on the 26th. Unfortunately no further young were seen and unlike last year none appeared around the shore of the lake. Three pairs of Common Terns seemed to have taken up residence on the raft but only one bird was still sitting at the end of the month. A dead adult was found near the clubhouse which may well have succumbed to Avian Influenza. It is worth mentioning that Avian Influenza was confirmed in the Black-headed Gull colony on the Railway Pit. Dozens of birds died and the remaining birds abandoned their nests.

APRIL 2023: Always an exciting month with the last of the winter visitors departing and the majority of the summer visitors arriving. The first week was relatively quiet. Several gorgeous Yellow Wagtails were noted feeding on the grassed area around the club house and they peaked at eight on the 6th. The first Willow Warbler arrived the same day. Small flocks of wintering Golden Plovers were recorded flying over with a maximum of 110 on the 3rd. The morning of the 8th was very misty with poor visibility. However, by late morning the sun broke through and the mist lifted to reveal a pair of Black-necked Grebes and a female Common Scoter. The first two Common Terns were back on the 10th and two Dunlin were present the same day. Another Black-necked Grebe was noted on the 17th along with another Common Scoter, this time a drake. The much anticipated passage of Arctic Terns which have spent our winter in Antarctica, not the Arctic as their name may suggest, didn’t really happen to any great extent and numbers were low with just two birds on the 18th and a single the following day. A nice flock of ten Bar-tailed Godwits, a wader, were present on the 19thand were part of a large movement of the species in the Midlands that day. The most unexpected bird of the month was the adult drake Long-tailed Duck on the 22nd. Several bird watchers visited the site throughout the day and were not disappointed to see this sea duck. Remarkably it had first been reported from Holme Pierrepont earlier the same morning. A Sanderling, a small wader, was a surprise on the 24th and the same day also saw the first Lesser Whitethroat of the year. The first Hobby, a small falcon which is a summer visitor to our shores, was seen on the 25th. Two Whimbrel were recorded on the 26th with a single remaining the following day. Another unusual visitor was the Cattle Egret, present for a few days from the 28th. Two Pink-footed Geese were still hanging around at the end of the month. The pair of Egyptian Geese which nested on the tern platform and hatched six young unfortunately lost them all despite the fact that they appeared to be doing well for the first week or so.

FEBRUARY 2023: The Smew which had arrived in December continued to be seen although remained elusive. Two Whooper Swans were with the mixed goose flock on the 9th but had disappeared by the following day. The first Curlew of the year appeared on the 15th and a second individual was noted on the 24th. It was nice to see both a pair of Grey Partridges and a pair of Red-legged Partridges on the 8th. A Ruddy Shelduck was an exotic visitor on the 22nd but was almost certainly an escaped collection bird rather than genuinely wild. A Great White Egret was observed on a number of occasions along with a small number of Little Egrets. Other birds of note which were recorded included Stonechat, Raven, Red Kite, Pink-footed Goose and Redshank. The pair of Oystercatchers which nested successfully on the club house roof last year appear to have returned. One of them is recognizable as it only has one foot. The first few summer visitors are already appearing on the south coast so we look forward to seeing them soon as they make their way up the country.

JANUARY 2023: It proved to be a quiet start to the New Year. The Smew which had arrived in December remained around the complex throughout the month but at times it could be extremely difficult to locate. A wintering Chiffchaff was noted on the 3rd and the first two Shelduck arrived back on the 9th. Jack Snipe, a smaller relative of the more familiar Common Snipe, are always hard to find but one was feeding around the perimeter of the Annexe Pit on the 13th. The two Stonechats remained in the tall vegetation between the barrier and the tree. At least three Bramblings were associating with the mixed flock of Linnets and Chaffinches in the adjacent fields. There were also sightings of Raven, Red Kite and Peregrine Falcon.

DECEMBER 2022: As I mentioned at the end of last month’s report the rarest bird of the year arrived on December 2nd. This was a female Ring-necked Duck, a rare visitor from North America. She appeared on the Annexe Pit associating with a flock of 30 or so Tufted Ducks. This was the first site record for over 20 years and several observers came down and were able to enjoy good views. Unfortunately there was no sign of the bird the following day. A female Smew, another scarce duck, was located on the 14th and seen again on the 24th. A Jack Snipe was seen on the 1st and a Dunlin on the 12th. Up to three Chiffchaffs and a pair of Stonechats remained throughout the month. During the year over 130 different species of birds were recorded around the Sailing Lake and immediate vicinity.

NOVEMBER 2022: After an exciting October it proved to be a rather disappointing November. The Little Egret numbers remained constant during the early part of the month with around 50 birds present. Numbers then began to fall away and by the last week only a handful remained. Two Great White Egrets continued to mingle with them. A Marsh Harrier flew over on the 9th, a Pintail was noted on the 11th and a skein of 50 Pink-footed Geese moved north on the 25th. The pair of Stonechats remained in the weedy vegetation between the barrier and the tree. Also seen during the period were Redshank, Peregrine Falcon, Red Kite, Raven and Goldeneye. The rarest bird of the year turned up on December 2nd but more about that next month.


OCTOBER 2022: It proved to be a very interesting month with some good sightings. A Scandinavian Rock Pipit seen on the 4th was part of a small arrival of birds in the county around the same period. Also on the 4th a group of three Ruff, a wading bird, flew over the Sailing Lake. The final two House Martins of the year were noted on the 7th whilst the last two Swallows lingered on until the 10th. A Barn Owl sitting in a tree to the rear of the Annexe Pit on the 7th was quite a surprise considering it was mid-morning. It didn’t hang around long and flew off towards the village. 


The star bird of the month was a Glossy Ibis, only the second ever recorded on site, which appeared on the 19th and remained until the 22nd. It spent the majority of the time in the company of the Little Egrets around the Annexe Pit either feeding around the shore or hiding in the willows. Formally a very rare bird in the UK it was a species more associated with the Mediterranean but numbers have increased over recent years. A Marsh Harrier flew through on the 21st and the first Goldeneye duck of the autumn appeared on the same day. Several people have commented on the large numbers of Little Egrets which have been in the area and we have recorded a peak count of 75 birds. Numbers such as this would have been unthinkable not so many years ago. Up to three Great White Egrets have been mixed in with them. 


Just to the rear of the Annexe Pit a wildlife friendly farmer has two or three fields consisting of mixed seeds and sunflowers which are beginning to attract various finch species including Brambling and Redpoll. Several other species were observed from time to time over the month and included Dunlin, Common Snipe, Stonechat, Red Kite, Raven, Green Sandpiper, Golden Plover, Whooper Swan, Goosander and Peregrine Falcon.


SEPTEMBER 2022: The highlight of the month occurred on the 16th when a large movement of Pink-footed Geese passed over the site. These geese are not to be confused with the many hundreds of Canada Geese and Grey-lag Geese that often frequent the area. Pink-footed Geese breed in Iceland and fly to the UK for the winter. Fortunately Nottinghamshire is on their flight path as they cross the country to Norfolk. A total of 690 birds were observed in twelve flocks that morning. The Great White Egret has been seen on a number of occasions associating with the Little Egrets, numbers of which built up to over 40 birds. Many of the summer visitors departed during the month and the last Swifts were noted on the 2nd. However, Swallows and House Martins are still around in small numbers along with several warbler species. The 23rd saw four observers trying to see as many different species as they could in a day. An excellent total of 82 was achieved which included the site as a whole not just the Sailing Lake. Some of the more notable birds included Marsh Harrier, a Merlin which was the first on site this year, Whooper Swan, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Peregrine Falcon, Yellow Wagtail and Marsh Tit. 


AUGUST 2022: Bird of the month was undoubtedly the Osprey which was seen flying along the River Trent and over the Sailing Lake on the 23rd. It must have roosted nearby overnight and was present again the following day. It was the third Osprey to be noted on site this year. An Arctic Tern was observed on the 26thwhilst single Curlew and Oystercatcher were seen on the 30th. The Great White Egret returned on the 24thhaving been absent since the spring. It joined up to 20 Little Egrets which have been a regular sight throughout the month. A family party of Grey Partridges (two adults + five young) were in the fields adjacent to the track. This was very pleasing as this species is now much rarer than it was some years ago. Other regularly observed species included Red Kite, Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Common Buzzard, Raven, Wigeon, Teal, Common Sandpiper and Yellow Wagtail.

JULY 2022: Unfortunately some sad news to start with. The tern raft was predated and apart from one youngster all the chicks perished. They were doing really well with five pairs breeding and at least four, probably six young noted. They were getting larger and were probably a week from fledging when disaster struck. Exactly the same thing occurred in 2020. We cannot be certain but in all probability it is Mink which are responsible. The youngster which survived managed to swim to the island at the top of the lake where it was fed by the parents and at the time of writing it can now fly quite strongly.

The best of the sightings were single Black-tailed Godwits (a wading bird) on the 1st and 22nd, an immature Marsh Harrier on the 8th and a pair of Common Scoter (a sea duck) on the 22nd with the female still present the following day. Other birds of interest included Red Kite, Hobby, Common Sandpiper and Redshank.

JUNE 2022: A typically quiet month. The highlight was definitely the adult Spoonbill which was seen on the 17th, only the second to be seen on the complex following an individual last year. Also on the 17th a Curlew was noted flying north-east. Red Kites have been very much in evidence this month with two or three birds observed on most visits. An unseasonal Whooper Swan is still hanging around having been seen on several occasions. It clearly doesn’t fancy the long flight back to its breeding grounds in Iceland. Really pleasing news is that the pair of Oystercatchers which nested on the club house roof has managed to raise their three young to the flying stage. Several members have noted that one of the parents only has one foot. Many thanks to the club for making members aware of ground nesting birds and the need to keep dogs on a lead. It also appears that three, possibly four pairs of Common Terns are nesting on the raft which again is wonderful news.

MAY 2022: A flock of 18 Arctic Terns flew through north-east on the 3rd. This species is always one of the highlights of the spring as they make as they make the epic migration from Antarctica to their breeding grounds in the Northern Hemisphere. The second Osprey of the spring passed through on the 4th and a drake Mandarin Duck was also noted the same day. Two Whimbrel, a wading bird resembling a small Curlew, stayed around the Sailing Lake for several days during the first week of the month. A group of three Dunlin were noted on the 12th. The 13th was an eventful if rather frustrating day. A Harrier, a type of bird of prey, appeared over the ridge on the opposite side of the river and flew steadily south. It was either a Montagu’s Harrier or a Pallid Harrier, both extremely rare birds in the county. Unfortunately the views were insufficient for a positive identification so it remains ‘one that got away’. A particularly pleasing event has seen the resident pair of Oystercatchers nest on the club house roof. They successfully hatched their three eggs and although the young are still small and cannot fly yet they obviously managed to jump off the roof and were feeding around the perimeter of the lake with their parents a few days ago. A pair of Common Terns are still showing an interest in the raft although the other six or seven pairs which arrived in April have moved up to the Railway Pit to breed on the islands there. Other sightings in the month included Shelduck, Common Sandpiper, Hobby and Red Kite.

APRIL 2022
: This is always a month when lots of birds are migrating and there were some quality sightings. A Marsh Harrier flew north-east on the 4th followed by a second individual seen on the 19th. Sandwich Tern is always a notable species to see in the county and a single was observed on the 11th with two briefly on the following day. A group of three Avocets were a nice sight on the 11th. A party of 14 Whooper Swans on their way back to their breeding grounds in Iceland flew over the Sailing Lake on the 12th. A single adult Whooper Swan has been seen throughout the month with the resident Mute Swan flock. It appears to have a damaged wing and whilst it can fly it is probably unable to make the long journey back to Iceland. An Osprey was a wonderful sight as it flew along the River Trent on the 19th. An adult Little Gull in full breeding plumage was seen on the 24th and 26th.

Pick of the bunch of wading birds were the two Whimbrel noted on the 29th. There were also records of Green Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin and Common Sandpiper. An exotic pair of Mandarin Ducks was seen on a number of occasions and a drake Pintail flew over on the 12th. A White Wagtail was observed on the 1st, a Wheatear on the 26th was followed by two on the 29th. A smart Whinchat was a good find on the 29th. The majority of summer visitors arrived this month and there were first records of House Martin, Swift, Yellow Wagtail and Common Tern along with various species of warblers.

MARCH 2022: Probably the best sighting of the month was the three Little gulls seen on the 23rd. They were part of a small inland movement with birds noted at several sites in the Midlands. The three Russian White-fronted Geese which first appeared on January 28th were last seen on the 9th. Two Curlew flew through on the 17th. A single Pink-footed Goose was observed on several dates throughout the month as was the exotic looking Ruddy Shelduck. March sees the arrival of the first summer visitors and it was nice to hear the first singing Chiffchaff on the 9th. The first Sand Martins appeared on the 17th, Little Ringed Plover on the 29th along with an early Swallow also on the 29th. Martins and Swallows feed on aerial insects so they would have found the bitterly cold weather of the last few days of the month a real challenge and no doubt some birds would have succumbed. There were also sightings of Shelduck, Little Egret, Raven, Red Kite and Red-legged Partridge.

JANUARY 2022: The highlight of the month was the appearance of three Russian White-fronted Geese on the 28th. They consisted of two adults and a juvenile, so probably a family party. These geese breed on the tundra areas of northern Russia so have made quite a lengthy journey to reach Hoveringham. They are still present, mixing with the large Canada Goose/Greylag Goose flock. A Great White Egret was seen on a couple of occasions as was a Water Rail. Two Stonechats continued to be reported on several dates and a Green Sandpiper was noted on the 6th. Up to three Bramblings could still be found in the mixed finch flock. The first noisy Oystercatcher of the year arrived on the 28th. Numbers of farmland birds have decreased drastically over the last couple of decades and one such species is the Yellowhammer. It was therefore pleasing to locate a flock of 20+ birds in fields to the rear of the Annexe Pit. Other species of note which were recorded during the month included Redshank, Common Snipe, Grey Wagtail and Peregrine Falcon. 

John (to right) keeping an eye out for rare birds
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