Todwick Environment: Wild Birds
Brian Chambers, a member of SK58 Birders, writes articles about wild birds in Todwick.
SK58 Birders is a local birding group that meets monthly in the upper rooms at The Loyal Trooper, South Anston.
We have over 60 members; club nights always include a slide-illustrated talk and a report on local bird sightings. New members are always most welcome.
For further information please contact Brian Chambers, 01909 770816 or visit: www.sk58birders.com
SK58 Birders – March 2017
At the 29 March 2017 Indoor Meeting of SK58 Birders Mike Vickers will give a presentation on “Madagascar”. Next month the talk will be by Gary Hobson, his topic is “Birding Scilly”. New members will be very welcome, especially ones from Todwick.
Locally Red Kites have been spotted fairly frequently within a 2-mile radius of the village. Most people are probably familiar with this large Rapture and its striking red, forked tail. There have been many release programmes throughout the country, now birds are looking for new territories in which to become established. Todwick area is definitely suitable with many surrounding open fields likely to hold some carrion, the bird’s preferred food but they will also manage on smaller stuff such as beetles, earthworms and any discarded offal.
This week 4 Buzzard were circling above our garden, a record number. Their loud piercing mewing calls are difficult to miss, coming from overhead the birds usually stand out although they may be quite high in the sky as thermals carry them ever higher.
Chiffchaff warblers are now back from Africa, their calls, repeating their name, will soon be everywhere. They are amongst the first returning migrants, soon to be joined by Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Sand Martins. Sand Martin nest on the quarry face at the Fox Covert pond.
Great Crested Grebe are also highly visible as they perform their mating dance. Usually there are 3-4 pairs on Langold Lake and a pair also at the Fox Covert fishing pond.
Whilst the leaves are still absent from the trees it is a good time to view some woodland species. It is always welcome to see a Great-spotted Woodpecker, they will be drumming and calling now attempting to attract a mate.
Also, two tree-trunk feeding birds are a little more visible now, Nuthatch which often works its way headfirst down the tree and Treecreeper which climbs up the trunk, both in search of insect food.
There is plenty of bird song around now, the repetitive call of the Song Thrush, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Robin and Wren are some of the common songsters.
SK58 Birders – February 2017
Our next meeting is on Wednesday, 22 February 2017 at 7.30 pm at the Loyal Trooper, South Anston. The talk is by a regular visitor to SK58 – Bob Croxton, the subject is “Raptors through the Straits of Gibraltar”. 29 March 2017 meeting also welcomes back a regular, Mike Vickers, he will talk about “Madagascar”. As always non-members are very welcome to attend.
Locally, Waxwings have been scarce despite a good influx of birds into the country from Northern Europe. Sightings have been reported from Brandsmere Drive, Woodsetts, this is a site where in previous years the birds feed on an abundance of Guelder Rose berries. A small flock has also been seen, albeit briefly, in gardens near Netherthorpe Aerodrome.
If you love to see Barn Owls hunting then Dinnington Woodlands is the place to visit. Access the site by the entrance road to Bluebell Hospice off Cramfitt Road, park just here, scan over the grassland towards the bird hide at dusk and with luck the Owl should appear. The whole site stretching as far as Todwick Road to the west and Dinnington to the North is great hunting habitat for the Owls.
Tommy Flockton’s Marsh – off the Harthill Road, has supported good numbers of Wigeon and Teal this month, as many as 16 birds of each species. The water level on the site is good with Mallard, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Coot and Moorhen also present. There is a good extent of shallow water margin which could attract some wader birds, Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Dunlin, Oystercatcher are all possibilities.
The frosty weather has attracted lots of birds into our garden, sunflower heart feeders, mixed seed and fat balls being a welcome easy meal. Numbers have been as good this year as any in the past with c.50 Chaffinch, 15 Greenfinch, 6 Goldfinch, 20 Yellowhammer, 20 House Sparrow, 20 Blackbirds as well as Robins, Wrens, Tits and Dunnocks, plus rather less welcome Woodpigeon and up to 9 Magpie. So far no Brambling, which is an orange breasted relative of the Chaffinch – from Northern Europe.
Continue to 2016 reports.