Tag Archives: Trent

A Big Birding Year: Part XXVII (End of year flurry)

A year ago I visited Attenborough Nature Reserve in Nottingham. This morning, whilst staying with the in-laws, I returned to watch the dawn in the snow:

Nottingham dawn

For the British, snow is a novelty (last winter it did not snow once in London) and occasionally an inconvenience. For some of our wildlife, persistent freezing weather can be disastrous – it is estimated that some very cold years will see 30-40% of the individual birds in some species wiped out.

Some of the birds at the Attenborough reserve did not look fussed, like these Mute Swans on the River Trent:

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

However, not all the birds appeared quite so relaxed. This Moorhen approached the cracked ice with some trepidation:

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

… and I detected a greater sense of urgency in the feeding behaviours of some birds such as this female Reed Bunting:

Common Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Common Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Moving equally quickly through bushes in search for food was my 101st species of bird photographed in 2014, a bird that would be common to many in the UK, but one I have not seen at all for almost two years and so I was delighted to be reacquainted with:

Eurasian bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

Eurasian bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

A frozen Nottingham had further Christmas gifts for my Big Birding Year of photography, my second Goldeneye captured in pixels this year (albeit very far away – excuse extreme blur):

Male Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Male Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Female Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Female Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Distant ducks would also add to my year list (102):

Goosander [or Common Merganser] (Mergus merganser)

Goosander [or Common Merganser] (Mergus merganser)

And then finally, what is likely to be my last new bird of the year, an absolute gem. Although she remained very far my camera, my 103 species of the year was wonderful and quite rare for the UK. This female Smew will be one of only 100-200 individuals that will have visited the UK this year – I was privileged to end of my year in style:

Smew (Mergellus albellus)

Smew (Mergellus albellus)

Just to remind readers that some ducks do come slightly closer in range, I also took a shots of a Mallard drake:

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

I walked around the frozen landscape reflecting on what has been a wonderful and fun search for British birds and yielded 103 photographs of unique and different species.

I also reminded myself of “the ones that got away”. Birds I saw but which I didn’t get photos of:
Jack Snipe

Happy New Year to you all!


Christmas walks in Nottingham

Christmas Day: The Little Prince

I received a gift on Christmas day during a stroll in Woodthorpe Grange Park; I saw one of my favourite birds. The Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) is truly a little prince (regulus means prince in Latin). The smallest bird in Europe, but with a certain majesty topped off with a crown of gold:


Boxing Day: An Elizabethan Park

A late afternoon stroll in the grounds of 16th Century Wollaton Park in the heart of Nottingham…

Wollaton Hall

Wollaton Park

28 December: Lord Byron’s home

Newstead Abbey was an Augustinian priory operating from the reign of Henry II until it was dissolved (along with so many others) by Henry VII and became a residential home of the Byron family…

Newstead Abbey

The 6th Baron, who we know as one of Nottingham’s most famous sons, the poet Lord Byron, could not afford the upkeep of the estate. He described the romantic ruin of his family home…

“Thro’ thy battlements, Newstead, the hollow winds whistle;
Thou, the hall of my fathers, art gone to decay”

The Abbey was eventually sold and is now a museum to its most famous occupant. The grounds include walled gardens…

Newstead garden

… and wilder parkland…

Newstead lake


29 December: toll path into the wild

Nottingham Canal

The Nottingham Canal courses out of the town and meets the River Trent:


Looking South across the Trent, smoke and steam can be seen billowing from the Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal power station…




In the name of Sir David

The Trent leads to a complex of lakes now part of the Attenborough Nature Reserve:


In turn this wetland is home to a range of wildlife. From common ducks such as:

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)


… and Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula):

Tufted Duck

… to the less frequently seen, such as these distant shots of female and male (left to right) Goosander, or Common Merganser, (Mergus Merganser):


I also had fun exchanging whistles with a very bold (but tiny) Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes):


… and trying, and failing, to get a good photo of an elusive Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis). This was the best I got:


But the treat for me, was to see Tree Sparrows – rarer cousins of House Sparrows – (Passer montanus) at feeders at the reserve, as they have been almost wiped out from southern parts of England:

Tree Sparrow

As we eat, drink, make merry, and nurse winter colds, it is pleasant to get out in the fresh air, walk, and appreciate some of the beautiful sights that places – such as Nottingham – have to offer.

Happy New year everyone!