No more RSPB Weekends

We are sorry to report that the annual RSPB weekend events will no longer be continued. This year’s event, whilst enjoyable, continued the decline in attendance, so the event is no longer economically viable.

The Members’ Day and AGM  will continue with the next one being in London in October.

Developments at Hatfield Moor

We are pleased to report that the development of a research and training facility at Hatfield Moor is progressing well. We are also sad to report that they are now charging you to leave your car in the main car park. Hope this trend does not catch on.

Annual Nightjar Evening

The nightjar evening last Monday at Hatfield Moor broke several records for the group. There was a record number of group members attending this annual group event. We had a record number of individual sightings. Usually, 2 sightings is a miracle but we managed over a dozen on this occasion. We also had 2 sightings of a woodcock, not to mention a bat as well. We all went home extremely pleased.

Speed bumps at Titchwell Marsh

A group member, because of a medical condition, found that the new speed bumps at Titchwell Marsh caused considerable pain when driven over, even when this was done slowly. We have been advised that if going over the speed bumps are likely to cause visitors problems, then they have a space reserved on the site for taking deliveries, parking reserve vehicles etc dedicated for use by persons that have special parking needs.  This needs to be booked in advance by phoning the reserve on 01485 210779.

Group visit to Lound

Yesterday (15th May) several group members went to Lound and enjoyed a day of bird watching in the sun for a change. We heard a cuckoo but unfortunately didn’t see it and we also failed to find a turtle dove. We did manage to see multiple sightings of hobbies and for the second group outing in a row, we saw the rarely seen and elusive grasshopper warbler. The images include photos of a hobby being chased by a rook.

Coach Trip to Saltholme

Following a break of several years and requests from members to try a coach trip again, a full coach of 32 members went to RSPB Saltholme, just north of Middlesbrough on the 29th April. The weather was not too good and if you were in a hide facing the wind it could be very cold. However, members persevered and just under 50 different species were seen on the day.

The facilities on the site were very impressive. There was a large visitors centre, which included a cafe with excellent facilities. One of the newer hides was very well designed with different forms of seating arrangements in it.

Amongst the birds seen by some or all of the members were avocets, little-ringed plover, sand martins, swifts, black swan, curlew, oystercatcher, wheatear, skylark, black-tailed godwit, and kestrel. The star bird was a rare sighting of a grasshopper warbler. The most unusual bird was an American visitor, the ring-necked duck. Another coach trip is now being planned and will be discussed at the AGM meeting on the 9th May.

Hyde Park Cemetery Bird Survey Group has been approached by Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery (FoHPC) to conduct a number of bird surveys to assess the impact of conservation work they are having done in the grounds of the cemetery.

For those of you that have not visited the cemetery, it was one of the first of its type to be set up away from a church, to accommodate the needs of a growing population back in the 19th century. It has a number of notable graves including a mayor, an actress, 2 chief constables, a train driver killed in a tragic accident and a prominent Railway Steam Engine Designer. It also has a number of important war graves.

Following on from an initial site visit to assess the requirements for the survey and establish the environment we were dealing with, a small number of our group members conducted a first full survey on March 24th. There is already evidence of conservation work that has already been carried out by FoHPC volunteers such as protecting existing trees, wildflower planting, setting up nest boxes and bug hotels. This will be a long-term project and regular bird surveys will hopefully see an increase in birds and wildlife on the site.

Potteric Carr and the selfish photographers

Yesterday 13 members of the group visited Potteric Carr. We had high expectations because 4 bitterns had been seen the day before. Sadly, our hopes were dashed. Not because the bitterns were not about (5 were reported that day) but because we couldn’t, like many visitors, get in the hide for selfish photographers. We tried twice and on the second time, we were told not to bother because they were all sat in there eating their sandwiches. We know for a fact that one photographer was in there over 4 hours and there was nothing more annoying than hearing him tell his tales in the café and showing his bittern photographs off. This is not just a problem for Potteric Carr but our very own RSPB Old Moor site, and others, also suffer from the problem when an interesting bird is about. Nature sites need to find a way around this problem. Anyway, we managed to cover about 95% of the site and still enjoyed seeing the more common birds. Amongst the birds seen were coal tit, lesser and great black-backed gulls, bullfinch, long-tailed tit and pochard. The highlight bird was the black-necked grebe although only a few members saw it.

Group Donation To The Regional Hen Harrier Nest Protection Project

Hen harriers are one of the most threatened species in the country due to human persecution. These birds have been shot, trapped and hunted down. Last year only seven young from three nests were successfully raised.

With two young satellite-tagged birds found shot in Cumbria and Northumberland in the last 9 months, this regional project wants to continue with protecting nests, satellite tagging young birds and ensuring that the Moorland Association and Defra aren’t given an easy ride on their plans for a brood management trial. The money raised will be used to fund nest cameras, payment for overnight protection staff and accommodation at youth hostels.

At the indoor meeting on March 14th, members of the group voted on which one of several projects they wished to make a group donation of £350. By a considerable margin, they voted to support the hen harrier project.