Sunday 17 February 2013

Birdwatching at Cotham Flash

With the weather smiling fair this morning, and Langford Lowfields probably still out of order while they sort the path out, I decided to have a ride out to Birdwatch somewhere different. I had read about Cotham Flash on a site about Notts Birding, so reckoned that might be the place to try and see something different.

I took a trip the long way round, happy to see cycling families out on the Sustrans 64, and joggers, and proper cyclists, and proper dogs too. For it was too nice a day to stay inside, although as ever, when you get to the rubbish tip where apparently the exotic Glaucous and Caspian Gulls are around - not that I'd have a clue - the smell is rather unpleasant. Waxwings have been reported near here too, but as usual for me, they may as well have been in Norway.

After giving a tatooed mountain biker directions to Bingham, I turned onto the road through Cotham and headed back towards town, getting a fantastic view of a beautifully turned out Pheasant by the road, just as a Yellowhammer flew across in front of me.

Cotham Flash itself is a pretty unprepossessing spot on the opposite side of the road from the fishing lake, a small wetland area on the old entrace to the tip. As I cycled muddily around the perimeter, I could see a few coots nodding about on the water emitting their clarinet alarm calls at this unexpected human. The main body of water seemed to be populated with Greylag Geese, and the usual Mallard and Tufted Ducks. As I approached nearer, I flushed some partridge in the direction of a hovering Kestrel in the bleak field in the direction of British Gypsum.

Feeling slightly disappointed, I unpacked my 10x50s and had a scan around the pond. Spirits were lifted by the presence of mallard looking ducks with green heads, but with a rusty brown band on the body - a couple of Shelduck! Never see those on the town lakes.

But as I came still nearer, there was this tremendous flappy commotion from the scrubby thorny undergrowth and from the water's edge, and suddenly the best part of about 50 ducks took to the air, along with a tremendous whistling. At first, I saw a lot of black and white flashes, but getting a view of these exciteable small ducks flying around in formation in my binoculars, I could see white bellies, a very pronouced white V along the wings, and a distinct red head with a flash of yellow on it.

I watched for 15 minutes, every time one flock landed and settled, it seemed another would take off for a few circuits.

Youtube confirms it. As I thought, they are Wigeon, a new species again for me...the habitat, patterns in flight and the whistling seem like giveaways to me.

Not an exciting spot by any rational birding standards, but it made my little trip to this bleak spot worthwhile, and added to the following wind I had cycling home!

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