23 birders set off to return for our second trip to this reserve, taking about 2 hours to get there. The Reserve, south of Nottingham and just off the M1, was opened in 1966 by Sir David Attenborough and comprises of circa 140 acres of reclaimed gravel pits with several lagoons with small islands, reed-beds, surrounding scrub, a small wood and riverside paths. The weather was cold throughout the day, dry and bright to start, a little damp in the middle but dry again later.

The reserve paths were very busy with cyclists, joggers, walkers and dog-walkers but they did not affect the birding facilities.

On arrival we checked the lagoons around the Visitor Centre where there was a large variety of wildfowl, together with one noteworthy bird – this was recorded by several people as a female Red-crested Pochard, but the plumage was not altogether “correct”. Was it a hybrid or some other more obscure species? Brian later identified it as a White-cheeked (or Bahama) Pintail.

In the first hide, a group of us had a Green Woodpecker fly by right in front of us, while in the lagoon, there was a large number of Cormorants and gulls. Ducks included Ruddy (which has undoubtedly reduced in numbers following its culling), Wigeon, Tufted, Gadwall, Teal, Goldeneye and a few Pochard – Shoveler was a noted common duck of the reserve. In the background there were a couple of male Goosander with 3 females. A couple of Water Rail were also heard squealing.

The wildfowl was repeated in the various lagoons, while in the surrounding trees and shrubs, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were noted. A pair of Goldcrests was good to see. Winter thrushes were not common but both Fieldfare and Redwing were seen plus a sizeable Mistle Thrush flock. There were also a few flocks of Long-tailed Tits working their way through the trees

The Reserve has a reputation for receiving winter Bitterns and 1 was said to be there at this time. We went to the Delta Hide said to be the place to see Bittern but despite a group of us waiting for a couple of hours, there was no Bittern. Most of us moved on to other parts of the Reserve, leaving a couple to continue the watch. It is said that “everything comes to those who wait”, and sure enough the couple who stayed were rewarded with the Bittern giving excellent views for around one and a half hours!!

So, another successful visit to Attenborough and overall the group saw 62 species, naturally the highlight being the appearance of the Bittern.

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