Sunday 20 October 2013

A HOOPOE in Nottinghamshire

HOOPOE - Annesley Pit Top, Nottinghamshire
Photo by Dave Hutton

After the rigours of the previous day on the English south coast I did not really fancy venturing too far today, especially as I had developed an agonising pain in the neck. Luckily I had some top notch drugs left over from my recent operation, so after popping a few pills during the early hours of the morning I was back in birding business.

The original plan was to visit the patch and count wildfowl or something similarly yawn inducing however whilst lying in bed I was stimulated by something a touch more exotic. News of a Hoopoe  came through from Annesley Pit Top just up the road in Nottinghamshire. After receiving a bit of local gen from Stevie Dunn and hearing that the bird was showing very well at times, Dave Hutton and I decided to pay the bird a fleeting visit.

Typically as we entered the car park in Newstead Village a quick phone call for directions resulted in disappointment. The Hoopoe had just flown off high over a line of conifers and had disappeared. Undeterred though we squelched away up through the mud hoping that we could relocate it somewhere around the former mining site. As we approached the first lagoons we met the familiar faces of Stevie Dunn and Rich Challands. Unfortunately there was no still no sign of the bird but there were a few folks still searching the area. Then whilst chatting to the lads my attention was drawn to a pair of Carrion Crows calling as they flew along a distant hill top. Noisy corvids are always worth checking out and whilst investigating the commotion I was delighted to see the distinctive silhouette of a Hoopoe in flight as it tried to shake off the attention of the curious crows.

As we all made our way towards the top of the hill the bird then did us all a favour and flapped its way back down towards the lagoon where it was originally found earlier in the day. After a careful search of the rough grassland we then enjoyed superb views as it probed its way along a muddy embankment.

HOOPOE - Annesley Pit Top, Nottinghamshire
Photo by Dave Hutton

After around ten minutes the bird then flew up towards the higher pools and with Dave not particularly satisfied with his initial set of photos we decided to hunt it down again. Soon enough, the scarce migrant from across continent was found once more as it fed along a track before being flushed by a couple of horse riders. At this stage the bird made its way to the relatively undisturbed edge of a lower pool where we enjoyed prolonged scope views as it mooched around searching for grubs.

Stevie Dunn (left) & Rich Challands (right)....
... which birder do you think blends in better with his surroundings?

Other birds around this excellent site included a trio of winter plumaged Black-necked Grebes, 5 Little Grebes, 51 Common Pochard and a couple of Green Woodpecker. At one stage I also heard a Rock Pipit but failed to see it unfortunately. There were also reasonable numbers of Skylark, Meadow Pipit and a scattering of Linnet and Lesser Redpoll.

This Hoopoe sighting became only my fifth ever of this species in Britain. Remarkably I am still yet to see one outside the Midlands.

HOOPOE - Annesley Pit Top, Nottinghamshire
Photo by Dave Hutton

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