Fallow Deer and Owls

Sunday saw the first North Nottinghamshire Wildlife Safari of 2013 with Kim and Rachel. We met at Ye Olde Bell Hotel, Barnby Moor and before we'd even said our hellos a mistle thrush flew over calling noisily. We headed straight off to the nearby Daneshill Lakes where the sunlight glinted off the water as we scanned our binoculars across the lake - mallard, shoveler, coot, goosander, Canada goose and mute swan were soon spotted, along with a few odd looking cross-breed ducks. We also listened to a few bird songs and calls as the birds were clearly enjoying the sunshine and we managed to distinguish robin, wren and long-tailed tit fairly quickly.

Next stop was Idle Valley Nature Reserve and no sooner had we got out the car when a skeen of over 100 pink-footed geese flew over us. Idle Valley is always a great place to watch lapwings and we added a few more species such as grey heron, teal and cormorant to our list as we walked round the lake. On the way back to the car we saw a treecreeper flitting around at the bottom of a tree and stopped to watch it for a while.

Whilst driving to the next stop of the day we saw a buzzard sat in a tree right next to the road. As it was safe to stop we slowly reversed the car back to it and got some great views. Another buzzard then swooped over us to join it. Excellent.

Parking up at Welbeck lakes gave us a good chance to look at some woodland birds on the makeshift feeders in the layby. There were many coal tit, blue tit, great tit and chaffinch as well as nuthatch and a great spotted woodpecker which was calling from the tree above us but just wouldn't come down to the feeders.



Lunch next and we took advantage of the cold but dry weather and sat on the picnic benches at Ollerton Visitor Centre to eat our vegan picnic including carrot and red lentil soup with homemade wholemeal herby bread. After lunch we headed off to Sherwood Pines to try and spot some deer (a wishlist species for the day). As we drove down the aptly named Deerdale Lane I had to brake suddenly as several deer literally ran out in front of the car. In total nine female fallow deer came across the road in front and behind the car, no more than 5m away. Walking round the woods we saw another small group but no where near as close as the ones we saw first.

View over the Chainbridge Lakes


The afternoon light was starting to fade now so we headed up to Chainbridge Lane, first to look at the waterfowl on the lakes (wigeon calling, over twenty shoveler and large numbers of the more common species) and then to see if the over-wintering short-eared owls were still present. A small group of people were already at the viewing point and one of the Notts Wildlife Trust volunteers told us that five owls had been seen and as a bonus a barn owl was hunting in the area too. There was also the slightly surreal sight of more than 40 mute swan grazing in the fields.

Mute swans grazing


We saw one short-eared owl through the telescope, sat on a fence post in the distance, but it was very hard to distinguish. Then someone spotted the barn owl and we all trained our binoculars on it. First it was small and hard to make out, but slowly it moved towards us. Over the next ten minutes we were treated to fantastic views of the owl hunting over the grassland, quartering the ground and occasionally dropping silently into undergrowth to try and catch it's prey. Then a short-eared owl came into view and almost tried to upstage the barn owl by coming ever closer and giving us even better views. The light was now almost gone so we decided to call it a day, over all we managed 47 bird species, got great views of fallow deer and generally had a great day with the owl display being a perfect way to finish off.

One thought on “Fallow Deer and Owls”

  • Rach

    We had a fantastic day - thanks Andrew! It was all so carefully arranged, from early birds on the lake to dusk owls at the end, with all sorts in between including the beautiful deer and those awesome chance buzzards :-) Andrew catered for our every need and interest, providing a yummy vegan lunch and loads of extra info on medicinal herbs, trees and the secret local wilderness. We really recommend Verdant Wildlife - thanks again for an amazing birthday tour!

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