On the Wing with Gary Atkins

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It’s hard to believe 20 years have passed since HM the Queen visited Derbyshire to open Carsington Water – and amazing to consider that the reservoir and its surrounding woods and fields has since become such a wildlife haven under careful and sensitive management by Severn Trent Water.

Best of all, one of the county’s prime leisure sites is right on our doorstep, for people of all ages to enjoy – whether sailing, walking, cycling, nature watching or simply a good day out with the family is your bag – and a fun day is planned this Saturday to celebrate the anniversary.

I must admit I’ve never sailed on or cycled around the reservoir, but have walked its eight-mile circumference on dozens of occasions, and it’s the wildlife that is the constant pull for me. It is for a lot of people – and when something rare turns up you can hardly move for mufti-clothed enthusiasts armed with binoculars and telescopes.

The birdlife is always rewarding – and sometimes astounding – for such a relatively small corner of the county. Two hundred and twenty two species have been recorded at the site including some out-and-out rarities, and the body of water is nationally important for some species.

And Carsington Bird Club has been there throughout the two decades, maintaining a historical record of birdlife spotted on and around the reservoir. For a group that prides itself on facts and statistics, there are occasions when it tries its hand at crystal-ball gazing.

An article featured in its tenth anniversary annual report, unearthed during some recent research, dared to predict what new birds might be about to appear. The writer got two of them right as the developing reed beds have indeed attracted Reed Warblers over the past couple of years and the site’s first ever Bearded Tit was recorded in 2011. He also mentioned the possibility of nesting Ospreys (nesting towers were built last year, and plenty of Ospreys have visited the site this year).

Ten years on, and hoping such ‘mystic Meg’ qualities may have rubbed off, the club’s chairman got to wondering what the 223rd Carsington species might be: an exotic Squacco Heron, Glossy Ibis, White Stork or Common Crane, perhaps. Silly? Well, no – not so outlandish since two Cranes were actually seen flying over Hasland earlier this month!

Take a look at this http://www.stwater.co.uk/conWebDoc/3062 – posted on Severn Trent’s website – for information on Saturday’s Family Fun Day, when the bird club will be one of the 30-plus organisations with displays and take great pleasure in leading groups on short ‘birding’ walks.