The arrival of a rare wetland bird in December, not seen at Attenborough Nature Reserve since 2005, has helped to set a new record for the number of bird species seen at this much loved site in one calendar year.
A couple of birdwatchers spotted the small bird, a Slavonian grebe, on Coneries Pond, just metres from the café balcony on a Tuesday afternoon in December. Initially identified as a similar looking black-necked grebe, it was later confirmed to be a Slavonian grebe by manager of the Nature Centre, Tim Sexton.
Slavonian grebes are one of the UK’s rarest nesting birds, which nest on just a handful of lochs in the North of Scotland. Outside of the summer breeding season they can be found out to sea and within coastal estuaries, however they are scarce winter visitors to Nottinghamshire, with just a couple of individuals recorded in the county each year.
This arrival has caused quite a stir as there hasn’t been a record at Attenborough in 14 years. The arrival of this grebe has brought the grand total of bird species recorded in 2019 to 168, one more species than the previous record of 167, set in 2016.
The Slavonian grebe joins the record count of resident birds, migrants and rarities spotted at Attenborough this year, including three cattle egrets, purple sandpiper (not seen at the reserve since 1976) and a first for the reserve, a Caspian gull.
Attenborough Nature Reserve is a nationally important site for wildlife and provides a lifeline both to people and wildlife, clearly demonstrated by the sheer number of species that visit every year.
In November 2019 Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust launched their Attenborough Nature Reserve Lifeline Appeal to buy and secure the future of the site which has been managed by the charity for over 60 years and have so far raised over £900,000 toward the £1 million target.
Photograph by Sean Browne