Friday, 28 August 2009

Ruff & Whinchat

A brisk southwesterly propelled me to the Nene Washes central drove in little more than an hour this morning. The Cranes still eluded me and, with Wood Sandpiper and Whinchat being reported from here yesterday, the were three potential ticks.

The waders were all on field 20 near the end of the drove but the water here is distant and there is a lot of vegetation so it is virtually impossible to see the birds. With a bit of patience I eventually managed to see at least 3 Greenshank and r4 Ruff, along with more numerous Lapwing, but no Wood Sand.

I set off back down the drove more hopeful of Whinchat with the sun now behind me. But the wind was now into my face, I was cold and becoming increasingly despondent. At this point I'd forgotten that Ruff was actually a year tick and thought this was yet another long ride without a result. Even seeing a Cuckoo half way back didn't cheer me too much.

Then I met fellow biking birder Steve Gann. We had a short chat and by now time was getting on and I needed to get going for work. Then he casually mentioned there was a Whinchat behind me on the fence. We went back a bit to get the light behind us and there were 4 of them! If I hadn't bumped into Steve I'd have ridden right past them. They were just getting up from wherever they had been hiding. Thanks Steve!

141 Ruff
142 Whinchat

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


Two ticks in a day! Well it does follow a rather lean time.

I was cycling home and decided to take a quick look where the Spotted Flycatcher had been on Heron Meadow this morning and there was a spanking male Redstart shaking off the rain from the heavy shower that had just abated. It didn't show for long but Don and Mike got onto it again a bit later on.

This is only the second Redstart I've found in the area.

140 Redstart

Tree Pipit

At last a new addition to the list. It has been very slow going recently despite getting back to cycling to work regularly for the past week or more. Several false alarms have been very frustrating: a flushed crake at the end of a long pre-work cycle to the end of the Central Drove of the Nene Washes that was probably Corncrake but couldn't be sure; then Don's latest Redstart, found on Sunday, failed to show yesterday.

However the numbers of small migrants gathering at Ferry Meadows has been very encouraging and had me down there early again this morning. There was no sign of yesterday's Black Terns but the poplar clump at the south end of Coney Meadow was once again bristling with passerines. A Lesser Whitethroat revealed itself among the mass of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, then just as a friendly lady stopped to chat I heard an unfamiliar explosive buzzing call from overhead. It called several more times and I thought I heard another close by. I watched the bird fly off south over the campsite but it took a while for the penny to drop: Tree Pipit of course. Not a call I hear very often at all.

After waiting a while with Matt Webb to see if the bird(s) reappeared I continued around the park picking up a flock of Swifts and a Spotted Flycatcher on the edge of Heron Meadow before continuing into work.

139 Tree Pipit