Monday, 15 November 2010

Stonechat and Goosander

I went birding with Gary Prescott this morning and although we saw little of note on the Nene Washes I did get a couple of ticks after we went our separate ways. I'd been surprised not to see any Stonechats on the Central Drove but as I was heading up to the Dog in a Doublet Gary called me to say he had some Stonechats at the other end of the Town Fifty. I was able to scope these although in the end I saw another two further back along the river along North Bank.

A real bonus however was the Goosander just off the bridge. These are rather scarce on the Nene and this the only species I'd seen only by car this year so it was particularly good to get that one.

162 Stonechat
163 Goosander

The Biking Birder

Well it was excellent to be able to meet up with Gary yesterday and offer him somewhere to stay. Gary's epic journey around the UK visiting every RSPB and WWT reserve, not to mention a fair few ECO Schools, continues through Cambridgeshire and I was able to join him for the ride to the Nene Washes this morning.

There were not that many birds on show and nothing to add to Gary's 242 species total (chasing the record of 251) but it was a fabulous morning; icy cold and still with a cracking sunrise.

Keep going Gary and good luck:

Friday, 12 November 2010

Short-eared Owl

Waxwing in the morning, Short-eared Owl in the afternoon. Crikey!

I'd been talking to Charlie Kitchin (Nene Washes RSPB warden) recently about the lack of Short-eared Owls on the Nene Washes so far this winter and was starting to contemplate a long ride out to the Deeping High Bank, where they are more reliable. That will no longer be necessary thanks to an astonishing stroke of luck this afternoon.

Sitting at my desk I picked up a distant group of four high-flying birds heading towards me high in the one small patch of sky I can see from here. When I put my bins on them I was astonished to see one was an owl. I scrabbled to get a scope but by that time it was getting closer and too high so I stayed on it with bins and watched as it passed directly over the office heading WNW shadowed by three Carrion Crows. It stayed fairly high but was clearly a Short-eared Owl, the pale belly and solid black primary tips being obvious with bins.

161 Short-eared Owl


An excellent office tick and hopefully the first of many more to come in this invasion year.

160 Waxwing

Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus

Digiscoped with Canon Powershot A640 and Leica APO77 x20

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


Four of them!

I took a bike ride out to Bradley Fen this lunchtime but long before I got there I noticed four juvenile Gannets were circling low over me as I biked across the Frank Perkins viaduct. They headed off over Fletton and I rang Mike Weedon over at Lynchwood to get him to put the news out.

Ten minutes later I had a call from him to say they had just flown past his office heading west over the East of England Showground. At that moment I had a Crane flying over me. This drifted off over Stanground where it gained height and headed off west. Sure enough ten minutes later Mike had this go over the office too! Unknown to us at the time Matt Webb had seen the same bird from Ferry Meadows.

I'd seen one Gannet earlier this autumn from the car but this was the first 'green' sighting. This was taking the same route and was seen by Steve Dudley flying over the town bridge five minutes before I saw it crossing Nene Parkway and heading over Orton Mere.

159 Gannet

Friday, 8 October 2010

Rock Pipit

Two ticks in a day! Matt Webb found two Rockits on the rocky shore of Gunwade Lake at Ferry Meadows. One showed very well as I cycled past on the way home but I'm sure two more flew off. So perhaps there were three!?

158 Rock Pipit

Lapland Bunting

A long-awaited PBC tick and another top bird for the North Bank. For the full account see here.

157 Lapland Bunting

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Cattle Egret

Well it took a couple of goes but the long-staying, and often elusive, Cattle Egret is in the bag. Tried the long ride out yesterday morning but there was no sign and it got rather foggy. With the north bank road closed to through traffic it makes a lunchtime trip feasible so I headed out there today and saw it at close quarters a few minutes before it headed off in to the distance.

With Crane there and Black Terns at Ferry Meadows this morning I think it counts as a good birding day.

156 Cattle Egret

Thursday, 16 September 2010


A timely message from Chris Park at lunchtime had me tearing back to Ferry Meadows to see only my second ever Kittiwake in the PBC area.

155 Kittiwake


A glance out of the office window this morning revealed two gulls passing by. Except that one was a Herring Gull mobbing the other, which was an Osprey. A lucky break indeed and the 7th species of raptor from my office window.

154 Osprey

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


It's been a long time since the last addition to the list but Don Gardener found this bird yesterday on Overton Lake at Ferry Meadows. It was still there this morning when I biked into work.

With Gannet and Pied Flycatcher being seen by others I hope this isn't the last addition to the list this year!

153 Shag

Thursday, 27 May 2010


Another one of Weedon's wonderful waders successfully twitched and proof that Maxey can be done in a lunchtime. One hour there and back today using a combination of a more direct route and some hard pedalling.

152 Turnstone

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Wood Sandpiper

A rarity indeed! Not so much the bird as successfully twitching a Weedon Wader. It was a hard ride to get to Maxey and still make it into work and in the end I was a little late due to a 20 minute wait at Woodcroft level crossing.

151 Wood Sandpiper

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Grey Plover 150

I had a feeling Beeby's BP might attract a good wader this year and the repeated checking finally paid off this morning.

150 Grey Plover

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


I'm going to have a bit of a moan. This isn't just because I had my front tyre go down three times this morning, although that hasn't helped my mood. First a thorn caused a puncture, which was easily fixed. Then the rubber split at the base of the valve as I was pumping it up. Fortunately I carry a spare tube and with that on I set off for work only to find it had a slow puncture so I had to keep stopping to pump it up.

I am actually a bit sick of missing loads of birds. But surely I've seen loads too? Yes but even then the effort required has been far greater than it needed to be.

1. Little Gull. There have been only two in the area this year. The first was found at Ferry Meadows just after I'd left after finding the 2 Little Terns - more of those later. I'd been up really early and had a right soaking so I wasn't going back. Then yesterday I come in via Orton BP, seeing very little, only to find a Little Gull is there later in the day. So I go home that way and of course it has gone.

2. Spotted Redshank. I made many early trips down the Central Drove plus an evening visit on the birdrace while a bird was present but for some reason it didn't show.

3. Whimbrel. I have a terrible record with Whimbrel. This year I've made just one pre-work trip to Maxey GP so far and a Whimbrel turns up there the following morning. Grrr!

4. Egyptian Goose. Seen one morning at Ferry Meadows but no sign when I searched at lunchtime. Then seen several more times but no luck for me on multiple passes through the area.

5. Little Tern. Ok, at the end of a truly awful early ride morning dipping on Bar-tailed Godwit and Spotted Redshank that had been present late the previous evening on the washes, I get thoroughly soaked and end up finding 2 Little Terns at Ferry Meadows on the way home. Lucky you might think. No. On 14th May Matt found another which I see easily on the way home from work that day. OK it was nice to find the two but as far as the year list goes that day was a total wipeout.

6. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Another year when it took me 6 trips to locate the species. I gave up after three goes at Old Sulehay and went for the showy birds at Castor Hanglands and even then I had to do the long ride three times before succeeding.

7. Whinchat. I decide to go home via one reported at Serpentine BP, which turns out to be a nightmare of a ride, involving getting lost in Orton Malborne, struggling with the bike over obstructions to gain access to the site and flogging it hard to get home at a reasonable time afterwards. Then I get a call that there is one at Castor Mill which would have been a much easier ride home. Of course I have since seen one easily on the birdrace. Another wasted effort!

OK, so Spotshank, Whimbrel and Little Gull could yet fall but it is not proving easy. Roll on the 150 and more positive thinking.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Spotted Flycatcher

A walk via the river from home produced a good selection of warblers plus a Spotted Flycatcher along Duck Street in the garden of Berry Leas.

149 Spotted Flycatcher

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Another world record

With easterlies forecast I couldn't resist a ride to the Nene Washes this morning. A good decision as it turned out. I saw everything we saw on the birdrace minus Greenshank but plus Dunlin, Ruff and 2 winter plumaged Knot that flew over me heading east.

148 Knot

This beats my total for last year so setting another world record for birds seen in the Peterborough area in a year by foot or bike. I think I've seen all 148 in the county of Cambridgeshire as well. Now to hit the 150 mark.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A new world record - 110

This might go on a bit!

Yesterday Mike Weedon and I attempted a 24 hour birdrace by bicycle. We had a number of targets.

90 = My best day total so far
94 = The lowest scoring team on the GPOG birdrace (17:00-17:00 1-2 May) this year
100 = An obvious target
105 = Mike's solo effort last year
107 = The only other time this has been done the team of 4 got 107 in a national county birdrace competition.
111 = The winning team in the GPOG race this year.

Could we beat any or all of these?

I left home at 02:50 and cycled the 11km to Castor Hanglands in 40 minutes to meet Mike where we kicked things off.

Castor Hanglands
001 03:35 Nightingale
002 03:49 Grasshopper warbler
003 04:25 Tawny Owl
004 04:32 Mallard
005 04:34 Woodpigeon
006 04:35 Carrion Crow
007 04:36 Mandarin - heard calling close by the ponds near the entrance
008 04:37 Moorhen
009 04:39 Robin
010 04:39 Blackbird
011 04:41 Song Thrush
012 04:43 Pheasant
013 04:53 Lesser Whitethroat
014 04:55 Wren
015 05:02 Lesser Black-backed Gull
016 05:03 Whitethroat
017 05:03 Blackcap
018 05:03 Cuckoo
019 05:06 Garden Warbler
020 05:06 Willow Warbler - later seen mating
021 05:08 Chiffchaff
022 05:10 Coal Tit
023 05:16 Blue Tit
024 05:17 Great Tit
025 05:18 Treecreeper
026 05:25 Green Woodpecker
027 05:33 Rook
028 05:41 Dunnock
029 05:48 Chaffinch
030 06:06 Kestrel
031 06:08 Bullfinch
032 06:11 Greylag
033 06:23 Magpie

So having spent nearly three hours here without seeing Marsh Tit, Goldcrest, Nuthatch or Jay it was time to move on. As we cycled north past the wood a Mandarin flew across the road from the NE corner.

We then called in at Ben Johnson Pit where Wheatear and Whinchat had been reported recently then on to Swaddywell, where there had been a long-staying Ring Ouzel, via Willow Brook Farm on the offchance of Tree Sparrow also reported in the past few days. Unfortunately none of these targets appeared but the list ticked on.

Ben Johnson Pit
034 06:42 Turtle Dove - two flew over as we arrived
035 06:45 Black-headed Gull
036 06:49 Linnet
037 06:51 Skylark
038 06:51 Starling

Willow Brook Farm
039 06:53 Goldfinch
040 06:57 House Sparrow
041 06:57 Reed Bunting
042 06:58 Swallow
043 06:58 Yellowhammer
044 06:58 Jackdaw

Swaddywell Pit
045 07:08 Red-legged Partridge
046 07:08 Greenfinch
047 07:07 Reed Warbler
048 07:07 Stock Dove
049 07:19 Common Buzzard

Southey Wood
050 07:25 Mistle Thrush
051 07:25 Goldcrest
052 07:31 Long-tailed Tit

Hilly Wood
053 07:44 Jay - 2 into the wood across the road in front of us as we headed north.

054 07:47 Grey Heron
055 07:52 Wheatear - the second really good bird of the day in a field by King's Street.

Bainton GP - with intruiging angler's tale of small brown hawks taking insects from the water surface for the past week.
056 07:56 Feral Pigeon
057 08:02 Common Tern
058 08:02 House Martin
059 08:02 Sand Martin
060 08:02 Great Crested Grebe
061 08:06 Swift
062 08:06 Coot
063 08:06 Sedge Warbler
064 08:09 Kingfisher
065 08:11 Cetti's Warbler
066 08:13 Mute Swan
067 08:13 Tufted Duck
068 08:17 Hobby

The cycle along the Maxey Cut failed to reveal Grey Wagtail, one that would continue to elude us all day, but did provide another Kingfisher sighting and a second Cetti's Warbler singing from the SW corner of the pits. Maxey also had 2 Wheatears.

Maxey GP
069 08:30 Shelduck
070 08:31 Pied Wagtail
071 08:37 Gadwall
072 08:42 Little Ringed Plover
073 08:48 Whinchat
074 08:54 Lapwing
075 09:00 Oystercatcher
076 09:10 Yellow Wagtail
077 09:15 Redshank
078 09:15 Little Grebe
079 09:18 Ringed Plover
080 09:29 Meadow Pipit
081 09:39 Common Sandpiper

082 09:45 Collared Dove

Woodcroft Crossing - while waiting ages for the gates
083 09:59 Cormorant

Marholm Church
084 10:22 Little Owl

Grimeshaw Wood
085 10:56 Great Spotted Woodpecker

We finally got to Ferry Meadows after being lashed by rain and hail storms in the howling, unrelenting northerly wind. We were met by Karen who had brought some hot food and drink and while we were stuffing this the Red-rumped Swallow was relocated by the hoards of birders on site. The Red Kite took a bit of a vigil looking west during a fine spell. The 4th Wheatear of the day was also trying to find some peace around Gunwade Lake.

Ferry Meadows
086 11:46 Canada Goose
087 12:06 Yellow-legged Gull
088 12:09 Red-rumped Swallow
089 13:03 Red Kite

A long ride now heading east along the Nene looking out for Grey Wagtail (unsuccessfully again) on the way. We also failed to find Corn Bunting at Padholme Pumping Station. It was just too windy for birds to be up. Yet another Kingfisher showed though calling along the river at Fitzwilliam Bridge.

North Bank Sewage Works
090 13:55 Great Black-backed Gull

King's Dyke NR
091 14:32 Pochard

We still needed Corn Bunting and I took a gamble to try King's Delph in an attempt to save us the daunting prospect of a ride down Blackbush. In the end it was to no avail and the return north along Blackbush into a wind so strong it stopped the bikes was made all the harder for being empty handed.

We refuelled in Whittlesey for the ride further east to Eldernell, where yet another Kingfisher showed.

092 16:15 Little Egret
093 16:19 Marsh Harrier
094 17:00 Tree Sparrow

Stopping again in Whittlesey on the way back to pick up a bit more food at a garage was a good idea.

095 17:33 Sparrowhawk

Nene Washes Central Drove
096 17:48 Snipe
097 17:50 Common Gull
098 17:52 Black-tailed Godwit
099 17:59 Shoveler
100 18:08 Garganey
101 18:17 Whooper Swan
102 18:25 Wigeon
103 18:30 Teal
104 18:44 Greenshank
105 18:46 Pintail
106 19:18 Herring Gull

After an evening on the washes we turned for home, eventually parting company at the Town Bridge at 22:35 having done 97km together in 19 hours with 7 hours of cycling.

I then set off for home, passing a Fox at Orton Waterville, getting in at 23:10; 20 hours and 20 minutes after setting off.

With the addition of 4 sensitive breeding species that can't be mentioned above we saw an astonishing 110 species, a new record for a self-powered 24 hour total in Cambridgeshire and the PBC area, and only one short of the winning GPOG team in a car!

An amazing day. Tiring and frustrating at times, but very satisfying. We also recorded Rabbit, Hare, Hedgehog, Fox, Muntjac and astonishingly two Otters together!

The wind really hampered things and probably cost us Barn Owl and Corn Bunting but got us Red-rumped Swallow, which would surely have moved on in better weather. Other birds we could reasonably have expected to see were Marsh Tit, Nuthatch and Grey Wagtail plus a few waders that had been seen on the Nene Washes but didn't appear while we were there. So the total is beatable but I think we'll leave that for the next team. For now the record stands at 110!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Birdrace ticks

The following additions during the big day take me to my total for last year of 147.

144 Tawny Owl
145 Mandarin
146 Tree Sparrow
147 Sensitive breeder

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Red-rumped Swallow

A massively rare bird locally. This is only the second record ever and is part of an inlux into the country.

It's a long and painful story. The short version is that this bird turned up at Ferry Meadows yesterday morning but the news only filtered out by early afternoon. It wasn't refound until early evening when I was on the way to an event in Cambridge.

An early start this morning had me searching for nearly three nerve-wracking hours before finally relocating it on Gunwade Lake. A huge relief but an unwelcome effort prior to the long day to come tomorrow. During the search my first Hobby of the year flew through.

I also added Yellow-legged Gull (an adult and immature were present), which I'd probably seen already but had a better look at today.

141 Hobby
142 Red-rumped Swallow
143 Yellow-legged Gull

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


It's been a frustrating sort of day. Got a very early start and checked out Castor Mill, where there was no sign of the Ring Ouzel, on the way to the Hanglands. There, I failed to find anything new, although the potential remains high. At least 10 Nightingales, along with other singers was good though.

A lunchime search of King's Delph failed to reveal the hoped for Whinchat but revealed more Wheatears; still 6 at yesterdays site plus at least 3 about 1km to the east. Then I got a call that Paul Taylor had found a Whinchat at Serpentine BP.

Went home via Serpentine getting thoroughly lost in the Oron Malborne maze of cycleways and then heard Mike found one at Castor Mill, where presumably I could have picked it up if I'd looked properly first thing and saved myself a lot of trouble.

140 Whinchat

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


Another 3 hour session before work. 2-3 Greenshank were on Garners at the end of the drove. I then headed back via Reach and King's Delph and came across another flock of Wheatears; 11 this time.

139 Greenshank

Monday, 26 April 2010

Wheatears galore

Not much time at lunchtime today so dashed to Orton BP. Amazing sight of 9 Wheatears together on the pulverised site of the old brick works among the breeding Ringed Plovers and Lapwing. Nightingale and Grasshopper Warbler sang a bit near the entrance.

138 Wheatear

Turtle Dove

One of the first birds cycling into work this morning was a turtle Dove flying west over the Billing Brook from Chesterton. Also went in via Castor Mill for second helpings of the long-staying Ring Ouzel.

137 Turtle Dove

Sunday, 25 April 2010

90 species in a day

The long ride out to the Nene Washes plus the good birds at Ferry Meadows and a few things picked up on a walk to Yarwell and back this afternoon yielded a very good total for the day. 90 species is really good. Here they are.
Great Crested Grebe
Great Cormorant
Great Bittern
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Mute Swan
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose
Eurasian Wigeon
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
Tufted Duck
Red Kite
Marsh Harrier
Red-legged Partridge
Spotted Crake
Black-tailed Godwit
Common Sandpiper
Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Little Tern
Feral Pigeon
Collared Dove
Green Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Sand Martin
House Martin
Meadow Pipit
Yellow Wagtail
Pied Wagtail
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Sedge Warbler
Reed Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Garden Warbler
Willow Warbler
Long-tailed Tit
Marsh Tit
Coal Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow
Reed Bunting
Corn Bunting

Tern Again

What a day, with many additions to the list. An early start with the aim of getting to end of the Central Drove and back. Went through Ferry Meadows on the way hoping to find the rain was forcing down some Little Gulls.

The first new bird was a Common Sandpiper on the shore of Gunwade Lake followed by two more near the Pontoon Bridge. A Garden Warbler singing briefly near Ham Bridge was another tick but there were hardly any gulls, terns or hiundines over the water so I moved quickly on.

131 Common Sandpiper
132 Garden Warbler

The next tick was unexpected. As I got to the end of the Central Drove I distinctly heard two notes that sounded like a Spotted Crake fairly close. However it was in the reedy area, not where I would normally expect a singing bird to be. Subsequently checked with the reserve staf and one had already been detected in that spot last Thursday night so my first instincts were correct.

A few waders were on the Garners flood (but not the Spotted Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit nor Greenshank of the previous evening) enabling me to finally add Ruff to the list. Amazingly a Curlew flew south over high without stopping (I rarely see these most years).

133 Spotted Crake
134 Ruff

But it didn't end there. Heading back the rain started; much heavier than forecast. I debated whether to return via Orton BP or give Ferry Meadows another go. Surely the weather would force something down. In the end I opted for the shortest route as the conditions were so bad and an excellent choice it turned out to be.

It was virtually impossible to see anything when I got to Overton Lake but I could tell there were many more terns about and one was distinctly smaller. The optics were totally misted up but it was pale so could only be Little or Whiskered. The latter would be an area first but its flight pointed to the former. And so it turned out to be. After a while the rain started to ease, I moved to the more sheltered side of the lake and I was able to see there were two Little Terns. I'd now located 2 Sandwich, 3 Arctic and 2 Little Terns at Ferry Meadows in the space of a few weeks!

At least one Swift over Gunwade as I left was another tick for the day, making six in all.

135 Little Tern
136 Swift

Then it was home to dry out and prepare Sunday lunch after five excellent, if soggy, hours in the field.

Friday, 23 April 2010


Set off early for the Nene Washes and the sun was only just coming up when a Curlew flew over me heading south towards Haddon and the Billing Brook as I approached Chesterton.

The rest of the morning yielded lots of good birds but nothing new until a Reed Warbler sang alongside the cycleway at King's Dyke.

A good selection of species, including things like Grey Wagtail, which I haven't seen for a while, resulted in a total of 71 in the first three and a half hours of the day.

129 Curlew
130 Reed Warbler

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Ring Ouzel

Another Don Gardener special. Managed to get this by cycling home at lunchtime and working from home in the afternoon.

128 Ring Ouzel


Not quite what I was after but it keeps the list ticking up nicely. Rode out to Ring Haw looking for Ring Ouzels in some storming habitat but ended up finding yet another Redstart. Another spanking male. We've now had 5 Redsarts in the area of which I've seen 4 and found 3!

127 Cuckoo

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


Up reasonably early to get to Castor Hanglands before work. Many possibilities here at the moment (Raven, Mandarin, Tree Pipit, Pied Fly, etc.) but three singing Nightingales was the only addition to the list.

Best though was a male Redstart followed by a nearby female. Good to find my own but I wish I could have nailed the probable Tree Pipit that flew over while I was watching them.

126 Nightingale

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Arctic Tern

On the way home from work found three Arctic Terns on Gunwade Lake. Great birds to find, and another species I didn't get last year.

That's three great species in as many days at Ferry Meadows. What next?!

125 Arctic Tern

Lesser Whitethroat & Little Egret

Lesser Whitethroats appear to have moved in in force over the past couple of days and the ride in via Haddon and Orton BP got me four singing. Then a lunchtime sprint out to the High Wash finally netted me 3 Little Egrets.

123 Lesser Whitethroat
124 Little Egret

Monday, 19 April 2010

Black Tern

Mike found 2 Black Terns at Ferry Meadows in the morning - the first to be reported anywhere in the country this year! I had to get the car to and from the garage but managed to nip out in the evening to bag these beauties and see the vast numbers of Sand Martins, plus fewer Swallows and a few House Martins, swarming over Gunwade Lake.

Two great birds in as many days at Ferry Meadows. What next?

122 Black Tern

Sunday, 18 April 2010


He's done it again. Don Gardener is like a magnet for Redstarts and found a corking male on the Coney/Oak Meadow boundary at Ferry Meadows today.

121 Redstart

Friday, 16 April 2010

Cetti's Warbler

Good decision to go to Bradley Fen pit this lunchtime. I thought there might be a chance of an Arctic Tern or Little Gull but more than happy with Water Rail and Cetti's Warbler - another species I failed to get last year.

120 Cetti's Warbler

Three more

An early start to get down the central drove before work this morning. A clear frosty morning with a blue sky free from contrails as UK airspace is still closed due to volcanic ash from the eruption in Iceland.

Marsh Tit singing again at Keeper's Cottage but then nothing of note until a Green Sandpiper at the sewage works. A Corn Bunting singing between here and Padholme Pumping Station was the first tick and the first bird recorded here for 7 years.

The next tick came right at the end of the central drove where receding flooding on Garners had attracted a single summer plumaged Dunlin. A pair of Garganey were just about the only other birds of note on an otherwise wintery Nene Washes.

Finally cycling back a Whitethroat was singing near Fitzwilliam Bridge with another calling close by.

117 Corn Bunting
118 Dunlin
119 Whitethroat

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Lesser Spot at last

Left home at 06:45 this morning and had only got as far as Keeper's Cottage when I heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling from the hedge by the road. A most unlikely place to get one but it was singing quite strongly.

115 Grasshopper Warbler

A pair of Kingfishers were chasing each other around Castor Mill and by the time I got to the hanglands a nasty haar was rolling in from the east to replace the lovely suny start. An hour after setting off from home I was walking back north along the edge of the southern clearing when I saw a male Lesser Spot at the top of one ofthe trees. It showed really well, calling occasionally. So after two attempts at Old Sulehay and three here at Castor Hanglands it finally falls. Then again it took me six goes to get one at Old Sulehay last year.

116 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Crossbill - just

Another very frustrating morning, this time failing to encounter Lesset Spotted woodpecker at Castor Hanglands. It then looked like a dip on the Crossbills at Southey Wood but a party of 5 flying by calling late on just rescued the situation. Very poor view though.

114 Crossbill

Saturday, 10 April 2010

House Martin

A little compensation for another fruitless search of the Old Sulehay area this morning was a House Martin fying around the house on my return.

113 House Martin

Friday, 9 April 2010

First long ride

A perfect morning for a ride out to the Nene Washes, although the still clear conditions would encourage many migrants to keep moving reducing the chances of any real goodies.

First up were noisy limosa Black-tailed Godwits, then a party of 3 Pintail and 3 Avocets at the east end. The latter is another species I did not get on last year's list. Finally a male Garganey flew along from the east and presumably the same bird was showing well on field 12 on my return.

The highlights though were a few wagtails which didn't add to the list, being subspecies. A corking male White Wagtail showed very well along the track and a Blue-headed Wagtail among the Yellows landed right next to me at one point. Unfortunately I couldn't get a photo of either.

On getting back to work just before 9 the chain broke on my bike crossing Stanley Park. Thank goodness that didn't happen when I was miles away!

109 Black-taied Godwit
110 Pintail
111 Avocet
112 Garganey

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Barn Owl

Decided to go for a walk around Elton this evening as the weather was so nice and rewarded with a Barn Owl hunting near the old railway line towards Fotheringhay.

108 Barn Owl

Four more

A few days away and a few more migrants coming in meant some easy additions on the ride in to work via Orton BP and home via Ferry Meadows today.

104 Little Ringed Plover
105 Sedge Warbler
106 Yellow Wagtail
107 Common Tern

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Sandwich Tern

My regular ride into work this morning took me along the north shore of Gunwade Lake where a migrant party of about 20 Meadow Pipits were leaping about restlessly. I was just moving off from there when I heard a distant call that sounded like a tern. I scanned the lake again looking for a possible early Common Tern but then heard the call again, this time unmistakably from a Sandwich Tern. I soon saw there were two birds flying over the lake getting some hassle from the local Black-headed Gulls; had they just arrived?

I just had time to make a couple of phone calls and get the scope set up when they headed off high to the north over Milton Park never to be seen again.

Only my third encounter with the species in the area I think. A true rarity.

102 Sandwich Tern

Afterwards, on my way through the reserve, I got my first Willow Warbler of the year sinigng.

103 Willow Warbler

Monday, 29 March 2010


True to form the Egyptian Goose that was on Heron Meadow in the early afternoon was nowhere to be seen when I cycled through on the way home. A Swallow was with a good 50-60 Sand Martins.

101 Swallow


Things have been getting a bit frustrating. Stuck on 99 with any number of possible additions being seen by others (Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Egyptian Geese, Curlew, Water Pipit and even a mythical Raven) I just don't seem to be able to connect with anything. The Egyptian Geese keep vanishing whenever I'm at Ferry Meadows, and, despite several attempts, Lesser Spots remain off the list. Even the trickle of early migrants like Swallow, Yellow Wagtail and Willow Warbler have avoided me.

However, this lunchtime I did the circuit out to the High Wash and, at the limit of my journey along the green wheel on the northern edge of King's Dyke NR, I heard an unfamiliar call. There were quite a few Chaffinches and Goldfinches by the track, then I noticed the Brambing up in one of the trees. Just then it flew off past me and kept flying west. Frustratingly brief views but a tick nonetheless and the century up at last.

100 Brambling

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Marsh Harrier

The only birds of real note in a lunchtime tour of the North Bank, High Wash and Bradley Fen were three Marsh Harriers.

99 Marsh Harrier

Monday, 22 March 2010


I don't want to complain too much but this is now two dips in two days. Lesser spot yesterday and now Egyptian Goose today. The latter disappeared from the Ferry Meadows area between mid-morning and when I got there at around lunchtime. At least the Oystercatcher that has been on Overton Island for some time finally showed itself.

98 Oystercatcher

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Nuthatch and Jack Snipe

Rode through Old Sulehay this morning on the way to Thornhaugh Quarry. Plenty of Nuthatch activity in the wood but no Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers unfortunately.

Thornhaugh Quarry produced the usual array of snipes with 15 Common and 3 Jacks.

96 Nuthatch
97 Jack Snipe

Friday, 19 March 2010

Sand Martin

Just two days later than last year a couple visiting nest holes at the Town Bridge this morning. They were reported yesterday.

95 Sand Martin

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Little Owl and Ringed Plover

I've now taken the route to work via Haddon at least 6 times this year with no sign of the regular Little Owls but somehow I just knew I was going to see one this morning. Sure enough there it was along the Billing Brook just to the north of the Haddon Road.

93 Little Owl

Stopping to scan the land cleared for new housing at Hampton revealed at least three pairs of Ringed Plovers settling in to breed.

94 Ringed Plover

Friday, 12 March 2010

Golden Plover

Another one that has so far eluded me while cycling. Even this was just a single on the western edge of the Hampton NR where you might expect good numbers.

92 Golden Plover

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Grey Partridge

A bit of a result flushing two of these at the north end of Drain Road on Newborough Fen. I saw a covey here last year by car but failed to see them anywhere by bike, despite trying here and elsewhere many times.

91 Grey Partridge

Monday, 8 March 2010

Linnet and Water Rail

An unbelievably cold ride into work this morning via Haddon, OBP, CEGB and Fletton Lake. I've suspected Linnet a couple of times this year but at least 2 flying around west of Haddon singing at times were the first for sure. The Water Rail was calling at OBP. Masses of Woodpigeons about this morning - many appeared to be moving north.

89 Linnet
90 Water Rail

Friday, 5 March 2010


Outrageous sighting but one just flew past my office window! There have been a single and a pair wandering around the area but I thought I stood a better chance cycling out Flag Fen way the sitting at my desk.

This was also a PBC area self-found tick - #210!

88 Crane

Monday, 1 March 2010

Bean Goose

I'd already been out in the car to see these three taiga Bean Geese on North Fen but with the north bank road closed due to flooding I took the opportunity to cycle out that way without the risk of being mown down by the nutters who seem to treat it as a racetrack.

Unfortunately the Golden Plover and Ruff I saw by car were nowhere to be seen but there were a few Shelduck remaining.

86 Bean Goose
87 Shelduck

Friday, 26 February 2010

Mediterranean Gull

On Heron Meadow at Ferry Meadows today. Found earlier by Don Gardener. Also added Barnacle Goose at Ferry Meadows and a Goldcrest on the way back to work.

83 Mediterranean Gull
84 Barnacle Goose
85 Goldcrest

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus

Canon Powershot SX10

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Lesser Redpoll

Back to Ferry Meadows at lunchtime, where a good flock of Lesser Redpolls failed to yield any Mealies.

82 Lesser Redpoll

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Peregrine & Siskin

A male Peregrine passed my office window this morning and a Siskin was in full song in Bluebell Wood at lunchtime.

80 Peregrine
81 Siskin

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Bewick's Swan

Took a bike ride out to Flag Fen via the North Bank at lunchtime. Birds had reduced around the sewage works and there were just 2 Redshank and 1 Green Sandpiper. Going a little further on to Willow Hall Lane a large herd of Bewick's Swans were visible on North Fen.

79 Bewick's Swan

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Marsh Tit

One near the island in Elton seen on a walk down to Yarwell Junction and back. Seeing far fewer of these away from the best woodlands nowadays.

78 Marsh Tit

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Bittern at Bradley Fen

I had a report of a Smew at Bradley Fen Pit at the weekend so decided to bike out there today from work. No Smew but a Pink-footed Goose was with a small flock of Greylags, an injured Whooper Swan was on the lake and then a real stroke of luck as a Bittern flew along the shore giving fantastic views.

75 Pink-footed Goose
76 Whooper Swan
77 Bittern

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Coal Tit

Coal Tit is regular in the garden but today was the first I'd noticed this year.

74 Coal Tit

Saturday, 9 January 2010


An odd one to still be missing from the list but my first flew across today as we walked along the Nene in Elton. Woodcock, Little Grebe and Kingfisher also showed at the lock.

73 Pheasant

Friday, 8 January 2010

North Bank Sewage Works

Got back to my fave winter patch today and very productive it was too. The effect of a bit of effluent warmth was clear to see although I might have expected more birds present. There were rather fewer Moorhens than expected and only about 10 Redshank, 5 Snipe and 3 Green Sandpipers. A female Sparrowhawk was making frequent visits and that might be keeping numbers lower.

68 Lapwing
69 Green Sandpiper
70 Redshank
71 Chiffchaff
72 Snipe

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita

Snipe Gallinago gallinago

Redshank Tringa totanus

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus

Digiscoped with Canon Powershot A640 and Leica APO77x20

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Ruddy Duck

A lunchtime cycle to an undisclosed location got me my first tick not seen last year.

66 Ruddy Duck
67 Reed Bunting

Monday, 4 January 2010

First day on the bike

Two ticks from the office window in the morning:
47 Herring Gull
48 Feral Pigeon

Then, at lunchtime, a very icy cycle ride to Ferry Meadows, where there was no sign of yesterday's Scaup:
49 Little Grebe
50 Great Crested Grebe
51 Grey Heron
52 Greylag Goose
53 Canada Goose
54 Eurasian Wigeon
55 Gadwall
56 Teal
57 Northern Shoveler
58 Red-crested Pochard
59 Pochard
60 Tufted Duck
61 Goldeneye
62 Coot
63 Lesser Black-backed Gull
64 Kingfisher
65 Grey Wagtail

Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina, males

Digiscoped with Canon A640 and Leica APO77x20

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Back to work tomorrow

A couple of additions in the garden yesterday:
30 Redwing
31 Carrion Crow
32 Great Black-backed Gull

Then two cracking male Bullfinches feeding on grassy seedheads in the garden this morning and a female Blackcap in the birch trees.

33 Bullfinch
34 Mistle Thrush
35 Blackcap

A walk up to the Nene Way between Fotheringhay and Nassington added a few more:
36 Cormorant
37 Moorhen
38 Meadow Pipit
39 Sparrowhawk
40 Yellowhammer
41 Treecreeper
42 Skylark
43 Kestrel
44 Jay
45 Common Gull

Finally late in the day a Great Spotted Woodpecker over the house.

46 Great Spotted Woodpecker

Friday, 1 January 2010

2010 underway

A new year and a new list starting with a few in the garden in the morning.

1 Chaffinch
2 House Sparrow
3 Collared Dove
4 Blackbird
5 Fieldfare
6 Starling
7 Dunnock
8 Black-headed Gull
9 Woodpigeon
10 Song Thrush
11 Jackdaw
12 Robin
13 Greenfinch
14 Red Kite
15 Pied Wagtail
16 Wren
17 Long-tailed Tit
18 Rook
19 Blue Tit

An excellent afternoon walk in beautiful weather along to Yarwell Junction and back produced a few more including a lucky Woodcock no doubt flushed by the hunt that passed us just downstream of The Island.

20 Goldfinch
21 Magpie
22 Stock Dove
23 Mallard
24 Mute Swan
25 Great Tit
26 Red-legged Partridge
27 Woodcock
28 Green Woodpecker
29 Common Buzzard