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