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