Saturday, 30 April 2011

Five from the birdrace

Added during the Biking birdrace yesterday. Barwits were at Maxey and Beeby's, the Turnstone was at Beeby's and found just before we got there by Paul Taylor. We found the Greenshank after making an unscheduled stop at the formerly productive Serpentine Lake. Blackbush provided the bunting and the Cranes are again on the Nene Washes this year.

131 Bar-tailed Godwit
132 Greenshank
133 Turnstone
134 Corn Bunting
135 Crane

Biking birdrace

Nick Mudge, Mike Weedon and I met at 04:00 at Castor Hanglands to begin our epic tour of the Peterborough area. We had last year's total of 110 in our sights but with an iffy weather forecast threatening rain and guaranteeing strong northerly winds we were not too hopeful.

As it turned out it was a great day with some real highlights. The first was at 04:40 when Mike's headtorch alighted on a Badger right next to us. At 06:20, still at Castor Hanglands but this time in the light, a Tawny Owl flew across right in front of us below head height. Other highs were Arctic Terns at Ferry Meadows, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits at Maxey and another at Beeby's, Greenshank at Hampton and Turnstone at Beeby's.

We were also met by Karen at lunchtime and Jill in the evening with hot food and drink, which were excellent and also helped to keep up spirits.

Castor Hanglands
001 03:55 Nightingale
002 04:04 Grasshopper Warbler
003 04:14 Moorhen
004 04:32 Tawny Owl
005 04:41 Pheasant
006 04:51 Robin
007 04:52 Song Thrush
008 04:58 Woodpigeon
009 04:59 Blackbird
010 05:00 Cuckoo
011 05:02 Blackcap
012 05:03 Wren
013 05:06 Carrion Crow
014 05:09 Lesser Whitethroat
015 05:11 Whitethroat
016 05:11 Great Tit
017 05:13 Garden Warbler
018 05:16 Chiffchaff
019 05:27 Blue Tit
020 05:35 Treecreeper
021 05:46 Goldcrest
022 05:53 Willow Warbler
023 05:56 Jackdaw
024 05:58 Common Buzzard
025 06:00 Bullfinch
026 06:05 Greylag
027 06:07 Coal Tit
028 06:09 Long-tailed Tit
029 06:09 Jay
030 06:35 Magpie
031 06:40 Green Woodpecker
032 06:49 Marsh Tit

So, having spent nearly three hours here it was time to move on without having seen Nuthatch or Great Spotted Woodpecker; birds that could prove very difficult elsewhere. We had, however, connected with many other targets, and having Goldcrest, Coal and Marsh Tits meant a trip to Southey Wood would not be necessary.

On the way to Ben Johnson Pit:
033 07:02 Skylark
034 07:02 Rook
035 07:02 Chaffinch

Ben Johnson Pit
036 07:05 Lesser Black-backed Gull
037 07:07 Stock Dove
038 07:08 Linnet
039 07:09 Goldfinch
040 07:02 Sedge Warbler
041 07:11 Feral Pigeon

Willow Brook Farm
042 07:16 Greenfinch
043 07:16 House Sparrow
044 07:17 Swallow

Swaddywell NR
045 07:18 Dunnock
046 07:20 Red-legged Partridge
047 07:22 Black-headed Gull
048 07:30 Mallard
049 07:32 Reed Warbler
050 07:32 Reed Bunting
051 07:39 Starling

052 07:53 Yellowhammer

Bainton GP
053 07:56 Mute Swan
054 08:17 Coot
055 08:21 House Martin
056 08:21 Sand Martin

Maxey GP
057 08:41 Grey Heron
058 08:41 Yellow Wagtail
059 08:45 Little Egret
060 08:45 Kestrel
061 08:47 Shelduck
062 08:47 Pied Wagtail
063 08:51 Common Tern
064 08:51 Oystercatcher
065 08:51 Gadwall
066 08:51 Little Ringed Plover
067 08:57 Lapwing
068 09:00 Meadow Pipit
069 09:02 Redshank
070 09:07 Great Crested Grebe
071 09:07 Little Grebe
072 09:07 Tufted Duck
073 09:12 Cormorant
074 09:22 Cetti's Warbler
075 09:35 Green Sandpiper
076 09:35 Bar-tailed Godwit
077 09:35 Teal
078 09:38 Ringed Plover
079 10:20 Wheatear

Nine Bridges
080 10:40 Sparrowhawk

081 10:49 Collared Dove

Milton Park
082 11:20 Mistle Thrush
083 11:23 Nuthatch

Ferry Meadows
084 11:50 Arctic Tern
085 12:31 Canada Goose

Orton Mere
086 13:00 Grey Wagtail

087 13:19 Greenshank
088 13:22 Common Sandpiper

Beeby's BP
089 13:34 Turnstone

Orton BP
090 14:03 Hobby
091 14:07 Marsh Harrier
092 14:20 Herring Gull

King's Dyke NR
093 15:59 Pochard

Blackbush Drove
094 16:24 Corn Bunting

095 17:00 Crane
096 17:38 Barn Owl
097 17:39 Tree Sparrow
098 17:48 Shoveler
099 17:57 Great Spotted Woodpecker

Nene Washes Central Drove
100 18:22 Snipe
101 18:30 Black-tailed Godwit
102 18:32 Garganey
103 18:48 Wigeon
104 18:53 Whooper Swan
105 18:57 Great Black-backed Gull
106 19:18 Red Kite
107 19:36 Common Gull

The cold biting northerly intensified on the washes and by dusk we were very cold and headed back towards Peterborough splitting up at the Town Bridge at 21:43. We had cycled just over 90km in the 17 hours and 45 minutes of the race, spending about 6 and a half hours of that in the saddle.

It was disappointing to miss some resident birds, like Kingfisher and Little Owl and it would have been nice to have connected with an early Swift but on the whole this was a very respectable list with some quality birds showing for us.

The winning GPOG birdrace team on the following days got 111 and was the only team to beat us, proving again you do not need to be in a car to amass a good day list.

In addition we recorded Badger, Muntjac, Fallow Deer, Roe Deer, Hare, Rabbit, Pipistrelle, Orange-tip, Green-veined White, Brown Argus, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Treble-bar sp., Large Red Damselfly and Four-spotted Chaser.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Grey Partridge

Astonishingly good record this morning at Castor Mill with a pair of Grey Partridges on the farm track off Mill Lane. Sightings of this species are very scarce away from fenland.

130 Grey Partridge

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Tern again

I was heading out Marholm way this morning checking out a route for Friday's biking birdrace when I got a text from Matt calling me back to Ferry Meadows. Two terns in two days. Nice!

129 Black Tern

Black Tern Chlidonias niger

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Arctic Tern

One this evening on Gunwade Lake on the way home from work.

128 Arctic Tern

Cuckoo and Nightingale

Had a Cuckoo yesterday at Old Sulehay but this was the first by bike this morning at Orton BP where a Nightingale was also singing.

126 Cuckoo
127 Nightingale

Monday, 25 April 2011


Not had a lot of success cycling out every morning over the Easter break so stayed in this morning and watched from the house. Rewarded with a Hobby cruising north.

125 Hobby

Friday, 22 April 2011

Three ticks

Black Terns have been at Ferry Meadows for the past couple of days but the two there this morning had moved on by the time I got there. Still, three Common Sandpipers on the shores of Gunwade and a few warblers bumped the list up.

122 Lesser Whitethroat
123 Garden Warbler
124 Common Sandpiper

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Ring Ouzel

Another elusive Ring Ouzel was found this morning, this time by Matt Webb at Ferry Meadows. I had come in via the brick pits but nipped out to Ferry Meadows at lunchtime and it was almost the first bird I saw on arriving at the grassy slope near Ferry Bridge. The bird soon flew off and proved difficult for the rest of the day. A bit of luck after missing the one at Caldecote the other day.

121 Ring Ouzel


The first Reed Warbler for the area was singing this morning at Orton BP and a Grasshopper Warbler sang and showed briefly there.

119 Reed Warbler
120 Grasshopper Warbler

Monday, 11 April 2011


The first cloak and dagger bird of the year. As this is a pair I won't say where they were but I was actually looking, unsuccessfully, for another scarce breeding bird when I chanced upon these.

118 Avocet

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Garganey and Yellow Wagtail

Did the long ride out to the Central Drove of the Nene Washes for the second time this year this morning. Four hours on the road with little to show for it really. A Muntjac was by the road at the Billing Brook and there were 3 Roe Deer on the Low Wash. A plumose Little Egret was on the High Wash and there were oodles of Black-tailed Godwits, many displaying, but no passage waders.

The year ticks both came from the Central Drove.

116 Garganey
117 Yellow Wagtail

Friday, 8 April 2011

Egyptian Goose

Decided to take a ride out to the High Wash this lunchtime. The reward was this Egyptian Goose - not the most exciting bird but difficult to catch up with locally.

Whitethroat and Marsh Harrier were other additions and a party of 4 noisy Buzzards over the sewage works were entertaining.

113 Whitethroat
114 Egyptian Goose
115 Marsh Harrier

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus

Common Buzzards Buteo buteo

Canon EOS 500D EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Iceland Gull

The lastest in an impressive list of scarcities seen from my office window. I'd been keeping a watch on the sky out of the corner of my eye from my desk on the offchance of a raptor passing as the conditions felt right and noticed a trickle of gulls passing. Following a couple with bins revealed one to be startlingly pale and have fully white wings. Although quite high, views with bins were good, if limited to the underside. Structurally it was not too dissimilar from the Lesser Black-backed Gull it was following, perhaps a bit smaller and with a smallish bill, so Glaucous Gull was out of the question. It was just possible it was an albino Herring or Lesser Black-backed but really the odds are on it being an adult or pale 2nd or 3rd calendar year Iceland Gull. This is a classic time for one to turn up in this area so basically I'm having it!

112 Iceland Gull

Common Tern & Sedge Warbler

With persistent strong southwesterlies over the past couple of days providing little in the way of good birds and the prospect of a long hard cycle home I've not been on the bike since last week. In the meantime Common Terns and Sedge Warblers have arrived at Ferry Meadows so I picked those up on the way in this morning.

110 Common Tern
111 Sedge Warbler

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Willow Warbler

Not exactly how I expected to get the first this year but a silent bird in our birch trees at home showed very well first thing this morning.

109 Willow Warbler