Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Tuesday 27.10.20

 

Migration (at least vis mig) seems to be having a bit of break at the moment. There was very littel to show for an hour and a half on The Mound at Ferry Meadows, this morning. Just 7 Redwings and a flock of 5 Common Gulls making up the highlights of some very slim pickings. Tomorrow, perhaps…

One of the advantages of working from home is that when the need crops up, I am able to sneak off for a bit to see a bird. This afternoon, a Glossy Ibis was found at Whittlesey (just east of Peterborough). This is the first one seen in the Peterborough area since 2014, when we were starting to think they would be regular, perhaps annual birds, after a good spell, with ibises seen previously in 2009, 2012 and 2013. But it was a false dawn, and Glossy Ibis hasn’t quite taken over the UK (and the PBC area) as we thought it may.

So, it was great to see this great bird, despite the grim conditions. It takes my Peterborough area year list to 184 and is my 50th ‘elite’ bird in the PBC area this year.

Responsible Birding Diary: Monday 26.10.20

 

Today, inspired by the extra light of GMT in the morning, I was vis migging once again at Ferry Meadows (on The Mound). About 40 species were recorded, with about 10 Sky Larks, a calling Water Rail and the odd Sparrowhawk being the highlights.

Responsible Birding Diary: Sunday 25.10.20

 







Great Spotted Woodpecker, Holme Fen, Cambs, 25.10.20

I could not resist another Holme Fen start, and explored a bit wider, encountering several Goldcrests, but again, none of the targeted Firecrest.

In the evening, I went to check out the Starling roost at the west pit of Deeping Lakes LWT. I got utterly drenched in a massive shower, but did manage to record some 30,000 Starlings coming into the reedbed there, as well as 30-odd Pied Wagtails. A Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel made a couple of half-hearted attacks at the murmuration. More successful was a Peregrine, though it was a pigeon it carried in its talons, low over the reedbed!

Also coming into roost were thousands of corvids (mainly Jackdaws and Rooks) and a Great White Egret.

Responsible Birding Diary: Saturday 24.10.20


Holme Fen was my starting site again, today, with a low Marsh Harrier being the best bird seen. On the drive back home up towards Yaxley, I saw 4 Corn Buntings. Otherwise, it was a quiet day’s birding.

Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 23.10.20


Still enticed by the prospect of relocating the Holme Fen Firecrest, I was back in the morning, searching. A juvenile Hobby was a late bird, and I also had vocal Brambling and Chiffchaff, and a handful of Goldcrests. But, sadly, still no Firecrest.

Later, I popped to Southey Wood and was surprised that there are ‘still’ 30-odd Crossbills feeding there among the Western Hemlocks, including several delightful red males. A Raven also flew over.

I decided an evening session on the Nene Washes at Eldernell seemed a good place to be. So, my dear wife Jo and I watched from the bank near the car park at dusk. We recorded:

Cattle Egret, 3,

Great White Egret, 5,

Little Egret, 17,

Crane, 68,

Whooper Swan, several hundred,

Marsh Harrier, 4,

Peregrine, 1,

Sparrowhawk, 1

Responsible Birding Diary: Thursday 22.10.20

 









I was back at Holme Fen from early on, and the weather was much more conducive to some birding. Highlights included a flock of 8 Crossbills over, and a pair of Ravens was displaying along the east coast main train line. I saw a single Blackcap and found a flock of Long-tailed Tits which may have been the one Chris had the Firecrest in. Sadly, all I could find were Goldcrests. Tomorrow perhaps?

In the afternoon, i checked out the Bean and Pinkfoot at Deeping Lakes, and heard of two more Tundra Beans which had been found at BLGP. So, I popped over there and enjoyed some nice views of these scarce geese.

Responsible Birding Diary: Wednesday 21.10.20

 

Today was a real stinker weatherwise, raining all day. Yesterday, while we were in Norfolk, my friend Chris found a Firecrest at Holme Fen, not far from Peterborough, so this mornign I tried to relocated it it. All I got was very damp!

Responsible Birding Diary: Tuesday 20.10.20

 

My dear wife Jo and I went up to north Norfolk today, as I thought she may like to see a bluetail. Sadly, there were no bluetails showing, and neither was the Rufous Bushchat, though I did bump into an old field Dave, from my school days; he was my birding companion in days of yore some 40 years ago!

It was lovely to see vast numbers of Pink-footed Geese, Brent geese and evocative Curlew on the saltmarshes, as well.

Responsible Birding Diary: Monday 19.10.20

 

Today’s Mound vis mig session at Ferry Meadows produced a moderate count, with not much movement. The highlight, though, was elsewhere in the park at ‘Roman Point’ where there were abut 25 Lesser Redpolls.

In the afternoon (I have this week off), I went up to Deeping Lakes but the geese weren’t showing to me. Asd th esun though about setting, I decided to do a bit of a ‘raptor watch’ on the Deeping High Bank, hoping to see some Short-eared Owls. No owls appeared but I recorded 8 Whooper Swans, a Stonechat, a juvenile Perergine, 4 Buzzards, three Kestresl and a Kingfisher, plus 4 Roe Deer. Easily the highlight, though was a superb adult male Hen Harrier which flew by! Absolutely wonderful.

Responsible Birding Diary: Sunday 18.10.20

 

The highlight of today’s activity was at Deeping Lakes LWT, where I investigated the couple of Pink-footed Geese which had been reported on the east pit there. It turns out that one of the geese was an adult Pinkfoot, but its companion was a juvenile/first-winter Tundra Bean Goose, an altogether much rarer proposition.

Responsible Birding Diary: Saturday 17.10.20

 

There was not much moving at Ferry Meadows again, this morning, so I abandoned the park to search for Rock Pipits at Maxey. I always say, that 17th October is peak Rock Pipit day. I have found them on this date before, and remember the date, as it is my son Eddie’s birthday. When I got to Maxey, I got a message from a friend of mine, Fitz, who said he had a couple of Barnacle Geese at Baston and Langtoft pits. Now, I have always argued that if there is more than one at BLGP then I would tick one for my local year list. (but if there is only one it could be the long-term resident of dubious origin).

Anyhow, I arrived at BLGP to look for the Barnacles, and as soon as I got out of the car, a Rock Pipit flew over calling repeatedly, before flying east. That was year tick 182 and I soon picked up the two Barnacle Geese to make it 183 (note that I have sneakily added Ring-necked Parakeet to my Peterborough list).

But, events were taking a turn elsewhere, and the first twitchable Rufous Bushchat of my lifetime was at Stiffkey, Norfolk, and I decided to go for it. I met my friend Chris Jones, and together we watched the wonderful, though slightly tired looking) Rufous Bush Robin, or Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin or Rufous Warbler if you prefer, under the watchful eye of at least seven police officers, making sure everyone kept suitably socially distanced.


Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 16.10.20

 

There is a bit of a north-easterly wind at the moment, and this has had an odd effect on the vis mig at Ferry Meadows. Namely, the birds were mostly migrating NNE this morning! These included the first migrant Blackbirds of the autumn (9 high-flyers). Also notable were 3 Goosanders flying by. As I cycled back across the park, heading home, I heard a Crossbill flying north over Overton Lake.

I have calculated that since we started counting vis mig this autumn, we have already recorded 82 species of bird. And there are still some more which much occur (like Brambling, Goldeneye and Whooper Swan).

Responsible Birding Diary: Wednesday 14.10.20


Again, the migration at Ferry Meadows was just on the cusp of something special which did not really spill over. I noted 89 Fieldfares, 113 Redwings, 155 Woodpigeons, 45 Starlings and 7 Lesser Redpolls.

I popped into the garden for a bit and was pleased to see a big Frog enjoying a pond I made by sinking a flexible rubber garden bucket thing in the ground and adding some plants and the odd stick. Terrible phone photos, but you get the idea…


Responsible Birding Diary: Tuesday 13.10.20


Ferry Meadows 'vis mig' threatened to be exciting this morning, with a bit more Fieldfare action than previously, but it never really amounted to a huge movement in the hour or so I was recording. That said, I did record 40 species from The Mound, including some 65 Fieldfares, 88 Redwings and 210 Woodpigeons. It feels like we are due a big migration day any day soon, and perhaps the promised easterly element to the forthcoming winds will help…

Oh, soon after I left the park, I got a text saying a Great White Egret had passed through… 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 23.10.20

 

Still enticed by the prospect of relocating the Holme Fen Firecrest, I was back in the morning, searching. A juvenile Hobby was a late bird, and I also had vocal Brambling and Chiffchaff, and a handful of Goldcrests. But, sadly, still no Firecrest.

Later, I popped to Southey Wood and was surprised that there are ‘still’ 30-odd Crossbills feeding there among the Western Hemlocks, including several delightful red males. A Raven also flew over.

I decided an evening session on the Nene Washes at Eldernell seemed a good place to be. So, my dear wife Jo and I watched from the bank near the car park at dusk. We recorded:

Cattle Egret, 3,

Great White Egret, 5,

Little Egret, 17,

Crane, 68,

Whooper Swan, several hundred,

Marsh Harrier, 4,

Peregrine, 1,

Sparrowhawk, 1

Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 23.10.20

 

Still enticed by the prospect of relocating the Holme Fen Firecrest, I was back in the morning, searching. A juvenile Hobby was a late bird, and I also had vocal Brambling and Chiffchaff, and a handful of Goldcrests. But, sadly, still no Firecrest.

Later, I popped to Southey Wood and was surprised that there are ‘still’ 30-odd Crossbills feeding there among the Western Hemlocks, including several delightful red males. A Raven also flew over.

I decided an evening session on the Nene Washes at Eldernell seemed a good place to be. So, my dear wife Jo and I watched from the bank near the car park at dusk. We recorded:

Cattle Egret, 3,

Great White Egret, 5,

Little Egret, 17,

Crane, 68,

Whooper Swan, several hundred,

Marsh Harrier, 4,

Peregrine, 1,

Sparrowhawk, 1

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Thursday 15.10.20

 









The weather was atrocious this morning, so I skipped the usual Ferry Meadows cycle and vis mig session. Instead, my wildlife watching consisted of popping into the garden and noting some fly over Sky Larks and the sound of migrating Fieldfares. In the afternoon, after work, I headed up to the Deeping High Bank to search for birds of prey. I did not see the male Hen Harrier reported the evening before, but in breaks in the showers, I did see a couple of Marsh Harriers and a Buzzard or tow, including this bird, on a fence, on the bank of the river (Welland).

I thought it may be worth checking the east pit at Deeping Lakes, and was very pleasantly surprised to hear a Bearded Tit calling from the nearby reeds. I also saw one Beardy flying over the top of the reeds (in silhouette). It was a year tick for me, taking my PBC year list to 180. I have also decided to add Ring-necked Parakeet (the breeding population in Peterborough seems established and self-sustaining), so make that 181.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Monday 12.10.20

 

I was back at Ferry Meadows this morning, vis migging. There was the start of a decent east-west movement of Woodpigeons, plus more Redwing movement (less than yesterday). Key counts were:

Woodpigeon, 750

Redwing, 220

Starling, 170,

Snipe, 2,

Siskin, 50

Responsible Birding Diary: Sunday 11.10.20

 

As it was not clear where the Lammergeier had roosted, I started the day looking for scarce finches etc at Castor Hanglands NNR, just west of Peterborough. Immediately, it was obvious that Redwings were on the move. In the first 2.5 hours I was there, I recorded 5,000 Redwings, all flying west, low over the treetops. If this represents an average area, typical of the passage of Redwings over the Peterborough area, then perhaps 200,000 to 500,000 passed over the PBC recording area this morning (2-6% of the entire UK wintering population). I also had 50 Fieldfares (my first of the autumn), 2 Crossbills and 2 Bramblings over (my first of the year!).

In the afternoon, I visited the Great Fen, where I saw a very distant Osprey. It has been an exceptional year for these brilliant birds around here, and this is my fourth encounter of the year.

Responsible Birding Diary: Saturday 10.10.20

 









I arrived at the Nene Terrace site at first light, this morning, to see at least 30 cars already there and a crowd gathered near the Lammergeier tree. I set myself where I had been the previous evening and awaited sunrise. The vulture left the roost earlier than on Friday, but it did not go far, circling the adjacent ploughed field then landing in the road!

It apparently picked something dead from the road and proceeded to consume it in the ploughed field. Needless to say the crowd followed (including me) and we all got some great photos of the Lammergeier. After a while, it flew across the field, and landed again, to pluck the fur off a Rabbit or hare, and swallow the bones. But a Magpie kept jumping on its back and pulling its tail, making the Lammergeier flash the bright red flesh at the back of its eyes at the annoying corvid!

After the Lammergeier flew out of site, I returned to Peakirk to seek out the Radde’s Warbler (or at least see if I could relocate it after it no having been seen since Thursday). Almost immediately, though I was distracted by a small Otter, fishing the channel called The Folly…

Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 9.10.20

 









I started the day at the Lincolnshire village of Cowbit. The reason I was there is the Lammergeier had chosen to roost on a Rook’s nest in an Ash tree just on the north edge of the village, and I knew it would be still there at first light. So, I had arranged to meet Jake, our expert video man, to do a short video about the vulture for the Bird Watching social media platforms. At just before 9am, the Lammergeier left the roost and headed east and then south, completely surrounded by Rooks, Jackdaws and Carrion Crows!

After we completed the recording of the video, I popped into the Cambs village of Helpston to look for a Yellow-browed Warbler which had been seen there, and do another short video. Sadly, Jake had to get back home, so couldn’t make it to Helpston. But, luckily, I was able to hear the little warbler calling many times, and saw its Goldcrest-like silhouette as it left its favoured Sycamore tree. This is the 13th species of warbler I have seen in the Peterborough area this year!

In the evening, the Lammergeier was seen to come into roost again, offering very close views near the entrance of a friendly farmer’s field, between Crowland and Thorney, near the Cambridgeshire hamlet of Nene Terrace (see photos below). I know where I will start the day, tomorrow…


Responsible Birding Diary: Thursday 8.10.20

 

























Lammergeier, south of Moulton Chapel, Lincolnshire, 8.10.20

The Radde’s Warbler business at the beginning of the week was pretty darn hectic. But last night’s news took the biscuit! It emerged via all sorts of convoluted social media routes, that the Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture) which had been in the Peak District, but then moved to Norfolk, and been seen over north Peterborough and at a place called Moulton Chapel which is in the north-east corner of the Peterborough Bird Club recording area (PBC area). Some amazing detective work by Josh Jones (a local birder who is on holiday in western Ireland!) meant we had a good guess that it may have gone to roost by a farm house south of Moulton Chapel, perhaps in a poplar tree.

This morning I was up at 5.45am and a check of the internet suggested to me that if it was still near the farm house, the vulture would choose the adjacent pine as a roost site. I met my friends Will Bowell, Hugh Wright and Chris Jones at 6.45am near the site and we walked north in the dark. As we approached to within a few hundred metres of the relevant trees it was obvious to all that this was a big waste of time. The weather was windy with a hint of rain, the bird was well hidden in vegetation and there was no chance it would leave roost before I had to go home (ie to work).

The Hugh calmly said “Right, chaps, I have a Lammergeier. It is in the pine”. And it was!


Unexpectedly, and before the sun had even risen (not that we could tell, with the heavy cloud cover), it flew for about 30 seconds, magnificent and massive, and landed on the other side of the pine, in the full blast of the wind. So, i chose to go and dry out and warm up by flying down to a ploughed field. This is where I got excellent views of this amazing bird, potentially the first accepted Lammergeier in the UK (and much better views than when I saw it in Derbyshire, as you may recall).

Responsible Birding Diary: Wednesday 7.10.20

 

Once more I was in position at Radde’s HQ, Peakirk, at first light. A Barn Owl was easily the best bird, though (and, by the way, I did return last night, and failed to see or hear it again). In the evenign I checked out Deeping Lakes, and apart from four Goosanders (which have been in the local area a while) I recorded nothing interesting.

So, I drove along the Deeping High Bank, and once more saw a Great White Egret, as well as my first Short-eared Owl of the autumn, being mobbed by a crow.

Responsible Birding Diary: Tuesday 6.10.20

 

Yes, it was a Radde’s vigil at dawn this morning. Very soon after I arrived I heard the warbler calling on the west side of The Folly, exactly where Jonathan Taylor had seen it on Sunday. Approaching 8am, the bird appeared, creeping along the foliage just above the water. My friend Will Bowell arrived bang on time and took some amazing photos of this rarest of local birds (the battery was dead on my camera!). Radde’s Warblers are almost unheard of in inland counties! I am pleased. I think I will return again after work, and maybe tomorrow morning, too.

Responsible Birding Diary: Monday 5.10.20

 

Naturally, at first light (in fact while it was still dark), i was at the site of the Radde’s Warbler (a bird I had never seen) on the banks of the channel called The Folly, which flows into the Maxey Cut of the River Welland. A few other birders were there, and we soon heard the distinctive, though subtle call of the Radde’s Warbler! Views were glimpses of movement, rather than solid warbler shaped sightings. One of our number saw a bit of supercilium (stripes above the eyes) on one of these apparitions and that was that before I had to go to work.

After work, despite the rain, I was back. And this time, after a soaking and much patience and scrutinising, I got a few seconds view of this bird which was new to Planet Earth for me, let alone the PBC area. I was pleased.