Monday, April 30, 2007

Field day

I spent most of the day (30.4.07) at large in the PBC area with Will Bowell. We covered several sites and had fantastic success.
I started the day with 26 Barwits and a Knot at Maxey and continued with a further 18 Barwits and a Turnstone at Deeping Lakes. The other big highlight was a couple of beautiful summer Black Terns at Fletton Brick Pit (LB1), flying over a pair of first-winter Little Gulls.

Day totals included:

Bar-tailed Godwit, 47,
Turnstone, 1,
Knot, 1,
Black Tern, 2,
Little Gull, 2,
Greenshank, 4,
Common Sandpiper, 2,
Dunlin, 1,
Wheatear, 6,
Hobby, 2,
Grey Partridge, 2.
As ever, click on any photo for a bigger version...

Barwits and Knot at Maxey (digiscope)

Female Wheatear (digiscope)

Male Reed Bunting, Maxey (digiscope)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

More wader fun

I spent an inordinate amount of time today chasing waders around, like a headless Turnstone. I checked out Maxey early this morning and there were seven Bar-tailed Godwits there. Next I found five Barwits at the New Workings at Baston and Langtoft, where there were also two Greenshanks. I left there and while passing Frognall, a flock of about 150 waders whizzed by. At first I thought they were Golden Plovers, but there was something a bit fast and direct about their flight that gives me doubts. Were they more Barwits?
I went to the High Wash and while thereI heard that Charlie Kitchin had seen Tunstone, multiple Sanderlings and Grey Plovers plus more Barwits at Eldernell. A quick dash there proved that there really is no visible (to the public) decent wader habitat. So I returned to the High Wash where there were two more Barwits...

Knot, Maxey, 29.4.07 (digiscope)

Little and Large (Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit), Maxey, 29.4.07 (digiscope)

In the afternoon I returned to Maxey and was immediately greeted by the splendid vision of a breeding-plumaged Knot, only the second of these brick-red mini-Barwits I have seen locally (ie in spring). There were also ten Barwits, which the Knot was hanging out with, and these were soon joined on the pits by two more plus a Grey Plover!

Grey Plover, Maxey, 29.4.07 (digiscope)

I paid one final visit in the evening, and watched as five of the 12 Barwits disappeared. But half an hour later another four appeared.
So I reckon I have seen a minimum of 39 Barwits this weekend.
By the way there were also three drake Wheatears at Maxey today.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Bar-tailed Godwits, Maxey pits, 28.4.07 (digiscope)
There has been a massive movement of Bar-tailed Godwits in the last couple of days, across the country. So, I was not entirely surprised, but was very pleased when I found a pair at Maxey early this morning. I was even more pleased when a Whimbrel flew by me with a Barwit for company, but the pair of the deck flew and joined them heading east, so I feared no one else would see them. I let Will Bowell and Josh Jones know, and Josh reported a Whinchat at Deeping Lakes (not far from Maxey). I still want one for my PBC year list, so I picked up Will and we went to DL, but there was no sign of the chat. Will did, however, receive a text from Chris Lines saying he had more than 20 Barwits at Maxey!
So, we returned there instead, and there were 22 of the beauties!
Thirteen of them departed at 9.30, leaving nine. But later in the afternoon WIll had ten (plus a new Greenshank in fine breeding plumage), so another (at least) must have dropped in. So, there have been at least 26 at Maxey today, an astonishing count!

There were still ten there in the evening, including these two birds, who were separated from the other eight.
I have the next week off work and intend to do a fair bit of local birding; Maxey is the subject of high hopes for a good variety of waders...

Garden Robin

Our garden is starting to bustle with baby birds. Sadly, the children found a dead young Song Thrush here yesterday, but I'm encouraged that they appear to be nesting in our Ivy hedge. We had two baby Blackbirds two days ago (26.4.07) and the Robins which are nesting in the vine outside our kitchen window and conservatory are both coming to feed what are probably tiny babies in the nest. Here is one of the adults taken today on its way to the nest (DSLR)

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Bar-tailed Godwits are fairly scarce around Peterborough. So, I was particularly lucky when this one flew right by me at the Nene Washes this morning (22.4.07; DSLR)


Drumming Snipe

Black-tailed Godwit

Shoveler duck

Shoveler pair

Shoveler drakes

Gadwall pair

Marhs Harrier


Action is the reason I got a DSLR. In many cases this means flight, which is generally beyond digiscoping. Here are a selection of shots from the Nene Washes RSPB reserve this morning (22.4.07).

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Three photos

Little Owl, Deeping Lakes LWT, Lincolnshire, 21.4.07 (digiscope)

Female Wheatear, Serpentine Brick Pit, Cambridgeshire, 21.4.07 (digiscope)

Thursday, April 19, 2007


A Pheasant croaking and flapping to proclaim his patch, Ferry Meadows, 19.4.07 (digiscope)


A whopper at Ferry Meadows, 19.4.07 (Canon PowerShot A95)

Green Ouzel & Ring Hairstreak

I had a bit of an impromptu drive around today (19.4.07) after spending an hour or so trying to ignore a steady stream of golfers and dog-walkers at the Goldie Lane end of Ferry Meadows. I was there because a male Redstat was found there this morning and I craved it. There was no sign.

Ring Ouzel, The Plough (digiscope)
So I cut my losses and went out to enjoy views of heat haze with a couple of Ring Ouzels thrown in at the back of a pub called The Plough, out in the Fens, not far from Farcet. Very nice birds and so much more than just Blackbirds with white collars. Ring Ouzels are shy and untamable, they are Scottish Wild Cats to the domestic moggy which is the Blackbird. With long wings of silver and an ultra-wary disposition, they are not only handsome but very desirable, and it has been nice to connect with the wave of oodles of ouzels which has been flowing through the country recently. I've seen three now, locally, this spring, compared with five in the previous six years.
As I got back to my car a Swift flew by, my first of the year.

Green Hairstreak, Orton Brick Pit (Canon PowerShot A95)
On the way home, I called in at Orton Brick Pit and immediately found a male Orange-tip which actually settled and basked with its wings open. And while gorging myself on the song of my first Nightingale of the year, I noticed a small brown butterfly flitting about. When it settled, wings closed it was clearly a Green Hairstreak, one of my favourite butterflies.
Some recompense for missing the Redstart.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Maxey birds

Male Wheatear (digiscope)

This evening at Maxey (Etton side, c.6.30-7.30pm), there were:
Wheatear, 3,
Yellow Wagtail, 21, gathered in one flock,
White Wagtail, 1,
Sand Martin, c15,
Linnet, c20,
Little Ringed Plover, 14, a new high here this year, I believe - it is becoming a bit crowded with them...
Ringed Plover, 6,
Green Sandpiper, 3,
Common Tern, 1, through west at c 7pm

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Adult summer Little Gull (digiscope)
Once more, champion local patcher and bird-finder josh Jones comes up with the goods. This time he found an adult Little Gull with a nearly complete hood (just a bit speckly), but with lovely dark underwings and pristine pale upper wings. It was at Baston & Langtoft pits, on the 'Corner Pit' when I saw it just before 3pm (15.4.07). The dark underwings almost gave the illusion of black in the wing for a mo while it was at rest, but when it rose up off the water, to carry on catching insects with the Black-headed Gulls, it showed its fully-adult wings.

Yellow wag hare

Once the fog had cleared a bit this morning I took a quick hour-long dash to Maxey (15.4.07), mainly to see if the male Wheatear from yesterday was willing to pose for photos. So I parked up by the Maxey cut and risked a trip around the upper bank. The risk did not pay off, though as there was no visible Wheatear and I was spotted by Thomas Baskerville, the evil dog owned by the couple who live in the bungalow overlooking the pit. Thomas duly barked and attacked me, and despite my dancing and plentiful advice to leave me alone, took a big gnash at my ankle, ripping a five-inch tear in my trousers, but thankfully just missing the flesh. I am sometimes tempted to arm myself with one of the plentiful cobbles which litter the area...
Once he was back on his lead, I continued birding. Best stuff was the rather dippy young hare which I've seen before and this gorgeous male Yellow Wagtail. It's always a shock when you see them in spring quite how yellow they really are! It was happy wading through the flies at the water's edge.

Brown Hare (digiscope)

Male Yellow Wagtail (digiscope)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Garden Peacock

There were loads of butterflies around this super-warm 14.4.07, particularly nymphalids and Brimstones. I also had my first Speckled Wood of the year (at Old Sulehay). As an aside, I also added Wheatear, Common Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail (all three at Maxey) and Lesser Whitethroat (Morborne Hill) today.
In our garden, this Peacock was enjoying the lovely blossom of one of our apple trees this evening (DSLR).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Gory detail

This Golden Plover was at Maxey pits on 7.4.07. Clearly freshly killed, judging by the bright red blood and still intact organs (I'm not much cop at anatomy: lungs? heart?), the wings, breast bone and a couple of organs were all that remained – plus a bit of gravel stuck to the gore. It was on top of one of the five-foot high hay bales by the 'hard-stand' on the road to Etton.
There were no feathers scattered about, so I presume the bird was killed and plucked and largely devoured somewhere else (a gravelly place I would suggest, Watson), then moved up to the bale to finish orf, before the killer was disturbed.
Sparrowhawks come through here regularly, but then a Peregrine has also been seen a few times (i've seen one or more around the pit a few times myself in the last couple of years). I like to think a Peregrine was the killer, and it somehow seems romantic that a Peregrine was sat a few feet away from where I do my regular patch-watching...

[By the way, the hand belongs to local birder Chris Lines.]

Monday, April 09, 2007


Bee Fly (DSLR)

Comma (DSLR)
Both at Deeping Lakes, 9.4.07.

Lead replacement petrol

Little Ringed Plover, rudely disturbed (accientally I hasten to add) on potential breeding site, PBC area, 9.4.07 (digiscope).