Monday, December 21, 2020

Responsible/Lockdown Birding Diary: Sunday 20.12.20


I saw (and heard) a bird I have never seen (or heard) before today: Siberian Chiffchaff. The second Sibe Chiff found by local bird finder Josh Jones, in the Peterborough area, recently, this individual was at a place called Stamford Sewage Works, near Uffington. There were plenty of Chiffchaffs (as well as marsh Tit, Grey Wagtail and lots of winter thrushes) and the Siberian Chiffchaff stood our amazingly, being neatly grey and whitish rather than scruffily olive and yellowish.

The calls were a tad ambiguous at times, suggesting it may be a bird form the 'hybrid zone' with abietinus Chiffchaffs, a form known as 'fulvescens', I believe. It was a very neat bird, though although perhaps a 'birder's bird' primarily...

Later, I went searching Hawfinches around another big estate, of the large Walcot HalI, where the best birds were Red Kites, including a wing-tagged individual (below). Later still, I paid a visit to the Deeping Lakes Long-eared Owls, with three birds showing well.

Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 18.12.20


I was back stomping the Deeping High Bank (mainly driving actually) today on my second day off. There was very little bird action to report. The highlights were three Goosanders on the river and a family group of five Whooper Swans. I am starting to accept that I won't see any new birds before the end of the year, and my PBC year list will end of 189 species (tied with 2008 in third place).

Responsible Birding Diary: Thursday 17.12.20


The first of a couple of days off, today I went down to Holme Fen in search of Firecrests. It is a massive birch woodland 9m below sea level in the heart of the fens. There were very few birds at all, except in one spot where a mixed flock of Long-tailed Tits and Blue Tits also contained several Goldcrests and a couple of Treecreepers. Ther emust be a Firecrest out there somewhere...

Responsible Birding Diary: Wednesday 16.12.20


Another day at home, with the highlight being the cheery yet mournful songs of Robins in the garden. The garden is ridiculously leafy as we near the winter solstice. Still leaves all over the buddleias and some of the smaller trees, let alone the Greater Spearwort and Lesser Water Parsnip in the garden pond.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Saturday 19.12.20


There is a massive private estate with a huge palace in the middle of it, just west of Peterborough.The Milton estate or Fitzwilliam estate is quite unlike most of the surrounding land, with rolling sheep fields, huge mature arboreta, a gold course and patches of woodland here and there. I was there to search for Hawfinches. No luck, but there were plenty of Goldcrests enjoying the warm microclimate ofd the iIvy-covered trees. No Firecrests or Hawfinches, but Nuthatch was calling, and there were lots of Sky larks in the nearby fields. My personal highlight was listening to a duet between a couple of Mistle Thrushes. I love the Storm Cock's sad song, particularly in the middle of winter: heartbreaking and delightful in equal measure.

In the afternoon, I waited for owls along the Deeping High Bank. i saw a single (very dark) Short-eared Owl and two Barn Owls. It goes without saying that I love owls!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Tuesday 15.12.20


I may as well say ditto for yesterday's activities. Ie not many birds (or much other wildlife seen). Tomorrow, we get the car back from the menders!

Responsible Birding Diary: Monday 14.12.20


Again, a day in the office (ie the kitchen) feeling a little trapped by not having a car. Don't get me wrong, I am very willing to get out and about by bike, and did lots of this in the spring and summer, losing a ton of weight. But, once the daylight got so restricted in the morning, I became a lazy car birder, and put on all the weight again, plus a bonus half a stone!

The only thing I should mention here is that Feral Pigeons are becoming much more common in our neighbourhood. The add with the abundant House Sparrows and singing Starlings to give our close a bit of old skool urban charm.

Responsible Birding Diary: Saturday 12.12.20


The weather was particularly cold and rainy today, so once more, despite it being the weekend, I stayed home in the warm, and the best bird I saw was a Blackbird in the garden! The Grey Squirrels are still making our garden their winter home.

Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 11.12.20


Another quiet day, where the weather and work prevented me getting out and enjoying the great outdoors. A quick visit to the back garden revealed a dead baby rat on the lawn, but otherwise...

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Sunday 13.12.20


I can't stay in for ever. So, I bit the bullet and took a cycle down to good old Ferry meadows CP. I was after a Goldeneye and dreaming of finding a Dusky Warbler (there is one elsewhere in Cambs!). Instead, I just got annoyed by the excessive number of people in the park.

The best I could muster was a heard-only Chiffchaff (there are a lot around this winter) and a single Snipe on Goldie Meadows. I decided to leave the park and head east to the sewage works, dreaming of finding an Iceland Gull. Instead I went headlong into a prolonged hail and rain storm. A Barn Owl which roosts in a nest box (traditionally) was my highlight. I arrived home a tad damp!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Thursday 10.12.20


In a nutshell, our car has had to go in to the menders with some serious steering problems. So, I I am a little stuck at home, except for cycling and walking. But the weather is not calling me outside at the moment. So, I am content to watch the Wren outside the kitchen window, picking through the tangle of an old buddleia (which still has some leaves).

Responsible Birding Diary: Wednesday 9.12.20


More of the same, today, though without the ice, which helped boost up the list to more like 65 species. Whooper Swans were back in the fields by the Welland viewable from the Deeping High Bank. I counted 53. On the Welland itself there were four Goosanders (three drakes, and one female).

Just outside Deeping Lakes LWT, the usual 'tame' Buzzard was hanging out its wings to dry...

Responsible Birding Diary: Tuesday 8.12.20


Today was my second day off (of three this week), so I naturally did a wee bit of birding in the morning. I spent most of my time in the Deepings area again, working the Deeping High Bank, Baston and Langtoft and Baston Fen areas, with emphasis on the latter. The flooded fields were frozen, so all the wildfowl and waders had hopped over to the nearby River Glen or the unfrozen ditches in the surrounding area (occasionally visiting, perhaps flushed from the river, like the more than 100 Teal below)

The best I could muster at BF was a single Green Sandpiper and a Cetti's Warbler which came and showed very well. Also a juvenile Marsh Harrier came over (below), looking for stragglers on the ice...

In the Greylag flocks at BLGP, the Pink-footed Goose and a single Barnacle Goose were present. All in, I recorded ony about 45 birds this morning, but it was a pleasant if freezing experience!

Responsible Birding Diary: Monday 7.12.20


It was another cold and frosty start to the day, bringing more fog and few birds. It wasn't until the afternoon that I ventured out along the Deepign High Bank, the highlight of which was a very close Barn Owl posing on a nearby post (sadly, I didn't have my camera with me).

Responsible Birding Diary: Sunday 6.12.20


Today, was truly unbirdable fogginess on the Deeping High Bank. Fog, as I have said before can turn up good birds, but I could hardly see the river, let alone any good birds on it. Eventually, after I arrived at Deeping Lakes, the sun started to burn off some of the worst of the fog. The 'best' birds were a fly-over drake Pintail and at least 25 Snipe there.

Meanwhile, Josh Jones had reported 21 European White-fronted Geese back at the slaughtering grounds of BLGP (or on the nearby farmland). When I first checked the fields they were wreathed in fog, but eventually it cleared revealing these lovely geese, set quite far back in the field. They are the best-looking geese we ever get around here! If you happen upon a flock of 21, there were 6 juveniles (lacking the belly bands) and 15 adults.

Responsible Birding Diary: Saturday 5.12.20

In contrast to yesterday, it was a glorious day, today, with wall to wall sunshine. I recorded a few goodies along the Deeping High Bank north and east of Crowland. Over the river (Welland), there were 6 Egyptian Geese on the bank, and behind them the flooding in the fields looked like it could attract something good. It attracted 95 Whooper Swans.

As I was watching the swans, I spotted three large birds flying south-west in the distance, and raised my bins to confirm that they were three Cranes (a brown-headed younger bird and its parents). Eventually, they turned slightly and headed down in the direction of a windfarm you can see miles away, called Wryde Croft, which is just north of the Nene Washes (and a little east of Thorney). So they were heading to where the main population of Cranes hangs out, around here.

Later I took a trip out to Baston Fen and met a couple who had seen presumably the same Curlew I had seen a couple of days ago. I couldn't relocate it. I briefly popped in to check the wader pit at Baston and Langtoft Pits, though I knew the owners of the pits around there had organised a 'shooting party'. Sadly, half a dozen 'guns' were lined up in the divide between the T-junction pit and the pit to its west.

Two Redshanks (at a height of no more than 20 feet) flew over one of the guns, who pointed his shotgun at them and blasted a Redshank out of the sky, plummeting into the waters of the T-junction pit. It was sickening and disgusting to see. I have seen Pheasants, geese and ducks shot before, but nothing prepared me for the horror of witnessing the callous shooting of a Redshank. 'Guardians of the countryside' is what these people who get their kicks maiming and killing call themselves. I call them scum.

Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 4.12.20


It was a dreadful day for wildlife watching. It even snowed today, which then turned to horrible sleet. Needless to say, I stayed indoors all day, except for a brief excursion to the garden, to record the 'White Hell', so I could send a photo to dear Eddie (our son) in Greenwich, where it didn't snow!

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Thursday 3.12.20


I did a wee bit of twitching this lunchtime. The weather was absolutely foul but I needed to see if I could relocate the Curlew that Josh Jones found in the rain at Baston Fen, Lincolnshire, in the morning. After a bit of a march through the mud and rain, success! Curlew is bird number 189 for my Peterborough year list, and a bird that has been bugging me all year!

On this day last year, I ticked Tundra Bean Goose, with a couple of birds seen from the Deeping High Bank. And that was also my 189th tick of the year. So, I have caught up with 2019 for the time of year. Last year, I added Ring-necked Duck and Caspian Gull late on. Will I get into the 190s for the third year running? We must all wait and see...

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Wednesday 2.12.20


Today, I had what we birders call a 'UK find tick', ie a bird I can never claim to have 'found' for myself before in the country. It was a Glossy Ibis, and it was at Deeping Lakes LWT. As I drove in from the entrance at the east end, theGlossy Ibis was also coming in from the east (by flight not by car). I immediately recognised its flight style, even from behind, after seeing the Whittlesey/Ferry Meadows CP bird(s) very recently. But I wanted to be certain(seeing the head and bill would be useful!), so I stopped, wound my window down and binned it as it flew over the east pit. Sorry, not photos were taken!

It looked for all the world like it was drifting down to the pit, or the grassy area nearby, but I couldn't relocate it there or indeed around the west pit. It is possible that it was flushed from the nearby bank of the River Welland, as some dog walkers were up near where it apparently came from. So, it may have returned there. However, I am told that there was a report of a Glossy Ibis flying over southern Peterborough about 25 minutes later (which is only about 10km away, so it may be the same bird).

Who knows how many Glossy Ibises are around at the moment? There are three together further sound in Cambs and the bird at the Dog in a Doublet (near Whittlesey) was reported as still present a couple of days ago.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Tuesday 1.12.20


Yesterday evening, as it was getting dark, I heard from local birdfinder Josh Jones that he had found a couple of White-fronted Geese at Baston and Langtoft pits. There has been a decent influx of these birds (of the European or Russian, if you prefer, race albifrons) into the country in the last few days. ANd Josh had predicted that they would turn up only a couple of hours before he found them!

This morning, I tried to relocate them, as did Josh. Eventually I had to give up (after tking a rather pleasing photo of a Barn Owl). But as I was heading home, I got a message that Josh had relocated the White-fronts, so I turned around and had another look. While Josh went exploring , both White-fronted Geese reappeared in the air, and turned out to be an adult and a juvenile. Below is the adult as it came in to land with part of the mighty Greylag flock (plus that Barn Owl I mentioned).

White-fronted Goose is my 188th Peterborough area bird this year. That is joint fourth best total ever (beaten only in 2008: 189; 2019: 191; and 2018: 195). And there is still a month to go...

Monday, November 30, 2020

Responsible Diary: Monday 30.11.20


With a wee bit of mist in the air, I figured a trip out along the Deeping High Bank may produce some stray from the coast (Red-breasted Merganser and Slavonian Grebe are the chief targets). Alas, all I could muster was a couple of Stonechats.

But I did get the promise that good things were to come...

Responsible Birding Diary: Sunday 29.11.20


I took a trip down to the Nene Washes today. The Glossy Ibis, which was missing yesterday, was back in place on the Skating Lake by the Dog in a Doublet sluice. Also present were a couple of dead swans, which are almost certainly victims of the presumed Avian Influenza which has had an outbreak recently. I hope the Buzzards, crows and Marsh Harriers eating the corpses will not be affected.

I took a walk out from March Farmers, east, but the best I could muster were 5 singing Cetti's Warblers. Wow, this species has flourished like crazy recently! It used to be a major local rarity, but the mild winters have helped this resident warbler thrive in recent years.

Responsible Birding Diary: Saturday 28.11.20


Deeping Lakes LWT produced the goods for me today. At first, there was not much to report, except the regular Pink-footed Goose on the East Pit. And, as the number of visitors (not birdwatchers, just visitors) to the reserve seemed very high, I decided to skip looking for the Long-eared Owls, cut my losses and leave.

As it happens, as I was leaving my friend Matt Fitzgerald was arriving. So, we parked and chewed the fat a wee bit, moaning about this and that. I said to Fitz, "I just want to see a Merlin!". And that very second, a small raptor wen whizzing over the nearby River Welland. It was a Merlin! Perfectly on time. That is the last of the 'core' birds for my year list, which is now on 187 species (pretty respectable) for the PBC area.

Fitz and I decided to head for a site in the Maey area to see if there were any jack Snipes around, this winter. We encountered 2 Jackos plus 3 Snipes at the site. Jack Snipes are just wonderful little waders. It is amazing to think that there are apparently 100,000 of them wintering in the UK, as they are so elusive!

Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 27.11.20

This lunchtime I once more took advantage of the beautiful sunshine and again took a drive along the Deeping High Bank. All the 'good stuff' from yesterday had moved on: no Whoopers, no Ravens etc. At Deeping Lakes, there was a Pink-footed Goose and a calling Chiffchaff as the main highlights. But, as it happens, someone reported that three Long-eared Owls were showing in the area called The Gully, by The Lake.

So I wandered around there, and found that there were actually four Long-eared Owls giving excellent scope views. They are certainly closer in this roost site than when they are on the island on The Lake, which has become a regular wintering spot for them.Three of the four owls are shown below. I will leave it up to you to find them in the photo...

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Thursday 26.11.20


This lunchtime I took advantage of the beautiful sunshine to take a drive along the Deeping High Bank (the road next to the River Welland on a stretch between Deeping St James and Spalding, south Lincs). The highlight was a pair of Ravens which were feeding on and near the road itself. This the second time I have seen a Raven in the same area (near the turn off to Deeping St Nicholas) in recent weeks. And both birds were apparently keen to move back to the vicinity of the road once I moved off.

Ravens are still pretty scarce around Peterborough, but are becoming common enough that I am thinking of demoting them from 'elite' status for next year's year list. In a nutshell, in order to keep track of progress on my list, I divide all birds into 'core' or elite'. The core of some 135 species are the birds that any moderate local birder should expect to see each and every year in the Peterborough area. Anything else is 'elite'. This year, for instance, I have seen just over 50 elites (with Merlin being the only bird missing from the 'core'; a bird which may be 'promoted' next year).

Also of note along the DHB were two decent flocks of more than 100 Whooper Swans, separated by a few miles, and seven Goosanders (one drake, the rest female types).

At nearby Deeping Lakes LWT on the east pit were a Pink-footed Goose, 2 Green Sandpipers, 2 Cetti's Warblers and a Chiffchaff.

Raven by Deeping High Bank, Lincs

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Wednesday 25.11.20


Before work, I popped over to Baston Fen NR in south Lincolnshire to see what was about, now it has been partially flooded. My main aims were Water Pipits and raptors. I saw none of the former and only the odd Kestrel and Buzzard of the latter. The highlights instead were a couple of Stonechats (female below) and six Redshanks.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Tuesday 24.11.20


I went back at lunchtime to check out the Dog in a Doublet action (on the skating pool). Today there were:

Glossy Ibis, 1, (see photo below)

Spotted Redshank, 1,

Redshank, 4,

Ruff, 33, (spot the one below)

Black-tailed Godwit, 75, (see photo below)

Whooper Swan, 58, (see photo below)

Wigeon, 152,

Buzzard, 3, eating a dead swan, and

Mash Harrier, 1, juv

Responsible Birding Diary: Monday 23.11.20


The Dog in a Doublet is the name of a pub on the north bank of the River Nene, north of Whittlesey, some 15 minutes drive from home. There is a sluice in the river here (known as the Dog in a Doublet sluice), which marks the westernmost extent of the tidal section of the Nene. Some good birds had been reported in the flooded field just south of the sluice, known as the skating pond (people still skate there when it is properly frozen!). Anyhow, some good birds had been reported there yesterday, so I took a lunchtime trip to see for myself.

It was superb and very easy viewing (despite being a tad cold) from a pull in on the B1040 just south of the DinD. On the edges of the flooded field and on the flood itself were the following excellent birds:

Glossy Ibis, 1,

Spotted Redshank, 1,

Ruff, 20,

Black-tailed Godwit, 133,

Whooper Swan, 78

It was almost surreal seeing such riches in one easy to view (with a scope) spot, just a quarter of an hour from home.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Sunday 22.11.20


This morning I was up in the Baston and Langtoft pits complex seeking out a White-fronted Goose which had been reported as the sun set yesterday. There are lots of Greylags(several hundred) in the area but they are feeding in all sorts of different fields, many farmland inaccessible to the public. A large chunk of the supergaggle came to bathe at the T-junction pit in the morning, and I was able to see a Barnacle Goose and two Pink-footed Geese among them, but no Whitefront. There were probably a couple of thousand Golden Plovers mixing with the Lapwings in the nearby fields.

I bumped into a couple of locals i the form of Josh Jones and well known farmer and landowner Nicholas Watts. As we chatted, Josh spotted a raptor coming towards us and it turned out to be an adult female Hen Harrier, which was a delight.

There was no more scarce goose action, so I gave up and went to relocate the Ailsworth Hooded Crow again, with some success.

In the afternoon I was back again and watching the goose flock in a nearby field. There were now two Barnacle Geese in with the GGs. Better though were the two Short-eared Owls hunting in the distance. A couple of Barn Owls were also hunting nearer to where I was standing.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Saturday 21.11.20


I tried to relocate the diver again this morning, but it seems to have departed (or at least definitely moved). So, I dibbled around the Deepings area and eventually moved south and west to look for the Hooded Crow, once again. I couldn’t see that bird either (but was told it had been fluched by a Peregrine earlier). I did, however, have a nice flock of nearly 60 Pink-footed Geese passing by nearby, heading south-west. We don’t get a huge amount of these birds in our part of norther Cambs, despite being only a few tens of miles from the hundreds of thousands that winter in north Norfolk. However, we do get the odd skein which goes off course, or is seeking feeding grounds further inland.

It is wonderful to see a distant V-shaped skein and hope for anything but Greylags or Canadas, then hop out of the car and hear the distant ‘wink wink’ call of Pinkfeet!

Friday, November 20, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 20.11.20


In case you are wondering, what is going on with the Responsible Birding Diary, the original diary ‘page’ on the website had, after eight months become unwieldy to add to. Daily updates from April to late November with words and pictures scattered throughout meant that adding new material had become glacially slow.

So, we have split the diary up, so you can still revisit the older stuff through the ‘archive’ link, but you can continue to see what I have been up to at this link. Please continue reading, and email the magazine at or tweet @birdwatchingmag if you want to send some feedback.

Anyhow let’s get started (again)This morning it is a wee bit chillier than it has been recently. I didn’t go out looking for Hooded Crows or our ‘resident’ great Northern Diver (nor elusive Merlins), but instead have popped into the garden to see how it is coming along. Back in the day, I would have expected all leaves to have fallen and most plants to have stopped growing and gone into dormancy for the winter. But, these days, autumn and winter come later, and though the garden is covered in fallen leaves (which are also filling up the pond), some of the pond plants are still green and obvious, as perhaps you can see in the photos below.

Otherwise, the garden had Wren, House Sparrow and a fly-over Feral Pigeon and not much else, this morning in my brief visit. Perhaps at lunchtime, I may pop out in search of that Hooded Crow, again

…And indeed I did pop out at lunchtime. I relocated the Hooded Crow in the road! But could only get a quick record shot before a car came hurtling along and flushed it. Ho hum.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Thursday 19.11.20


I got out early this morning to try to get better views of the Hooded Crow. Eventually, I tracked down the flock of about 200 Carrion Crows in which it was feeding. Don’t believe all that amateur nonsense about Rooks being the flocking crows and crows feeding alone. It is poppycock. Anyhow, it was lovely to watch this grey and black visitor.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Wednesday 18.11.20


Today was my last day off, and last chance to catch up with a Merlin, this week (until the weekend, anyhow). I did see my favourite Great Northern Diver, but came home at lunchtime without a Merlin on my list.

But, thanks to some dedicated finding by local birder Derek L and his reporting on our local WhatsApp group), I was able to head out while it was still just about light enough to see, and see his Hooded Crow, near Castor Hanglands and the village of Ailsworth (just west of Peterborough). This is bird number 186 on my local year list and only the fifth Hooded Crow I have seen in 20 years birding in the Peterborough area.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Tuesday 17.11.20


I am on a seeming eternal quest to see Merlin locally this year. Last year, I couldn’t move for Merlins, but this year I can’t see one for love or money. I decided to bite the bullet and walk the few miles of the Long Drove of the Nene Washes RSPB reserve in search of these little falcons. It was hard work in the strong winds (and my knees are bad at the moment) and I had no luck with Merlins. I did see a specularly huge juvenile female Peregrine which looked about the size of a Marsh Harrier as it was mobbed by a Kestrel!

Other highlights of the walk were 6 Stonechats, a single Great White Egret, and a fly-over Dunlin.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Monday 16.11.20


As I had today ‘off’, I spent more time exploring different sites in the the Peterborough area. Most interesting was coming across a bunch of fields just north of the A47 (the road which links us to Leicester in the west and Norfolk in the east), east of Thorney. I counted 880 Whopper Swans in one field alone. With them were just about 10 Bewick’s Swans (we used to get many more of these smaller swans, but fewer of the Whoopers). Also there were at least 33 Cranes. It is a reminder of what a great place the Peterborough area can be, to see such a mass of brilliant wintering birds!

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Loon revisited

Responsible Birding Diary: Sunday 15.11.20


And what can I say about today, other than I was once more watching the River Welland Great Northern Diver for an inordinate amount of time?

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Saturday 14.11.20


This weekend sees the start of a five day break from work, most of which I will probably spend birding, as my daily exercise. I decided to concentrate on the Deeping High Bank (again) and Deepings area in general, logging about 60 species. The best of the bunch were a Great White Egret by the Crowland Water Tower and the Great Northern Diver in its usual place. I also saw a couple of Stonechats and the odd Marsh Harrier.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 13.11.20


The diver (which is becoming an obsession) was present again this morning. I managed one or two photos, and also a picture of a ‘tame’ Buzzard just outside Deeping Lakes LWT.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Thursday 12.11.20


Once more, I found myself driving the Welland in search of the Great Northern Diver (or anything else). At first there was ‘no sign’ and I thought the diver may have moved on. But as I was heading home, I saw it, but a little further downstream than is its customary setting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Wednesday 11.11.20


This afternoon, I went to Maxey pits to try to film the Starling murmuration which has been building up there. On the way, I thought I would call in on my beloved Great Northern Diver. Sure enough, after a bit of a wait, he appeared and swam very close to the gate where I originally found him on Sunday. But then, he abruptly turned round and went back the other way.

When I looked a little downstream, I noticed what I thought was a thin branch sticking out of the middle of the river. A second glance revealed it was an Otter, waving its tail in the air, almost like a flag to see off the diver, which was close to invading the Otter’s fishing area! It was a quite extraordinary sight!!

Later on, though I did see getting on for about 30,000 Starlings come to roost, they never really formed a single big swarm, preferring to dive almost immediately into the roost site. Another afternoon, perhaps…

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

More Welland Great Northern Diver photographs

Responsible Birding Diary: Tuesday 10.11.20


The Great Northern Diver was in position again on the River Welland. I took a lunchtime trip up there with my dear wife, Joe, and I managed to get a few more photos. At one stage, a Great White Egret flew over our heads.

Meanwhile, a quick pop in to nearby Deeping Lakes produced a calling Chiffchaff, which I guess is going to linger for the winter, now.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Monday 9.11.20


I drove up again to the Welland on this the fourth foggy morning on the trot. After a bit of a waiting, I saw the Great Northern Diver in exactly the same spot as I last saw it yesterday afternoon.

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Great Northern Diver, River Welland, near Deeping Lakes LWT, south Lincs/north Cambs

Responsible Birding Diary: Sunday 8.11.20


For the third day running there was fog on the Welland, and so the temptation to seek birds which may have got slightly lost in the haze. Things started well enough with the Great White Egret, again fishing along the river in the mist.

But then I got lucky! I found a juvenile Great Northern Diver on a stretch of the river, where it branches off from the road (near Deeping; and where the river forms the boundary between Cambs to the south and Lincs to the north). The diver fished the same stretch of river all day. giving great photographic opportunities. (for photos see the next post; meantime here is the Great White Egret in the fog).

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Saturday 7.11.20


For the second day running it was a foggy start, so I was back at the Deeping High Bank (a road which follows the River Welland for a few miles). A Great White Egret was again fishing the banks of the river, and that was about the sum of the goodness on the river. SO, I went to Deeping Lakes and hung out for a while compiling a list from one of the screens.

I reached just over 50 species, with the highlights being a female Pintail and a Green Sandpiper popping in. In the afternoon, I went down to Eldernell (Nene Washes) for a bit of an early evening ‘roost’s session. It is very good there at the moment. My totals were as follows:

Hen Harrier, 1, ringtail,

Marsh Harrier, 7 (minimum)

Crane, 59,

Great White Egrets, 4,

Little Egret, 19,

Stonechat, 2

Friday, November 06, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 6.11.20

Despite moaning about a lack of time in the morning pre-work, for birding, I drove up to the Deeping High Bank this morning, as it was foggy, and fog should never be ignored (It brings some very good birds, sometimes). All I had to report was a Stone chat and five Whooper Swans. By the time I got to Deeping Lakes, it was still too foggy even to see the islands properly. A couple of Cetti’s Warblers were singing and that was looking like the highlight, when a Bearded Tit called from near my screen. And a few seconds later a lovely male Bearded Tit flew by calling.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Thursday 5.11.20


It is hard to get any birding in outside the weekends, at the moment. There is not much time in the morning to get a decent cycle in with birdwatching, before work, despite the clocks going back. Still, I can always pop out to the garden and enjoy the birds. There are always birds in our garden, and with the falling of the leaves, it is easier to see them in the hedges! So, I have been enjoying the Dunnocks, Great Tits and Wrens. But I also had a Linnet fly over and a Sky Lark; the former was my first over the garden, this year, and the latter an indication that there is still some migration going on.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Wednesday 4.11.20


I popped out for a bit into the sunny but cold garden this morning. Easily the highlight was the pair of Goldcrests working their way through the trees. I have never seen more than one Goldcrest in the garden, before, and these are pretty uncommon ( less than annual).

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Tuesday 3.11.20


The most interesting thing in the garden today was a fresh scattering of Woodpigeon feathers. I think it looks like the remains of Sparrowhawk kill (which we get from time to time) and hope it isn’t a result of hunting by one of the thousands of semi-feral cats that come into our garden!

Monday, November 02, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Monday 2.11.20


A quiet day, wildlife wise (and too windy to get up to much on my bicycle), the best I could get out of the day was watching Great Tits, Robins and Magpies enjoying the garden.

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Glossy Ibis, Ferry Meadows CP, Peterborough


Responsible Birding Diary: Sunday 1.11.20


As the weather was somewhat better today, I decided to pay the Ferry Meadows Glossy Ibis another visit, and I got lucky, with some close views and some sunshine. It may be a brown, dull-coloured version of its species, but it was fascinating watching it probing for endless earthworms. It is a great tribute to the staff at Ferry Meadows, especially my friend Chris Park, that the flooded fields of Heron Meadows, there, have delivered such great birds!

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Saturday 31.10.20


I dedicated the whole day to watching the local celebrity Glossy Ibis. The only other goodies which lightened up this rainy day at Ferry Meadows were a calling Water Rail and the odd passing Sparrowhawk. And when the sun finally came out, the ibis didn’t walk into the sunny bits!

Friday, October 30, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Friday 30.10.20

I was slightly hung over this morning, so skipped an early cycle trip to Ferry Meadows CP. However, later in the day, the Glossy Ibis was refound there on the partially flooded fields (with cattle), called Heron Meadows. So, I cycled down to see this first record for the park (and my 122nd FMCP bird this year).

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Responsible Birding Diary: Thursday 29.10.20


It is my birthday, today, and I never work on my birthday! The only problem today was how rainy it is (which is rare for my birthday!). So, I did a bit of birdwatching in the morning in the Deepings area. The highlights included a family or two of Whooper Swans, and the now resident Black-necked Grebe at Baston and Langtoft pits (present since August). While I was there, I witnessed the horrific spectacle of a Great Black-backed Gull killing and eating an adult Moorhen. Then it rained hard, so I went home.

In the afternoon, the rain stopped and my dear wife Jo and I went down to Eldernell (part of the Nene Washes) to watch the raptors, egrets and Cranes. The highlights were a very late juvenile Swallow, a beautiful adult or near adult male Hen Harrier (which at one stage had an aerial battle with a Short-eared Owl). Six Great White Egrets came into the roost and I watched a distant feeding flock of 35 Cranes (plus another 3 closer to the car park).

The sun even came out for a short while (as it always does on my birthday!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Responsible birding diary: Wednesday 28.10.20


I started the day checking out the Glossy Ibis field in Whittlesey. Sadly, the bird was not there, leaving just Black-headed Gulls and Pied Wagtails in the partly flooded hose field. And that was the highlight of my day’s wildlife watching! These early ‘nights’ are a real downer, as it is pitch black dark by the end of the working day.

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.