Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Lockdown Diary: Wednesday 26.8.20

This morning, I returned to Ferry Meadows to get a better look at last evening’s Shags. But, alas, there was no sign. I returned to the scene of my spring vigils, outside the café overlooking Gunwade Lake, and hoped for the best in the strong NW wind. There were two highlights: a very close fly-by from an adult Hobby, which whizzed past and low over the lake, before powering up like a rocket to chase Sand Martins. And also an Otter which swim very close to the shore. It is always a good day when you see an Otter!

Otter, Ferry Meadows CP, Peterborough, 26.8.2

Lockdown Diary: Tuesday 25.8.20


I was sitting watching a bit of telly, this evening (at about 7 o’clock), after a day stuck indoors, owing to the horrific high winds. But I got a call from my friend Don who believed he had found a Shag at Ferry Meadows CP, on Overton Lake. I thought, it was worth a cycle, despite the gusty gale. We don’t get many Shags around Peterborough, perhaps one a year maximum and I hadn’t seen one since December 2017. But they have turned up at FMCP in August a couple of times before in my time (2008 and 2010), and there had been a big influx inland after the recent high winds (with more than 20 on the dam at Rutland Water yesterday).

However, when I got about halfway to the park, Don called me to say that his Shag had flown off in the direction of the other large lake, Gunwade. I ploughed on, and despite the wind getting stronger and a very nasty shower, I cycled passed Overton and round Gunwade and saw nothing but Black-headed Gulls, Common Terns and a couple of Great Crested Grebes. So, I thought it best to go back to the where Don had originally seen the Shag, on the narrow gravelly beach of a steep wooded island on Overton, the trees of which are white with Cormorant guano.

I got the place you look at this island (at an old archaeological site called Roman Point) and a quick glance revealed there were 2 juvenile Shags standing on the beach! I called Don, who cycled over and we watched them for a short while before they flew out onto the water of the lake. They were constantly fidgeting and nervous, like new ‘stranger’ birds. This is the first time I have seen more than one Shag at the same time in the Peterborough area. Local year tick number 172.

Juvenile Shags, Overton Lake, Ferry Meadows CP, Petrborough, 25.8.20

Lockdown Diary: Monday 24.8.20


It was back to fruit picking for Ed (I am surprised he can even look a blueberry in the eye, these days!), and I was once again early on, at Deeping Lakes. Nothing much to report there, so I headed to the Baston and Langtoft pit complex (BLGP), where the lingering juvenile Black-necked Grebe is still on theT-junction pit. On the way home I called in at the new workings near Etton, Cambs, which had 4 Common Sandpipers, 1 Green Sandpiper and lots of Yellow Wagtails.

I got a report that my friend Don found a Redstart at Ferry Meadows this morning, so I may head down there after work, today… Watch this space. Meantime, here is a tame Robin from out garden (I think a youngster, who has just grown his ‘adult’ type head feathers).

Robin, our Peterborough garden, 24.8.20

As it happens, after work I cycled down to Ferry Meadows and almost immediately upon arriving at the scrubby area called Coney Meadow, I saw the female Redstart! But it was another hour until I saw her again. No photos. The bushes around here were full of warblers, mainly Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, with several Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats, plus Goldcrest.

After getting a bit bored waiting for the Redstart to reappear, I wandered down to Roman Point on the edge of Overton Lake and admired the growing Ring-necked Parakeet flock which were nibbling on Field Maple seeds. Most were juveniles, and the flock was more than 20 strong. So, there must have been several broods mixing from the newly-established local breeding population. These ones were posing for photos!

Ring-necked Parakeets, Ferry Meadows CP, Peterborough, 24.8.20

Lockdown Diary: Sunday 23.8.20


I visited Tanholt Pits, Cambs, today. I think it is technically called Eye Quarry or even America’s Farm pits, but we birders call it Tanholt, probably you park outside the entrance to Tanholt Farm, just south of Eye. Anyhow, the main pit which has decent birds has been so flooded that it looks like it has strings of shallow islands. And these naturally attract the odd wader. There was nothing exceptional but there were 3 Green Sandpipers and 4 Common Sandpipers. It is one of those places with a lot of potential…

There were also loads of Little Grebe families there and the surrounding tracks had Small Heath and Brown Argus butterflies, which are always nice...

Lockdown Diary: Saturday 22.8.20


We were back filming at Deeping Lakes LWT again, this morning. Mark and I were joined by friend Will Bowell who has been coming to DL since before it was called DL, and has had it as his local patch since he was 13 (ie 20 years ago). So, he was able to deliver a few nice tips on how to work it as a patch.

We were able to show Mark a Bullfinch thorough a scope, and he also got great views of a Kestrel sitting in a bush. Before I even met up with the guys, I had already seen a couple of juvenile Marsh Harriers, one of which gave it self up for some photography from the car window. Most of the photos were soft, but these two were OK. You can tell it is a juvenile by the dark plumage (apart from the head) including the dark shoulders (usually pale on an adult female) plus the tell-tale pale fringes to the wing feathers.

Juvenile Marsh Harrier over farmland between Crowland and Spalding, south Lincolnshire 21.8.20

After Mark and Will had departed, a juvenile Black-tailed Godwit dropped in for a short while at Deeping Lakes, east pit, the first juv of this species I have seen this year.

Juvenile Little Ringed Plover, Deeping Lakes LWT, Lincs, 22.8.20

Juvenile Black-tailed Godwit, Deeping Lakes LWT, Lincs, 22.8.20 

Lockdown Diary: Friday 21.8.20


Bird Watching magazine started our Back Garden Birdfest today, and I tried to do a bit of live birdwatching at Deeping Lakes (filmed by BW art editor Mark Cureton and video genius, Jake Kindred). It was the first time I had seen these guys since mid-March, so lovely to see them in the flesh. The weather was shocking for filming, with excessive amounts of wind (and a certain amount of rain) hampering our efforts.

However, we did get to see nearly 50 species of bird around the reserve area. The videos are still available for checking out on the Bird Watching facebook page

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Lockdown Diary: Thursday 20.8.20

I was back at a Deeping Lakes packed with birds, this morning. There was nothing particularly special, just a lot of birds! little Ringed Plover juveniles had increased to 3, and there was a nice, neat juvenile Common Gull (which is not a very common plumage here). But apart from that, it was the usual suspects.

The swans have not got used to the fences round the pits and fields yet, and keep getting 'stranded' on the entrance track...

Mute Swans, Deeping Lakes LWT. Lincs, 20.8.20

In our garden, a juvenile Blackbird has taken a liking to our ripening figs, the cheeky beggar!

Blackbird eating a fig, our garden, Peterborough, 20.8.20

Lockdown Diary: Wednesday 19.8.20


It was good to be back on my bike, this morning, heading down to Ferry Meadows CP, once more, first thing. There was nothing sensational to report, but still very pleasan,t with plenty of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers calling from here and there. Also, there are still loads of woodpeckers calling (mainly Green but also Great Spotted in numbers).

Apart from a Lesser Whitethroat, arguably the most interesting birds were Ring-necked Parakeets. It is still moot whether these birds are ‘tickable’ in these here parts. There is a strong argument that as one of the adult birds, and presumably the father or mother of recent rbroods is blue and has lots of plastic rings, it came out of a cage, and so its offspring are the direct descendants of a cagebird, thus dampening my urge to tick them. Anyhow, I saw a flock of 11 flying over (including a yellow one!) thiw morning, followed soon after by a further 3. So, there are a minimum of 14 parakeets in teh park at the moment. Surely, a self-sustaining feral population is in Peterborough, if not now than next year…

At lunchtime, I popped into the garden for a cuppa. I tried to investigate some tapping sounds (which turned out to be Great tits trying to break open hazelnuts), and while I was searching, I saw an adult male Blackcap furtively working through one of the bushes. It has been a good year for warblers in our garden!

Lockdown Diary: Tuesday 18.8.20


Deeping Lakes was a bit quiet, this morning, with the usual half-a-dozen Common Sandpipers and couple of Little Ringed Plovers. Two of the Common Sandpipers (one of which has a limp, and so has been rudely dubbed ‘Limpy’), seem to spend most of their time chasing each other round the pit from island to island. Limpy seems mainly to be the ‘aggressor’ and the birds keep calling out a high, thin whistle which sounds more like one of those annoying dog whistles that annoying dog walkers have, than a typical Common Sandpiper call!

So, after a while, I drove home, via the pits just north of the village of Etton (northern Cambridgeshire), which have produced a few waders, recently. As it happens, I almost immediately found a Turnstone, sharing a tiny gravelly island with a Little Ringed Plover. Turnstones are scarce passage birds around here, so this was a good find!

Also there were a few Common Sandpipers, a Green Sandpiper and a single Ringed Plover, plus lots of Yellow Wagtails (more than 20, anyhow).

Lockdown Diary: Monday 17.8.20


After delivering the fruit-picker, I was once more at Deeping Lakes, this misty moisty morning. It felt ‘very birdy’, but it was a case of the usual suspects. Until, that is at 7.25, i heard the unmistakable call of a Whimbrel, and a30 seconds later, 2 Whimbrels came low over, calling. These are the first Whimbrels I have seen since many months ago, in the spring. They are quite scarce passage birds in these here parts.

I didn’t photograph them, but did take a few snaps of a Black-headed Gull which appeared to have an ‘oiled’ belly and breast, making it look like a hybrid with a Grey Plover. It reminded me of the horror of my youth, when oiled spills seemed to be happening all the time, and oiled seabirds were almost the norm. Also at DL this morning were a flock of 4 Red-crested Pochards and the first Wigeon I have seen for several weeks.


Apparently oiled first-winter Black-headed Gull, Deeping Lakes LWT, Lincolnshire, 17.8. 20 

At lunchtime, I popped into the garden for a cuppa. A Chiffchaff was calling, a flock of 6 Swallows passed overhead (unusual here), as a bit of early ‘vis mig’ and insects included a Migrant Hawker dragonfly, and Holly Blue and Red Admiral butterflies. Our tired old Speckled Wood still soldiers on with three wings…

Lockdown Diary: Sunday 16.8.20


When I arrived at Deeping Lakes LWT this morning, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull was on the central ‘rock island’, found a short while earlier by my friend Will. It didn’t stay long, though, and departed east at 7.35am.

Juvenile Mediterranean Gull, Deeping Lakes LWT, Lincolnshire, 15.8.20

Other highlights here included a Greenshank, Water Rail and Cetti’s Warbler singing. When I got home, a Red Kite (with a heavily moulted tail) was flying low so over the houses opposite, it was almost touching the chimneys of my neighbours!


Redd Kite (with chimney pots!), from our garden, Peterborough, 16.8.20 

A Grey Squirrel was helping itself to plums in our garden!


Grey Squirrel eating a plum, our garden, Peterborough, 16.8.20

Lockdown Diary: Saturday 15.8.20


The Brent Goose was again grazing just east of Deeping Lakes LWT this morning. The other highlights around the reserve included a couple of Little Ringed Plovers, Kingfisher and lots of Swifts bombing about (for the first time in a while). Best of all, though, was a Bittern I saw ever so briefly at the back of the east pit at DL LWT. To me, it looked like a juvenile, sort of stumpy and not quite fully grown. But it was only a quick look. I need a better view to confirm my suspicions.


Dark-bellied Brent Goose, near Deeping Lakes LWT, Lincolnshire, 15.8.20

Lockdown Diary: Friday 14.8.20

It was cold, cloudy and windy, with a breeze from the north today at Deeping Lakes LWT (Lincs). The change in the weather brought a few changes to the birds on the east pit. There was a new Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Redshanks (also new), 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers, 1 or 2 juvenile Greenshanks and at least 3 Common Sandpipers. This site holds much promise for the wader migration season to come…

And as I was preparing to leave, a big flock of Greylag Geese came in from the north(ish), and trailing behind was ‘Bernie’ the dark-bellied Brent Goose.

In the garden, in the afternoon, a juvenile Robin was hoping about. I assume it is one of the ones from earlier in the year, although now it has most of its orange breast (but it still has plenty of speckles on its head).


Juvenile Robin, our garden, Peterborough, 14.8.20

Lockdown Diary: Thursday 13.8.20


With all the passerine action on the east coast at the moment, I thought a trip to Castor Hanglands NNR a little west of Peterborough was in order (to seek the likes of Redstart, Whinchat, Tree Pipit or Pied Flycatcher). I arrived about 6.30 and my car was the only one there. It was a tad misty. When I had walked a couple of hundred metres or so, I heard someone shouting angrily and repeatedly at a dog called Misty., somewhere behind me. I thought this was odd, as I was the only person there, or so I thought. Then I saw what appeared the entire foxhound pack from the Fitzwilliam hunt (from the Milton estate). There were scores of these huge hounds trotting along the road, accompanied by two guys on bikes, one usually his long whip to discipline presumably Misty.

To my horror, they all turned left into the reserve and the massed pack came charging straight towards me. Needless to say, I got out of the way of this mass of carnivore flesh. To be fair, they were much better behaved than the vast majority of dogs I see going for a walk at Castor Hanglands, and after I got out of the way, they all just pounded by (with no extra whipping necessary!). A slightly surreal start to the day.


Fitzwilliam Hunt foxhounds on tour, Castor Hanglands NNR, Cambs, 13.8.20

In summary of my walk around the reserve, I heard a couple of Ravens calling, Bullfinches were everywhere, Marsh Tits seemed to be everywhere, and there was constant calling from Green Woodpeckers and Great Spotted Woodpeckers; also I found Nuthatches at at least four places.


Juvenile Green Woodpecker, Castor Hanglands NNR, Cambs, 13.8.20 

Lockdown Diary: Wednesday 12.8.20

It is scarily hot out there, today. No wonder our two larger ponds have become very popular with the local birds. I went out just now to see a flock of half a dozen Long-tailed Tits (part of a bigger family group) gathered together on the branches at one end of our bigger pond, looking to bathe and drink (until I rudely disturbed them). Judging by the other birds in nearby bushes, the House Sparrows, Great Tits, Robins and Blackbirds had also been having a cooling dip.

The territorial Speckled Wood is still by the pond, and a Holly Blue butterfly also whizzed through.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Lockdown Diary: Tuesday 11.8.20

The day started quietly. There was a nice cool mist still hanging in the air, which sometimes bodes well for local birding. But Deeping Lakes produced just a Ringed Plover, a Green Sandpiper and one or two Common Sandpipers. At 9am, though, when I was back at work (at home, of course), news came through our local WhatsApp group that an Osprey had just flown over Deeping Lakes!

My fortunes changed in the afternoon, though. After work, in the early evening, I headed back to Deeping Lakes to see if I could relocate a dark-bellied Brent Goose that had been seen there at lunchtime. As it happens, the Brent was grazing happily on its own (apart from some sheep and lambs), just east of the reserve, and very close to the road. These largely coastal birds (and strictly non-breeders in the UK) are pretty rare this far inland, and I guess it had become disoriented by the morning’s mist.

Dark-bellied Brent Goose, near Deeping Lakes LWT, Lincolnshire, 11.8.20 

Meantime, my friend Ray was, at the precise time I was photographing the goose, watching a Bittern ‘sky-pointing’ in reeds on the reserve itself! I went to see if I could see it too, but alas, it had flown into the reeds. But I hung on to scan the pit for waders and what-not. After a while, I saw a juvenile Greenshank, briefly. And a bit later, when it had come back into view I picked up a tiny wader with my binoculars. A scope view confirmed it was a juvenile Little Stint. This is another ‘elite’ bird around here and my second year tick of the afternoon (taking my Peterborough area year list to 171 birds).

Little Stint (believe me!) near a Greenshank, Deeping Lakes LWT, Lincolnshire, 11.8.20 

Lockdown Diary: Monday 10.8.20


It was a fruit-picking day for Eddie again, so I was up with the lark and out birding early. Along the continuation of the road which follows the River Welland between Crowland and Spalding (south Lincs), I encountered a few flocks of Yellow Wagtails, and one very obliging Wheatear. I think from the ‘spotty’ scruffiness of its head it is a juvenile, just acquiring its first-winter plumage.

Juvenile Wheatear, near Spalding, Lincs, 10.8.20 

Deeping Lakes had a Green Sandpiper and 2 Common Sandpipers.

Meanwhile, back home, I saw another yellow bellied Willow Warbler in our garden, this morning, just before work.

Lockdown Diary: Saturday 8.8.20

I had a stroll down the ‘central drove’ of the Nene Washes RSPB reserve, a little little east of Peterborough, this afternoon. All the breeding waders (Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Snipe and Redshank) have already departed, as have passerines such as Sky Lark and Meadow Pipit. So, it was a bit of a quiet walk.

Highlights included a juvenile Hobby catching dragonflies, several Yellow Wagtails hanging out with the various cattle herds, a couple of Greenshanks and a Green Sandpiper. I also saw quite a few Marsh Harriers and one of the best things I saw was an adult male Marsh Harrier carrying some food (mammal or young bird) in its left foot. As it flew over, two squeaking juveniles came up to meet it, and when they were reasonably close, the male dropped his gift and it fell about 10 feet to be caught by the lucky juvenile underneath him, who rolled 180° to snatch it in its talons.

Lockdown Diary: Saturday 8.8.20

Today, I bit the bullet and went up to the Peak District to finally see the Lammergeier aka Bearded Vulture which has been hanging around the area. One of the best things about living in Peterborough is how close many places are; and it only took a couple of hours to get to Woodhead Reservoir on the main road between Sheffield and Manchester. I was watching the giant vulture on its roosting rock at 7am.


Spot the Lammergeier! Crags by Woodhead Reservoir, Derbyshire, 8.8.20

It is an incredibly impressive bird, as you will know if you have seen the photos or read the reports (or indeed, if you have seen it for yourself). Everything seems slow motion about it. Over the next few hours, although the views were quite distant, I watched it flying about, feeding on carrion it had brought back to the ‘feeding crags’, preening, pooping, flying and feeding some more.


Lammergeier on feeding ledge, by Woodhead Reservoir, Derbyshire, 8.8.20

Lammergeier mobbed by Kestrels, over crags by Woodhead reservoir, Derbyshire, 8.8.20

Lammergeier and attendant Buzzard, over crags by Woodhead reservoir, Derbyshire, 8.8.20

Also, it was frequently mobbed by several Kestrels and even by a couple of Buzzards, which compared to the vulture looked speedy and tiny, seeming to be about the same length bill to tail as the depth (front t back) of a Lammergeier’s wing!

Other highlights included a few Crossbills flying by (which I picked up instantly on call, after obsessing with them, recently!) and a few Ravens.

I will be back, particularly if the mighty vulture grows a decent tail!

Lockdown Diary: Friday 7.8.20

I got a new MV bulb in the post, so was able to put out two Skinner moth traps (one with the 125MV bulb, which is extremely bright and one with a 40W actinic bulb, which is a fluorescent tube). Highlights included a Least Carpet, which is a scarce moth and the first I have had in our garden.

Also, I had at least 5 Tree-lichen Beauties mainly around the actinic trap. Other goodies, moth fans, of the 45+ species included what I think is my first Pyrausta purpuralis (a sorth of mint moth), a few Straw Underwings, and a pretty ‘micro’ called Carcina quercana (sometimes called Long-horned Flat-body!).

Tree-lichen Beauty, our garden, Peterborough, Cambs, 7.8.20 

Carcina quercana, our garden, Peterborough, Cambs, 7.8.20 

Lockdown Diary: Thursday 6.8.20

Of course, I had to visit Deeping Lakes after the early morning fruit farm trip. But it was business as usual, there, with 5 Common Sandpipers once again. More exciting that the sandpipers was a visit by a Red Kite. It swooped down, talons spread, to one of the islands on the east pit (where most of the birds are), and was inches away from grabbing one of the few remaining Lesser Black-backed Gull chicks (there are half a dozen or so, plumping up nicely). I think Red Kite had a big say in wiping out the 40 odd LBbG broods hatched there this year, and it was not the first time I have seen one make a grab!

In the evening, I thought it was going to be a decent night for mothing, so, at dusk I set up both Skinner traps (one with a 40W actinic bulb, one with my new 125W MV bulb). As I was putting the traps together etc, I heard a rustling and a smallish Hedgehog came marching across the law a few yards away. What great beasties these are to have in the garden!!

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Lockdown Diary: Wednesday 5.8.20

Another early start for the blueberry picker… I decided a trip to Deeping Lakes was in order, after depositing son Eddie at his fruit farm. On the east pit there were at least four Common Sandpipers and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover, plus I could hear a Redshank calling (but never saw it). The Common Sandpipers were typically mobile, hopping from island to island with their distinctive down-swept wings, and seemingly popping up all over the place. In the photos below you can see an adult Common Sandpiper (the smaller bird) with a juvenile (the notably larger one).

Adult (right) and juvenile (left) Common Sandpipers, Deeping Lakes LWT, Lincs, 5.8.20



Adult (left) and juvenile (right) Common Sandpipers, Deeping Lakes LWT, Lincs, 5.8.20

Ageing them is not to do with size, though, but rather mainly down to the pattern of the wings and back. If you look closely at the larger juvenile, you will see the wing coverts are barred or (even chequered) with fine, buff fringes, and the longer wing feathers have pale ‘notches’. The adult, meanwhile has plainer (worn-looking) wings and some scattered black spots on the coverts and the mantle (back).

Lockdown Diary: Monday 3.8.20

I am once more topping up the ‘drinking pond’ in our garden so I just popped out (at 9.30am) to check on progress. Fine, thanks for asking. I heard a high-pitched squeak coming from the hedge near the main pond, and a little bit of scanning with my ‘noculars revealed a beautiful little juvenile Wren, complete with bright yellow gape line (always a giveaway of a new youngster). No photo yet, but I may go out with a camera, later.

In the evening, I found myself, once more at Deeping Lakes. Nothing much to report about there, apart from a bit of ‘movement’ of Mistle Thrushes. First 2 came rattling over heading SW. These were closely followed by a tight flock of 8, then another 2 and 15 minutes later another 2 (total 16 Mistle Thrushes). This is hardly an earth-shattering flock but did seem unusual. You don’t see too many Mistle Thrush flocks do you?However, look out for the Autumn issue of Bird Watching magazine, as Dominic Couzens has an article specifically about flocking in Mistle Thrushes!

Also at Deeping Lakes was a Shelduck (probably a juvenile, but hard to tell as it was always asleep). Most Shelducks go to the Waddenzee to moult in August, so perhaps this one has been left behind. i am told there were more than 6,000 along the Humber the other day, though, so I guess the rest have not all got there yet…

Lockdown Diary: Tuesday 4.8.20

My son Ed has started picking blueberries as a summer job for a few weeks. So, I had to take him down to the farm for 6.20 this morning. That meant there was a bit of time before work to do some birding, so I headed to one of my favourite places at the moment, Southey Wood. In summary, I heard Crossbills calling a few times and the largest number I saw were a flock of 4 flying about (possibly looking for a puddle or ditch to drink in); I also saw Spotted Flycatcher, a few Siskins, plenty of Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers and a couple of Muntjac Deer.

Perhaps, this pre-work birding will become a thing for the next few weeks…

Lockdown Diary: Sunday 2.8.20

I spent a bit of time at Deeping Lakes LWT (near Deeping St James, south Lincolnshire) this morning. Highlights were a couple of Common Sandpipers and an adult Greenshank. There were a couple of juvenile Marsh Harriers flying about and an adult female was also chased off by an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. I think these juveniles are from the pair which have nested nearby and the female was probably their mother.

Later I went down to Bedford Purlieus (west of Peterborough, in an odd extension of Cambs) where I hoped to see White-letter Hairstreak butterflies. No such luck. There were plenty of Silver-washed Fritillaries and Gatekeepers and the odd Holly Blue going about, but no hairstreaks that I could find.


Gatekeeper, Bedford Purlieus, Cambs 2.8.20

I also photographed a nice looking yellow and black insect that I believed was a Nomada ‘cuckoo-bee’. When I checked the photo, later, though, I found it had just two proper wings, and so couldn’t be a bee after all (they have four) and must be a true fly (ie in the order Diptera). It turns out it was member of a family of flies called Conopidae, aka bee-grabbers aka wasp-grabbers aka thick-headed flies. I think my one is Conops quadrifasciatus (the larvae are internal parasites of bumblebees!).



A bee-grabber fly, probably Conops quadrifasciatus, Bedford Purlieus, Cambs 2.8.20


Migrant Hawker, Bedford Purlieus, Cambs 2.8.20

Birdwise, I heard a begging juvenile Sparrowhawk (late July into August is the peak time to hear the youngsters demanding to be fed, which is often the best way of knowing where the hawks have nested). Also, I found a few Marsh Tits here and there in the woods and some Siskins were flying about.

As I was leaving, I saw a young Fallow Deer feeding by the side of the track-like road, so I snapped a few shots, leaning out of the window of the car.

Fallow Deer, Bedford Purlieus, Cambs, 2.8.20

Lockdown Diary: Saturday 1.8.20

I had a bit of a late start this morning, and once more went to check on the Crossbills at Southey Wood. After a bit of work, I encountered about 10 of them (I only saw adult females clearly), though they are being a bit elusive and quiet; even more so than before… Nearby, a small flock of Siskins is building. At least one of the males was in full song, including the wheezy, extended note which sounds a bit like a motor drive on an ‘old skool’ SLR camera…

The finches noisily disappeared when a Buzzard came flying low over the tree-tops. I also recorded about 10 species of butterfly in the woods, there, including Silver-washed Fritillaries now looking a bit past their prime , and a nice Common Blue (also a tad worn, though).

Female Silver-washed Fritillary, Southey Wood, Cambs, 1.8.20

Common Blue butterfly, Southey Wood, Cambs, 1.8.20

At the Baston and Langtoft pit complex there were five Green Sandpipers on the New South Pit (NSP) and a Greenshank on the ‘wader pit’. Also there was a ‘leucistic’ Lapwing, where the upperparts were buffy brown (almost the colour of the nearby Greylag Geese), which is always unusual.

Lockdown Diary: Friday 31.7.20

Last night, I had a quick look at our ‘big’ pond under torchlight. There were literally dozens of ghostly white Small China-mark moths flying over the surface, presumably looking for females. It was enough to inspire me to get the old moth trap out (or rather one of the moth traps out). Even as I was setting it up, I saw at least one Old Lady flying around the garden! Not a witch, but a sort of large, broad-winged moth which floats about the garden like a very large blackish butterfly and can even be quite un-nerving at night!

As soon as I turned the actinic light on a Vapourer moth appeared. These are day-flyers (but will come to light) which are always males, as the females are flightless and the males seem to spend all day on the wing sniffing them out!

This morning, I processed the moths. Easily the highlight of the 25 or so species was a tree-lichen Beauty, which is a rare immigrant and a new moth for our garden (NFG as we mothers say).

Tree-lichen Beauty, our Peterborough garden, 31.7.20

Arguably, even more exciting than that little moth splashed with green was a huge longhorn beetle on the side of the trap, the like of which I have never seen before. It turns out (after some research) that it is Saperda carcharias aka the Large Poplar Borer, which is a Nationally Notable A species (ie pretty darn scarce and localised).

While I was at the mothing, I also noted all the birds I could see and hear in the garden. The Lesser Whitethroat was again present (and calling a lot, sounding very similar to a Blackcap to my ear). Other highlights included a heard-only Green Woodpecker and a low flying Sparrowhawk.

After work, I went to enjoy the early evening sunshine in the garden. There were three Common Darters on one of our piles of ‘sticks’. But more excitingly, there was a warbler near the drinking pond. It was a Phylloscopus warbler, like yesterday. But this one was bright yellow underneath and (in my opinion) unambiguously a juvenile Willow Warbler (Willows look neat and yellow, while juvenile Chiffchaffs tend to look duller and scruffier).

Large Poplar Borer, our Peterborough garden, 31.7.20

While I was at the mothing, I also noted all the birds I could see and hear in the garden. The Lesser Whitethroat was again present (and calling a lot, sounding very similar to a Blackcap to my ear). Other highlights included a heard-only Green Woodpecker and a low flying Sparrowhawk.

After work, I went to enjoy the early evening sunshine in the garden. There were three Common Darters on one of our piles of ‘sticks’. But more excitingly, there was a warbler near the drinking pond. It was a Phylloscopus warbler, like yesterday. But this one was bright yellow underneath and (in my opinion) unambiguously a juvenile Willow Warbler (Willows look neat and yellow, while juvenile Chiffchaffs tend to look duller and scruffier).

Willow Warbler, our Peterborough garden, 31.7.20