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...