Monday, November 24, 2003

It's been a busy week with virtually no time for birding, and BOU work dominating my time. What free moments I've found have been put paid to with the weather being foul!

Today found me along Ham Lane at Ferry Meadows CP, watching a very late Lesser Whitethroat. Such late birds have to be checked carefully just in case they turn out to be one of the eastern forms, several of which have been seen in Britain in recent weeks. An hour's watching and digiscoping revealed it to be more than a bog-standard curruca - see here. Four Lesser Redpolls were also welcome.

What is presumably the same Great Spotted Woodpecker from autumn is back on the nut feeder (now in adult male plumage).

Friday, 21 November 2003:
A chance sighting of a female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker seen in flight whilst driving along the drove at Blackpool Hill was a cracking find and an unexpected fen tick. If it's got the inclination, it might find my feeders, 1.5 miles to the south!

Weds, 19 November 2003:
Star bird of last week, though, was undoubtedly the imm male Peregrine first seen soaring over the house whilst on the phone to Brian Stone (sorry Bri!). Ironically, this was the 92nd garden tick for me in just under a year, and equals Brian's total, and taking me to joint second in the PBC garden stakes (Hamletts beware!). I saw the Peg twice more that afternoon, plus a female Merlin in pursuit of a rocket-propelled Meadow Pipit.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Having notched up number 90 for the garden list on Sunday, I really didn't think that no. 91 was only a couple of days away. Chomping on my muesli I nearly choked when I saw the distinct black cap of a Blackcap in the rose bush in the front garden! Fan-bloody-tastic!

A damn murky day otherwise and a walk on the fen before work was pretty quiet.

The day was spent slaving over BOU Council preparation and going through the drafts of the my latest bino survey for Bird Watching magazine (Dec issue) - posh bins - the best of the best of the best (and all that).

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Readying myself to leave to watch my kid brother Martyn play footie for Netherton Kestrels, through the kitchen window the shape of four swans were visible in the back fields. Having never seen a Mute Swan in the fields here (only ever seen fly-overs), I grabbed my 10+15x Duovids and cranking them up to 15x was gazing at my 90th garden tick - four Whooper Swans!

Bloody fantastic. When I moved into the cottage in November 2002, I set myself the ambitious target of seeing 90 species in or from the garden in my first year. With the first anniversary around the corner, I was beginning to think that I was going to find myself one short! But no, the Whoopers make it 90, and my next goal is to see just how long it takes me to get to 100 species which obvsiously now within reach as I have seen 15 species within a mile or so of the house which must all be contenders for the garden.

Back from watching Martyn and his team get beat 4-0, I spent the day watching Premiership footie and working on the website. The garden was relatively busy with Tree Sparrows, Sparrowhawk and Yellowhammers all present again. Just along the drove from the house I again saw the Buzzard which appears to be using the copse by Bedford's Barn Farm as its roost and cover site.

Between the L'pool/Man U and Chelsea/Newcastle games, I spent an hour wandering around the fen. Birds had either already headed off to roost or were heading that way. Streams of gulls were heading over towards their Fletton BP roost, and the Starlings were swirling around. I put up four Grey Partridge and a couple of Snipe from one field, but the highlight(!) was only my third fen record of Canada Goose! Yep - with only one sight and one heard (in fog the other night) record, the 75 I had heading NE over the fen towards the Nene corridor was only the third record in nearly 12 months.

Back at the house I decided to look at the Great Fen Project website, and boy! When finished, its NE section will incorporate part of the old Whittlesey Mere site which lies adjacent to Farcet Fen! I can walk over to the old Whittlesey Mere fen from the house (and frequently do) so when the Great Fen Project is finished, I hope to be able to cycle from the house all the way to Woodwalton Fen without the need to go along any roads! Brilliant.

Sat, 8 November 2003
With Brian Stone finding Black Redstart and Brambling at the Millennium Bridge at Northey, I decided to spend the morning birding this much neglected area. I chose to follow the Green Wheel Cycle Route from the bridge and east between Wash Northey and the King's Dyke brick works. Nothing outstanding but loads of birds - Fieldfares, Goldfinches, Meadow Pipits, tit flocks, Bullfinch - plenty of birds to look and sift through looking for that elusive scarcity.

Thr afternoon was spent witnessing my first POSH home win of the season as we put two goals past non-league Hereford in the FA Cup.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

It's been a fairly quiet few days with little birding opportunity due to work. Even the garden was proving quiet, apart from the usual Sparrowhawk raids on the feeding station.

Today, tho, saw a cracking return to form. I hadn't seen a Tree Sparrow since 25 Oct, but this morning six Treeps returned to the garden and were very active on the feeders and at the sombrero. Since they first moved in in early January, this was the first period I had been Treep-free.

Next up was the blur of a female Merlin shooting past the office window mid-morning. Fantastic!

I had declined a lunchtime birding session with local recorder Brian Stone to concentrate on the Lowland Farmland Bird conference I am running for the BOU. It was nearly to my loss, for at 1.55pm Bri rang to tell me he had found a Black Redstart and a male Brambling at the Millennium Bridge, Northey, at the western end of North Bank east of Peterborough.
Black Red is a good local find and when he said it was photo-ready I deserted my desk in favour of what turned out to be a spanking little bird.

I arrived with no immediate sign, but then it appeared on the corral just where Bri said it was feeding, and I watched it for 30 or so mins as it fed actively from the fence posts and gates of the corral. Fantastic. And a really photogenic little bugger!

A quick shufty along the track where Bri had seen the Brambling with other finches revealed jack-squat - no finches at all. The hedgerow on the other side of the field tho was chocker with Fieldfares, about 220 at least, making a right racket.