Sunday, October 18, 2009


I stopped off at Ferrybridge (on 17th). The tide was going out but still high, and with the sun behind me and a clear blue sky the birds were looking at their best.

About 500 Brent Geese, tens of Med Gulls, Ringed Plovers and Dunlin.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Weymouth/Portland 17

With just the morning free I started at the Obs. The clear skies had a predictable consequence; no-one was sure where any birds were except for the Firecrest that has been doing a circuit of the obs garden for the last few days. I saw a few small green birds flitting through the trees, but the only ones I could identify were Willow Chiffs, and a Goldcrest. With just a couple of Swallows overhead and a pair of Common Buzzards I decided to cut my losses and headed off for Ferrybridge - more of that later - and Lodmoor.

Lodmoor had: pinging Bearded Tits, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Barwit, 11 Blackwits, 8 Dunlin, a few Snipe and Lapwings, a Wigeon, a couple of Wheatears, two pairs of Stonechat, a Reed Bunting and a Willow Chiff.

Portland 16 Oct

Business in Weymouth was over by 3 leaving me some time to go Portland as the sun set. Just a quick dash round the hut area. A couple of flighty Black Redstarts the stars.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


thats the number of Redwings that had flown over the Pinnacles in Sandy by 11:25. Not 28,981, or 28,983. The mind boggles at the effort involved in getting the number down to the individual bird.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SLRS Sept 09

Something happened to SLRS in the summer. It lost all its water, and has become grown over. I don't know whether this is temporary or some permanent change. But without the water, there's not much reason to come here.

Today just a couple of parties of long-tailed tits, 3 Willow Chiffs, a few Yellowhammers, 2 Jays, and c50 Carrion Crows, one of which had white wing feathers.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hobbies at home

Its 6:15 and I'm walking up the road to the house and there's this screeching that's probably falcons but is so incessant it may be a car alarm. So I stop and have a look around and over the house they come, 4 hobbies. I dash inside, get my camera plus lens, and take some photos. Modern photography is easy with only a couple of things that can go wrong, but under pressure I do indeed get them wrong, and before I can correct them the party is off east over the village. I phone Kevin who lives a quarter of a mile away, and by chance he is standing outside his door key in hand, and he looks up and yes there they are, hobbies, heading for the river.

Here's all I could salvage

Edit 10 Sept
. Standing on Sawbridgeworth Station platform at 6:50 a.m. and there's a familiar screeching from behind me. The hobbies had roosted in the Poplars near the Station (which is right by the river).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pishiobury Park

D#1 and myself took Elvis for a walk in our local park. It was around noon, so birds seemed to be hiding. We had a few House Martins and Swallows and Golfinches, and then near the car park had Whitethroat, a Willow Chiff, a Green Woodpecker and a couple of Spotted Flycatchers (adult and juv).

Rye Meads

I don't normally go to Rye Meads as it seems like going to the Zoo, peering through the hides at the exhibits, but the pull of Garganey and Ruff, both birds I've missed so far this year, was too much. So on the way back from the local Mecca that is the Harlow Retail park I popped into the Reserve.

I got Ruff, Green Sandpiper, and finally was put onto the Garganey by the chap next to me who seemed to recognise it when it was in the posture above.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weymouth 22-24 August

Went for an "activity weekend" with D#1 and D#2. Weymouth has been quiet for birds so no pressure to hit the hotspots.

Saturday we cycled down the Rodwell Trail to Ferrybridge. Its the old railway line so its mainly flat. It's nearly ideal for cycling, but the combination of groups wandering slowly along it and Chris Hoy Wanabees screaming past mean you have to be wary. Anyway, we had an adult Gannet in Portland Harbour, some Dunlins, Ringed Plover, and Turnstone at Ferrybridge, and on the return journey a Peregrine wheeled overhead.

Monday am I nipped out to Lodmoor and had two Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Common Sandpipers, 3 Sandwich Terns and 2 Med Gulls; one an adult with a white Darvic ring on the left leg with the last three digits 076. Then later Monday we went Mackerel fishing in the bay. We had a Peregrine sat on railings on the harbour breakwater, another 4 Med Gulls round the harbour mouth, and about 20 Mackerel and a Pollock thrashing round in the bucket in the boat!

Perhaps the strangest wildlife experience was snorkling at low tide in the bay. There was not much to see, just a few snails scurrying round and some razor shell inhabitats above the sand, but it was just a serene moment slowly drifting back and forth with the waves in time with the scattered sea-weed.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Hebden Ghyll

Family business took me back to North Leeds. I dragged D#1 and D#2 up Hebden Ghyll. I had hoped to get as far as the mine spoil heaps on the top, as occasionally there are Twite up there, but D#2 had other ideas. so we stopped by the lower mine workings.

No specialities, but 4 Oystercatchers, a few Lapwings, a Golden Plover, Grey Wagtail, and juvenile Wheatears and a juv Stonechat. Swifts, Meadow Pipits, and Willow Warblers were plentiful.

I guess its obvious, but up in the dales, in a narrow valley with no competing sounds, birds like Mipits, Dunnocks and Blackbirds have songs that ring out and echo round the surroundings.

Back home sat in my Mum's porch we had a pair of Red Kites over the garden. Regular, apparently.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Caption Competition

took D#3 and D#4 to Linton Zoo today. Here's a picture of a charming family of South American Tapirs.

Entries welcome for what the young one on the right is saying.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Marsh Warbler

There's been a Marsh Warbler at Amwell, showing really well. I went over late this afternoon with a firm 5:30 deadline. On arrival a small group was standing idly chatting, and sure enough it hadn't been seen or heard for over an hour.

We all know how this is going to end. But No!! With just 5 minutes to go, there's some wobbling in the thistle bushes, and there it is, out in the open, looking like Marsh Warblers do in the photos, and then its off in the bush with a burst of song weirdness. And I'm heading for home with a lifer.

Is it churlish to complain about that other places get exotic waders and terns, but the Lee Valley's speciality is dull brown Warblers?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thames birds

My current work is near the Thames, between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. For the most parts the only birds on the Thames are Feral Pigeons, Cormorants, Coots, LBB Gulls and Herring Gulls. Occasionally other birds appear, such as Grey Wagtail, and Mallards and Canada Goose flying up the river. Last week there was a distant falcon I am pretty sure was a Peregrine, and yesterday a pair of Terns, probably Common Terns, belted high up the river.

We get BHG's too. Normally passing by on their way somewhere. We haven't had any for a while until this week when a couple have been around. Post breeding presumably.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Double Dutch

there's a pair of Baillon's Crake's nesting in the Netherlands. I came across a link to a site with some excellent pictures and this text.

"Al de hele week wordt een paartje Kleinst Waterhoen gezien in De Groene Jonker, Hogenveen, Zuid-Holland. Dit zeldzame ralletje dat zich normaal gesproken niet laat zien pakt het hier anders aan. Voor de ogen van vele vogelaars gaat het gewoon zijn gang. Echt een aanrader.

so I did the obvious and put it through BabelFish ...

"All the complete week a paartje smallest moorhen is seen in the green nobleman, Hogenveen, Zuid-Holland. This rare ralletje that spoken normally does not leave itself see it catches to this differently. For the eyes of a lot of bird arse ordinary its pace goes. Really a must."

so that's sorted ...

Friday, May 29, 2009

On the beach

with D#1 on Weymouth beach on Monday night. Lots of Herring Gulls in various plumages.

finally D#4 shooing the tide back.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Inner Marina

When the River Wey exits Radipole reserve it passes through the Boating Lake, then encounters a sluice system at Westham Bridge before exiting into the saline environment of the inner harbour. There's a footbridge just on the marina side of the bridge which provides a view of the sluice and the inner marina.

The footbridge has been adopted by a Common Tern. It sits on the handrail looking for tiny fish, and when it sees one dives down to catch it. It allows approaches of down to 5 feet - too close to focus.

The inner marina is also home to a shoal of about 100 mullet of some description.

The Common Terns have taken up residence on one of the boats - second on the right I think, judging from the white stains!

May whitsun bank holiday

A few days in Weymouth. On the trip down on Sunday there was a Red Kite where the M3 and the A303 split. Then down in the centre of Weymouth a Hobby appeared over some flats.

An evening walk round Radipole had 3 Common Sandpipers, lots of Reed Warblers, a Bearded Tit whizzed past and as the sun set the Hooded Merganser swam past. There were 2 BHG's there as well; they are common enough in the fields round the Poole area, presumably on a day trip from the harbour colony, but they are scarce up this end of Dorset until mid July.

Elsewhere it was quiet; nothing at Rodden Hive on Monday apart from lots of Painted Ladies - but unless you've been living in a cave you know about them. Portland was a wash-out if you're a local, but if you come from a land-locked county like myself then lots of Gannets, Manx Shearwater, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Guillemots, Razorbills, whizzing past in gale winds was quite a sight.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Spent the week in Toronto. It was solid work for just about all of it, but a few birds did make an appearance. The ubiquitous Ring-Billed Gulls, Starlings, House Sparrows and Feral Pigeons, but there were Chimney Swifts with their piercing call, and early one morning in a tree between the Union Station and the Royal York Hotel a warbler was singing bried but persistent birds. I could only see the lemon yellow underside, with a gorget of black markings, and a dark blue-grey upperside. I think it was a Canada Warbler.

I went down to the harbour terminal after work to try and get to the islands, but the service seemed a bit sporadic, the wind was howling, and I had visions of getting stuck on the islands. I added Barn Swallow, Mallard, and Cormorant ( I assume a double-crested one).

The place I really wanted to visit was the Leslie Street Spit/Tommy Thompson Park. This central-Toronto area is a magnet for birds in spring, but unfortunately is only open at weekends so I'm unlikely to get there.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blink and you'll mis(identify) it.

"blink, The Power of Thinking without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell is a book of the moment. The base idea of the book is that many of our initial instincts are better than our considered thoughts. It's a compelling book, but early on he says this;

"The ornithologist Dave Sibley says that in Cap May he once spotted a bird in flight from two hundred yards away and knew instantly that it was a Ruff ... He had never seen a Ruff in flight before, nor was the moment long enough for him to make a careful identification, but he was able to capture what bird-watchers call the birds "giss" - its essence - and that was enough".

David Sibley is later quoted as saying "you know what it is at a glance".

Well ... yes and no. If you watch enough birds you can pick up that instinct. But in my experience the above is a recipe for mistakes. There are all sorts of circumstances when birds can depart from their normal behaviour; moulting affects the flight and general appearance, wind causes birds to fly differently, and I've found watching sea-birds in inland or quiet conditions completely useless for watching seabirds migrating. Birds on migration find themselves in strange places and behave in strange ways. And overseas, the light is different, birds behave differently, and they look completely different.

So yes, an instinct is useful, but most birders then get down to the serious business of watching properly and going logically and thoughtfully through the features until they are confident of the ID. This is the best way to do it, and its completely the opposite of what Malclom Gladwell says in his book.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Lee/Lea Valley 2 May

Collared Flycatcher at Portland and a bank holiday! It's as good as ticked! Except D#1 has to do some revision for an upcoming GCSE exam, so we are staying in East Herts instead.

In the evening I manage to tear D#1 away from her revision - what subject is it exactly that requires extensive surfing of - and we go for a cycle ride in the Lee Valley Country Park. We get great views of 4 Hobbies over the reeds, lots of singing around the Electricity substation in which I'm pretty sure was a Nightingale, and of course opposite the Bittern Watch Point was a singing (but whilst I was there unseen) Savi's Warbler. Either that or there was a large crowd listening to a Baritone Gropper.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Missing Purple Heron (again)

I missed a Purple Heron today. One spent the day sat in the South East Corner of the West Warwick Reservoir. I passed just a few yards from it, but there was a train carriage, a fence, and a large reservoir bank between me and it.

It's not the first time I've missed a Purple Heron. A few years ago (August 16 2006 to be precise) I was driving towards Portland Bill when I was held up by a car reversing out of Culverwell. Fortunately it pulled over to the side shortly afterwards and I carried on to the bill. It was only when I bumped into the driver later that I learnt they pulled over to look at a Purple Heron standing in a field - the first and so far only Portland record.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter birds Weymouth

1. Radipole, pm, Friday 10 April. Bearded Tit – 2 m and f. Just quick views, but sightings this time of year tend to be unusual. 2 Marsh Harriers, both brown ones, but i think one may be an immature male. Sedge Warblers, and a Willow Warbler. Swallows and Sand Martins.

2. Lodmoor morning Sat 11th. The main sighting was 3 possibly 4 pairs of Oystercatchers. Also a Green Sandpiper, a Barwit, just 2 BHG, several Willow Chiffs, and Linnets.

3. Radipole Sat 11th pm. Back for the Marsh Harriers. A Sparrowhawk f over, and House Martins in number. Reed Warblers too.

4. Portland Sunday 12th am. Very dull and birdless early doors, apart from lots of Willow Chiffs. A return with the family later produced lots more willow Chiffs and at last a female Redstart.

5. Monday 13th. StoneyBarrow Common. I left the long lens at home to take some scenery, and inevitably a pair of Ravens spent the morning riding the breeze just over our heads.

Weymouth photos

Photography was the theme of the Easter trip to Weymouth. I made this decision roughly half way down the M3 when I realised I’d forgotten my scope. And this time, I'd concentrate on some of those difficult shots of birds in bushes. Taking pictures of large water birds is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Canary Wharf birds

As the more dedicated of you may recall, I used to work at Canary Wharf. Three years from 2004 - 2007. I saw very little there - after all, its a monument of glass, steel and concrete with some apologies for plants dotted round the estate. I assumed it was a dead loss from a birding point of view and never had cause to change my mind,

I was, according to this article (birdguides subscribers only), completely wrong. The author, one Ken Murray, twigged what I completely missed; that the main tower of Canary Wharf lit up at night could act like a lighthouse, and pull in migrants from and wide. The list is truly astonishing.

According to the article,between 2001 and 2006 the following were seen: 3 Blyth's Reed Warblers, Booted Warbler, Red-Backed Shrike, 2 Wrynecks, 3 Icterine Warblers, a Melodious Warbler, a Barred Warbler and supporting casts of Firecrest, grasshopper Warbler, Wood Warbler, Pied flycatcher etc etc. Then there's the ones that got away - glimpses and best guesses of Eastern Willow Warbler, Aquatic Warbler, Paddyfield Warbler, Great Snipe, Thrush Nightingale, Asian Song Thrush.

I know from my own lesser experience at the scrape that finding a spot, wondering if it will be good for birds and then finding that it is, is amongst the best experiences birding has to offer. Its what makes birding something different to going for a walk with a pair of binoculars. To do this on such a scale as done here is something most birders can only dream of. Full marks to the birders concerned for a wonderful story.

Shelduck at the scrape

A pair of Shelduck have been on and of at the scrape. I caught up with them this evening from the train. They are my kind of bird - big, obvious, and sit out in the open.

By my reckoning that's eight species of duck on our puddle in total.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


1. In Toronto again, and the Ring-Billed Gulls were around the Station. The call is quite distinctive; higher pitched and more of a yelp than a Herring Gull, like someone has trod on their feet.

2. Back at the Scrape; lots of Gadwalls, a pair of Teal, not much else.

3. Center-Parcing again in Thetford Forest. If I heard one Siskin I heard a hundred. We had a Mallard nesting by the chalet with 10 eggs. Very hard to see - we had to drop a bike on it to find it. When it went off, it covered the nest in down, making it completely invisible. Do Mallards have a down-covering gene? Or do they have a problem solving gene? Or do they have a learn from Mother gene?

4. Chiffchaff, obviously, but nothing else for me yet this spring ...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

list-free day

The always interesting North Downs And Beyond is suffering from post-forty angst. I've had a few of the similar emotions as ND, and still think of myself as a recovering tickaholic. Some days I can hear of a local rarity I can't get to see and not have the faintest twich. Some days.

One thing that seems to befall most birders at some point is birding for the list. For the day list, for the year list, or just to tick it off. There's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it can become an overwhelming imperative, where the tick is everything and the experience of actually seeing the bird is nothing.

So here's a suggestion - an antidote. For just one day, leave your notebook at home. Make no effort to count, or even to identify what you see. Instead, just look at the wildlife around, without any attempt to categorise or classify, but just to watch and enjoy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Probable Ring-Billed Gull

I was visiting one of my employer's offices last week, and on the walk into the building was 99% sure I saw a Ring-Billed Gull. It was too small for a Herring Gull, and not mean enough, yet too big for a Common Gull. And as it flew up in front of the Central Toronto Railway Station I thought it looked a shade more agile than I'd have associated with a Herring Gull.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


February and March can produce some beautiful days; low sun throwing sharp shadows, clear air and bright blue skies. But if like me you only have a limited number of birding opportunities during the year, then its important not to be seduced by the weather and waste them on barren late-winter days. The local bird web sites are full of visit lists with small numbers and nothing of note. In just a few weeks the spring migrants will be here en-masse. So its time to sit tight, do those household chores, and wait.

I did sneak out to SLRS to see it fuller than I've ever seen. There were 8+ Shovelers and Gadwall in the teens, and a trip to the local supermarket was livened up by a flock of Fieldfares going over, but a cycle trip with D#1 round Hatfield Forest was practically bird-free.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fair Weather Birding - Weymouth at Half Term

So, a few days approaching at half term when you can get some birding done. Do you a) want the cold snap to continue so there’s a chance of some scarce birds being around due to the cold weather or b) want a clear dry warm spell so you can watch the usual stuff in comfort? Well for me it was unequivocally b, which makes me a fair-weather birder.

First up on Sunday morning was Portland Harbour, in warm still conditions birds were easy to pick out. From Castle Cove Yacht club were 3 Great Northern Divers, 3 Slavonian Grebes and 6 Black-Necked Grebes. The BNG’s were easy to pick out from the slavs because they were all in one close-knit flock whereas the Slav’s don’t seem to like each others company. From the National Sailing Academy there was another 3 Great Northerns and a Slav, and then from Portland Castle there was 2 Black-Throated Divers and another Great Northern (there may have been some double counting of these). A Shag and about 50 Red-Breasted Mergansers were year-ticks.

Then a family walk from Langton Herring down towards Herbury Gore, and round The Fleet to Rodden Hive and back to the village. A short muddy walk, but from the children’s moaning you’d have thought we were recreating The Battle of The Somme. Anyway, 15 Red-Legged Partridges and 10 Roe Deer on the way down to the fleet, then 15 Redshank with 3 Dunlin and a few Turnstone, and on the water over a hundred Wigeon, 7 Pintail, lots of other dabbling duck, and on Chesil Bank there was a Peregrine patrolling. A flock of about 50 Linnets and 30 Pied Wagtails were in one of the fields, and Robins were a constant accompanyment in the hedgerows by the Fleet.

On Monday morning a quick walk up to Radipole; a Creamcrown Marsh Harrier patrolling the reeds by North Hide, and a Water Rail washing itself at the egde of the reeds were highlights, but 30 Snipe were notable. We then went to Cogden beach, and on a flat sea had a Common Scoter and a distant Red-Throated Diver, identified by its frequent head-shaking in flight. I could just make out some Fulmars from the cliffs at West Bay .

The Tuesday morning and a couple of hours at Lodmoor. At the marsh by the seaward end of the path to Beachdown Way there was a Water Pipit - an embarrassingly long time since I last saw one - and a Green Sandpiper. A couple of Raven were beating up a Common Buzzard in the middle, and a Spoonbill was doing what Spoonbills do - sleeping. A site record for me was Coal Tit, and around the reserve was 215 Lapwing, another 32 Snipe, a Goldcrest and an adult Med Gull.

Finally we did our traditional walk round Portland bill, got Rock Pipit for the year and saw a Great-Northern Diver offshore, but there was no sign of the Purple Sandpipers today. Overall a good set of birds and all done in warm bright still weather - fantastic.

A few shots from the walk round the Fleet.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Barn Owls

Some local dog walkers alerted Steve to a regular Barn Owl local to Sawbridgeworth, and we've managed to see it a couple of times. We decided on Sunday to see if it had survived the Snow, and were rewarded with not one but two Barn Owls hunting together.

We noticed one was paler than the other, and duly hit Google today. I came across this and this

The abstracts are all written in that weird form of English that scientists use when presenting their work. I recognise and understand the words, it all appears to be grammatically correct, but when I stand back and look at it I haven't a clue what it means.

It states that male Barn Owls are paler than females, so we may have been watching a pair (this makes sense as they hunted together without any rancour or aggression).

It also states that darker Barn Owls are healthier than pale ones, and that darker birds pass on their extra darkness to offspring of either sex.

The second reference contains this:

"In northern Europe, male and female T. a. guttata are reddish-brown and heavily spotted, and in southern Europe male and female T. a. alba are white, but only females display many spots. Here, I discuss the relative importance of direct selection, genetic correlation and the post-ice age invasion of Europe by T. alba, in generating sex-specific cline variation in plumage spottiness and non-sex-specific cline variation in plumage coloration".

and elsewhere there's reference to 25+ races of Barn Owl across the globe.

So, the Barn Owl contains features that make it a messenger of evolution, and in particular contains information of the spread of birds after the ice ages, but unpicking that information seems to be beyond science at the moment.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sawbridgeworth Snow

In our 10 years in the East Herts area, this is the worst snow we've had. Birds such as Barn Owl, Cetti's Warbler, as well as everday garden birds, must be struggling.

Here's a few pictures of Sawbo in the snow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Three Men in a Marsh: Sheppey Revisited.

This time last year Kevin, Steve and myself spent a day watching raptors on Sheppey. We enjoyed it so much we decided to do it again this year. On Tuesday 27, we revisited, hoping to break last year’s records of 65 species and 8 species of birds of prey, but given the dismal weather forecast and last year’s luck thought we’d do well to match it.

The SE part of the island of Sheppey is mile after mile of wet farmland. It attracts huge numbers of waders and wildfowl, and numbers of raptors to prey on them, making it possibly the best place in Britain to see raptors. We started and finished at the Capel Fleet View Point, a raised platform from which the whole of the central plain can be seen. In between we parked at Harty Church and walked down to the Swale National Nature Reserve – a piece of marsh just over the sea wall from the saltmarsh and estuary, and stopped for lunch at the excellent Ferry Inn. We also went to the Elmley RSPB reserve – a mistake as its closed on Tuesday, but we thought the road may turn up some Short-Eared Owls.

Well, what a glorious day it turned out to be. Bright sunshine, warm in the sun, and 70 species with 9 birds of prey. It started as soon as we got out of the car with an adult Mediterranean Gull next to the watchpoint, then scanning westward towards the prison we had a Rough-Legged Buzzard in flight, looking slightly bigger and bulkier than adjacent Common Buzzards, and then found one sat in a bush at a distance of around half a mile. With the scope on max we could clearly see a white streaked head, and as it balanced in a bush we saw the all white tail with a clear thick black terminal band. Steve had a Merlin amongst the Fieldfares – our only Merlin sight of the day, although we did have a lot of candidates on posts and on bushes that all turned out to be Kestrels – and as we left the site a Ringtail Hen Harrier flew across the road. At the Swale reserve we had the Hooded Crow amongst 70 odd Carrion Crows, Reed Buntings galore, and Curlews, Wigeon, and Brent Goose on the freshwater marsh, and out on the estuary 30 Avocet, a mass of Grey Plover, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, and a single Black-Tailed Godwit flew in.

At Harty Ferry a ringtail Hen-Harrier floated by – how often does that happen when you’re sat outside a pub having lunch? The trip to Elmley added Little Egret and Gadwall to the list, and a Green Woodpecker by the roadside at Eastchurch produced load cheers as we broke the previous year’s record. Finally back at the watch point it was raptor bedlam – they were everywhere. A Short Eared-Owl was patrolling along the nearby dyke, but we didn’t have time to look at that as two Peregrines were in the flat field by the watchpoint, and in the sloping field behind there was two Barn Owls and a Hen Harrier. There were silly numbers of Marsh Harriers – 6 sat in a field, 3 fighting over the marsh, etc. It was fantastic stuff – we were grinning from ear to ear as bird after bird performed in full scope view. In between we heard Cetti’s Warbler, and saw a flock of 20 Corn Buntings, and good numbers of Stonechats. A deafening Pheasant chorus as the light deteriorated signalled time to go.

70 species – a stiff target for next year. Clearly RLB will be no trouble, but does anyone know a site for Great Tit and Song Thrush?

Looking SW - is that an RLB in the bush?

E from the watch point.

Reed Bunting

Creamcrown Marsh Harrier

The watchpoint as the sun sets

Rarity chasing in Cambridgeshire part 2.

Last post left you on the edge of your seats as your intrepid birders ticked off the first of three potential rarities and headed off in sea...