Bird Watching (UK) - - Your Birding Month -

SINCE I LAST droned on about my eter­nal quest for a record Peter­bor­ough area year list, things have a taken a turn for the in­sane. Each year, I step back at the end of March and take ac­count of how the list is get­ting on. This year was the ninth I’ve done this review and the to­tal of 127 species ranks as a mod­er­ate fifth. But, I fig­ured, that if I re­ally went for it, I could add 30 species in the 30 days of April and re­ally kick­start the year. There are plenty of sum­mer mi­grants which ap­pear in April and it is a good month for scarce wader pas­sage, chats and so on. Things started slowly and nearly a week in Poland (see June is­sue) meant I missed at least eight ‘elite’ birds while I was ab­sent. How­ever, as Jo picked me up from Peter­bor­ough sta­tion on the af­ter­noon of 14th, I heard tell of a newly found Spoon­bill on the Nene Washes at Elder­nell… Well, you’d have done the same, wouldn’t you? The next day, while cy­cling in to work, I found a Lit­tle Gull at Ferry Mead­ows CP. At lunchtime, while pho­tograph­ing the same gull, I got a call telling me of a Turn­stone (rare around here) on the other side of the lake! On 17th, I twitched a Red­start at Elder­nell on the Nene Washes. Things were tak­ing off and on 20th a speedy cy­cle to catch a typ­i­cally brief Sand­wich Tern at Ferry Mead­ows re­ally booted the list into ac­tion. The next day there were Arc­tic Terns, and the com­mon mi­grants were com­ing in. A Bar-tailed God­wit turned up on 22 April at March Farm­ers (Nene Washes) and two days later there was a Whim­brel there and a Spot­ted Red­shank. The next day brought a Wood War­bler (my third ever round here) at Bain­ton Pits and on 26 April a twitch­able Ring Ouzel; the 30 from 30 days was re­ally look­ing pos­si­ble. And a Lit­tle Tern at Ferry Mead­ows on 28 April (found by for­mer BW ed­i­tor David Cro­mack) kept the dream alive. On the last day of the month, I added Caspian Gull, Gar­den War­bler and Reed War­bler, found a pair of Black-necked Grebes on the Nene Washes, and twitched a small gang of four im­mac­u­late spring male Whin­chats at Wood­wal­ton Fen NNR. I ended the month on a breath­less 161 species, 34 in 30 days! But year lists must go on and we are now half­way through the ‘best’ month. The last cou­ple of weeks have been al­most as mad as April. I added Hobby, Long-eared Owl and Corn Crake on 1 May and on 5th jumped on a na­tional band­wagon, find­ing a neat flock of eight im­mac­u­late Black Terns at the Bas­ton and Langtoft pits in south Lin­colnshire. The next day, I twitched a beau­ti­ful Red-necked Grebe at Crown Lakes CP, which serves the fen­land vil­lage of Farcet. And the same evening I found a Tem­minck’s Stint at Bas­ton LUNCH TICK This hum­ble Turn­stone was a key player in the growth of Mike’s year list in a crazy April and Langtoft pits. Oh, and the next day, I was back on the Nene Washes find­ing a black-bel­lied Grey Plover. So things stood, un­til last week­end (14th May) when I was back at the Nene Washes. I ar­rived at March Farm­ers, scanned a flooded field and im­me­di­ately saw Black Terns (plu­ral). I set up the scope and counted 15 of the beau­ties. They soon flew off, head­ing west, but set­tled af­ter a few hun­dred me­tres. So, I scoped them again for a re­count, a tad against the light. Now there were 16 birds and one of them surely had paler wings and tail. A White-winged Black Tern? I started jog­ging to catch the flock up be­fore it moved on. Luck­ily, they stayed roughly to­gether and I could con­firm that I had a UK find-tick in White-winged Black Tern. As I was call­ing out the news to a friend, though, a sec­ond bird flew into view! I was alone with ar­guably my best ever lo­cal find and the birds were ‘antsy’, about to leave any mo­ment. The first re­cruit came run­ning along the bank, Hugh Wright, with his barely year-old son on his shoul­ders, no scope. I rushed to meet them with my scope, but the terns had gone. Luck­ily, Hugh picked them up again per­haps a kilo­me­tre east of us. A de­cent quo­rum of bird­ers came to see those terns, that evening. And while we watched them, three Short-eared Owls, Hobby, two Whim­brels, Gar­ganey, Arc­tic Tern and a fly-by Bit­tern pro­vided de­cent back-up en­ter­tain­ment. Later that evening, my terns were al­most for­got­ten, as the first Cam­bridgeshire Great Reed War­bler for 34 years was found at Paxton Pits. But that is not the Peter­bor­ough area, so what do I care? I’m rather pleased with my find and have clocked up a round 170 for the year, so far! What’s next?

As I was call­ing out the news to a friend, though, a sec­ond bird flew into view. I was alone with my best ever lo­cal find

Mike weed­world.blogspot.com

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