MIKE’S KEY PBC AREA SITES
March is regarded as a quiet time for birds, but the first wave of spring migrants comes through at this time. The first Sand Martins, Wheatears and Little Ringed Plovers help keep the year list ticking over and the first singing Chiffchaff is always a signal to up the year-listing game. Woodland birds are getting frisky You can’t be everywhere at once. In the PBC area, I have found that (historically) most of the ‘elite’ birds are found at four main sites. These are Ferry Meadows CP, the Nene Washes, Woodwalton Fen and Deeping Lakes LWT (and nearby sites).
Ferry Meadows CP in Peterborough contains a mix of lakes and woodland plus scrub and grassland all wrapped in a meander of the River Nene, so part of a pre-existing ‘flyway’. I cycle through there on my route to and from work, which helps make this a key site; and a couple of very keen local watchers work the site daily.
The Nene Washes is an extensive RSPB managed area of grassland by the channel of the River Nene (a few miles east of the city), which periodically floods. It is the last refuge for breeding Black-tailed Godwits in the UK, but is also excellent for lowland breeding waders (Snipe, Lapwing and Redshank), is the centre for Corn Crake reintroduction and has breeding Crane, Bittern, Little Egret and Marsh Harrier. It has fantastic wintering wildfowl and some of the best passage wader habitat. Anything can and does turn up.
The reedbeds, fen and carr habitats of WWF still (just) hold breeding Long-eared Owl (right), booming Bittern, roding Woodcock, and Grasshopper Warbler. In winter it is the best Peterborough area site for Mealy Redpoll and Bearded Tit.
Deeping Lakes LWT next to the River Welland is one of the best sites for scarce wildfowl, herons and grebes, as well as passage waders and annual Ospreys and the odd juicy passerine, plus wintering Long-eared Owl.
May goodies you may So, this is the obvious time local ‘bird race’, when I have birds in 24 hours on a few
From a fenland perspective, May into June is a time for birding at night. There are calling adult and juvenile Long-eared Owls, there are Corn Crakes (reintroduced east of Peterborough) and possible Spotted Crakes to listen for, as well as Quails out in the agriculture fields. Bitterns boom and Grasshopper Warblers reel. June and July are certainly quieter months for birds moving. But, one great thing is that a lot of the birds that are migrating are often rare. Watch the thermal rich skies for raptors or perhaps a stork. A rare marsh tern may drop in to your local gravel pit. And there are always waders,