WEE­DON’S WORLD

Mike Wee­don, as­sis­tant edi­tor,

Bird Watching (UK) - - Wel­come - Mike is an ob­ses­sive patch lis­ter and keen wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher in his home city of Peter­bor­ough, where he lives with his wife, Jo, and chil­dren, Jas­mine and Ed­die. You can see his pho­tos at weed­world.blogspot.com

finds that when the go­ing gets tough for lo­cal bird­ing, there are con­ve­nient op­tions.

As reg­u­lar read­ers will know only too well, I spend most of my bird­ing life locked to the area around Peter­bor­ough. Just as a re­minder, I will ex­plain again. When we moved to Peter­bor­ough eons ago, our daugh­ter Jas­mine had just had her first birth­day. Ed­die was born about a year later; so we had two lit­tle tid­dlers and it was not re­ally a good idea for me to go off gal­li­vant­ing all over the place in search of birds. The Peter­bor­ough area pro­vided a very fine so­lu­tion, re­mov­ing to a de­cent ex­tent the very real temp­ta­tion of the de­lights of north Nor­folk. You see, sites like Titch­well are less than 90 min­utes from Peter­bor­ough; close-ish but hardly doorstep bird­ing. Luck­ily, the Peter­bor­ough Bird Club (PBC) had al­ready de­fined a chunky cross-shaped area around the city as the of­fi­cial PBC record­ing area. Our house is roughly in the city cen­tre and is a max­i­mum of 30 min­utes from any bird­ing site in the PBC area. If I was off on my own, I could (and can) be called back at a mo­ment’s no­tice and come home in de­cent time. And, as luck (and the skill of the wise founders of the PBC area) would have it, the area is packed with won­der­ful sites. Con­sider the mar­vel­lous fen and carr site of Wood­wal­ton Fen NNR in the south; the ul­tra-con­ve­nient river-bor­dered lakes, scrub and wood­land of Ferry Mead­ows CP in the mid-west; the ever-evolv­ing gravel pits of the Deep­ings area (in the north); or the jewel in the crown in the east, the ex­ten­sive and fan­tas­tic Nene Washes, man­aged by the RSPB. Each has its glo­ries, its bril­liant habi­tats, its su­perb birds: res­i­dent, mi­grant and oc­ca­sion­ally rare. And the ac­tion is close and con­ve­nient. Time has passed and the fam­ily has grown up: Jas is a stu­dent and Ed­die is a sixth-for­mer. And as they have grown, so has my PBC area list. It is now on 249 birds, in­clud­ing three added this year (Amer­i­can Wi­geon, Mon­tagu’s Har­rier and Bluethroat). And my lo­cal (ie PBC area) 2018 list has been go­ing well, and is on a very healthy 184. Yes, I am still (prob­a­bly) on track to beat the 10-yearold, all-time year list record of 189. But I am cur­rently stuck and have been stuck since the end of July. Sure, the sum­mer is of­ten a quiet time for bird­ing and list build­ing and the fact that I had al­ready bagged so many birds means adding more in late sum­mer is all the more dif­fi­cult. But stuck I am. And when bird­ers get to think­ing this way, their eye starts to look fur­ther afield. Even this par­tic­u­lar birder, who has moulded the last 18 years of his bird­ing life around bird­ing close to his fam­ily, has started to get the wan­der­ing eye. In the past, I may have felt (and re­sisted) those Nor­folk sites gen­tly beck­on­ing me. But th­ese days, there is a ‘new’ and dan­ger­ous place, much closer to home. To cut to the chase, Framp­ton Marsh RSPB is only 30 miles and three-quar­ters of an hour away from home. And what de­lights it holds, with its sneaky place­ment on the edge of The Wash near Bos­ton, south Lin­colnshire; such glo­ries that we Peter­bor­ough-bound bird­watch­ers can only dream about. The place seems to get bet­ter and bet­ter (hence the bril­liant BW reader days out there in re­cent years). And in late Au­gust, the ex­cep­tional good­ies were com­ing aplenty. So it was that Jas­mine (now 19 and back from ‘uni’) and I aban­doned the good old Peter­bor­ough area and whizzed up the A16 to Framp­ton. We were there for a bird I’d never seen any­where in my life: Stilt Sand­piper. And it was easy! We even had the bonus of watch­ing the dainty lit­tle North Amer­i­can beauty shar­ing a shal­low pool with a swim­ming ju­ve­nile Red-necked Phalarope. And a week later, Jas and I, to­gether with my dear wife Jo (Ed­die was away) were back at Framp­ton once more, for great dol­lop­ing eye­fuls of the splen­did Long-billed Dow­itcher that was there then (as well as sec­onds of the Stilt Sand­piper). And there were thou­sands of Black-tailed God­wits, dozens of Spot­ted Red­shanks, golden Ruff ga­lore and so much more… But I must re­sist. I sim­ply have to knuckle down and keep work­ing the lo­cal gravel pits and hedge­lines, fens and marshes near home. I must keep fo­cused on get­ting that Lit­tle Stint, that Mer­lin, that Hen Har­rier, that White-fronted Goose, Ice­land Gull, Rock Pipit, Mealy Red­poll and Cross­bill which will see me smash the all time PBC year list record. But maybe the odd sneak up to Framp­ton would be OK, wouldn’t it?

Framp­ton Marsh RSPB is only 30 miles and three-quar­ters of an hour from home

Stilt Sand­piper (left), dwarfed by a Black-tailed God­wit and a Mal­lard, Framp­ton Marsh RSPB, Lin­colnshire, Au­gust 22

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