Mike Wee­don as­sis­tant ed­i­tor

It has been a record-break­ing year for birds around Mike’s home city of Peter­bor­ough. Please in­dulge him while he fills you in

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

is ask­ing your in­dul­gence, while he recaps all the great birds he has seen near home in 2018.

We have reached the end of an­other year, and the start of a new year list. But it is still De­cem­ber as I write, and though like ev­ery year, there have been some hor­ri­ble things, and friends have been lost trag­i­cally early, I can at least look back at my lo­cal bird­ing year with plea­sure and sat­is­fac­tion. I will try to sum­marise my 2018 around my home city as suc­cinctly as pos­si­ble. Please in­dulge me. The year 2018 will go down as a record-break­ing year in the world of Peter­bor­ough area bird­watch­ing. Things got off to a great start im­me­di­ately, when my dear son Eddie, bird­ing pal Will and I broke the 10-year-old New Year’s Day record, rack­ing up 98 species of bird on day one. That’s more than half the year’s list in a sin­gle day! And in early May, Will, my friend Hugh and I scored a 24-hour list to­tal of 125 birds, just one shy of the record we set in 2017, and on a day with very lit­tle pas­sage. There was some­thing spe­cial about this year! My list of ‘self-found’ birds in the Peter­bor­ough area dur­ing 2018 cur­rently stands at 168 species, just a cou­ple short of my per­sonal record, set in 2014 (but there are still four weeks to go). And, in terms of qual­ity, this has been far away my finest per­sonal ‘find­ing’ year, here, with Green-winged Teal, Cat­tle Egret, Pec­toral Sand­piper, a flyby ju­ve­nile Goshawk, a flyby ju­ve­nile Gan­net and, best of all, a singing white-spotted Bluethroat be­ing the cream of the crop. I have added three new birds to my Peter­bor­ough Bird Club (PBC) record­ing area all time list: Amer­i­can Wi­geon, Mon­tagu’s Har­rier and that Bluethroat. But there have been other mas­sive high­lights to my lo­cal bird­ing year. The early freeze called the Beast from the East brought my third Red-throated Diver, which was at times just feet away. In the sum­mer, I com­pleted a set of all five reg­u­lar Bri­tish grebes in breed­ing fin­ery (and the spring’s Slavo­nian Grebe was the first time I have seen a ‘sum­mer’ in­di­vid­ual in Eng­land!). Re­cently, a ‘win­ter’ Red-necked Grebe, less than two miles from the of­fice, also showed to a few yards. Af­ter a slow start, it has been a great ‘shore­bird’ year; I have seen 30 wader species around these here parts; with a Black-winged Stilt in the spring, two Tem­minck’s Stints (in­clud­ing my first lo­cal au­tumn bird), and Pec­toral Sand­piper be­ing real high­lights. Some un­usual ac­ci­den­tal flood­ing on the Nene Washes dur­ing the long dry sum­mer, brought four sum­mer plumage Curlew Sand­pipers to­gether (my first lo­cal mul­ti­ple oc­cur­rence) as well as the site’s first suc­cess­fully fledged Avo­cets, ever (with 11 chicks!). In­ci­den­tally, the Nene Washes RSPB had its best Black-tailed God­wit breed­ing suc­cess for years and Cranes con­tinue to flour­ish on the site. It is a real de­light to have such a won­der­ful place ‘on the doorstep’. Then there were such treats as the out­stand­ing Bit­tern dis­play ac­tion I wit­nessed in the spring, with two males boom­ing in full view and form­ing dis­play pos­tures I had never seen be­fore. A singing Black Red­start hinted that these rare breed­ers could again be nest­ing in the city, which was once one of their strongholds. And birds such as Great White Egret, Cat­tle Egret and Raven have never been as easy to see as this year. Also, as the year reaches its end, there are two ju­ve­nile Rough-legged Buz­zards on the Great Fen, mak­ing this a three Rough-leg year near Peter­bor­ough; some­thing not many in­land sites can brag about! The mo­ti­va­tion to go out and see as many birds as pos­si­ble has been spurred on by em­brac­ing the #My200birdyear chal­lenge, even though I never ex­pected to come close to the 200 bird tar­get (189 be­ing the PBC area record to­tal since 2008). Just get­ting out and about bird­ing has also brought some won­der­ful ‘other wildlife’ ex­pe­ri­ences: my best ever views of Ot­ter and Badger by day­light, and the first baby Roe and Chi­nese Wa­ter Deers I have ever seen. And in­sect highs in­cluded an ex­plo­sion of the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion of one of our most spec­tac­u­lar but­ter­flies, the Pur­ple Em­peror. It is still the first week in De­cem­ber and my Peter­bor­ough area list for 2018 stands at 192 species (I re­cently added Cross­bill and Red-breasted Mer­ganser), smash­ing the old record. Who knows on what num­ber this year will end? And then it all starts over again! Happy New Year!

Great White egret, cat­tle egret and raven have never been as easy to see

Above Red-breasted Mer­ganser, Ferry Mead­ows CP, Peter­bor­ough; bird num­ber 192 on Mike’s 2018 lo­cal year list

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.