On Sunday morning a team of volunteers arrived back at the Visitors' Centre at 9.am. They had been conducting an early morning breeding bird survey covering the whole site. They will repeat this survey in June and we will use the data to make comparisons with previous years. It's a very useful tool for habitat management and gives us an idea of how some of our most prominent birds are faring.
As a result of course, you are going to ask me how many nightingales we have this year. The answer is that I don't know yet! However, things are looking pretty good. On Thursday night we held our annual Nightingale Serenade which was attended by over 140 people and 13 singing nightingales, all heard between the Centre and the River Viewpoint. On Sunday morning I found a new territory on the Meadow Trail (making three there) and Ian Langdon found three more on the sailing lake, as well as three at the top of Pumphouse Pit which we learned of early last week. Two are singing on the Ouse Valley Way near Washout Pit and there are at least three on the Haul Road near Rory's Wood. So, just from what we know so far, I make it 28 singing males altogether. This is roughly 1% of the UK population, I think.
While we were sitting in the centre comparing notes, four different birdwatching groups turned up at the same time. The Mansfield RSPB Group came by coach and the Cambridge RSPB Group
arrived in multiple cars. Other groups came from the Midlands in general and the car park was full of solos and couples with strange and wonderful accents, all here to see, or at least hear, nightingales.
People from Up North come here because they don't have nightingales north of the Wash really. Paxton is the most reliable and most northerly site and we have toilets! People from Down South come because the other best places are in Kent and and getting there involves a day and a half counting cones on the M25.
More to come......