Sunday, 17 May 2015

People, people, people,...and birds.

May is our busiest time of year at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve. People come from all over the country to see and hear nightingales and quite a few of them come in organised groups. We are extremely proud of the Reserve and we just love to show it off to people.

Cambridge U3A birders.
Although anyone can visit the Reserve at any time, we really have to know when groups are coming as we have limited car parking space and we don't want to overwhelm our voluntary wardens with unexpected groups that arrive unannounced. Outside of our normal opening hours we can open up for groups that book, or we can at least unlock the toilets for them. That's why we ask them to book and to make a small contribution to our costs.

Nightingale Counters.
The biggest group this week was from the Cambridge U3A (University of the Third Age). They have their own birdwatching group that includes a few familiar faces from previous visits. I gave them an introductory talk before they set out in small parties to explore our nature trails. They stayed all day and really got the best out of their visit because they were so well organised. Of course, the beautiful weather helped.

Giving guided tours, building paths and serving teas are all jobs that use an immense amount of volunteer effort and we seem to overtax our volunteers at this time of year. All the same, we ask them to help out with wildlife surveys as well!

In a previous blog I mentioned the Breeding Bird Survey that involves two early morning counts across the whole site. In addition we have been counting nightingales. In fact, I have just returned home after this morning's 5:30 count. The news is pretty good I think. Most of the nightingales we expected to find actually bothered to sing for us. I'll tell you more when all the reports are in.

It does not seem to matter what excuse you use to visit the reserve in May. You might be serving teas, counting birds, cleaning the loos or emptying the dog bins, but you are out there with a chance to see something. I took Sophie the Ranger for a short walk on Wednesday and we saw a bittern!!! I also saw at least 4 hobbies and noticed that the new tern raft is being used as well as the old one. I was pleased to see that terns and gulls are returning to breed on the islands in the Sailing Lake.

While Ray Matthews and I were being filmed for a short movie (see my next blog) a peregrine was hunting over Heronry South. That was last Monday.

It's May, don't miss it!