You have to admire wrens. So small, so pugnacious and definitely the loudest bird for their size. These little troglodytes stay here all winter, unlike moist of the warblers that fly off to get some winter sun. We even used to have a wren on a British coin. Can you remember which one?
This is a fungus that most people know. It's called Chicken of the Woods or Sulphur Ledge Fungus. This is a particularly fine example, on the Ouse Valley Way, just north of the moorings at Paxton Pits. The tree will become brittle and die, which means that we will need a new home for our nest boxes! Dead trees are great for wildlife and this fungus looks spectacular.
Non-bird visitors. Yesterday we had a short visit from John Mills and Claire Millar during which we failed to find a Norfolk Hawker dragonfly, hear a nightingale or see the great reed warbler. Fortunately, we did get a good look at the Reserve while it looks its very best.
Claire is the Joint Head of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Team at Defra and John is the Nature After Minerals Advisor at the RSPB in Banbury. This was a job-shadowing day during which John showed Claire the workings of the Lodge Reserve at Sandy and Paxton Pits.
The great reed warbler continued to rattle, rock and roll its way through Monday, making an incredible din, but not showing much. I had two goes at seeing it, but only heard it singing. You really can't miss it and, once heard. you won't mistake it for anything else. The bird I heard in Dodder Fen on Friday was definitely not a great reed warbler. I've no idea what it was, perhaps a Cetti's warbler mobbing something? A steady stream of birders arrived during the day, with always a half dozen or so at the site. Most of them stayed until they saw it and some went away with a photo or a video,
Ranger Matt Hall took a snap of the birders on his phone. The photo of the warbler is by Garth Peacock and is from the Cambridge Bird Club website.http://cambsbirdclub.blogspot.co.uk/
Yesterday (Saturday) brought us a very special bird which will attract a lot of birdwatchers if it is still here on Sunday. A Great Reed Warbler was found at the South end of Washout Pit. This bird is almost the size of a thrush!https://youtu.be/IFVPwVen-oQ
This could be the only Nightingale album you ever need. You might expect all of your old favourites on one disc, including "A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square", "A Nightingale to Remember", "How Big, How Brown, How Beautiful" by Florence and the Nightingales, Wilson Thicket's "In the Midnight Hour" and a selection from "A Nightingale with the Stars". But you already have those don't you? This rare album has none of those, it never went to vinyl or tape; it went straight fr...
Today is a good day to see hobbies. I saw six this morning, mostly over the Heronry Lakes where they were mixing with the terns. The place to be was the Kingfisher Hide. I missed some very close shots because the sun wasn't shining enough, making my camera too slow. I was also too slow, but I snapped off a few distant birds and then enlarged them. They were catching insects such as big midges and St Mark's flies, maybe even a damselfly or two. The interesting thing is that they catch these insects in the feet and then pop them in their mouth.
Our annual Paxton Pits Nightingale Evening attracted 115 people this year. It was a lovely evening, just perfect for a walk and the nightingales obliged by singing for us. Most of us managed to see one as well.
So far this season we seem to have more birdwatchers than in recent years but less nightingales. On the other hand, Hinchingbrooke Country Park has at least two singing males. We've got competition!
On Sunday, May 8th our day began at 7 am when a team of volunteers and a ranger assembled to start our annual Breeding Bird Survey. Armed with maps, binoculars and pencils (pens don't work and the rain and they have a habit of drying up when you need them most), we set out in ones and twos to cover the entire reserve and the quarry. The longest routes can take 4 hours while the shortest ones take an hour and a half. We will repeat the whole exercise in June and then the maps ...