Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A weekend in the Peterborough area

I took advantage of meetings up in Lincolnshire to spend a weekend at home - primarily to see family but also cram in some birding, too. In short, I've never seen so many birders locally! The now-famous Bluethroat at Willow Tree Fen has been drawing large crowds ever since it turned up and I joined them on a few occasions. Unfortunately, feeding this bird mealworms has only made it more elusive - now it doesn't need to forage, it pops out on the footpath to pick up a snack every half-hour or so, grabs one and heads back to the reeds almost right away. Still, a very nice bird to see so close to my old stomping ground, and in February..!

I'm not sure if it's because I've become accustomed to the largely bird-less expanses of Central London, but my old patch at Baston & Langtoft Pits seemed really 'birdy' on each visit. Most rewarding was a pair of Grey Partridges, a species I almost never see these days and one I've not seen at Langtoft in many years. Presumably reintroduced stock, but fantastic nonetheless. Up to 35 Yellowhammers and 10 Corn Buntings (but no Pine) was also nice, as were stunning views of a hunting Barn Owl one evening. Good numbers of wildfowl included hundreds of Wigeon, a Pink-footed Goose among the Greylags and a fine adult Whooper Swan among the Mutes. Returning shorebirds included an impressive count of 10 Oystercatchers.

 Male Grey Partridge 

Barn Owl 

Whooper Swan

Of course no trip back 'home' would be complete without paying homage to Peterborough's gulls, and it was nice to find a second-winter Iceland Gull at Dogsthorpe Tip, as well as an imposing first-winter Caspian Gull. Large gull numbers were in general quite healthy, with perhaps 3,000 or so of the three commoner species (~ 90 per cent Herring) at Dogsthorpe.

Iceland Gull 

Caspian Gull 

Pale Herring Gull

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