Bird Watching

Above photo of a Bittern at Lakenheath Fen by John Adcock.

Group Co-ordinator:  Christine Taylor – 01799 501 886 or email christine.e.taylor@ntlworld.com

The group is open to all members and enquiries are welcome. 

We are interested in watching, and listening to, birds and all forms of wildlife, animals, flowers, trees etc. We share cars and offer a contribution to the driver towards fuel costs, and enjoy a day out in the country with some pleasant walking and company too.

The usual start is 9.00 am and we leave in shared cars from SW Leisure Centre.

In the past we have been to The Lodge, Sandy; Paxton Pits; Fen Drayton; Rye Meads; Lakenheath; Minsmere; Rutland Water; Cley Marshes; Rainham Marshes and Welney. Ideas for future trips are always welcome.

We generally record 30+ different species each time, including many fascinating sightings such as kingfishers, bitterns, cuckoos, marsh harriers, cranes, water rail, many waders and warblers, as well as deer, water voles etc.

If you are interested in joining this group contact Christine.

Proposed Dates:-

December 2018 – Fowlmere and Christmas Lunch
January 2019 – no meeting
February 2019 – still to be decided
March 2019 – Graffham Water
April 2019 – Wicken Fen
May 2019 – Fingringhoe Wick

Latest News

May/June/July 2018

Thanks to Brian Eastcott for these 2 photos taken at Lakenheath Fen – Reed Bunting and Bittern – click to enlarge.

We had an interesting day at Abberton Reservoir in May, with fine sunny weather, a pleasant visitor centre to enjoy coffee outside, while watching fat tadpoles in the pond and a mallard duck with 4 brown stripey chicks like her and 4 golden yellow ones; 3 spacious hides, and good walking, viewing the reservoir and surrounding fields, and woodland too. Light on raptors and waders, with water levels high, but we saw many great crested grebes, with several pairings displaying to each other. 32 species recorded.
 
In Jun, we visited Lakenheath Fen on a very warm day.  Less than usual with 30 species.  No hobbies surprisingly when there were so many different dragonflies and damselflies, nor any of the swallow/martin/swift family, nor the elusive cranes, although we were told a pair were raising 2 chicks. Highlights were seeing a bittern flying close over our lunch stop twice to show its markings so well, then at the Mere Hide seeing one fly into the reeds opposite, then skulk along the edge with 2 half-size chicks in tow.  Also a kingfisher flying across our first viewing point pond twice; many butterflies including green-veined white, comma and meadow brown, cinnabar moth caterpillars, a peacock caterpillar, as well as hawkers, damsel and dragonflies.
 
July was Minsmere.  Slight sea breeze lowered the temperature a little.  Usual good variety of species, with less common ones including flocks of common scoter flying low over the sea; kittiwakes on inland mere; marsh harrier perched near to our hide; barnacle geese and sand martin flying around nesting site.  Good end to the year’s outings.
 
Brian Linford
 

March/April 2018
 
12 of us met at Paxton Pits in March, with thankfully dry but cool weather after the February visit had been snowed off.  We had an interesting and informative guide in Trevor, who has been a volunteer there since it was opened as a reserve.  He took us to parts not normally open to visitors, and stayed with us until lunch in the visitor centre, longer than expected.  An afternoon walk on our own in a different area afterwards.  44 bird species seen or heard, plus a couple of mammals.  Nothing too unusual, but those with good eyesight spotted what they were sure was a peregrine in distant skies.  No otter, kingfisher or bittern, but that’s nature.
 
In late April, Chris took us to Wicken Fen, where he volunteers.  An experienced guide, David, led us around and despite the cold drizzle we saw quite a lot, including a Ross’s Snow goose, which originates from North America and is likely to be an escapee from captivity.  Other highlights from 38 species seen and/or heard were the nice markings of a male Garganey, a summer migrant, hearing the first cuckoo, and starting to differentiate warbler song from Chris’s recent cribsheet.  Interesting to learn that Chris and David did a further walk in the afternoon, after we had aborted for home, and managed to see 6 cranes flying over the edge of the Sedge Fen. We are not sure whether they have started to nest at Wicken Fen yet or just passing through but fingers crossed they may decide to breed.    

January 2018

The 22nd dawned bright, relatively still and above freezing at least, as we drove to Hanningfield Reservoir, where we met, Bill, the Warden who took us for a guided tour of the reserve

We visited two of the four hides on the edge of the reservoir.  Hanningfield is man-made and was created in 1957 by flooding a valley, which included a number of farms and the village of Peasdown, it now covers nearly a thousand acres.  We were all surprised to discover that two of our number had lived on one of the farms that were drowned by the creation of the reservoir, a homecoming in a sense for them.

We saw a number of waterfowl from the hides, the most notable being goosander and goldeneye.  A number of teal were also seen and a significant flock of widgeon were observed on the meadows adjacent to the reservoir as were a pair of shelduck.

A most satisfying day from the point of view of the weather, company, a delightful walk and for the fact that we recorded 36 bird species.

Some Photos taken on earlier trips

 Click on photos to enlarge.

From our Fingringhoe Wick outing by Brian Eastcott.

Wicken Fen