I was working at Warners head office in Bourne at the end of the week, so took the opportunity to stay at home, see the family and do a bit of local birding.
As it turned out, there was actually a fair bit on the move despite the hot and clear conditions. Repeated visits to my old patch at Baston & Langtoft Pits throughout the day seem to bring reward. The 'wader pit', as it's been dubbed, has lost about a foot of water since the start of the summer, exposing islands and leaving juicy areas of shallows. A morning visit on Thursday produced Wood Sandpiper, Garganey and an adult Black-tailed Godwit. By the evening the former two birds had disappeared, but Blackwits had jumped to 13. Interestingly, a colour-flagged Lapwing has transpired to be a bird tagged as a newly hatched chick at Berney Marshes, Norfolk, on 7 May this year.
Interest seemed to stem from the repeated turnover of gulls, waders and wildfowl using the pit. Morning visits on Friday produced a few pristine juvenile Common Gulls, four Little Ringed Plovers and a newly arrived drake Eurasian Wigeon, with an adult Yellow-legged Gull, two Dunlin and six Black-tailed Godwits present mid-afternoon. Then, in the evening, shortly after a Green Sandpiper had flown over me, Mike Weedon found a colour-ringed adult Turnstone on the wader pit. A fascinating inland occurrence and I'm hoping that we'll get some detail back on where it was ringed, as a scan of the CR-birding site produced no obvious candidate for the ringing scheme.
An early visit on Saturday brought fly-through Ringed Plover and Dunlin, a Common Snipe and a minor influx of Shoveler, with 14 birds a notable increase on the previous day's two. Then, mid-morning, a second visit brought a fantastic juvenile Spotted Redshank – my first-ever juvenile here, although it was quite wary and had gone by late morning. Without my camera, which is being fixed, I had to make do with phone-scoping through the vegetation. With regular sightings of Marsh Harriers, Red Kites and lots of gulls, Lapwings and ducks to go through, birding here is a real joy at the moment and it was with a pang of sadness that I headed back to London on Saturday afternoon.
On the way back to London, I called in at the McCain's chip factory between Stanground and Whittlesey, just to the west of Peterborough. This is now the only gulling site in Peterborough, following the closure of the once legendary Dogsthorpe and Tanholt landfill sites (these used to have thousands of gulls). I could only find around 200 gulls on the large pit at Bradley Fen but quickly picked up a very fresh juvenile Caspian Gull – the earliest I've seen one in the Peterborough area. Unfortunately viewing conditions here mean that birds are distant and swimming which makes assessing jizz difficult, but the bird eventually had a flap and flew around a bit, showing off pretty much everything you'd want to see, and was very easy to pick up in flight when it thermalled off high over the chip factory.