We had a lovely walk this morning for our event, which was called "What's that warbler". We'd heard five different species before we'd even left the car park, including a grasshopper warbler,. This one was expected to be the most troublesome, as they are fairly quiet, scarce and sing at a pitch that is too high for some people to hear. Garden warblers proved elusive, and blackcaps were much quieter than in recent days, but common whitethroats and willow warblers showed off nicely...as did a lesser whitethroat for a few people.
Of course, we saw other birds too - four marsh harriers, a couple of hobbies, a swallow, for example, and we heard a cuckoo. Many butterflies were around us too, mostly orange-tips and brimstones.
I wonder what guests will see tomorrow?
Phew! It has been hot and sunny, with lots of people out for a walk. Some even had binoculars with them. Many of them signed the RSPB's Letter to the Future.
87 different bird species were recorded at Fen Drayton Lakes today, which equals our best one-day tally. They included 10 species of warbler, yellow wagtail, wheatear, house martin, little gull, whimbrel, garganey and marsh harrier. Just for a moment, we thought we had a nightingale, but it proved to be a mimicking blackcap (smart bird, it mimicked several different bird songs). If yesterday's serin and red kite had stayed....
Orange-tip and speckled wood butterflies made their first local appearance for 2010 too, giving us seven butterfly species for the weekend.
Today's tally of wildlife sightings finished on 75 bird species, counting pied & white wagtail as one. An osprey and two ravens were highlights for some lucky observers, but we also had some smashing views of a male marsh harrier. A grasshopper warbler was singing again today, with a few common whitethroats. Other records included a small pike in a ditch, four butterfly species and a grass snake.
Another lovely day to be out, starting with another survey of breeding wildfowl. At least 3 common whitethroats have arrived and begun singing, as has one grasshopper warbler. Blackcaps now seem to be in every scrubby patch, and sedge warblers are singing in a few reed patches.
68 bird species, 4 butterfly species, three mammal species and one fish were recorded today - the fish was a small eel, carried by a mink.
The alarm went off just after 5 o'clock this morning. Time to get up and do my first breeding bird survey of 2010, and what a brilliant morning to start the new season.
Mist was hanging over the lakes, hardly any higher than the reed tops, but not for long. A huge red sun soon popped up over the eastern horizon and cleared away the mist, and encouraged birds to sing. Many migrants are still on their way here, but blackcaps were belting out their songs from the scrubby patches, with willow warblers, chiffchaffs and song thrushes singing too, and the recently arrived sedge warblers were tuning up.
Out on the water, tufted ducks and goldeneyes were courting, and great crested grebes were doing their thing - mirroring the partner's actions, braying and presenting beakfuls of water plants. Mute swans have paired up, but none seem to be sitting on eggs yet.
Not all birds were vocal - a barn owl sat silently on a fence post, watching for smaller mammals than me.
By 9am, the heat was on, the coat was off, the coffee drained from the flask and the first survey was done. I'm looking forward to many more mornings like this one.