Confrontational Robin (right)
A Peregrine on St Luke’s Church on 12th September (Ben Greig) was a good find. Disbursed birds from the City’s breeding pairs could be hanging around any of our tall building and, in the past, have been seen on the Catholic Church, St Giles Church, St Andrews and St George’s churches in Chesterton and the Riverside chimney. A female Marsh Harrier over the NIAB’s Trials Ground in the north of our project area on 13th September was unusual and a new bird for the site and probably our project area. It fits the pattern of most adult birds leaving local breeding sites over winter and returning the following spring. A brown juvenile Hobby was also seen there on the same day.
There are still Chiffchaffs about; 13th September was a beautiful day and three were singing along the river between Chesterton and Fen Ditton and one, possibly two, feeding in the tit flock in the rear gardens of the Doctors’ surgery in Fisher’s Lane, Cherry Hinton on 24th September. A Blackcap was in Logan Meadow willows on September 29th.
Simon Gillings tweeted recording night time passage of Tree Pipit, Golden Plover and Robins on September 13th. (@simon_gillings).
The Swallows that bred under the A14 bridge near Horningsea were still feeding over the river on 13th September but had gone a week later on 20th September. Six were over Fen Ditton meadows on October 1st. The first Siskin paid a fleeting visit to the garden feeders on 14th September but I have not seen it since. The confrontational Robin, far from being at ease with him?self, continued to attack his reflected image in the second and third floor bedroom windows. He has given that up and now chases away any other songbird that appears near the garden feeders up to Blackbird size.
A Meadow Pipit, low over Hawthorn Way on 19th September, was unusual. A skein of about 120 Greylag Geese and 25 Canada Geese flew over Fen Ditton towards Milton County Park on 20th September. It’s always worth a look into geese flocks for Barnacle Geese (probably from the feral population that breeds freely on the Suffolk coast) and Pink-footed Geese. Pink-feet have been seen in the north of our project area in the past and will be wanderers from North Norfolk. Olwen saw a distant ring-tailed harrier opposite the Beechwoods on 19th September; it was probably a Hen Harrier but two ring-tailed Pallid Harriers have turned up not far away: one at the Wildfowl and Wetlands reserve at Welney and one in nearby Herts around Therfield Heath and Greys (Cambridgeshire Bird Club Autumn Bulletin 2018).
The Herons feeding along the river at Riverside can be very confiding if not intimidating! I have seen an adult walking on the concrete embankment just meters from pedestrians and cyclists. On 29th September, I saw a Carrion Crow killing and eating a Woodpigeon on Midsummer Common. I have never seen predation by a crow like this before; it grimly stabbed it to death with its bill. Perhaps the pigeon was sick or injured or had been stolen by the crow from a Sparrowhawk but there was no sign of one.
A raptor survey on the edge of our project area on 22nd September produced no visible bird of prey passage but a strong southerly movement of about 100 House Martins in the allocated one-hour watch.
On 23rd September Chris Brown saw a flock of 19 Spoonbills flying over Stetchworth Ley heading west towards our project area (www.cbcwhatsabout.blogspot.com). At some point, they changed direction and turned south and were next recorded in Greater London in the Beddington area ( www.surfbirds.com)! Six Cattle Egrets have been present on the Wildlife Trust reserve at Mare Fen, between Swavesey and Over, for much of the month and are probably part on the recent influx into southern England. They seem to have disbursed and are quite likely to turn up around the cattle on our riverside commons; the bird found by Jon Heath in April 2016 with cattle off the Fen Road was probably the wandering long staying bird from a site in Suffolk.
Simon Gillings recorded overflying night migration of Sandwich Terns on five occasions during the month including at 21:33 on 22nd September and 04:51 the following morning (@simon_gillings).
Redwings are now arriving from Scandinavia and their nocturnal flight call were heard on September 26th. There is an excellent website – www.xeno-canto.org – that has recordings of bird songs and calls.
A recent report from the RSPB proves that persecution of raptors continues and is widespread; we know this – one of our local Peregrines was shot and injured last year but was taken into care at the Raptor Foundation near St Ives and recovered and was released. If you want an excellent a day out with the children/ grandchildren/by yourself/with another visit the Raptor Foundation.
The BTO wants Tawny Owl hooting records – www.bto.org/owls. I have records from five probable breeding sites in our project area and plan to submit these. The popular “toowit toowoo” rendition – is, I think, an amalgamation of the female “keewick” and the male hooting “towooo” calls.
Migrant Hawker (below)
I’m a great fan of Ivy – except growing up my house walls! There is a fine tree in Ainsworth Street shrouded in ivy – the City Council claims the tree is unstable and must come down. Ivy certainly does increase wind resistance during storms but is a wonderful late pollen and berry source for insects and birds especially city House Sparrows. It would be better to trim the ivy rather than fell the tree. There is a full wall of ivy behind the Cherry Hinton Doctors surgery that was full of bees during mid-September. The best House Sparrow nest colony in the City was in the ivy covering the front of a house in Radegund Road but it was removed and the sparrows were forced to move on.
The fine weather also brought out Small Copper butterflies in our project area which, it seems, have had a bad year and Migrant Hawker dragonflies in our sector of Milton Country Park.
Bob Jarman firstname.lastname@example.org
1st October 2018