Late autumn and early winter bird report

Cormorant numbers are building up slowly! Four were roosting in the Riverside willows in late October. The anglers don’t seem to mind, although this is an ideal spot for them to nest. Numbers of Robins in our gardens have been boosted by a huge influx of birds from abroad. Most of our home bred Robins move south for the winter and are replaced by birds from Europe, particularly from eastern Germany and Poland.

Winter Robin in Fulbrooke Road Allotments

How many Blackbirds frequent your garden over the winter – 3 or 4, 5 or 6 at the most? That’s what a Norfolk birdwatcher thought until he ringed Blackbirds in his urban garden with individual combinations of coloured rings; he counted over 70 individuals!

Black-headed Gull numbers are now building up along Riverside. They are now in winter plumage without their black (actually brown!) heads. Amongst them are the larger Common Gulls without any head markings and a greenish bill. These can often be watched closely, as one cycles across Parkers Piece. Look for any  coloured plastic leg rings with alphanumeric numbering, designed to be read through binoculars or a telephoto camera lens. Details of where and when the birds were ringed are available on the internet.

If you are in the Cambridge Market Square and the pigeons are flying around in a panic, there is probably a Peregrine Falcon hunting. Peregrines now nest in the City; they were once thought of as birds of mountains, cliffs and moorland but Cambridge City now has as many breeding pairs as Shetland! If it’s warm enough, sit outside at Don Pasquali’s on Market Square with a coffee (and one of their excellent pizzas!) and watch the skies!

Large numbers of Waxwings have arrived along the east coast and are beginning to filter inland. These spectacular birds nest in the Scandinavian conifer forests but move south in winter searching for berries especially Cotoneaster, Mountain Ash, Wild Rose hips and Yew. Most years they are rare but there are occasional influxes; hundreds roamed Cambridge in the winter of 2012/2013. Please keep watch for them. They are often remarkably tame and like urban areas.



Waxwings in Longworth Avenue Chesterton 2013

October 2016 has been one of the most spectacular autumns on record for rare birds along the east coast, due to the prolonged period of easterly winds bringing in vagrants from central Asia. Yellow-browed Warblers from central Russia have appeared in exceptional numbers and many have continued a southerly migration inland. Several have been recorded in Cambridgeshire and one or two birds have been seen (and heard) at two locations around Stourbridge Common. They are small very energetic greenish leaf warblers that are best located by their call – a plaintive rising “sooeet”.

Yellow-browed Warbler – by Simon Stirrup

Bob Jarman

(Please send me any records of birds in the City and I will forward them to the County recorder)