This could be the last …or almost the last! November 2020

A Woodcock erupted from cover in Logan’s Meadow on 2nd November and was the second record for the site (the first was a past record over the river nearby (Rob Pople)). There was a second, and quite remarkable, Woodcock record on 8th November when one was disturbed from an enclosed terraced garden in Petworth Street. The habitat is unusual but this is the second record from exactly the same location – the first was on 1st November 2017 (Salim Algailani). Coincident location and +/- dates suggest a returning bird to the same spot. (A similar record from Bishop’s Stortford – a Woodcock in a small garden of a terrace house on a new estate).

Feathers left behind by the Woodcock in Petworth St (Salim Algailani)

Single Kingfishers have been recorded from Logan’s Meadow, East Chesterton, and the Mill Pond through the month and Sparrow-hawks were hunting over residential parts of the City: Charles Street, Longworth Avenue, St Kilda Avenue, Cherry Hinton Road, Logan’s Meadow, Fishers Walk – Cherry Hinton and Gilbert Road/Stretton Avenue.

Tawny Owls have sounded an occasional presence near the top of Castle Hill. It’s a regular site but whether they stay to breed is uncertain as there are periods during the breeding season when they remain silent. A Little Egret was in the Weeping Willows of Logan’s Meadow on 5th November overlooking the “Tesco’s Bridge” and one was seen regularly on Coe Fen during the month.

Little Egret – Logan’s Meadow

Two Yellow-legged Gulls were at Hobson’s Park on 6th November. Also on the 6th November one of two squabbling Grey Herons landed in the middle of the road at Riverside causing cyclists to swerve round it and enabled passers-by to photograph it close-up!

My garden hedgehog weighed in at 978 gms so it is hibernation ready – any hogs less that 400 gms apparently need feeding! On 7th November a pair of Stonechats were on stubble and crop trash on the NIAB’s Trials Ground just within our project area. I suspect they may over-winter there if the crop residues and arable weeds remain and numbers of insects on which they feed are maintained. Stonechats on open arable farmland are unusual but there is now a trend for minimum tillage to improve soil health by allowing leguminous weeds to establish, fix and return nitrogen to the soil, encourage mycorrhizal associations and reduce carbon loss. A Red Kite passed over and Red Listed farmland species were present nearby: Skylarks, Yellowhammers and Meadow Pipits. Twenty-four Meadow Pipits were in a flock, next to the Histon Rd/Huntingdon Rd footpath on 30th November.

There is a regular evening flypast of Jackdaws going to roost over St Andrew’s recreation ground in Chesterton. They appear to be flying due north; my highest count is 326 and they are all coming from the south of the City – I suspect from Petersfield/Romsey Town (and beyond) where they nest in chimneys of the Victorian terraced houses. Jon Heath has counted c400 over Lovell Road which is due north from St Andrews Rec. and the feeling is they are heading to roost with the Rooks at the Cambridge Research Park off the A10 near Waterbeach.

At the same time as the Jackdaw passage 400+ (mainly) Black-headed Gulls pass over Chesterton going NNW (count on 16.11.20) probably heading to the roost at RSPB Fen Drayton.

On 9th November a Buzzard was sitting in a tree in Storey’s Way and Roger Horton tweeted that two Red Kites and a Buzzard were over his garden and Cherry Hinton Hall. A Buzzard over Fisher’s Walk, doctors’ surgery on 28th. Seventeen Fieldfares flew over Huntingdon Road on the 11th (my first in our study area this year) and a single Brambling flew over Nuttings Road on 14th (Iain Webb cbcwhats

The daytime Cormorant roost on Riverside is active with up to eight individuals. Grey Wagtails are a recent addition to the Red List of birds. I’m surprised as I see or hear regular flyovers across the City often well away from the river. It has become much commoner in recent years and two were feeding on farmland on 7th near Darwin Green.

The release of 50+ million non-native game birds, Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges, for shoots has been questioned. I usually see native Grey Partridges on the chalky arable fields opposite the Beechwoods. Not on 18th November when I counted three coveys of Red-legs with a total of 22 birds. On the north side of the City I used to count two coveys of Greys but no longer – they too seem to have been replaced by Red-legs and the Greys are nowhere to be seen.

There was no mast in the Beechwoods so no feeding Bramblings or Chaffinches. Wintering Blackcaps have made their November arrival with a male in Lovell Road feeding on Cotoneaster berries, a female in Tenison Road feeding on Rowan berries and grapes and two males and a female in a garden near Histon Road feeding on Honeysuckle berries and Mahonia nectaries.

Peregrine(s?) have been seen in the City centre (no more sitting in Don Pasquale’s watching the Peregrine action from the Market Square as the café/restaurant has sadly closed for good) and one was round the Riverside chimney on 21st November. A Great White Egret was seen over the City on 22nd (James Littlewood,; on 23rd a Chiffchaff was in the All Saints Cemetery off Huntingdon Road.

Song Thrushes were singing in Chesterton at the end of the month. The next new record for our NatHistCam project area could be Glossy Ibis – birds have been seen at RSPB Ouse Fen and Fen Drayton in November.

Bob Jarman 30th November 2020