We intended to do Norfolk on Sunday, by way of a few birds on the way. However the news of a Greater Yellowlegs all the way up in Northumbria was a bit of a problem. The fact that it had been seen a few times in the morning and then disappeared until late afternoon suggested that it may be too flighty and unlikely to be reliable (rather like the recent Cornish bird). In the event it remained in front of the hides at Hauxley all day and we never got to Norfolk.
A few miles up the road from me just outside Biggleswade a small party of White Fronted Geese could be seen from the road, so we made them our first target. I have been geese hunting around here and nearby Shuttleworth before and found it a difficult exercise, but these were as reported, easily visible from the narrow lane. Parking was a bit awkward, and the light morning mist did not help.
The other side of Biggleswade, on a new housing estate the female Black Redstart was not seen despite a circuit of the estate. However, on getting back to the car I noticed a small reddish bird pop up briefly on the nearby school roof. Frustratingly a Starling then appeared in the same location, appearing somewhat orange due to the low Sun, and then flew off with another three birds. Luckily the small bird reappeared, dropped down and out of view. Approaching the school fence I noticed the now obvious Black Redstart on the fence where it gave satisfactory views before flying into the housing estate. We followed and got a number of good images. A number of other birds were seen in the area, a few flyover Yellowhammers and Skylarks, a Pied Wagtail family and a very short tailed Lark could only have been a Woodlark.
We then went to the RSPB Lodge at Sandy in the hope that the unusually late staying Osprey would put in an appearance. In the event it did not but the autumnal scenes and the fungi were wonderful. Will be putting more images up on my Zeiss page.
Apart from Siskins flying around, a few Woodpeckers and assorted finches the only birds of interest were Ravens-two juveniles and an adult bird were seen frequently near the visitors centre.
Our next target was an inland Slavonian Grebe on Orton brick pits south of Peterborough. We may have had duff gen and the pit we tried to find could not be found-a new housing estate had been built on the approach road and we spent around fifteen minutes driving around what could only be described as the most depressing and god forsaken development I have seen for a long time.
We gave up and headed for Guyhirn on the Nene washes. For some time now eight Cranes had been present on the cattle fields south of the A47. Unfortunately the farmer was driving a tractor around the fields when we arrived and the cranes had obviously gone so we went to Eldernell just in case they had ended up there.
I recognised two of the birders as locals that we had met several times before in the area and they had checked most of the sites between here and Guyhirn with no success. We spent some time chatting while large flocks of Lapwings and corvids entertained us but there were no owls, swans or geese on view. They did give us a better location for the Orton grebe so we called in there on the way back. This pit was at least accessible but full of motorbikes and theer was of course no sign of a Slavonian Grebe. To make matters worse we left at 3.30 pm and later on a pager message said 8 Cranes Eldernell at 3.20.
So we got a couple of year ticks, three dead certs could not be found and a lifer was on view all day 250 miles away. Still it was a nice day.