Bird Watching


Above photo of Waxwings at Holme, Norfolk by Brian Linford.

Group Co-ordinator:  Brian Linford – 01799 531 392 or email

The group is open to all members and enquiries are welcome.  We are losing a few members at the end of this term, so we have room for some new members, although the possibility of a second group for new members or beginners could be explored subject to demand.

We are interested in watching, and listening to, birds and all forms of wildlife, animals, flowers, trees etc. We share cars and offer a contribution to the driver towards fuel costs, and enjoy a day out in the country with some pleasant walking and company too.

The usual start is 9.00 am and we leave in shared cars from SW Leisure Centre.

In the past we have been to The Lodge, Sandy; Paxton Pits; Fen Drayton; Rye Meads; Lakenheath; Minsmere; Rutland Water; Cley Marshes; Rainham Marshes and Welney. Ideas for future trips are always welcome.

We generally record 30+ different species each time, including many fascinating sightings such as kingfishers, bitterns, cuckoos, marsh harriers, cranes, water rail, many waders and warblers, as well as deer, water voles etc.

Brian Linford

Proposed Dates for Autumn Term:-

BIRDWATCHING – Fowlmere and pre-Christmas Lunch – December 2017 (T.B.C). Further details contact Brian at

Latest News

October 2017

On October 25th we visited Rainham Marshes, another RSPB site alongside the Thames. It was a beautiful day, very warm for late October and we all enjoyed the walk around the reserve. We saw over 30 species including a large flock of Goldfinches, many Canada and Greylag Geese, Heron and Egrets, and some raptors, namely Marsh Harriers, Buzzards and one Peregrine Falcon sunning itself beside one of the pools. There were also still dragonflies and butterflies still around enjoying the warm sunshine.

Christine Taylor

September 2017

Our September outing, on Tuesday 26th, was to Rye Meads RSPB site Nr Hoddesden. Several regulars were unable to make it but 10 of us set off to explore on a bright mild day.

We saw many of the usual suspects from coots to cormorants on the lagoons and the kestrel on the pylon in the car park, but the highlight for most of us was the show put on by the kingfisher, appropriately at the kingfisher hide. It flew from perch to perch, dived for fish, and posed for about 10 minutes for photographers. It alone was worth the visit.

In all we saw about 30 species of birds plus many dragonflies most of which wouldn’t stay still to be identified.

Christine Taylor

July 2017

Our July trip took us to RSPB’s Lakenheath Fen in Suffolk. A breezy day with the variety of species rather less than usual, but several kingfisher sightings and a bittern in a brief flight were the highlights.  Some great crested grebes with growing chicks, kestrels, common tern and distant marsh harriers amongst others.  Also several red admiral butterflies and a painted lady; some orange and black striped cinnabar moth caterpillars (with venomous spines), and interesting wild flowers, such as large hemp-nettle (quite poisonous), while old English longhorn and some belted Galloway cattle were seen grazing.

We break for the summer and regroup in September, when it is hoped that members can share the choosing of sites and dates for our monthly visits.

Thanks to Brian Eastcott for these photos taken at Lakenheath. Click on photos to enlarge.

March/June 2017

The Spring and Summer months were over-shadowed by the sudden death on Easter Sunday of Lucy Chapman, a popular and knowledgeable member originating from South Africa, who loved talking about birds here and in her native land, as well as her frequent travels to family back home and in USA. She is much missed.

March found us at sunny, windy Lackford Lakes.  Another 39 different species recorded, including a treecreeper climbing up a silver birch trunk close to our path, then flying down to start again on another two trunks in turn.

In April, we tried an evening outing for the “wader spectacular” at Snettisham on the Wash, but the spectacular turned out to be heavy rainfall driving horizontally from behind as we hurried to a small hide.  We did see many waders, mainly knots, rising together as the high tide swept them from mudbanks, but all rather distant.

May’s outing was an excellent guided tour at Wicken Fen, with 38 different species recorded, as well as many butterflies and dragon/damselflies.  Also Highland cattle and Konik ponies grazing, frisky roe deer and a healthy looking fox ambling away from a hide.  Then in June, we cancelled as it was too hot for us!

Click on photos to enlarge.

February 2017

In February we visited Essex Wildlife Trust’s site at Fingringhoe Wick on the Colne estuary.  Many waders and wildfowl, such as ringed and golden plovers, oystercatcher, wigeon, avocet and red-breasted merganser.  Inland, a field with many dark-bellied brent geese from Siberia and on gravel lakes several dabchick, gadwall and tufted duck, then a glimpse of a kingfisher in flight.  Marsh harrier and buzzards overhead and a couple of handsome greater-spotted woodpeckers on bird feeders by the visitor centre. 38 different species recorded plus a noisy elusive wren.

December 2016/January 2017
Our birding year ended with a good lunch for the regulars at The Chequers in Fowlmere after a visit to the local RSPB reserve.  Not many birds around, but a pleasant nature ramble,  In January the cold and fog meant numbers were low at Fen Drayton, walking around the partly frozen gravel lakes and woodlands by the Ouse, but we were fortunate the weather cleared to record 36 different species, plus 3 heard and not seen (including water rail) and a distant lone unidentified wader.  Highlights included bullfinches, goldeneye, pochard, marsh harrier, Egyptian geese, grebes and a meadow with several fieldfare, as well as long lines of coots on the ice.  Interesting reserve well worth a visit along the Cambridge guided busway.

November 2016

November’s trip took us to Welney Wetland Centre. Hundreds of wintering Wigeons and Lapwings, as well as many diving Pochard and several Whooper Swans with three-month old cygnets making the 1200 mile trip from Iceland to enjoy warmth of an English winter. Also delicately marked Pintail and Gadwall. To outdoor hides later to see Marsh Harriers, a very well camouflaged Snipe, then fairly distant but clear view of four Cranes on the grasslands beyond the lagoons. Back to the main hide for the daily swan feed. A few slightly smaller Bewick’s Swans were pointed out, having flown from Siberia. 32 different species recorded and possibly a Barn Owl flying alongside us as we headed home after a very interesting day in the Fens.

October 2016

October found numbers boosted by new members and 11 of us enjoyed a first trip to Grafham Water Reservoir. More fine weather and masses of Coot, Tufted Duck, Great-Crested Grebe and many Teal, some Pochard and flying Lapwing flocks. Later a Red Kite mobbed by crows until it got away and came closer to give fine views of its distinctive shape and lovely under-wing markings, especially when a Buzzard flew near to allow us to compare the two impressive raptors. Another 37 species scored between the group.

September 2016

RSPB Minsmere was postponed from July to September and well worth the delay. We recorded 38 different species with another 2 (Cetti’s Warbler and Bearded Tit) heard bit not seen. Highlights included Marsh Harriers soaring, Avocet, Spotted Redshank, Snipe, Pintail, a Grey Plover close by for good camera shots of its delicate markings. A Curlew that we had hoped might be an elusive Stone Curlew, then a Bittern flying away from the last hide to set us up for the return home.


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