Monthly Archive: May 2012

Spring bird bonanza

Last Sunday’s Spring Bird Race was again a tremendous success. Sixteen early risers set off from the Environment Agency at 6am and just four hours later had between them notched up a staggering 81 species, all from within the Wildspace. People got fantastic views of marsh harriers hunting and cuckoos chasing one another, against a soundtrack of newly-returned turtle doves “turring” and snipe drumming over the flood meadows. Particular highlights were a siskin and a wheatear – both rare birds in Ely and firsts for the Bird Race. Many thanks indeed to Stuart Sharp for expert organisation and to team leaders Stu, Ben Green, Duncan Poyser and Mark Welch for their sharp eyes and extraordinary powers of hearing.

Ready, set, go!

Last year an amazing 88 species of bird were recorded during the inaugural Wildspace Bird Race. Are you up to the challenge of attempting to beat that total? Alternatively, do you simply fancy a guided birdwatching walk around the fantastic wildlife areas right on our doorstep?

If so, then why not join the Ely Wildspace Bird Race on Sunday 13 May? We are meeting at 6 am sharp at the top of Kiln Lane (the road leading to the Environment Agency off Prickwillow Road) where we will divide up into small teams, each of which will be led by an experienced local birdwatcher. The teams will then walk around the Wildspace trying to see and hear as many bird species as possible. At around 11am the teams will meet up to compare notes and discover the winners! The event is free and everyone is welcome. Please bring binoculars (if you have them), warm and waterproof clothing, and plenty of food and drink. Email if you require further details.

A bird in the hand – two in the bush

For the third year running a male nightingale has set up territory overlooking Roswell Pits – in fact this year there are two. They arrived from their African wintering grounds in mid-April and for much of the day and night can be heard singing alongside Kiln Lane – below the Environment Agency car park and just above where the vegetation opens out onto the two pits. Both birds have been mist-netted and ringed by Dr Stuart Sharp, who has special permission to catch nightingales. One of them is a first-year bird, which suggests that they may have bred successfully here last year (most first-year males return to breed in the area where they were born). With a bit of luck, now that the birds are ringed we can find out whether it’s the same individuals that are arriving each spring. Listen to a nightingale call by clicking here (recorded at Roswell pits just before midnight on St Georges’ day, April 23rd).

International Dawn Chorus Day

To celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day on Sunday 6 May 2012, Ely Wildspace are holding a Dawn Chorus Walk and Warbler Identification Workshop at Roswell Pits. Come along and listen to the wonderful cacophony of song as the birds of Roswell awake. No experience is necessary as expert Tony Fulford will be on hand to help identify the songsters. Special attention will be paid to the warblers because Roswell is home to the majority of the UK regular breeders. Bring a pair of binoculars if you have them and meet us at 5am at the top of Kiln Lane (off Prickwillow Road). For further details, please contact