Saturday, 16 January 2016

Que serin serin

With Winter now starting to get set in there are fewer and fewer "good" birds to go for. You can always amuse yourself with getting year ticks of common birds or you can go for some of the longer staying birds which make for much better ticks. Two of these were the party of serins which have taken up partial residence at Fen Drayton lakes in Cambridgeshire. These are birds of normally warmer climes than here and like many go into that group of previously much more common. They don't breed her but are regular visitors, never in large numbers but now a truly twitchable bird, or in this case birds, are worth getting out of bed early for.
So, another early start got me to a very frosty and cold Fen Drayton just after dawn. This is a relatively new RSPB reserve, a series of lakes and roadbeds on the edge of the fens. I'd been there before for Baikal teal and black-winged stilt. It's a bit of a strange reserve being bisected by a bus
tramway taking commuters to and from Cambridge!
Anyway, after a warming and reviving coffee I set off out the car park. The birds were only a short walk away, normally feeding on the verges of the bus tramway in the company of goldfinches and redpolls. After an hour though there was nothing moving! A couple of marsh harriers drifted over the sedge beds, a family party of bullfinches kept myself and about 10 other birders amused but if the sins not a tweet. Then finally there was a sharp trill and a small bird flipped up onto a nearby tree. It only stayed for about 30 seconds but enough for the gathered hordes to agree on female serin. Fortunately as it flew off we tracked it and all followed it down the tramway to the bus shelter (it sounds urban but it's really not!!).
We had another 20 minutes or so wait until someone called out "low down, far side" and there were both birds happily feeding away.

They didn't seem to upset so we all gradually got a bit closer as they continued to pull seeds from the plants by the verge.

Every so often they would get either bored or spooked and move on, sometimes a few feet, sometimes getting lost for 20 minutes or more.

After about an hour watching I called it a day and headed home.