Cambridgeshire is a land-locked county in East Anglia. In medieval times, it contained a vast swamp, known as the fens, which was drained by the Dutch in the 1600s, rendering much of the county below sea level but leaving one small remnant at Wicken Fen.
The Dutch also created a rich habitat called the Ouse Washes with breeding Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit. Welney (close by in Norfolk); a Mecca for wintering waterfowl, is situated on the washes as is the RSPB reserve at Welches Dam further south.
Other popular birding spots are Grafham Water in the west, Fen Drayton gravel pits, the Nene Washes near Peterborough, Fowlmere as well as a number of landfill sites with a fine parade of gulls.
The county is also home to the headquarters of Birdlife International and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
The Cambridgeshire Bird Club and Peterborough Bird Club are both active with winter lectures and year-round outings. Records should be sent to RECORDER@CAMBRIDGEBIRDCLUB.ORG.UK
This is the back end of the Nene Washes and is the best approach to this reserve in winter as walking down the main drove means that you automatically break the skyline and spook the wildfowl. Access is from the A605 Whittlesey to March road. Just east of the village of Coates, turn north along Eldernell Lane and park in the car park at the end of the road. Much viewing can be done from the car park - indeed, due to flooding; you might well find that you can't go any further. The Nene Way footpath leads east and west but your best bet is to head west (turn left as you face the wash) and follow the path along the top of the bank. The pool and reed bed on your left sometimes holds a wintering Bittern. The wood on your right contains a large heronry, also Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker. As soon as you pass the wood, drop down to avoid flushing the wildfowl.
The main entrance to the Nene Washes is accessed from the B1040 Whittlesey to Thorney road. Leave the A47 at south at Thorney and continue until you cross the river. (On your right is a minor road with the Dog in a Doublet pub just along it. Park here and check the River Nene at the sluice for the occasional auk, shag etc.) Once you have crossed the river, continue until you see a track on your left by a row of trees at 90 degrees to the road. Follow this track (many potholes) as it doubles back on itself. Park when you come to the main drove and walk down the drove as far as you want (it is about three miles long) Best on a warm spring evening when there will be plenty of displaying waders - Redshank, Snipe, Lapwing, and the star bird, Black-tailed Godwit. Other waders can be seen on passage and you might see Barn and Long-eared Owls, Marsh Harrier and Hobby. Spotted Crakes are heard most years after dusk though there is no chance of seeing them.
This country park is accessed from the A605, a couple of miles west of Peterborough city centre and is well signposted. This is a fair, all-round site with a good mix of habitats - river, lake, scrub, woodland etc -offering a good range of the commoner species - a visit in May could produce 50-60 species. The wader scrapes (two hides) no longer support breeding waders - the odd pair of Little Ringed Plovers - but there are good numbers of Common Terns around (peak 75 this year) with passage Arctic Terns. Black Terns and Little Gulls appear in suitable conditions. The site is at the junction of two main migration routes - the A1 and the River Nene so the odd unusual bird does turn up though it is usually early dates for migrants rather than major rarities. Winter sees the occasional scarce grebe or diver on the lake and there is a huge pre-roost gathering of corvids. Redpolls and Siskins are often in alders by the hides. Bluebell Wood holds all three woodpeckers though Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is getting very hard to find.
This ancient woodland, about five miles west of Peterborough is reached by leaving the A47 north at Ailsworth and following a minor road towards Helpston. Park at the north end of the wood by a bridle way approx. SP 1363. If you come to some crossroads, you have gone too far. Follow the bridle way into the wood. Best time to visit is in spring, either for the dawn chorus or towards dusk. Target species include Nightingale, Grasshopper Warbler, Woodcock and Long-eared Owl with a supporting cast of Turtle Dove, Hobby, Cuckoo and the occasional Quail. Beware; there have been a lot of cars broken into in the last year.
Little Paxton Gravel Pits
One of the UK's best sites for seeing and hearing nightingales. See the Website below for further details.
A fen, dyke and woodland in a sea of farmland. Attracts bunting and finch flocks in winter. Good for marshloving species etc.
*See places other birders go Birding...
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 331
County Bird - Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa [It used to be Ruff but that no longer breeds in the county. Cambridgeshire has an important breeding population of the nominate race of Black-tailed Godwit and get large numbers of migrant Icelandic birds]. The County Emblem is the Great Bustard - last confirmed breeding in 1831 and last recorded in 1902.
Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder
Where to Watch Birds in East Anglia
by Peter & Margaret Clarke (2002 4th edition) Helm See Fatbirder Review
ISBN: 0713658649Buy this book from NHBS.com
Cambridgeshire Bird Report 2004
Cambridge Bird Club
ISBN: 165540Buy this book from NHBS.com
Your Guide to Nature Reserves in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire
Edited by Sarah Wroot. 165 pages, col photos, illus, maps. Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust
ISBN: 0952078805Buy this book from NHBS.com
The Birds of Cambridgeshire: Checklist 2000
Cambridge Bird Club
ISBN: 165542Buy this book from NHBS.com
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
Places to Stay
Spinney Abbey farm borders onto the celebrated Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve. The Reserve would have once formed part of the monastic lands surrounding the Abbey, and visitors to the reserve can see one of the very places where the ancient fen landscape is still relatively unchanged. The first monks at Spinney and many of those who came after them would have been all too familiar with the wetlands and swampy ground which is now almost all drained and converted to farmland. Alongside this landscape was an unique fenland way of life and remarkable wildlife.
Cambridgeshire Bird Club
We record the county's birds in our Annual Report, so we need your Records. We have a stunning Gallery, so we need your photos. We discuss things on Cambirds, we do Research, we have indoor Meetings, we have a Partnership with an African bird-club and we inform you with our regular Bulletins and lots more. Membership currently stands at over 350. General enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org Records to: email@example.com
Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust
The Trust has managed nature reserves, right across the three counties, for many years. Now we’re connecting these reserves together.
Peterborough Bird Club
The aim of the PBC is to bring together all those with an interest in birds in the Peterborough area and to increase their knowledge and enjoyment of birds and other wildlife. We also aim to raise awareness of birds among the local people and to promote their conservation. Outdoor Meetings are held most months, with a healthy mix of visits to both local sites and reserves further a field. Our winter indoor programme runs from September to April (excluding December) on the last Tuesday of the month. Indoor meetings start at 7.30pm at the Post Office Sports and Social Club on Bourges Boulevard Peterborough PE1 2AU…
The Raptor Foundation
We are in a purpose built centre near St Ives in Cambridgeshire England. Our address is: The Raptor Foundation, The Heath, St Ives Rd, Woodhurst, Cambs, PE28 3BT Tel (44) 01487 741140
Cambridge Conservation Forum
Cambridge Conservation Forum endeavours to achieve its aims by: fostering contacts between people in different organisations; broadening awareness of the exceptional pool of local expertise and activities; and encouraging the development of joint initiatives aimed at tackling common problems…
Rockingham Forest Trust
The Rockingham Forest is an area of some 200 square miles in North-East Northamptonshire, lying between the Rivers Welland and Nene and the towns of Stamford and Kettering. It has a rich and varied landscape, with farmland, open pasture, pockets of woodland and villages built from local stone…
Paxton Pits are flooded gravel workings in southwest Cambridgeshire. Much of the former workings have been given over to wildlife and it is now an important haven for birds, mammals, flowers and insects. The pit complex is home to a quarter of the county's nightingales…
Welney Wildfowl & Wetland
Official WWT site. In winter, enjoy the magic of hundreds of Whooper and Bewick's Swans accompanied by flocks of thousands of ducks. During the day, carpets of Wigeon graze this precious wetland, while flocks of Pintail, Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler dabble in the pools and lagoons. Late afternoon is a special time as necks of swans flight-in to claim their night roosting sites.
There is no higher recognition of ecological importance. These designations have been principally made on account of the open Fen habitats such as sedge beds, reed communities and Fen meadows. Aquatic habitats such as the dykes and pools are also very important. Dryer grassland and woodland also add diversity to the site but in the case of woodland, its expansion has often been at the expense of more valuable open Fen habitats.
Woodwalton Fen is one of Britain's oldest nature reserves and occupies a substantial site of 208ha north-east of Huntingdon…
Map with list of reserves and notes for each…
RSPB Reserve - Fowlmere
Fowlmere's reedbeds and pools are fed by natural chalk springs and a chalk stream runs through the reserve. Special birds, include kingfishers and water rails, breeding sedge, reed and grasshopper warblers and a roost of corn buntings…
RSPB Reserve - Ouse Washes
The Ouse Washes is an excellent introduction to Fenland wildlife. In the winter, the reserve attracts thousands of ducks and swans; and redshanks, lapwings and snipe breed in the summer…
The Deepings Pits comprise two old ballast pits which were dug for material for the construction of the railway which runs between them. They are The Mere and Dandridge`s Pit. Both are private and very difficult to work. The Mere can be viewed from the track which runs alongside the River Welland where, especially in the spring, excellent views can be had of the breeding herons and cormorants. The woodland area alongside the track is also excellent for general woodland species with woodpeckers, treecreepers, tits, etc…
Great Fen Project
The Great Fen project will restore over 3,000 hectares of farmland situated between Huntingdon and Peterborough to fenland wildlife habitat. This will be achieved by connecting and enlarging, two existing vitally important National Nature Reserves. The project will combine nature conservation, tourism, education and local access…
Forums & Mailing Lists
To post to list: firstname.lastname@example.org
List contact: email@example.com
To subscribe to list: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mailing list for birdwatchers and ornithologists in the Cambridge, UK area. To share sightings and other information of local interest. See: http://www.scoffin.co.uk/cambirds/
Peterbirder Mailing List
To post to list: email@example.com
List contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe to list: email@example.com
Discussion of birdwatching, bird sightings and ornithology in Peterborough, UK and the surrounding area. Peterborough Bird Club (PBC) announcements, meetings and events.
The Natural Stone
Anothert BLOG from a birder…
Jonathan Taylors Nene washes
Birds and wildlife of the Nene Washes…
Steve Dudley - Toadsnatcher
I've created these pages to share my birding and wildlife interests with other like-minded souls…
A well established birding blog from Peterborough, with a wildlife garden project and overseas trip etc…
Welcome to my blog which is a diary of my sightings of birds and other wildlife mostly in and around Peterborough…
Birdline East Anglia
Birdline East Anglia What's about? Simply phone 09068 700245 Please report your bird sightings to phone/text 07941333970 or e firstname.lastname@example.org - Calls to 09068 700245 cost 60p/min from a BT landline other networks may vary…
Directions to some of the sites etc.
Welcome to Dick's Birds, a place where I put pictures for friends, relations and like-minded people who enjoy identification challenges. For some time I have squatted on other people's websites and I continue to be grateful to them, particularly Martin Reid, Steve Hampton and the Cambridge Bird Club…
The Deepings Pits comprise two old ballast pits which were dug for material for the construction of the railway which runs between them. They are The Mere and Dandridge's Pit. Both are private and very difficult to work. The Mere can be viewed from the track which runs alongside the River Welland where, especially in the spring, excellent views can be had of the breeding herons and cormorants. The woodland area alongside the track is also excellent for general woodland species with woodpeckers, treecreepers, tits, etc….
Jono Leadleys Indybirder
Photos, sightings, checklist and stuff around Graffam Water and Cambridgeshire…
Kennedy Wild Bird
The present day range of Anne Kennedy Aristocratic wild bird feeds are the result of over twenty years continuous research into the feeding of wildlife. Wild bird seed mixtures have been around for many years… Anne Kennedy Pet Supplies, The Warehouse, Station Road, Deeping St James, Peterborough, PE6 8RQ, UK
At Peckish our aim is to develop the very best in quality garden bird food and to help bring more bird species to your garden, that’s our promise. We love wild garden birds and seeing more colourful bird varieties eating Peckish wild bird seed and hearing birdsong in the garden can be very rewarding…
Photographers & Artists
Photographer - Amanda & Phil Ackerman
This web page is just pictures taken by Amanda and Phil Ackerman, with few words I`m afraid. It is mostly of Birds with a few of Butterflies and the local landscape. My local patch is Langtoft Lakes and surrounding area, there are plenty of pictures of the area on our local patch web page…
Artist - David Hyde
Born in Hitchin in Hertfordshire David is a self-taught artist who now lives and works in the historic town of St.Ives, on the banks of the river Great Ouse, in Cambridgeshire. He has, for many years, painted landscape and wildlife (particularly British birds) in both watercolour and acrylic. His work has been accepted by the Royal Institute of Watercolour Artists and sold by Christies of South Kensington…
Photographer - Josh Jones & Will Bowell
This website is designed to display some of the two birder's best photography (including, birds, insects and landscapes). Latest photos can be found in the Diary whilst an index of all bird photos we have taken in Britain can be found in the Photo Gallery…
Photographer - Stuart Elsom
Welcome to my website. Inside you will find photographs of birds, mammals, butterflies, assorted flora and fauna and landscapes from my travels within the UK and further afield…
Photographer - Neil Triggs
Lots of wildlife pics including some very good shots of commoner UK birds…
Photographer - Peter Beesley
…a photographic record of my activities with our feathered friends…
Photographer - Rebecca Nason
Welcome to my website! I hope you enjoy browsing through my image gallery. The photographs shown are only a small sample of an extensive high quality image library I have developed over the last few years. Please do not hesitate to contact me with image requests from the website or from my library stock…
Photographer - Jeff Harrison
Jeff is one of only a handful of photographers holding Schedule 1 Licences from Natural England to photograph both Kingfishers and Barn Owls at their nest sites and both of these species feature heavily on his website…
Photographer - Garth Peacock
My interest in wildlife photography, (especially birds) really only began in 2004 after early retirement gave me the time and the opportunity to revisit my childhood interest of bird-watching…