Birds on the Busway


Waxwing feeding along the busway near the Science Park bus stop

On Thursday I heard that a museum (that’s their collective noun) of Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulous) had been seen on the busway near the Science Park busway stop. I woke early this morning and decided I’d go along to see if I could find them.

On the way in the cold and mist I saw around ten nests from last year in the hedge, robins, blackbirds, goldfinches, magpies, pied wagtails, blue tits, great tits, and squirrels.

Then as the Science Park busway stop came into view, I spotted a group of birds with crests on their heads, and thought that must be them. I stopped to  look more closely, and yes, there were about 15-20 feeding.

They’re not permanent residents here, but every three or four years when food is scarce in Scandinavia they arrive along the east coast from October to March moving inland in search of berries, particularly rowan and hawthorn. These birds, similar to Starlings in size, come in large numbers known as irruptions.

I was expecting them to be quite noisy, but I didn’t hear any sounds. The video by the RSPB  shows them feeding noisily.

Video of Waxwings from RSPB website


Summer Safari Summary

We had a great turnout for the Orchard Park Summer Safari. Thanks to all who came along. Special thanks to Tim and Carol Inskipp for sharing their vast wildlife knowledge and identification skills, and to Agnes Toth from Sustrans who helped enormously with the organisation of this event and took the photos included in this post. Click on the photo above to see the photo album.

People who came along had a range of ages and interests, children seemed particularly enthralled by the little things especially ants.

The wildlife show wasn’t bad either. We’ll be adding the new species we saw to existing lists for Orchard Park and sending them to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre (CPERC) who collate, manage and store data that describes biodiversity in the local area.

Given the current concern about bees in decline, it’s good to report we found six species of bee here: White tailed Bumblebee, Red tailed Bumblebee, Carder Bee, Buff tailed Bumblebee, Early Bumblebee and Garden Bumblebee. A range of birds including Rooks and Jackdaws from the Corvidae family, and back to the small things, Magpie Moths (album cover photo above), White Lipped Snails and Brown Lipped Snails, Cinnabar caterpillars, and Earwigs.

On the mammal front we weren’t disappointed – as well as seeing the large Hedgehog at the very end of the safari, we also saw bats at the far western side of the Wildlife Area again. We had the detector set to pick up Common Pipistrelles, however we all saw a bat which the detector didn’t pick up, indicating it might be another species, perhaps a Soprano Pipistrelle.

We’ll add a note on new plant records for Orchard Park shortly.

Our next event will be looking for lizards on 15th August – more on that in a moment.

Orchard Park Summer Safari 21st July @ 6.45pm

We’re very much looking forward to our Orchard Park wildlife wander, like a mini safari/bioblitz for suburban wildlife. It’s being organised in collaboration with Sustrans and Transition Cambridge – we thank them for their support.

We’ll stop to identify wildlife of interest on the way – Tim and Carol Inskipp have so much wildlife knowledge to share. Taking in a variety of habitats and moving from daylight to evening will increase the number of plants and animals we see. Bring binoculars and wildlife guides if you have them. We’ll record any new species we find and send them onto the Cambridge and Peterborough Environmental Record Centre.21 july safari moth bat FINAL

We will depart from outside The Orchard Community Centre, Central Avenue, CB4 2EZ at 6.45pm heading over to the far east side of Orchard Park where there are older hedges and trees – we saw a bird bashing a snail against a stone last night to successfully access its supper….

Next we’ll head to the area behind the Topper St play park with more older trees and hedges, plus grassland where we caught lots of spiders last year. We found a collared doves nest last night with two adults in one of the older trees.

We’ll head back past the Orchard Community Centre – have a brief look at the living roof, then onto the Circle along a route with lots of lavender and flowers for bees, plus bark chippings for beetles and a variety of trees..

From there we’ll head to the wild flower bank at Ring Fort Road which should be growing well again by then to look for more invertebrates, and a quick look in the Wildlife Area.

We’ll then cross over to look at and identify pre caught moths. Many moths are just as beautiful as butterflies when looked at close up.

After the moths we’ll have a short talk about bats before using a detector to see if we can find them in Orchard Park. Sunset is 9.07pm so we’ll detect just before and after dusk before ending around 9.45pm.

The end time is approximate. If you’d like to join us for part of the evening, please call 07902 454367 to find us.