What a great looking …..whatchamacallit

The working party at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve has now finished their latest building project.

A walk from the Visitor Centre along the Heron Trail will shortly bring the ‘Bus Stop’ into view. The Bus Stop is not the usual looking hide nor is it a fully covered shelter, but offers great, wide views of Heronry South Lake from its elevated position.

With its ramp and seating arrangement, it is also easily accessible. Why not pay it a visit soon? And don’t forget to pop by the Visitor Centre afterwards for refreshments, too.

Birdwatching bonanza!

Lower than normal water levels

Lower than normal water levels on both Heronry North and South during September and October has led to local birdwatchers being able to enjoy some of Paxton’s best birdwatching for the last 50 years!

The most dramatic increase has been in the numbers and range of water loving wading birds and egrets – this climaxed on Sunday 21st October when we counted no fewer than 28 little egrets on both Heronry North and South. Even more amazing was the numbers of previously rare great white egrets. In recent weeks they have built up to at least six of these beautiful birds – a real treat for local visitors to our reserve.

Where have all these egrets come from? It’s an often asked question. Well, little egrets have actually been here for twenty years, but have never bred. Maybe next year?

And as for the great white egrets – they are now breeding in at least four different UK locations, but not as far as we know in Cambridgeshire. What will happen next spring? Watch this space!

And it’s not just egrets. You can expect to see green sandpipers, common sandpipers, snipe and lapwings on the same pits, along with over ten species of wildfowl. And don’t forget we have a very interesting stock dove roost building up at this time of year, too.

So much to enjoy. Come and visit this wonderful nature reserve for yourself to catch a sight. There are great hides and nature walks for all the family.

– Trevor Gunton

New report on the birds and wildlife of Paxton Pits

Earlier this year, The Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve produced the first annual comprehensive report on the numbers of birds and wildlife of Paxton Pits for ten years. Collating information gathered by a huge range of volunteers who conduct regular surveys, the report lists all the species sighted on and around the reserve in 2017, from scarce occasional visitors such as ring ouzels and ospreys, all the way through spiders and dragonflies to butterflies, fungi and, for the first time, mammals.

The report makes sobering reading in many ways, with dramatic reductions in such iconic species as swallows, house martins, spotted flycatchers and nightingales, as well as brown hares, hedgehogs and water voles. However, there is some counterbalance, with big increases in little egrets, red kites, various species of gulls and common buzzards, which is now the UK’s most common breeding raptor. There are also more badgers, muntjac deer and otters than there were ten years ago.

The reports will once again be an annual occurrence, helping everyone who is interested to keep tabs on their favourite species. It also goes to show how important your sightings are to us – please do report what you see in our book at the Visitors’ Centre when you visit, or by emailing sightings@paxton-pits.org.uk.

The report has been put together with help from a huge number of people including Grainne Farrington, Adrian Hyde, Roger Lloyd, Mike Thomas, Jim Stevenson and Neal Parking – among many others. The Friends are extremely grateful for everyone’s help.

Copies are available for anyone to buy from the Visitors’ Centre for just £5 each. 

May Day plant sale a huge success!

The first bank holiday weekend in May saw the Friends of Paxton Pits host a plant sale in partnership with the St Neots & District Gardening Club at the visitor centre. Over 1,000 people came through the Centre over the weekend, with many of the visitors never having been in before. A wide range of locally-grown plants were on sale, provided by members of the Gardening Club, and 95% of the stock was sold raising a significant sum for both organisations. A great selection of donated gardening books were also on sale.

Thank you to everyone who came along. We hope those plants are growing happily in your own gardens.