The latest news from Paxton Pits Nature Reserve.

Waitrose Community Matters scheme logo
December 2018

Vote for us at St Neots Waitrose

The Friends of Paxton Pits are delighted to have been selected by St Neots Waitrose for their December Community Matters Scheme. Please spread the word and encourage your friends and neighbours to put their green tokens in “our” box. All money raised goes towards the running and maintenance of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, ensuring we continue to have a wonderful place for wildlife in our community. Thank you.

     Little Egret by Peter Hagger

October 2018

Paxton Pits birdwatching bonanza!

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

June 2018

Common terns thriving at Paxton Pits

A recent survey of the common terns which nest on the specially-installed rafts on the Heronry North Lake has revealed a bumper brood. Twenty-one chicks were counted this year, across four rafts anchored near Kingfisher Hide, and this is only a minimum as some may have been hiding in the tunnels as it was a very hot day. In 2017, seventeen chicks successfully fledged, so this is a good increase.

The rafts have been made possible by the direct and indirect help of almost all the volunteers involved with Paxton Pits. Whether you're a Friend, a volunteer who helped build and install the rafts or a player of the Kingfisher Lottery, which provided the vital funds for the project - they couldn't have happened without you.

The common tern nests on a type of habitat that has been in decline, and the rafts provide a safe, gravelled platform protected from predation from waterborne attackers such as otters by tall, clear plastic sides. It's a joy to watch these beautiful and elegant birds over the waterways of the reserve, and brilliant that they have successfully hatched so many young this year thanks to all your help.

June 2018

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

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 2018

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.


The Raffle

Chairman Mike Thomas
March 2018

Friends of Paxton Pits AGM 

The Friends of Paxton Pits held their Annual General Meeting on Friday 16 March. It was a great turnout for this event celebrating the work of so many volunteers over the last year, and their achievements with funding and/or building the new Kingfisher Hide, the outdoor shelter at the Visitor Centre and raising a considerable amount of money to help ensure the future of this wonderful nature reserve. Here are a few pictures from the event, all taken by ranger Jim Stevenson.

Above right: Phil Jackson giving his talk 'Biodiversity and Restoration of Sand and Gravel Sites'

Right: Adrian Hyde and Martin Runchman

Robin photo

February 2018

Photographic Competition now open!

The Friends of Paxton Pits are delighted to announce that a new photographic competition is now open for entries. As well as the chance to get your photos chosen for a new 2019 calendar, there are a wide range of additional prizes, generously donated by a range of local organisations.

Visit the competition page to find out more, and for the full terms and conditions of entry. The competition is open until 28 February 2019 - but if you want to be considered for the calendar, send your photos by 1 July 2018.

We look forward to receiving your entries!

Field Scabious

Field scabious, locally rare and helped at Paxton Pits by work on the Lower Meadow

Image: Evelyn Simak [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
January 2018

Work Parties at Paxton Pits - and an extra chance to get involved

As well as the regular Sunday Work Parties organised by The Friends through winter, the amount of work required to keep the Reserve in tip-top shape for wildlife will see additional monthly work parties taking place on Thursdays from August 2018.

If you're interested in joining either of these work parties to lend a hand with the vital work that goes on, email Trevor Coughlan to be added to the mailing list

Here's a January update on the work of our regular Sunday Work Parties volunteers

Sunday 14th January - East Scrub
Unfortunately we were unable to undertake the planned work on the Sailing Lakes Island, which was undertaken by the midweek volunteers. We, therefore, undertook clearance work in the East Scrub cutting down some of the trees to open up the area and clearance of the vegetation growth in and around the exclosures, including the adder-tongue fern exclosure; the latter work was originally planned for 11th February 2018. 

Wednesday 17th January - Sanctuary
This work party was arranged to undertake further work in the Sanctuary cutting back some of the willow and hawthorn growth to open up the bird ringing net runs for the surveys later this year. This work was started on 5th November 2017 and work will be necessary on the last two net runs. A

Sunday 28th January - Gully and Cloudy Lake
We cleared the bank at south end of the Lower Meadow to encourage the locally rare field scabious (pictured). We also started cutting back the scrub and willow growth along the west side of Cloudy Lake which is important for invertebrates; this work had been requested by Natural England. As we anticipated, further work will be required in this area. 

January 2018

B Inspired Magazine features Trevor Gunton as their cover star

The January 2018 edition of B Inspired magazine is out now - and features our very own Trevor Gunton as their cover star and interviewee. Trevor talks about his role at Paxton Pits, and, as you can see, was photographed at the Reserve in the brand new Kingfisher Hide for his cover shot.

If you haven't been able to get your hands on a copy, you can read the issue online for free


Trevor Gunton with Ann Thomas. Our second hand book scheme was Trevor’s idea.

A 'snippet' from the St Neots Awards website where Trevor's award is announced
October 2017

Congratulations to Trevor!

We are delighted that thanks to all your votes Trevor Gunton won the lifetime achievement award at the St Neots Awards in October 2017. Huge congratulations to him from everyone at Paxton Pits - and many thanks for his support of the Friends and the Reserve. Click here to visit St Neots Awards and find out about all the winners.

Jim Stevenson, Senior Ranger at Paxton Pits, wrote about why Trevor deserved your votes and the award:
"Trevor Gunton has spent most of his working life promoting nature conservation, but even more of his time doing it in a voluntary capacity. His main achievements are listed below but can be summarised as getting people interested and then mobilising them to join in and do something. His 'common-touch' and his genuine enthusiasm for both people and wildlife  warms people to him. He has changed peoples lives, including mine."

"I first met Trevor in the 1970s when he brought the annual RSPB film show to Salisbury in Wiltshire where I was a young teacher. Because of him, I joined the RSPB and started a Young Ornithologists Club in my school. I started giving public talks like him and went on to work for the RSPB myself. My last job at RSPB was in their International Division where Trevor and I both worked on setting up and supporting nature conservation groups around the world (he worked in Southern Europe and I covered East Africa and then the UK Overseas Territories.) Nowadays, I'm the Senior Ranger at Paxton Pits and Trevor is my top volunteer. 

"I need to make the point that, although he was paid to work for the RSPB, he never stopped being a volunteer as well. He started the RSPB members groups that now exist all over the country largely in his own time and I remember seeing him personally greet 1000 members at the door of the RSPB's AGM. They all knew him. His voluntary work at Paxton started when he was in mid-career at the RSPB in the late 1980s.

"So that's the history and the skills that Trevor has brought to bear on our little remote reserve in Little Paxton that is now nationally famous, largely because of him. 

"His first proper job after National Service was as a sign writer and his particular style for posters, banners and leaflets was to be seen all over the RSPB and still is at Paxton Pits where he keeps up a noticeboard about events and membership.

"He is also our top can-shaker, collecting money for us and dreaming up ways to increase funding and membership.

"Trevor's voluntary work obviously benefits wildlife, but it also benefits the people who get involved, and the local and national community that enjoys the fruits of our labours."