It looked as if the afternoon might be the better part of the breezy day, so I delayed my trip out to Rawcliffe Moss until lunchtime; mistake, within minutes of arriving the showers began and I spent the next couple of hours warily studying encroaching banks of cloud or dodging bouts of rain and hail. In between I managed to see a few bits and pieces, details to follow.
As I drove onto the farm where we ring I saw 2 Kestrels in the vicinity of a several holey trees, one of which Kestrels bred in last year. The winds of the winter have done their best to finish off already damaged trees and come springtime I imagine there will be lots of suitable sites for hole nesting species like Kestrels, owls and Stock Doves. Talking of Stock Doves I saw a flock of 21 here today, the largest number I have seen for a while, with a slightly larger number of 40+ Woodpigeon. Unlike Wood Pigeon, the Stock Dove is not classed as a quarry species, but I find the dove is as equally wary of man as the well shot at Woodpigeon. I had to hide away in an old shed and be very quiet and unobtrusive to get the photograph below where the doves cautiously approach food put out for free range hens.
At and near the feeding station were 220+ Tree Sparrow, 45 Chaffinch, 8 Reed Bunting, 2 Yellowhammer, 3 Goldfinch, 15 Long-tailed Tit and 4 Blackbird, with an overflying gang of 30 Linnets.
A walk north led me to find 2 Mistle Thrush, by now a certain pair, and that winter rarity a single Fieldfare. Just 3 Skylark up here, with 4 Grey Partridge and a gang of 200+ Jackdaw and numerous crows feeding in the stubble. Jackdaws from regularly shot farms are as hard to photograph as Stock Doves.
I walked through the deserted plantation, flushing a Roe Deer from the depths of last year’s growth and sussed out a couple of new net rides for the forthcoming spring ringing. Birds in here at the moment are few and far between, just crashing off Woodpigeons, a few Blackbirds, a couple of Wrens and early singing Dunnocks.
The walk back south to my car gave a single Buzzard and a third Kestrel, two pairs on the farm then - that’s good.
The forecast looks better for Saturday, maybe even a welcome spot of ringing.