Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Good Going Over

An early (or late) beans on toast let me out of the house at 1040 because the sun was out for the foreseeable future and I wanted to give the moss a thorough look, the first for a while.

I called at the barn for a bucket of seed to drop at the feeding station where allegedly the ringing group catch birds; well not yet this winter as the weather frustrates each attempt and our pliers rust up, but at least lots of birds have some supplementary food available for when they need it.

I took a look across the farm where the flooded fields glistened in the sun, with somewhat distant but highly visible, boisterous black and white Lapwing, raucous Black-headed Gulls and unusually but not totally unexpected, a group of about 15 calling Redshank flew off, intermixed with the several hundred Lapwing.

I didn’t go with the bucket immediately because there were thrushes about, mainly Fieldfares whose second coming had been delayed, but here I counted over 90 in the hedge and the hawthorns that line the edge of the opposite wood. Also, several Blackbirds and just 4 Redwings that flew across to the wood when I began the stroll with the bucket.

I could hear the multitude of Tree Sparrows at the end of the hedgerow but before that there were plenty of birds along the hedge, beginning with 17 Long-tailed Tit and several Blue Tits that joined from the roadway hawthorns, conveniently hopping across which allowed me an easy count. What a difference a bit of bright sunshine makes in firstly finding, then counting and photographing birds, I was in danger of enjoying this.

The Woodpigeons flew off the seed soon enough and over to the wood, just as well because I think the more than twenty of them would soon make a large dent in a bucket of fresh seed. Although they weren’t on the seed, 3 Grey Partridge crashed out from the base of the hedge as I walked along. There were masses of Starlings coming and going between the line of food, the hedgerow and the adjacent flood, noisy and quarrelsome as usual, but as I approached they swooped off en masse as I estimated 450+. Let’s hope they don’t all end up in a mist net together on our first winter visit.

By the time I dropped the seed I had counted 260 Tree Sparrows with 6 or 7 Reed Buntings and 12 Chaffinch, a big count but I think the fine weather helped in bringing birds in as well as allowing an accurate count.

Carrion Crow grunts gave away the presence of a Sparrowhawk just over the wood in the bright sun so I took a couple of distant pictures. I think the Sparrowhawk dived into the wood because within a few seconds all the Fieldfare flew from the trees, then gained height to fly off calling in a south easterly direction.

Up past the dwellings I stopped to look east towards Nateby and St Michaels where a distant shoot was in full swing but far enough away so as not to disturb a couple of Roe Deer. No, I did that, just spotting them as they saw or smelt me to then head quickly off and leave me with a tail view.

I headed in the direction they went which proved quite useful because the elusive Skylark chose that time to erupt from the stubble and my count was 85 circling around chirruping. In the tree line next to a black, wet, peaty field I found three more Reed Buntings then 2 Meadow Pipits, one of which sat quietly for a few seconds on a little mound of earth. Not the best picture I know but that soil sure looks full of good things for pipits. Up here at the set aside I disturbed the regular Goldfinch, 11 today, together with 2 Yellowhammers and several more Chaffinch.

I also caught up with the regular Stonechat, which today turned out to be 2.

I made my way back to the barn to drop the bucket in, and as there was some light left I decided to check out another area and the Teal pit. It was down in this quiet corner where the fussy Chaffinch are, the ones that don’t want or need our seed, yet. I had seen them from the barn but when i got near I counted 40 birds + 5 more Fieldfare and 3 Redwing that flew off, the Chaffinch relocating to the trees surrounding the Teal pit.

I didn’t cross to the pool because there is a crop of winter wheat, but I didn’t need to as something spooked the Teal to make them fly around near and far, twisting and turning for several minutes as I waited in the shade and dark of the tall hedge. Eventually they came back to land again in the pool.

What a brilliant couple of hours, but by 2pm the light began to fade.

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