Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trying It On

They were waiting for me this morning as I opened the back door, but I was ahead of them as I went in the garage and dug out today’s supplies to heap on my seed, peanut and apple strewn “lawn” before heading out to try the roads and see if I could find a few birds that weren’t in the garden.




I hoped to find a few thrushes at Lane Ends where in previous hard winters Fieldfares utilized the Sea Buckthorn berries as a last resort food; but not today, just 10 ground feeding Blackbirds in the car park, a Song Thrush and the resident Chaffinches.


In the field opposite the car park I found several opportunist Meadow Pipits feeding around the soft earth created by some large horses trampling over the frosted ground and two Lapwings trying their luck.

Meadow Pipit


From the top car park I followed the still trickling not entirely frozen ditch east where I hoped to find Snipe or something similar. And I did, 2 Snipe tucked into a few reeds and a dozen Mallards that flew off as I crunched through the icy footprints of last night sheep round up. Of course I didn’t see the farmer who had come to do the morning check of the sheep but instead found me crouching and kneeling in the ice encrusted, snowy ditch to take a photograph of his field drain. Oh well, it probably confirmed his view that bird watchers are nuts anyway without the need for me to demonstrate it.

A Touch Frozen?

Both pools are now frozen solid so no chance of much out there, but I did find another Snipe in the trickle of water that emanates from the west pool. Then just behind the sea wall I found a single sickly, undernourished, light as a feather Redwing, struggling to feed; just one of many thousands of birds to suffer an undignified end during the present period. Very distressing.


Out on the marsh everything was distant, way out near the tide and well away from the immediate but now whitened wetland, save for a few dozen Lapwing sitting it out closer in and two ghostly white Little Egrets flitting between ditch lines. From Braides gateway the birdless expanse of frost stretched in directions east and west, which left a blank entry in my shiny new notebook of 2010.

I had a brief look at Conder Green where groups of bright, shiny Teal flew around in the strong sunlight before they settled in the creek where I counted them at 90 plus without venturing to the Stork where I would have easily increased my count were I not so lazy. Two easily visible Snipe stuck to the open water’s edge with the usual tally of Redshank and Curlew whilst 2 Grey Herons quarrelled and flew off, one pursuing the other. There were still Lapwings around here, out on the marsh obviously, but also in the rough grass areas around the pool and roosting on the still snowy islands.

Sunday morning, not the best time to park outside Thurnham church where someone might see my car and think I had seen the light, but the spaces stood empty. It was a long time since I last I walked birding through a snow-white wood, almost a new experience. The Jays saw me immediately, them scolding me and I cursing them for giving me away to everything else before I had barely closed the car door.


It didn’t matter; I enjoyed it, tramping through the paths listening to the other birds that had also easily picked me out invading their now white woodland, Blue and Great Tit and a couple of Nuthatch together with Treecreepers. I watched a Woodcock rise ahead of me then glide down near the stream and between two distinct trees, where I mentally marked the spot, then approached camera at the ready. Not to be of course, that would be far too easy.

Back home my Fieldfare still guarded the apple, but I was saddened by the Redwing and the thought of all those others.


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