Saturday, October 23, 2010

Out Of The Rain

The rain woke me up last night when it hammered on the bedroom window. It relented a while before starting up all over again just as I got out of bed and full of optimism that the day would brighten. It didn’t, so I walked up to Top Shop for a newspaper then back down the hill in the rain before I settled down in the conservatory to read for a few hours.

There were Fieldfares and Redwings again this morning, a mixed flock of 60/80 over the house early on, some Fieldfares settling in the top of next door's sycamore, others flying away but vocal all the time, as Fieldfares tend to be. I watched the garden where windfall apples lay in the mess of autumn leaves, but the thrushes aren’t ready for apples yet, not while there are so many berries about.

I found a stranger in the garden though in a Hedgehog - European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), an animal that often leaves evidence of its nocturnal feeding under the bird table, and occasionally shows itself. Hedgehogs are one of the first mammals, having changed little in 15 million years, and whilst they are found in Europe, Asia, Africa and New Zealand, there are none in Australia or North America.

European Hedgehog


By lunchtime I strained at the leash and although it still showered and remained grey overhead I took myself off to Rawcliffe Moss to check out our ringing site just in case of a session for Sunday.

Because the rain still spotted my windscreen I decided to check out the barn where the Little Owl sometimes resides, on the premise that the owl might use the structure as somewhere to keep dry. It was there on the metal beam, huddled against the wall of the barn, a bit far off but I gained a record shot with a somewhat tricky exposure for the distance, the grey day and a partly enclosed building. There were 3 Pied Wagtails around the barn, alternately feeding in the puddles or on the recently harvested field. Also here, 2 local Jays flew over heading for the nearby tree line.

Little Owl

From ahead of my car 5 Grey Partridge scurried off into a field then merged into the stubbly, stony earth, too far for a photo or for the naked eye.

Next were Fieldfares and Redwings again with a couple of large parties that at the merest hint of danger or disturbance flew back and forth between a berry-laden hedgerows and the safety of the tallest trees in the nearest wood - these huge flocks of migrant thrushes are so skittish at the moment. Nevertheless I counted approximately 300 Fieldfare and 40 Redwing following the pattern of this week of the larger thrush showing in better numbers.

Along the track were 45 Tree Sparrow, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Reed Bunting, 3 Blackbird and 6 Chaffinch, and beyond the hedge in the very wet field, 400 Starlings.

Tree Sparrow

Great-spotted Woodpecker

I walked the top field and the 97 hedge, quiet except for the Tree Sparrows and Reed Buntings I had disturbed from the other track, but 8 Skylark, a patrolling Kestrel and a more distant Buzzard gave me a few lines in my slightly soggy notebook.

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