|Female Stonechat (c) Bark|
Saturday was unseasonably mild, grey with a hint of drizzle in the air. By Sunday things had changed and it was much colder, brighter and extremely windy. Heavy overnight rain had given way to sunshine and a bitter face-numbing wind.
|Noke Sides Goldies and Lapwings (c) JR|
|Red Kite (c) Bark|
On Saturday morning at the second screen a male Peregrine flew over low heading out over the flood field. It was recognisable as the same bird we had seen last week as it is missing a couple of secondary feathers from its left wing. It flushed a small flock of fifty or sixty Lapwings. They flew up and went higher and higher with the Peregrine circling beneath them until they and the raptor disappeared into the low cloud. We thought we had seen the last of them until a few moments later we spotted the Peregrine and a single Lapwing breaking out of the cloud. The raptor was now above its hapless quarry and stooped on it five times unsuccessfully until on the sixth try it struck and the two birds tumbled groundward together disappearing onto the Pill Field. It was a dramatic demonstration of the dynamic, daily battle between predator and prey, but one that we are rarely privileged to witness.
|Male Blackbird, Female leucistic female and Songthrush (c) Bark|
On Sunday morning there were at least ten Blackbirds feeding along the bridleway seven of them were males and one of the females was an unusual partially leuchistic individual, with white markings either side of its face. There were also a number of Fieldfares and two Song Thrushes picking over the molehills along the track.
|Flying Linnet (c) Bark Mr And Mrs Reed bunting and Water Rail (c) JR|
At the hide there were even more finches present than there had been last week. Linnets still outnumber the Reed Buntings and the supporting cast of Chaffinches and Goldfinches. The Water Rail is becoming much bolder as it creeps out of the grasses lining the ditch to pick up the seed, provided that there are already other birds out there feeding. Moorhens too are cashing in on the bounty.
|Moorhens cashing in (c) Bark|
There was plenty to enjoy at the second screen. The Bullfinch flock came very close, still gleaning the desiccated blackberries from the brambles. They sometimes hover as they try to pick the dried fruits from the thinnest and most difficult to reach stems.
|Bullfinches (c) JR|
|Female Stonechat (c) JR male Stonechat (c) Tom N-L|
|Wren (c) Bark|
|Create the habitat and wildlife will find it....how it made it from Scotland I don't know.|
Walking back towards the first screen there were now perhaps fifteen hundred Golden Plover and several hundred Lapwings out on Noke Sides facing determinedly into the wind. I tried to go through them to try to find the Ruff that had been seen on Friday or perhaps to see if I could find a smaller paler individual Golden Plover that a visitor had reported seeing on Friday. The birds were restless and flushed easily making any kind of rigorous search difficult and by now the cold was biting and so we headed off, it might be worthwhile checking them out properly in the next few days, providing they are in a suitable spot and the weather is a little more clement.
|Massively under-rated Blue Tits at the second screen (c) Tom N-L|