Monday, 19 October 2015

Saturday and Sunday 17th and 18th October

Bittern (c) JR
Despite the heavy greyness and the reluctance of the sun to emerge from the gloom, it was quite a good “birdy”weekend.
All the regular raptors were seen including a Merlin that flew across Ashgrave on both days.
Merlin (c) Derek Lane
On Saturday morning a big female Peregrine flew passed the first screen heavily laden. It eventually landed somewhere out on Greenaways to eat its prey. We were very uncertain as to what it had caught but careful examination of the photos showed it to be a Black-headed Gull. It did seem to be quite a large prey item and was clearly awkward to fly with.
Female Peregrine and Prey (c) JR
Two different Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawks, Kestrels, Common Buzzards and the ubiquitous Red Kites made up the raptor numbers. Once again and sadly, Hen Harrier was noticeable by its absence from the list. In the evening there were probably two different Short-eared Owls hunting on Greenaways and adjacent fields.

Kestrel and  Rook (c) JR
Sadly we were unable to relocate the Brambling that was seen on the path to July’s Meadow during the week. On Sunday we finally managed to get near to  one of several Redpolls that have been seen in the Carpark Field and along the bridleway to Noke. As in the last few weeks there were large numbers of Goldfinches on the seeding thistles. Sometimes they would relocate, flying in fairly tight flocks but each individual bird looking as though it was bouncing along on its own personal strand of elastic.
Redpoll in the carpark field (c) JR
There is a Grey Heron that has staked a claim to the bridleway as its own particular territory. We assume that it is specialising in catching voles or mice but we have yet to see it do so. It allows a much closer approach than is usual in this species and it will fly short distances ahead of you as you approach. Eventually it will have been pushed along too far and will fly out over Greenaways and circle round to take up its post again on the track behind you.
Bridleway Heron (c) JR
We had excellent views of the Bittern again on Sunday. It flew up from the reedy ditch beside the path to the screen and flew slowly back towards the reedbed before disappearing. It would be useful, although difficult to establish whether there are more than two birds present. If we do get some severe cold then we may find out, if they are driven to hunt along the narrow strip that of water that is always the last to freeze on the northern lagoon.
Flushed Heron (c) JR
Two large flocks of Fieldfares were seen on both days and there was a small party feeding in the carpark field on Sunday morning when I arrived. We also saw several smaller groups of Redwings moving along the hedgerow.
We might just have had a brief “ping” from the reeds beside the path but it wasn’t repeated and it was very windy. Now is definitely the time when “Beardies” will turn up if they are going to, so we will keep on looking and listening.

Starlings and sunset (c) Tom Nicholson-Lailey

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