Monday, 2 November 2015

Saturday 31st October and Sunday1st November

Fleet Snipe (c) JR
The sun finally came through on Sunday morning at about ten o clock after a very gloomy, dull morning on Saturday and a foggy grey start to Sunday.
We are beginning to get to the point in the year when the sheer number of birds creates a spectacle. It is already happening with Starlings, the roost would seem to have doubled in the past week and now is estimated at over fifty thousand. They are not often producing a classic shape shifting show but are mostly pouring into the reedbed like a thick stream of oil. Such a large number of birds is naturally attracting raptors and on Thursday there were two Merlins, two Peregrines, the regular two Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawk and sundry Kites and Buzzards.
Marsh Harrier (c) JR
There are also reports of up to four Short-eared Owls. We saw one on Saturday morning being mobbed by several corvids. The crows drove it up high and eventually, after about ten minutes, they lost interest and once the coast was clear it made a slow careful descent onto the northern edge of Greenaways.
The other species that shows up in big numbers during the winter is Golden Plover and there have been several flocks of well over a thousand birds seen. They are not yet spending much time out on our fields but their distinctive and evocative call will often prompt a look at the sky. It is then you spot their large loose flocks high above with their shifting chevrons showing white and grey against a clear blue sky. When they fly low overhead, as a small flock did on Sunday, the sound of the wind in their wings is surprisingly loud. Lapwings numbers are also building with the resident population being supplemented by an influx from Europe.
There are many small mixed flocks moving about and there are many more Reed Buntings to be seen, especially around the path to July’s Meadow where the supplementary winter feeding has recently started. Linnets, Goldfinches and Chaffinches are also taking advantage of the seed and as the winter tightens more and more birds and other species will be attracted. A little group of highly mobile Goldcrests were one of the weekend highlights for me.
Hedgerow Robin (c) Bark
The Bittern put in one of its fleeting appearances on Saturday morning moving from one part of the reedbed to another.It looked to me to be a different individual to the one that we saw last week, being much paler, more sandy coloured and less rufous.
Cetti's (c) Bark
The Cetti’s Warbler that has taken up residence near the first screen is not quite as skulking and secretive as most of its family. It is often showing in the large bush to the left of the screen and also in the smaller bush to the right. As well as the more familiar Cetti’s explosive outburst it makes quite a variety of other different calls and sub-songs. Snipe are still present we saw at least thirty flushed up from Greenaways as one of the Marsh Harriers passed low over the field. Others were flying fast and low over the first lagoon and finding it difficult to find a dry area to land on one individual perching uncomfortably on one of the kingfisher sticks.
Snipe (c) JR
One Hen Harrier was seen last week and I hope that it wont be the last. The Great Grey Shrike found last week has not been re-located but these birds roam over large territories so it still may not have gone for good. It is the optimum time for irruptive Bearded Tits to arrive and I am still hopeful that we will find some in the next week or two.
Waiting for Beardies

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