Friday, December 30, 2016

Patch 2016 - final thoughts

This year saw a quite intensive watch of the patch. Many of the highlights are in the previous posts but the first Red Kite for the patch – seen three times- and breeding Sparrowhawk deserve a mention.

Even so, given the first half of the year and the history of birds on the patch, the second half was a bit of a disappointment. A bit like your favourite football team holding on to win 2-1 having been 2-0 up at half time. Some birds were noteable by their absence – no Whinchat, Redstart, or Wheatear. No unusual ducks on the pond, despite all the UK dabbling ducks having been seen here in the past. And there were some absences of a more serious nature. Yellow Wagtail, which used to breed over the railway line, not seen once. Grasshopper Warbler, which a few years ago bred at four sites along this stretch at the valley including the patch, now reduced to one possibly two sites. The decline of these trans-saharan migrants continues.

Despite this, my enthusiasm remained undimmed during the year. There was something very relaxing about heading off for a couple of hours catching up on events on the patch. An influx of Blackbirds in December. Stonechat relocated slightly down river beyond Pishiobury Park. Two thousand Woodpigeons in the air at once.

The reality of the patch is that there are wildlife stories everywhere. The seasonal ebb and flow brings drama on every trip. So next year, even if it’s a rarity-free zone, I will be out searching for the next story from the patch.

Just to illustrate the point, here’s a picture from the garden. Its some blackfly, with some Ants in attendance. Why are the ants there? Its in the section under ecology here.

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