Monday, March 26, 2012

Not Seething

Its been quiet on the patch recently. Chiffchaffs have come through in strength over the last week, and some Gadwall have turned up on the scrape, together with 3 Snipe up to 50 Teal which most of the time hide in the waterlogged vegetation. There's been nice regular sightings of Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, both big peckers etc, but not much of note apart from Saturday when there was a Willow Warbler, 2 Kingfisher, a Red Kite, and 9 Snipe. You'd think I'd be delighted, but I didn't see them. Instead local birder Mike popped down and ticked them all.

Lesser men than myself would be quietly seething, kicking the dogs, snapping at children, and generally going quietly or even loudly mad. I've been down there practically every day in March and at least every week for over a year, and Mike pops down and sees two birds I haven't seen there at all. But fortunately I remain serene, and have resisted the temptation to go all Barry Spence. Congratulations Mike. I'm happy for you. Please feel free to come down again and see birds I haven't seen here before. Dogs, you can come out now.

Some element of birding karma was restored on Sunday when driving D#3 to swimming in Stortford I drove under a Red Kite, just coming from the direction of another birder's house in Thorley.

Out again today. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and it was a day for sitting on top of a tree and singing (that's birds, obviously, not me). Chiffs everywhere, a few Linnets, and a Peacock (butterfly)

Thursday, March 01, 2012

First day of the new Birding Year

Pishiobury Park 1st March

So, a new birding year! I walked round the periphery of Pishiobury Park trying to note every bird I saw. The results are below. On the Eastern edge of the Park at the bottom of the hill is a boggy wood with many Willows and Alders called, I believe, the Osier bed.

Great-Spotted Woodpecker 1
Wood Pigeon uncounted – a few tens
Stock Dove – 4
Magpie – 7 (of which 2 were seen in the Osier bed - 2 ob)
Jackdaw – 1 ob
Carrion Crow – 4 (2 ob)
Nuthatch – 1 heard at the N end
Blackbird - 3
Redwing – c20 ob
Robin – 11 (2 ob)
Wren - 2
Great Tit – 6 (2 ob)
Long-tailed tit - 4
Blue Tit – 10 (1 ob)
Chaffinch – 7 (3 ob)
Goldfinch – 5 (1 ob)
Siskin – 7ob
Greenfinch - 7
House Sparrow - 8
Goldcrest - 1

The most notable sighting to my eyes is the 11 Robins. Mostly these were singing birds, so it may be say 10 pairs in the park.

Other birds seen were 29 Teal and a male Shoveler on the Scrape, and 3 Common Buzzard soaring over a distant wood near Churchgate Street. And a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was out.

It was warm and bright. Blossom was emerging and spring seems to be poised to arrive. I feel the lists compiled today, at the point when bird populations are at their lowest and local birds are starting to contemplate breeding, serves as a baseline. I’m more than happy to have started my new year today.

February Round-up

Apart from the Weymouth trip at half-term, local birding dominated.

A cold spell in the middle of the month saw a cold weather movement described in a previous post. Fieldfares were everywhere for a couple of weeks, although it was possibly the same ones trying desperately to find some food.

By the end of the month the scrape finally attracted some ducks - c20 Teal and 3 Shoveler. A flock of Siskin has been sporadic in Pishiobury Park, but I have noticed that they have periods of chatter, and then fall quite, so perhaps they have been there all the time and I don't notice them when they are quiet. Otherwise the rich local population of common birds – 2x woodpeckers, Jay, Nuthatch, Common Buzzard, etc –has been much in evidence. A pair of Grey Wagtails were on the brook at the bottom of the house towards the end of the month.

Otherwise, the only birding trip was to see the Short-Eared Owls that turned up at Felsted just 10 miles to the east. Iwent over on spec just intending to drive round Felsted looking for a likely spot. After all, Felsted is a school, a pub and some houses. How hard could it be?

Well luckily for me, not very hard. The key was to be found by a fellow birder in the wrong area (by the river) and taken to the right area (just east of the centre of the village), so I am in debt to whoever it was - many thanks! I saw three of the beauties, including one perched in a bush at a nice scope-filling distance, although there were many more recorded by locals during the period before and after.

Commonly Spotted Orchids

We are fortunate in the UK in that the commonest orchids are also amongst the most beautiful. I spent a morning photographing some on the lo...