On the Levels (again)

This morning were:

20 Pintail, 40 Shoveler, 1 Gadwall, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 40 Lapwing, 6 Cormorants,2 Dunlin,3 Ruff, 90 Common Gulls, 25 Black-headed Gulls,1 Lesser BB Gull, 3 Herring Gulls, 1 Med Gull. Plus Greylag & Canada Geese, Mallards, Teal, Wigeon, Coots and Moorhen. And a singing Reed Bunting. Singing Chiff on the Downslink.

Will heard a Blackap singing at Woodkancote yesterday.

Down on the Levels

My area 9 walk today was rather good – I didn’t get nearly as wet as I thought I might when I looked at the forecast.  And the water levels between the railway line and Rye Farm were “just right” for both wildfowl and waders.  Not as many Lapwing as there had been last Monday, when there must have been 1000 or more, but there were other things passing through.

On the wildfowl front, as well as the usual geese, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Coots and Moorhen, there were c 20 Pintail, about the same of Shoveler, 2 Shelduck and a single Gadwall.  And with the 70ish Lapwing were 2 Golden Plover, 2 Dunlin, 6 Black-tailed Godwits and (I think) 4 Ruff.  Two of the nests in the little heronry had sitting tenants.

I heard my first Chiffchaff of the year singing.

But Les saw a Hawfinch on the Downslink (north of Cat & Canary)!




Noticed a group of Black-headed Gulls hunkered down in the field east of Wantley this morning, so thought I’d take a quick pic.  Not until I downloaded from the camera this evening and took a closer look did I realise that the “black-headed” one in the centre had rather a red bill, and no black wing tips … Mediterranean Gull.  Bet it wished it was somewhere more Mediterranean today!

Cold Weather strikes

Odd things going on in this week’s cold snap.  John & Jasmine have had 6-8 Reed Buntings in their garden plus a female Blackcap.  Mike & Lesley have a regular male Blackcap, and I caught and ringed a female on 25 Feb, also ringed a pair of Firecrests.

Yesterday John & Pauline found a small bat by their back door, took it in, warmed it, and are taking it to a bat rescue centre – then spotted a Golden Plover in their garden.

On the 28th Feb, Yvonne had a Lapwing in her garden, Libby saw 2  in the fields by Swains Farm Shop and Liz reported 6 in a field at Barrow Hill. Elaine saw a Hawfinch in her garden down West End Lane while Roger was out!

Fieldfares coming into village – on the 1st some flew from trees in Blackgate Lane, and two were seen eating ornamental cherries in Furners Mead

Railway Line & River today

On the levels to the south c40 gorgeous Pintail (males & females) a few handsome Shoveler, 20 or so Teal, a handful of Wigeon and 5 Grey Herons close to the little heronry – on which were 2 more herons sitting on nests with another above. An extremely pale Buzzard sat on a distant bush, and a Little Egret in an even more distant field. The Buzzard was so pale, with a dark neck & head – looked like a vulture! About 140 Lapwing in the fields to the west, and more displaying and calling in the fields to the east.
The white rump of a Green Sandpiper disappeared off from the overflow pit, there was a brief snatch of Cetti’s Warbler near New Inn Farm. A Reed Bunting was singing merrily on the east side when a Goldfinch ventured too near and the Reed Bunting chased it off rather forcefully. The only winter thrushes were 3 Redwing along the bridleway from New Inn back to Hollands Lane.


This week!

Yesterday there were about 130 Lapwing down by Rye Farm, all flew in together, just when I was thinking that 6 swans and a couple of Mallard were all that was about.  On the way back I wondered if a woodpecker drumming to the east (towards Brookside) may have been a lesser spot – it sounded the same as the one on my “app”!

Today a Sparrowhawk over South View Terrace, then 2 Red Kites quite low over Weavers Lane about 11.45.

A group walk at Ferring on Tuesday 6th finished at the beach where we had great views of a Sanderling – not something we get on our local patch!

New Year Bird Race 2018

Intending to go out on Saturday, we foolishly watched the weather forecast which was promising rain most of the morning, and as we spend most of the day on foot, decided to rebook for Sunday.  Of course there was no rain at all on Saturday, but by Sunday a nasty north-easterly wind had blown up, making birds lie low, difficult to spot and hear.  Unfortunately the Fab Four were down to three as Will had been struck down by flu, so the sharpest eyes and ears were missing!

We did pretty much the same route that we have always followed. Met at 7.45 and drove to Woods Mill.  A couple of hours there & Sands Farm gave us a good start. David Plummer’s garden oak had a nice Great Spot in it as we went by.  We walked along the mill stream to the Downslink, finding a couple of Snipe and a few Meadow Pipits in fields on the way.  Down to Stretham where we saw the only Stonechat of the day.  Up river to the overflow pit was hard going in the wind, but we saw a lone Egyptian Goose.  From the fields by the Downslink we ‘scoped Pintail, Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler … but where were the gadwall?  Great to see the 5 Bewick’s Swans were still there looking gorgeous in the sunshine. Before lunch we also ticked off Bullfinch and Goldcrest along the Downslink.  Lunch at mine gave us a delightful flock of Long-tailed Tits flitting on and off the feeders, plus Coal Tit and Greenfinch, which we didn’t see elsewhere.

Not many extra species after lunch despite hoofing up beyond Betley Bridge, finding a Coot on the flooded fields east of Brightham’s Farm.  Finally back down the river where a group of 7 Barnacle Geese were on the edge of floods.  There were also another 5 Egyptian Geese; when 2 more flew in the 5 waddled over to meet them.  Finally, an oddly marked and oddly behaving Buzzard briefly made us try to claim marsh harrier, but it was not to be – and neither was the hoped-for barn owl.

Arrived back at the Downslink about 4.30 after roughly 11 miles of trudging through varying degrees of mud, with a reasonable 54 different species recorded in the patch.  This year’s “Birds of shame” were stock dove, reed bunting, skylark and nuthatch – the latter 2 species heard by two of us but not the third!