Early Birder Special, 29th May 2021

The Bank Holiday weekend ushered in the Spring Big Bird Bash, and I was to lead a tour around Area 4. It was marketed as an early start in the hope of hearing (and possibly seeing) the Nightingales on the Downslink, and Barn Owls at Betley. Hope being the operative word. I was delighted to have no fewer than eight takers, and after meeting at the car park at 6:30 we headed north up the Downslink to try and see/hear as many species as possible.

Of course, the first Nightingale by Bishop Park was notable by its absence, but luckily the one further up was in fine voice allowing everyone to hear its famous song; try as hard as we might it could not be seen. At Betley Bridge a pair of Yellowhammers were busy nest building, and a bird out on the field south-east of the bridge turned out to be a Red-legged Partridge, a rarish bird for these parts, a decent addition to the Bash list and my first ever one for Henfield.

Heading down river a male Stonchat appeared on a bush, and more importantly as it saved my blushes, up popped a hunting Barn Owl right on cue. Lapwings were seen west of the river, whilst further on by New InnĀ Reed Warblers were at first heard and then seen.

So with the highlights mentioned above and the more common stuff we managed a total of 40 species, not bad and probably about par. A big thank you to all who joined me despite the early start:

Hazel Haylock, Susan Greenop, Charlotte Stahmann, Alan Burnage, Mark and Hannah Davies, Malcolm Hewlatt and Val.