Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Chilly, but Tuneful on the Waggonway!

Coming in!
Seurat's palatte fades!

Going out!

16th June. With the forecast suggesting rain again tomorrow (and it was correct!) I took the chance of a pleasant evening walk through the village and along to the waggonway. There was little of note on the way to the waggonway apart from corvids, pigeons and Blackbirds. I did notice Lesser Black Backed Gulls and Herring Gulls. I’m positive there are more of the former over the patch this year and I’ve recently added it as a garden tick. I’m wondering if numbers have increased at Swallow Pond. Swifts were around in small flocks and despite me reading of this species experiencing problems with nesting sites, I feel numbers locally are up this year, at least I’m certainly noticing more of them.

After a brisk walk I was soon on the waggonway and able to slow the pace and take note of the bird song, which alone, was worth the walk. The first thing I noted however was the cold breeze coming across the open fields. A warm evening was quickly changing into a cool one and I was pleased I’d put the fleece on! Initially Wood Pigeons and Carrion Crows seemed to be the only birds in the top fields, but I soon got my eye on at least 6 Stock Doves. There were at least 2 Brown Hares about sitting motionless in the field whilst Rabbits scurried about in large numbers as always. Two Grey Partridge entered the ploughed field leaving the tall grasses of the neighbouring site. I later heard more Grey Partridge calling from fields further down the waggonway and caught sight of one of them. There was a number of Lapwings in the fields this evening.

Skylark song dominated, and I hadn’t heard quite so much from them since earlier in the year. I managed good sightings of one or two and also picked up the song of a Meadow Pipit as it made its ‘parachute jump’ down to the ground. As I walked further down the waggonway I found Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Linnet and heard Chaffinch, Blackbird, Wren, Dunnock and eventually Yellowhammer. The Yellowhammer flew every time I passed it, but I did eventually have good sightings of at least two male birds. At the same time I heard the reeling of Grasshopper Warbler but the police helicopter joined us at this point and seemed to hang around for sometime drowning out almost everything else. Thankfully it did eventually move on. I traced the Grasshopper Warbler song to the centre of the field, but didn’t have much hope of seeing the bird. I did finally catch sight of it, but only briefly as it went to ground. I guess this is the bird I found in the same area in April. Numbers of Swallows flew low across the fields.

I noticed quite a difference in the fields with the colour of only a few days ago already receding (Mr Seurat’s palate is fading) and there is certainly a very different atmosphere down here in the evening from what there is on a sunny afternoon. Cloud seemed to be coming in from the North Sea although behind me there looked to be a decent sunset forming as the light began to dim a little. As I made the return journey the Grasshopper Warbler was still reeling and I listened to a mixture of this, Skylark, Yellowhammer, Dunnock and Blackbird song along with the occasional call from Grey Partridge. Years ago I used to wonder what on earth people were talking about when they used the phrase a little bit of bread and no cheese to describe Yellowhammer song. It did finally sink in and it is obvious that is what the bird is singing! :-) By now Swifts had joined the Swallows and all were flying just above head height. Just before leaving the waggonway and re-joining the road I found House Sparrows moving along the hedge and a lone Whitethroat. I noticed this evening that there is now much Spear Thistle Cirsium vulgare and Common Knapweed Centauria nigra in flower
I arrived home chilled, but relaxed. I’m hoping for a dry evening soon so as to visit the Nightjar site.

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