Monday, 1 March 2010

Raptors 5 v Pigeons 0

As I took a walk along the wagon-ways today I noticed that once again some of the trees were taking the weight of flocks of Wood Pigeon. One tree in particular seemed almost to be ‘in fruit’ with them These birds seem to be always restless and I have kept my eye open for raptors, but as yet haven’t found any attacking the flocks this year. From the number of remains I found today, I’m wondering if my observation skills are up to scratch! I found five separate piles of pigeon feathers, three of them being in one field alone. The last pile was on my return and there had been a fresh kill with the bloodied remains of a Wood Pigeon, tail feathers erect, lying in the field and attracting hungry Magpies to the leftovers. The Wood Pigeon is doing well as a species and certainly the raptors appear to be benefitting from it. I wonder if this explains why it is usually the male Sparrowhawk rather than the female that visits my garden. I think the female may have herself easier pickings out here in the fields. I’m also wondering if there is a Peregrine Falcon hunting out here. Likely I suppose, as they are seen nearby although I have never seen one on patch. Now I’d like one of those for my patch list!

Having left the estates and the usual garden birds behind, I was once again pretty much alone on the wagon-way. I caught sight of the back of what I think was a Reed Bunting flying from the hedge. I did eventually catch sight of a bird in the ploughed fields and no sooner had I seen it and a flock of c40 Linnets lifted from the field. I later saw a few more Linnets flying in that general direction so I think perhaps the large flock which was there during the spring of last year is gathering again. This is the first time that I’ve seen any sign of them this year. The only other bird of note in the area was the usual Kestrel that hunts here. It eventually caught something and took it to a post to devour. The only bird life at the flash was two Carrion Crows. The whole area is far wetter than this time last year.

I began to retrace my steps at which point I got my eye on what I initially thought was a harrier! To be honest I’m still wondering. It was away in the distance and soaring at height above the area over the Rising Sun Country Park and River Tyne. I thought the tail and wings were too long for a buzzard. However Common Buzzard is far more likely and unless I hear of anyone else spotting a harrier I shall put it down as buzzard. Perhaps the guy who regularly bird watches in the Rising Sun was about today. It was being mobbed by a lone gull and eventually drifted out of sight, possibly across the Tyne with flapping and gliding flight.
The return walk was a little more tuneful with more bird song and I found the likes of Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch, along with numerous Great Tits and fewer Blue Tits. I’d enjoyed the walk and on the whole the skies were blue and it had seemed quite warm in the sun. However, temperatures where dropping steadily as the afternoon went on and there had been patches of ice about on areas not getting the sun.

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