Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Under Winter Skies

Winter skies over the patch.

5th Jan. I can’t say I have enjoyed the ice and snow, but the winter skies have been wonderful. When I was a youngster the sky was either light or dark, cloudy or clear and I didn’t take too much notice of it unless I was checking to see if it was going to rain. If I was asked to offer advice to any youngster now (I haven’t been asked :-)), I’d tell them to observe everything about the natural world that they had time for and to always ask themselves HOW? and WHY?

Well it’s now almost the 6th Jan and I still haven’t been off patch to bird watch. I took to the wagon-way again today. It was a very different atmosphere from my previous walk as there were many more birds about. In the main tits (including a nice flock of Long Tailed Tits), finches, gulls, corvids and pigeons. I did feel however that I couldn’t fail to add to my year list.

The first new species found was one of my favourites, a Bullfinch. Two pairs in fact, which were feeding near the hedge. I suspect they had been visiting some garden feeders nearby. Lucky owners of the feeders! I watched them for a time and hung around to listen for any sign of song from them. I didn’t hear anything.

A little further along the wagon-way I stopped to look at the tree that I had found the Sparrowhawk in just before the New Year. No Sparrowhawk, but this time two Common Buzzards. I didn’t actually notice the second one until it flew out of the tree and made off towards Backworth.

Out on the road I made to join the Holystone wagon-way. I took a look over the fields as I’m always in hope of Short Eared Owls turning up again. What I found was a group of six, possibly seven as it was hard to pick them out, Grey Partridges. I assume the same group that I have seen recently. They were well hidden in the centre of the field and once I had joined the wagon-way again it was impossible to see them at all. So the day brought me three new species, and nice ones at that.

Instead of retracing my steps I walked on past the stables, where I had a brief sighting of another four Grey Partridges as they lifted and then landed behind a dip in the field. I walked back via the pathway behind the flash which is still frozen. I’m pleased I went this way as I passed a flock of Yellowhammer in the hedge and had another view of the six Grey Partridges. I retraced my steps from here on and as I passed the tree I found the two Common Buzzards again. One flew off with what looked like carrion, followed by the other soon afterwards. Then I found the Bullfinches again this time two males and three females together feeding on the pathway before they lifted and give great views of them sitting in the hedge. I have only ever seen singles or more often pairs on patch before. The sun was low in the sky now and I was almost home. Still saving myself for some exciting off patch birding!

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