26th Jan. My morning began well with a Redwing visiting the garden and becoming the 24th species to be recorded on the garden list this week. Sam and I had planned a visit to the Rising Sun Country Park. On meeting up I found that Sam had recorded Grey Wagtail, Shoveller and the long staying Whooper Swan at the lake early morning. We left for the Rising Sun with no real great expectations, but some hope of maybe finding Little Owl and perhaps Red Fox.
A frozen Swallow Pond
The visit began well with a Kestrel. The whole area was under quite deep snow and Swallow Pond was frozen still. Walking was hard work at times. Little was found until we reached Swallow Pond and of course even here there was little on the frozen pond apart from gulls. I checked the edges for signs of life, but found nothing of significance. Birds were coming down for seed that had been laid down nearby and this allowed good photographic opportunity. Numbers of Robin, tits (especially abundant were Coal Tits), Chaffinches and Reed Buntings. A single Lapwing was seen in the area. Four Grey Partridge were seen in an area where we had half expected Red Fox. We decided to walk onto Dukes Pond and on the way found a pair of calling Willow Tit. There was no sign of Jack Snipe at the pond. By the time we had checked this area out it was time for lunch and I can tell you that the soup at the cafe was excellent!
One of many.
We retraced some of our steps as we headed for the farm area. We had no luck in locating Little Owl. However as we wandered around the area Sam disturbed a Pheasant and as he was recovering from the shock of the bird flying up at his feet, in turn the Pheasant disturbed a Peregrine Falcon which had been on the ground. The Peregrine Falcon flew over our heads giving a good, but brief sighting, as it disappeared over the fields. Song Thrush was also found in the area as was a Short-tailed Vole which quickly disappeared under the snow.
We eventually arrived back at the hide at Swallow Pond and as soon as I saw so many folk there I thought something must be about. I was waved into the hide by AS who said that a Bittern was being watched. Sam and I were soon onto the Bittern which showed well as it moved through the edge of the reed cover. Even when it moved further into the reeds it showed well as it head pointed in customary style. This sighting was enhanced by the showing of a Water Rail in the same area. I knew a few faces of the birders present, but in the main not the names. Pleased to meet and chat to all including AJ. As we were keeping an eye out for the Bittern, it was Sam I think who got his eye on a Short-eared Owl behind us. I wandered over to take a look it wasn’t long before we were watching not one, not two, not three but four Short-eared Owls. All up in the air at one point, two or three of them came very close to us. One of them was indeed very light coloured. I wonder if this could be the very light bird Sam and I saw on patch on 1st January? Sam wandered off to try and get a better sighting and I eventually followed. Three of the owls were flying in the field at this point. One of them was seen overhead. The day was certainly delivering.
One of four Short-eared owls against the sun.
Just before we left this area we returned to the hide and were able to watch the Bittern in flight being closely followed by a chasing Grey Heron! We watched as the Grey Heron returned, but didn’t see the Bittern again.
We returned to the centre via Dukes Pond. Mute Swan and Mallards were seen in flight. We thought we had found our Fox until we realised it was someone allowing their dogs to run across the fields and into the reserve area at the back of the pond. Two women with their dogs actually tramped through the fields themselves, clearly not realising why there are footpaths!
Once back at the centre, birds found here included Mistle Thrushes, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Yellowhammer. A thaw had set in, but it was going to be a while before all this snow had shifted. We’d half expected to find Mr Sedgedunum Warbler in the park today, and so it was no surprise to find him sitting at the picnic tables. Goodness me he looked cold sitting waiting for that Jack Snipe to appear! :-) We found Stan the Stag with the horses near to the supermarket. A Sparrowhawk flew in the area to help end what had been a great visit to the Rising Sun Country Park.
Doesn't he look chilled? :-)
Stan the Stag