Saturday, 30 March 2013

Patch Walk

30th March.  I took an hour’s walk on a part of the patch that has changed little over the years I’ve lived here and happily the sun shone.  There’s still little real sign of spring, but it did give me time to take note of some of the more basic bird related delights on patch.  I watched the now small rookery and the odd Rook carrying food back to the nest.  What a wonderful sound comes from an active rookery.  I remembered back to times when this was a much larger and noisier rookery at this time of year.  I also remembered when much of the surrounding area was farmland and not housing estates.  Sadly I didn’t take quite as much of an interest in nature then.  I do remember watching Kestrels regularly hunt in the centre of Killingworth, where now we have concrete and car-parks.  Kestrels also hunted around the area of the British Gas buildings which have just been taken down.  This area will no doubt very soon become another housing estate.  I wonder what effect that will have on the lake area, an area I can only hope does not become some kind of sanitised theme park.  My hope rests in the fact that there are people around the area who are aware and knowledgeable about the wildlife that still remains here and are willing to make their voices heard.  Many years ago I found a Little Owl perched on a post along the path leading from the lake and around the back of British Gas.  That would certainly be some find today.

So with time on my hands I did a bit of standing around.  I may have commented before that simply standing around this area can occasionally bring the rather odd questioning look from passers by.  Thankfully it can also bring a bit of conversation from interesting characters, although not today as it was very quiet.  My standing did at last bring me my first Bullfinch of the year and it was good to find it on patch and in an expected area.  I thought this male bird was going to burst into song, but instead it just give out a few of its weak calls.  I think the female will have been close by, but I didn’t find her.  I’d again hoped to hear the calls of numbers of newly arrived Chiffchaff, but that has still not happened.  I did on the way home, eventually hear a single Chiffchaff again, in an area that I had found it earlier in the week.

Two Mistle Thrushes were feeding in the field holding the ponies and a Song Thrush was in full song.  After the very severe winters we experienced I had still found numbers of territories of Wren in this area.  This year is very different and I have heard very few.  What did seem to predominate today was the song of Dunnock and I found numbers of these birds.  In one case I found a Dunnock singing loudly with what I assume was the female perched just inches below.  Tits and finches were again about in number as were Robins.  A pair of the latter, chasing one another around the rotten stump of a tree.  I briefly heard the call of Great Spotted Woodpecker.

I’d heard from Sam that there wasn’t much happening at the lake so I decided not to bother walking over there, but instead returned home.  Once back I was just trying to decide whether to bother trying to photograph a couple of colourful Starlings perched on the edge of the bushes.  My decision was taken for me when they quickly disappeared into the inner sanctum of the bush.  Other birds took off and disappeared.  I wondered if the neighbour’s killer cats were on the loose.  I spotted a movement in the hedge and saw the obvious barred markings of a Sparrowhawk, as its yellow eyes starred from the darkened area.  It was the regular male visitor.  I hadn’t seen it fly in, nor did I see it fly off as Magpies flew in to the area where it had perched.  This pair of Magpies is I think the pair with a nest just a little further down the hedge.  I have to say they were more entertaining than the Magpies which were attempting to play football in Manchester, as I listened to the commentary on the radio!

It’s always good to spend time watching the commoner species.

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