Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Back to Patch Basics

6th Jan.  Another calm and sunny day meant that it was too hard to resist a walk on patch and I decided to take a trip along the wagon-ways as this is an area I’ve much neglected over the past twelve months.

There was nothing uncommon to be found and not that much of the common if I’m honest, but it was good to be out and as I came across perhaps only a handful of my fellow race it was in that manner an almost perfect two hour walk.  The quieter stretches allowing me to get in some power walking!  The walk up the heugh last Saturday had me thinking I’d allowed the fitness to slip.  On reflection I’m thinking what a silent world we would live in if it wasn’t for the alarm calls of Blackbirds, the weak winter song of the Robin, the occasional parties of House Sparrows singing away from the bare hedges, Starlings making a racket, Jackdaw flocks calling as they move from place to place and the lone call of the Carrion Crow.

The most numerous represented passerine was the Goldfinch.  I came across three charms of them.  Wood Pigeons were of course all over the place and there was a number of Collared Doves near the farm.  I’m in no doubt that Collared Dove numbers have dropped in Killingworth in recent years.  It wasn’t until I had reached the path to Holystone just when I thought I was going to find ‘nowt’ that I looked across the field to see a Kestrel perched on a close by mound.  On the other side of me numbers of Mistle Thrushes were feeding in the field along with Magpies.  Now so far this year I have seen many more Mistle Thrushes than I would normally expect to see.  Further along the wagon-way I came across two Redwings as they flew into the trees.  A little further on a sizable mixed flock of Redwing and Fieldfare fed on the ground before flying onto the hedges as I passed by.  I was looking right into the sun when I saw a large bird on the brow of the field ahead and assumed that it could only be a Common Buzzard.  By the time I was through the gate and took another look it was gone.  Either it was a Common Buzzard or perhaps a black bin bag!

It was time to head for home.  By now I had given up hope of adding anything to the year list.  The flash had been almost dry and I had not found anything at all there.  A small bird moved along the top of the hedge and disappeared.  I kept my bins focused on the area that it had dropped and as it reappeared I found that it was a male Reed Bunting and year tick seventy-six.  Once I reached the road I found that the birds flying off the fields onto the wires were in the main Linnets, giving me year tick seventy-seven.  It’s some years now since I found the very large flock of Linnets in this area.  They just haven’t been back in such numbers as far as I know although there where perhaps thirty to forty today.

Dropping in at the big wheel I found nothing much apart from Blackbirds and dog walkers.  It was time to go home!

Whilst the area I walk hadn’t appeared to have changed too much over the past twelve months.  I did come across an odd new tarmac pathway and the odd trampled barb-wire fence.  I also felt the whole are was much ‘greener’ and in some way more tamed that I remember it looking in winter.  It didn’t seem to me that the area where I would expect Short Eared Owls to appear if there are any about, appeared the least enticing for this species at the moment.

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