Friday, 2 March 2012

A birding bonanza, including a patch tick!

I guess it was a combination of the changing seasons and the overnight fog which resulted in today's bonanza of birds.

First, thirty-seven Meadow Pipits in the line of saplings by the meadow this morning was a record number - maybe ganging up as a defensive measure against the beautifully marked (and very approachable) female Sparrowhawk which appeared from nowhere in the same line of saplings.

Then, on the way home from work today, I came back the A47 route to take a look at the four Common Cranes that have been hanging out in the fields there. Last time I popped in on these, there were 7 of them, but in the last week or so only four had been reported. So it was a nice surprise to see six there. Only the young bird was missing from the original group.

Spurred on by this, I decided to take the back road home again. I had been there this morning, but visibility was next to nothing. Most of the swan herd has moved to a different field now, and as I approached I was surprised by the number I could see.
A group of them seemed more slender and more gleaming white than the others, and my suspicions were confirmed when I pulled up and raised my binoculars. 18 Whooper Swans, the first I'd seen since December.

Whooper Swans, taken by holding my camera up to the binoculars.
Extremely hard to focus!
And next to them, in a dyke, a good selection of wildfowl. This stretch of dyke often holds good numbers of Mallards and a few Teal, but rarely anything else. I could immediately see that 2 Shelducks were among the new arrivals, but as I scanned through something more exciting grabbed my attention - the tell tale black and white tail end of a Wigeon, confirmed as it turned to show its mustardy yellow blaze.
Can you spot the Wigeon in this rather poor picture?
(It's on the right hand bank)
Further on, on the Main Drain, a gang of 8 Goosanders loitered. Then another four flew over. 12 at once was another record count for the patch. Later on another 5 flew along the river.

I hastened back to the farm, as the swans and the dyke with the wigeon were just beyond the Millennium Copse. I should be able to see them from the farm.
A little extra height was needed!

 Sure enough, I could just about see the group of whoopers from the top of my haystack! (Apologies for the poor image - this one taken through the scope, a long way away.)
And that wigeon was in the dyke just in front of them! If only the ducks would fly I would easily be able to pick it out. Two hours later, Sue arrived home in the fading light to find me still perched on top of the haystack, still waiting for the wigeon to fly! If anything, more mallards had flown into the dyke. Unlike the swans, the ducks would probably stay put for the night.
At least I had crippling views of a Barn Owl hunting along the dyke by the haystack, as well as another 7 Whooper Swans flying over and a re-appearance of the two Greylag Geese from a few days ago.

And I took a 360 degree set of pictures. My computer cleverly produced this. Gives an idea of the wide expanses I can see from my farm, especially from the top of the haystack.

Click on this image to see a larger version.
You can make out the dyke running away from you, the forest of plastic tubes, and the farmhouse with the four Ash trees just below the setting sun.

1 comment:

  1. Great work John - got your Wigeon straight away! Big bird! Keep it up. In contrast, Rich is taking me to see that horrible merganser tomorrow then we will be exploring some of E London's finest sites...


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