Friday, 5 October 2012

Jays, House Martins and Barn Owls

Friday 5th October 2012

Today Sue came back from closing up the chickens all excited that a Barn Owl had flown  right over her head. Not only that, but it had called and another had flown out of the hollow old Ash tree to join it. It's not often that Sue shares the same excitement about birds as I do!

But that wasn't all the exciting bird news for the day. Today's main job for the morning, though not a glamorous one, was a thorough clean out of all the chicken houses, including moving them onto new ground in readiness for rehoming the various young chicks and chicken families which we have at the moment.
On one occasion I looked up to see NINE Jays flying in with their typical heavy wingbeats, undulating flight and white rumps. They headed straight for the old Ash trees, alighting briefly before continuing their journey. This was an exceptional count of jays for the farm, but not a great surprise as I was already aware of unusually large numbers being observed coming in off the sea along the north Norfolk coast. Presumably they have run out of acorns over in Scandinavia.

There was quite a lot of other bird movement through the farm too. Swallows are still passing through on their journey southwards, today accompanied by at least three House Martins, the first I've seen pass through the farm this year. Meanwhile, a Chiffchaff spent the whole day calling manically. Probably a different bird was belting out its song first thing. For what reason I don't know. Maybe just practising for next spring.

At half past one I was just carting a delivery of animal food down to the animal pens when my peaceful, industrious day was completely blown out of the water by news of an Eastern Kigbird found on Inishmore, a large slab of rock in the Atlantic just off the west coast of Galway, Southern Ireland. This was the first of this American species ever to make it over to this side of the Atlantic.

The rest of the afternoon was spent finishing off the most urgent farm jobs while making plans to travel on the overnight Holyhead to Dublin ferry. All very stressful. In fact, twitching could sometimes be described as the art of making a slow, relaxed hobby such as birdwatching into a totally stressful experience! But along with that come highs and lows, adrenalin and travel to the most beautiful, wild and far-flung corners of Britain.
I was supposed to be seeing Suggs (of Madness fame) this weekend too, though somewhat fortuitously that was cancelled at the last minute anyway.

The rest of the late afternoon and early evening passed pretty quickly, my mind totally distracted by the presence of this little bird a few hundred miles and a couple of boat journeys away. At half past seven I started the car ready for an overnight journey to see an Eastern Kingbird.

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