Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Not a hawfinch in sight

Saturday 28th October 2017
Not a hawfinch in sight

We've had some beautiful clear days recently and some amazing skies.
I've spent a lot of time outside trying to get hawfinch on my farm list. There's something of an unprecedented irruption of these giant-billed finches at the moment, but despite days working outside not a single one has flown over the farm while I've been looking.
There has however been a good arrival of winter thrushes with redwings and fieldfares streaming in across the fields in their hundreds. There have been impressive numbers of starlings and woodpigeons too. In amongst them I've had the odd good bird, a few redpolls, a couple of yellowhammers and quite a few skylarks. There have been more chaffinches than usual with arrivals from Scandinavia finding the old ash trees to their liking. But not a hint of a hawfinch. 
I have listened and listened and listened to recordings of hawfinch flight calls. Remembering bird calls is not a strength of mine, but as I work in the garden my ears are on constant alert for their weak call.

Job for the day was to build a shelter and dust bath for the chickens, though it took longer than  it should have due to a certain amount of sky staring!
The finished job is somewhat basic but it should do its job. I've used old polytunnel plastic which I scrounged so if the winds do their worst I can easily replace it.

Sunday 29th October 2017
An extra 3(!) hours in bed
The clocks went back overnight so I celebrated with an extra three hours in bed!
A little owl was clearly thrown by the change too as it spent most of the morning sat in full view sunning itself. I hear the little owls most days but very rarely see them outside of breeding season.

The weather this half term has been amazing so we made the most of it with a walk along the river late afternoon. I was thrilled to see not one but two kingfishers. There is hardly anywhere for them to perch as the drainage board have cleared the banks, so I was surprised that even the one has stayed.

Monday 30th October 2017
A new swimming pool... for the ducks
More mowing, for the grass is still growing thick and fast.

Then I hand dug a new pond for the three ducks who now live in the spare veg patch. They have found my wildlife pond and wrecked it, so I am giving them a purpose built luxury pool. I will bar access to the wildlife pond with a willow weave barrier.
I would move the ducks, but they have an important job of slug clearance. Slugs have been a real problem this year so I am keen to turn the soil and expose them to the birds as much as possible this winter. In fact I managed to rotavate the cuttings area today. I dug up the privet cuttings which I started last winter. About half had made it through which was good. I have replanted them into the freshly turned soil and there is now space for this year's cuttings.

Tuesday 31st October
I'll spare you the usual rant about the waste of pumpkins. Or the one about since when was Halloween such a big celebration on this side of the Atlantic.

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