Thursday, 21 February 2013

Local Luck

Stayed local on Wednesday, but went birding with a different mindset. Rather than just wandering about enjoying whatever comes along, I set myself some specific goals. A bit of local research online and I picked three local species for year ticks to try and achieve today.

I decided on Red-Legged Partridge, Mediterranean Gull, and Water Rail. So, first stop was Grendon. I parked the car in the lanes and had a walk about in the usual area I have spotted them in previous years. The ground was very waterlogged with standing water in places. A few Pheasants strutting about, but no Red-Legged! So I left the lanes and entered the fields and ten minutes of scanning about later, I had a little covey of 6 Red legs.

Next stop, Shustoke reservoir for the Med Gull. I scanned through the gulls for over a hour with no sign. In the end, the cold got the better of me, so I returned to the car and headed towards Ladywalk with the heaters on full blast. First failure of the day.

I arrived at Ladywalk and headed for the shelter of the feeder hide where I knew a Water Rail was being regularly seen. It was feeding on waterlogged ground beneath one of the bird feeders. Unfortunately, so were two Moorhen! They took real exception to the occasional appearance of the Water Rail and repeatedly chased it off. In the end, I managed a distant record record shot.

There was plenty of activity around the feeders, especially from a flock of about 18 Redpoll.

Lesser Redpoll

And amongst the Lesser Redpoll came my bonus bird, a Mealy Redpoll. Nice to see and another welcome year tick.

I returned home. Two of my three birds accounted for, and a bonus third. Felt pretty good.

The Med Gull was still playing on my mind, so at 2.30pm, I again set off for Shustoke in the hope of the Med. I met up with John in the car park and we walked up to reservoirs edge and spoke with another couple of birders. They put us onto a Common Gull they had located, but said they had not seen the Med. Another Bonus tick!

Common Gull

John and I walked down to the bottom end of the reservoir and scanned about from there. Still no sign of the Med.

On return to our original viewpoint, two other birders had arrived. One of these located the Med just as everyone was about to leave.

What an enjoyable day. This is what days off work are all about. I ended up with my three target birds, and two extra for my troubles.


Thursday morning, I set off early to Whitmoor Haye in search of Grey Partridge. I took Taz along for her morning walk. It's a refreshing change to walk around the lanes in walking boots rather than wade through fields of mud in Wellies. Only 300 yards from the car, and two Grey Partridge flushed out the hedge bottom and ran up an embankment and disappeared down the other side. I can't believe my luck at the moment, but it got better!

As I walked around the lanes, I kept scanning the fields hoping to see some more Greys. As I scanned the hedgerow edge parallel to the railway line, I saw a Crow mobbing something. It was dark, very fast and once it had shaken the Crow, it moved at speed keeping low across the field towards me. Merlin!

It rose up over the hedge then flew low along the lane for about 100 yards, alighting in a tree momentarily. Then off it went again low and fast across the fields. I watched intently until losing sight of it. What a bird!


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