Saturday, 17 February 2007

Aston. 7th Feb 2007

I decided to take a visit to Aston this afternoon before the coming snow storm took effect.Driving past Remenham Church and along towards Aston i stopped and checked the fields beside the road, i counted 60 Mute Swans but very little else, no Lapwing or Golden Plover.
As i parked the car at Aston the first sound i could hear was the resident Ring-necked Parakeets calling to each other and as i walked along the towpath towards Hambleden Lock i soon found a pair inspecting a tree hole together.A flock of Redwing and Fieldfare were feeding in the fields alongside the river Thames towpath and were joined by 3 Mistle Thrushes, Tufted and Mallard Duck were present in good numbers on the river as were Canada Goose.Looking out across the fields towards Remenham both Red Kite and Buzzard were soaring low over the fields and a Green Woodpecker took flight from in front of me, i soon spotted a Grey Heron as it flew over shortly followed by a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
On my way back to Hambleden Lock i stopped at a wooded clearing which has a small stream/backwater passing through it, in the past i have seen Kingfisher using this stream during winter and was also extremely lucky to find a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker while watching Spotted Flycatchers.I waited patiently and before long a Robin flew in to the bush next to me and looked me up and down, after satisfying it's curiosity it continued on it's way, it was then a Wren burst in to song and suddenly the clearing came alive, a second Wren flew down to the streams edge and began to forage in the undergrowth and was soon joined by another, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits passed overhead and began hanging off the Alders as they fed.As i watched motionless i became aware of a single bird flitting through the bushes with them, it flew in to the bush in front of me and made it's way to the top of a branch, i soon got a close up view of a Marsh Tit which seemed to be eating seeds and i would imagine that it would have been from the Alders.It preened for awhile and then disappeared off through the bushes, the "pitchoo" calls could be heard as it disappeared in to the thicket.A passing dog walker soon flushed everything else so i headed off towards Hambleden Lock.At the edge of the field overlooking the lock i looked along a backwater ditch where a Little Grebe was diving for food, 2 Egyptian Geese and another Grey Heron flew over.Walking along the path towards the Lock a Song Thrush flew to the tops of the trees and began to sing, it's song filling the air.By the Lock a large flock of 150 plus Finches were feeding in a stubble area of the field, including Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Linnet, Greenfinch and Chaffinch.
As i walked back along the towpath towards Aston i noticed a flock of birds feeding in the bushes of a nearby copse, i walked over and soon picked up on a couple of Blue Tits and 4 or 5 Great Tits passing through the trees and bushes feeding as they went, i waited patiently in the hope that something good would be in the ever growing flock, the calls of Long-tailed Tits could be heard long before they arrived in the trees in front of me, i counted 12 in one tree before they continued on their journey through the trees.A Marsh Tit appeared in a tree and while i watched it through my binoculars a Treecreeper slowly climbed the underside of a fallen tree behind it, i did a quick double take and looked again, it was still climbing the tree and continued to give good views until it flew to the next tree and disappeared out of sight.I was cursing not bringing my camera with me when a bird caught my eye as it flew in to bush close to me, i watched it fly to the next bush alongside the stream and slowly followed it, it perched up on the bush and i believed that it was another Marsh Tit but closer inspection proved me wrong.It showed a large black untidy bib, dull sooty black crown and had a thick neck appearance, getting a better view as the bird turned i noticed it had pale wing panels.All these point to the Willow Tit but identification of the two species can be extremely difficult and the call can sometimes be the only certain way to separate the two birds, i waited quietly and listened for the call as the flock slowly passed through the bushes and within a couple of minutes the Willow Tit proved it's identity with it's harsh and nasal call.

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