Monday, 19 March 2007

Common Crane, Cropredy, Oxon. 17th March 2007

Off to Cropredy, Oxon today to see the Common Crane that has been feeding in flooded fields just NNE of the village. On the drive up i counted at least 19 Red Kites from home to the M40 and another 12 around the Aston Rowant area. On arrival at the location i soon met a few Bucks birders including Mike Collard who helps run the Buckinghamshire Badger Group, sadly Mike had found a dead Badger on the side of the road and deduced that it was probably a pregnant sow.
The Common Crane was feeding on the far side of the flooded fields alongside Appletree road SP475482; it continually searched for food through the long grass and only stopped briefly to preen and scan the fields.
Their favoured diet is plant material such as agricultural crops but will also eat insects, snails, worms, frogs etc. They breed on large areas of marshland, bogs, fields and meadows with water nearby and use large wetland and agricultural areas for roosting during winter. The largest breeding area of Common Cranes is found in the North-east of Europe and at the end of summer many of these birds will migrate South to Spain, North Africa and the Middle East.
A Little Owl was also present, sat in a tree sunning itself in the afternoon sun, 3 Fieldfare flew over, 2 Stock Doves were chasing each other round the trees, Skylarks could be heard singing from high above and a small flock of Pied Wagtails gathered together around the pools of water in the fields. 9 Mute Swans were also in the field with the Crane. Although the sun was shinning it was incredibly windy and after a couple of hours watching the Crane i decided to make my way home.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Padworth 13th March 2007.

Male Stonechat.

Female Stonechat.

An afternoon visit to Padworth, Berks today with the hope that I might get to see Jack Snipe, after the recent rainfall the pathways were flooded and I made a note to myself that I should really invest in a pair of wellies, as I did this I suddenly slipped and ended up in a large puddle with water slowly filling up my walking boots. Ok not a great start but at least now I didn't have to get worried about getting wet, trench foot was a concern but I had put a spare pair of socks in the car so as long as I didn't get lost I'd be alright.
As I entered the common a Buzzard slowly drifted over calling as it went, Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker could be heard calling. Two Chiffchaffs were in full song and it didn't take long to find one chasing insects round the bushes near to me, it briefly perched on the bush to preen and sing before continuing to feed on the abundance of insects that were about.
A male and female Stonechat suddenly appeared on a gorse bush near to me and began feeding on insects, I watched them for sometime before they disappeared over the bushes.
Towards the end of the afternoon a flock of Meadow Pipits gathered across the common ready for roost, as I approached them I flushed a Woodcock from the side of the path, it darted across the common before landing in dense bracken and disappearing from sight.
I didn't find the Jack Snipe but later found 2 Woodlark at an undisclosed site.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Pagham Harbour, West Sussex. 11th March 2007.

Dark Bellied Brent Goose.



Ferry pool hosted the usual ducks, a couple of Shelduck a single Curlew and a few black-headed gulls.
Walking towards Church Norton soon Produced good numbers of Redshank and Oystercatcher as they probed the mud flats by the water sluice. Further along the path towards Church Norton a male Little Egret was stalking the ditch, it’s breeding plumes were clearly visible as it hunted the shallows searching for fish. It got closer and closer until it flew off to join another Little Egret which was feeding in the harbour. Plenty of Curlew, Oystercatcher and Redshank scattered around the harbour and a small flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese were grouping on the waters edge near to the hide at Church Norton, small skeins passed over on route to Church Norton and were later found feeding on cereal crops in the fields near to the hide. No sign of any Pale-breasted Brents nor the reported Black Brant.
At the harbour Turnstone, Knot, Dunlin and a single Ringed Plover busily searched the islands and mud flats for food. On a nearby island in the centre of the harbour a rather tired and forlorn looking Red -breasted Merganser sat quietly while a number of Shelducks slept amongst a melee of Gulls including 2 Mediterranean Gulls.
The sea at Church Norton was quiet, the odd Cormorant fishing far out at sea, a possible sighting of Red-necked Grebe heading towards Selsey but little else, despite the sunny conditions the sea was quite choppy. My first year sighting of a Chiffchaff was a timely reminder that spring was on it’s way as it fed along the bushes between the severals and Church Norton, stopping every now and then to belt out its unmistakable “Chiff-chaff” call .
On the walk back towards the reserve centre a quick scan of the harbour again was well worth it as while scanning the Curlews feeding along the mud flats a single Whimbrel flew in and joined them. A selection of waders including Redshank, Oystercatcher, Dunlin and Grey Plover scoured the flats for food. The Ringed Plover still looked out of place amongst the greyer waders that surrounded it but wasn’t put of by numbers as it bustled it’s way around the mud. The Red-breasted Merganser was still looking rather ill and I didn’t rate it’s chances of survival, it’s always sad to see a sick bird but a Merganser which is majestic in it’s own right is especially sad, I guess that’s mother nature for you.

Friday, 2 March 2007

Barn Owl. 1st March 2007.

A quick drive round the valley tonight gave me my first year sighting of a Barn Owl as i neared home.It was sat on a fence post next to the road scanning the fields but didn't hang around long and flew off along the roadside hedge and across the fields.I'm pretty convinced this is the same bird i recorded in our garden.