Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Aston, Berks. 21/04/09


A lunchtime visit to Aston proved very fruitful today, with the glorious sunshine beating down I made my way from Remenham Lane and along the footpath towards Hambleden Lock. A male Kestrel was hunting in the fields adjacent to the footpath and while watching it 2 Red Kites drifted over shortly followed by a Common Buzzard, while waiting for the opportunity to digiscope the Kestrel I was soon distracted by at least 3 Skylarks singing from high above me. I listened transfixed to their fast rolling song which duly reminded me of summers gone by until in the distance I heard a faint drumming coming from the backwater copse near Hambleden Lock, I picked up my scope and headed off on the direction of the drumming.

I arrived at the copse and waited for the drumming to begin again, as I waited a Chiffchaff began to sing nearby and before long it flew to the trees above me and into view, here it started to sing again and as I watched it something caught my eye. I quickly scanned the trees next to me to find a Nuthatch in full view, I watched it inch it's way along the tree branch until it sat looking at me, it was soon joined by it's mate which fed it something and then flew off. After eating it wiped it's bill on the tree and then sat patiently in view which gave me a chance to grab a few photos, as it shuffled up the tree I did the same to give me a clear view between the branches and this continued for about five minutes. The other Nuthatch returned and fed it's mate again and then they headed off further along the tree and out of view.


During this time a Blackcap had started singing nearby and by the time I had finished watching the Nuthatches it was close-by, after at least 3 or 4 minutes of scanning the bushes it appeared at the top of a bramble thicket before flying further into the copse and to begin it's song again. This seemed to alert another Blackcap which joined in the chorus.

The drumming started again but this time sounded stronger but shorter, it could only be Great Spotted Woodpecker and despite not being able to see the bird I was pretty sure i knew what it was. I walked down towards the River Thames to look back towards the backwater, from here I could view the tree tops and any possible Woodpecker activity. There seems to be a few favoured trees and perching spots along the backwater which I got to know when I lived at Hambleden Marina some five years ago.

I reached the River and looked back along the tree tops, the first tree I looked at is a large Pine/Spruce tree and within seconds I found a male Great Spotted Woodpecker, he soon started to drum and within a minute or so of drumming a female flew across the Rver Thames from the island at Hambleden Marina and joined him in the next tree along. He seemed buoyed by his attraction skills and looked her up and down, he then hopped down the down the tree and started drumming again. It was while I was watching him drum that I suddenly picked up on the faint drumming I had heard earlier, it was a great comparison as both birds drummed together and I know knew that a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was in the vicinity, I hadn't seen one here since 2005 and I was eager to see if I could locate it and even better get some photos.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. (Aston 30/08/05)

The male Great Spotted Woodpecker seemed angered by the intruder in his territory and went to investigate, he flew along the copse and out of sight. Moments later anxious calls echoed from the copse from what seemed to be both Great & Lesser Spotted arguing over territory, the last call came from the male Great Spotted Woodpecker which called twice before flying over the river to the island with the female following close behind it. Believing I had seen the last of them all I wandered slowly back towards Aston getting no more than 40ft before I heard the faint drumming again, 'one last look' I thought as my lunch hour ebbed away and walking back to the river front for one last time I scanned the trees. It must have been fate as the first tree I set the scope on had a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker hanging on the underside of a branch towards the top of the tree, seeing one of these birds is always quite a feat and I was delighted to get a good minutes view of it before it flew off further along the backwater, good to know there still here. Before heading off 2 more Red Kites drifted over the county border from Buckinghamshire and into Berkshire airspace, 2 Ring-necked Parakeets flew along the river and at least 7 Red-legged Partridge crossed the footpath near the Flowerpot Pub, Aston and later in the day a female Sparrowhawk was seen circling high over the fields.

Kestrel - 1m
Buzzard - 1
Red Kite - 4
Nuthatch - 2
Skylark - 3
Chiffchaff - 1
Blackcap - 2m
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - 1m
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 2 m&f
Ring -necked Parakeet - 2
House Sparrow - 6+ Nesting Material
Red-legged Partridge - 7
Pheasant - 16 m&f
Blue Tit - 6
Great Tit - 4
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Dunnock - 2
Pied Wagtail - 1
Sparrowhawk - 1f

No comments: