Monday, 4 May 2009

Local Contryside 18/04/09

I took a drive round the Hambleden countryside today, with the area consisting of rolling hills, mixed woodlands and arable farmland there's a great variety of wildlife species to be seen but today was slightly different.

My first stop was Chisbridge Lane where a small covey of 6 Red-legged Partridge crossed the road in front of the car. A quick view across the fields revealed the usual Corvid flocks with a few Woodpigeon and Pheasant but little else.


Further along the lane I stopped to view some of the arable fields and soon found a Common buzzard and 3 red kites searching for food it the newly ploughed furrows, they were joined by both Red-legged Partridge and Pheasant. A number of Skylarks were singing from high above and a distant Yellowhammer could be heard singing from across the field. 4 Lapwings suddenly appeared from the edge of the field and soon took dislike to the Common Buzzard which they chased off noisily, the Buzzard finally coming to rest in a tree overlooking the field but not before putting up a large flock of Woodpigeon and Stock Dove which circled the field and then dropped back down in to nearby crops. A single Meadow Pipit flew over calling and a Kestrel was seen hovering over the fields.

'Leucistic' Pheasant

Whilst this was all going on I noticed a white object moving along the field edge some 300-400yrds away, it often disappeared through the fence to the next field and then back again and amongst the overgrown field edges was difficult to see. Finally it wandered in to view and I was greeted by an awesome sight, a White Pheasant! or correctly described as an 'Leucistic' Pheasant. It was a striking individual and I was disappointed it didn't show itself a bit better so I could have done it better justice with my photos, this wasn't to be and it skulked back into the long swards off grass and out of sight.

I headed off towards Heath and Homefield Wood next hoping that there would be a slim chance of hearing a Cuckoo in the area that I had heard one last year. I stopped at a number of locations in the area with no luck, a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps singing but nothing else. I carried on to Rockwell End but Before I got there I was halted in my tracks by a 'herd' of Helmeted Guinea Fowl which crossed the road in front of the car, I say 'herd' rather than flock because as they passed the car they were more reminiscent of 'herd' of elephants than a small group of birds. It was a bit surreal watching them pass before me and after they had all filed across the road and into the fields alongside me I parked up and went to have a look.

'Melanistic' Pheasant

Helmeted Guinea Fowl

They were feeding in a stubble field amongst Red-legged Partridge and Pheasant, one of which was another colourful individual, this time it being an 'Melanistic' Pheasant More Helmeted Guinea Fowl arrived through the hedge and by now there was in the region of 20 with more calling from the fields on the other side of the lane. this is the 3rd location I have seen Guinea Fowl in the area. I checked the fields once again hoping that a Grey Partridge might be involved in the melee, there wasn't but I did find a lone female Mallard sat in the earth which was a bit of a strange sight. Chiffchaff and Blackcap calling nearby, Red Kite & Buzzard present.

Helmeted Guinea Fowl


Brown Hare

Heading towards Hambleden a lone hare was feeding in one of the fields and despite managing to creep up on it and get a couple of photos it soon spotted me and darted off across the field. In the fields near Mill End at least 2 House Martins were with a group of Barn Swallow which were feeding on insects over the fields next to the Hambleden stream with another Chiffchaff calling nearby.

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