Sunday, 28 February 2016

28th February

I had intended to walk along the Swale on the chance the cold weather last night would have pushed birds on to the river but a fishing contest put paid to that idea.  Instead I walked up to see if there were any Grey Wagtails on the manure heaps on the Thrintoft path (we birders do live lives of unalloyed glamour!).
There weren’t any Greys but there were a few Pied and half a dozen Meadow Pipits...

The light was great so a pity there weren’t any wagtails as these pictures I took last week in terrible light don’t do justice to this species.

In the paddock by the railway all five species of thrush were feeding and I saw Treecreeper and Nuthatch in the trees by the water works. This is the first time I’ve recorded Nuthatch in Morton and they do seem to be on the increase in the parish. Five Teal sprang up off the ox-bow pool and a group of moulting Reed Buntings were also here.

The small flood pool by the railway bridge looks good at the moment and has had up to 20 Teal and Snipe on this week. It will be interesting to see if this is still holding water when the waders start moving again. I also saw Merlin again over here during the week and it may well still be in the area.

On the way back I stopped off by the school to see if the Redpoll flock was still around and there were about 35 birds present. Whilst I was watching them this Buzzard flew low over St Helen’s Drive and on over the school towards Ainderby.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

16th February

I thought the cold snap would have driven birds on to the Swale but it was quiet with the exception of 21 Cormorants, half a dozen Goosander and three Snipe, my first of the year. The two Mute Swans were still present and there were now a pair of Oystercatchers, the one bird here having caught what I assume is a large freshwater mussel.

In the afternoon I visited the Magic Garden and spotted a Little Egret perched in a distant tree.

I also saw a small, dumpy bird flying high, well above the tree tops. It took me a while to identify it as a Little Owl because that’s the first time I have seen one doing anything much more than bounding low across to its next perch.

Later a Blackbird shot through some vegetation, straight at me. In fact I had to duck (and felt the rush of its wings through what’s left of my hair!). The cause soon appeared, a female Sparrowhawk which veered sharply off as soon as it saw me. It did feel as though the Blackbird deliberately used me to deflect the pursing hawk.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

14th February

A quick walk this morning around the Magic Garden and then along Greenhills Lane. It was cold (the pond here was almost completely frozen) but still bright and clear. Fantastic colours on this ash stump and surrounds...

I think the fungus here is Trametes versicolor (commonly known as ‘Turkey Tail’)

Bird wise it was still pretty quiet. A Sparrowhawk flashed through the scrub here, a pair of Jays were seen along with half a dozen Goldcrests and a (beautifully camouflaged) Treecreeper...

Along Greenhills Lane there were two Buzzards and I could hear good numbers of Tree Sparrows. They were typically jumpy and active but I counted a flock of at least 86 birds, an excellent total.

As I stood trying to count the sparrows a Field Vole ran out of the hedge and over my boot!

A total of 52 Stock Dove were counted flying over near the ruined farmhouse and I also spotted my first Red-legged Partridge of the year in the main field here.  

Saturday, 13 February 2016

13th February

Very quiet today. Pick of a meagre list was this Grey Wagtail on the Swale,

16 Teal on a little remnant of floodwater and 50+ Fieldfares feeding in a riverside field. This was the first reasonable sized flock I’ve seen ground feeding this winter. Typically they move from feeding in hedgerows in the autumn and early winter to ground foraging after Christmas but presumably the good berry crops have delayed this.  
This lone Greylag has been haunting the same stretch of riverbank for a couple of weeks now and I assume is probably injured but seems to have survived comfortably and was feeding well.

This Sun Dog seen today is usually a sign of colder weather coming so perhaps that will get things moving…

Sunday, 7 February 2016

7th February

A circuit from Ainderby through Langlands, along the river and back home this morning totting up a respectable 52 species. Despite the cold, Spring definitely felt in the air with a dozen Skylarks singing, woodpeckers drumming...

And the first Oystercatcher on the river, almost a fortnight earlier than last year.

I was pondering the lack of birds of prey sightings when a Peregrine launched itself from a riverside tree. It did an effortless turn and then powered back around the bend sending the local Rooks into a frenzy. I assume this is the bird which has been seen intermittently along the river this winter. Unfortunately I only managed one distant shot….

As I walked up towards the village a cracking male Merlin drifted in and then powered low over the houses and away towards Thrintoft. This is one of only a handful of sightings in the parish and a bird I didn’t see last year. This is possibly the bird reported in their garden by a villager earlier this year.

Other sightings included six Goosander, Great Black-backed Gull, two pairs of Grey Partridge, Grey Wagtail and a flock of 24 Lesser Redpoll in what has been a really good winter for the species (but I still haven’t seen a Linnet this year!)