Fortunately I was able to put forward a convincing enough case that I was very nearly better, which allowed me to negotiate a two hour window of opportunity this morning. Thus it was that I joined Dave at Netherstead, and within a few minutes another year-tick was added in the form of three distant Golden Plovers which were flying with 150 Lapwings to the west of the patch. Goldies are pretty much guaranteed to occur at some point in a year but are very hit or miss, and are sometimes not seen until the autumn.
A less welcome discovery was that the tree-planting has now extended to the large ridge field, one of the two best fields for Skylarks on the patch. It is hard to imagine that this will lead to anything other than a gradual reduction in their numbers, and this is a great shame as Skylarks are struggling to find the sort of sensitively managed arable farmland they need in this part of Warwickshire.
|No doubt it will look lovely by the end of the century|
It is hard to disagree with these sentiments, but I searched his site hoping for some reassurance that other habitats might, where appropriate, be maintained. All I could find was a reference to woodland glades and ponds, so it looks as though for the Skylarks, Lapwings, and Yellowhammers etc (birds which really need his help) it could be time to move on...except that there will be nowhere else for them to go.
Anyway, back to today. We actually located 35 Skylarks over the field in question, and 65 Linnets in the neighbouring set-aside field which I think is protected until 2019 by the stewardship scheme. An extra Mute Swan flew over the resident pair and then disappeared towards the little fishing pool just north of the patch. This was not far enough as far as the local Swans were concerned and they soon headed there too. The inevitable pitch battle could just be made out from our self-imposed boundary.
The flash looked pretty poor. A single Green Sandpiper and not much else. However, 250 Fieldfares, 250 Starlings, 50 Redwings, 230 Black-headed Gulls and a single Common Gull were all scopable beyond the flash field. Then Dave drew my attention to a pair of Wigeon which flew past us to provide our second year tick. Like the Golden Plovers, pretty much guaranteed to be seen eventually, but more of an autumn speciality.
We met up with John, who had flushed three Wigeon before we had got there, and was later to see them again on the Flash. For our part, Dave then managed to locate an extremely distant Golden Plover for John's year-list, as it fed amongst Lapwings in a ploughed field about a mile away.