Friday, 29 March 2013

More migrants struggle in

Another cold week, but at least it wasn't snowing. It was actually a sunny morning when I set out to Morton Bagot and only slowly clouded over thereafter. I started at Netherstead Farm, and as was the case last weekend, soon started finding Meadow Pipits crawling around, this time in the rough pasture around the dragonfly ponds where about a dozen showed really well. I also noticed quite a few Black-headed Gulls flying north. Their destination was, rather unexpectedly, the main pool. I eventually counted 80 there and on a recently ploughed part of the field on the far side of the Shrike hedge. This hedge also contained my first Chiffchaff this year, which called briefly before disappearing. The pool itself was still playing host to a pair of Tufted Ducks and three Mute Swans as well as the usual Mallard and Coot.

At the Flashes I scanned through 52 Teal, 30 Lapwings, and a few Greylags before confirming that the two Little Ringed Plovers were still present, this time on the furthest flash. To their left, up popped a stunning male Wheatear. I felt I needed to mark the event with some sketches, and a cleaned up version of one of the originals is presented below.

The male Wheatear
The restricted area of orangey-yellow on the upper breast is an indication that this bird plans to go no further than northern Britain to breed and is quite different to the Greenland types I was blogging about last April. Unfortunately, the act of sketching made me miss the cause of a massive panic which emptied the flashes of almost everything and presented me with the spectacle of 700 Starlings swirling up from the pastures beyond. All the birds eventually returned except for the Wheatear, which I hope simply moved to another field.

Heading onwards, the back edge of the set-aside field contained about 50 finches and buntings, mainly Goldfinches and Linnets, with at least six Yellowhammers. Then I discovered that the shed contained a sleeping Barn Owl, which woke up and flew out shortly after I spotted it. It could have made a great photograph, but my camera is still away being mended. Barn Owls seem to be following me around this year!

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