Friday, 19 May 2017

Friday May 19

I had just about given up on spring for this year, and arrived in light rain intending to do my final transect of the year with little optimism for anything new. It just goes to show, you never can tell.

Things got off to a steady start as I went down to the flash field to see if the rain had dropped anything in. There is no longer any mud showing due to a week of continual rain, but at least I spotted a distant Little Egret, the pair of Gadwall, and a female Teal.

Once the rain stopped I returned to the road and started walking south. As I reached the hill past the village I glanced at the new pool which had been created by removing some hedgerow and damming a stream, and found a drake Mandarin staring back at me.

Although they probably breed along the river Arrow, just five or so miles away, this was the first I have seen here since 2013.

I continued and bumped into Sue Matthewman on her way out of the Netherstead entry road. I flagged her down and told her about the bird. Sue had been texting me with news that a Barn Owl had been seen recently, which was very good news.

A little further on I heard a Willow Warbler, finally saw the Cuckoo which had been singing for several weeks, and then heard a second bird cuckooing back to it. Attempts were made to video it in flight, but they weren't very successful. Then the Barn Owl flew across my path and dived onto a prey item in front of me. It eventually took off again and I managed a rather fuzzy shot of it.

Barn Owl
Could the morning get any better? It could. On the return journey I flushed a moth from the grass. I don't actually keep a moth life-list, so I am not sure if I have seen one of these before.

Green Carpet
It was still very overcast, and this was pretty much the only insect I saw today. Anyway, as I was skirting the ridge field I noticed a single blob on the wires running across the field. I had left my scope in the car, but alarm bells were ringing and I decided I ought to get a bit closer to rule out the possibility of Corn Bunting. Each time I stopped I took a photo and the image in the back of the camera still looked like it could be anything, but I still couldn't rule out Corn Bunting. Then I heard a faint snatch of song. The books say the sound is like a jangle of keys. It isn't. It's more like a Yellowhammer which runs out of puff half way through the song phrase. I quickened my stride and finally got close enough for a recognisable image. It was definitely a Corn Bunting. My first spring record here, and the first since August 2015.

Corn Bunting
Thirty seconds after this shot was taken it took off and flew strongly south.

I resumed my original course and ended up back at the flash field. Here the Little Egret had got a little closer.

Little Egret

Still just a record shot, but a satisfactory end to a terrific morning.

Never give up.


  1. Good morning there, nice birding.

  2. It would be a nice thought that some of our previously regular Farmland birds are making a comeback and this could be a trailblazer. But maybe the high level stewardship in your patch is the real reason for the corn bunting appearance. But like you Rich I keep positive that things will improve one day!. Your blog is always a Great Reed purposely mispelt πŸ˜†πŸ‘in anticipation of oneπŸ˜‰ cheers John

  3. Hi guys, thanks for the nice comments. It seems likely that the Corn Bunting was just a flash in the pan. It can only be a matter of time before Upton Warren gets a Great Reed. Meanwhile, I'll settle for Reed this year. All the best Richard