Spent a pleasant morning with three friends today. I had invited Sue, Paul and Sheila to visit my patches, Lake Farm and Cranford Park. The weather forecast wasn't looking too great...thick cloud and cold wind, but the wind blew away the cloud so the latter part of the morning was blue sky's and an occasional gust of biting cold wind.
We started off at Cranford Park where the first birds we saw before even leaving the car park were two Mistle Thrushes, three Song Thrushes, a female Blackbird and two Great Tit, all feeding together on the grass.
I really wanted to show them all the ancient woodland, and I also wanted to check on last years woodpecker nests for signs the parakeets had moved in. So off we ambled and slid and carefully made our way thru the muddy patches. The old beech tree that had come down last week, was still across the path and ha-ha. Mac the Ranger wasn't there today, so I couldn't ask him why it hadn't been removed, but I'm guessing it possibly needs some heavy duty gear to lift it. It really is a big beast of a tree.
Once inside the woods I checked on one of last years GS Woodpecker nests, but no signs of parakeets in it or even near it. While I was doing this and showing Paul all the holes in the dead tree, Sue called me back. She'd seen a raptor land in one of the trees, and it was still there, but she couldn't see what it was. My first thoughts was it was a Kestrel. The area we were in was used by the Kestrels last year, and Mac and I had rescued a chick that had fallen from its nest on the very same path we were on. Sues mystery raptor flew over us carrying something in its talons. But it wasn't prey, it was carrying twigs. And it wasn't a Kestrel, it was a Sparrowhawk, medium sized but with no rufous red on its chest and glimpses of a grey back and a bright yellow eye with a fairly small black iris (this all spotted between the branches) so I'm guessing a female. It landed in one of the old fir trees, deposited its twigs on a flattened area at the end of one of the branches, then flew off. This was exciting for me. I've never seen a Sprawk nest inside the ancient woodland, and it was so near to last years Kestrel nest. This will be one tree I will definitely be keeping an eye on over the next few weeks.
Other birds seen in the ancient woods were a lovely obliging Nuthatch, numerous Robins, Blackbirds and marmite Parakeets, Green Woodpecker (that Sue and I flushed from feeding on the woodland floor), lots of GS Woodpeckers flitting around the tops of the trees, and at least one heard drumming, good numbers of Jackdaws and Carrion Crows and the usual Blue, Great and Long-tailed tits. Last years Green Woodpecker nest had no squatters, but there was a marmite parakeet sitting very nearby. One lovely sighting we did see was a flock of Goldfinch feeding fairly high up, and looking through the bins we could see at least two Redpoll with them. In the tree next to it was a solitary Goldcrest picking its way through the branches. We checked the usual haunts for the Little Owl but to no avail. Theres still a few weeks left to see if they do return this year. Talons crossed.
In all the excitement I took hardly any photos at Cranford Park today. I was so caught up in pointing out stuff to Paul, Sheila and Sue and checking birds through my bins. Hopefully will get back down there over next couple of days.
From there we went over to Lake Farm. Before we'd even got out of Pauls car we saw a Kestrel being mobbed by a crow, and moments later had a Red Kite over being mobbed by a gull.
Sue really wanted to see Reed Buntings and Skylarks, so I took them all over to the favoured hedgerow where I know the Reedys like to sit out of the wind. And they didn't fail me. As we walked along the hedges, Reed Bunting after Reed Bunting after Reed Bunting popped out and flew ahead to land again. I estimated we saw about 15 today, and got a couple of photos too. I was hoping the Stonechats would be visible today, but it was very windy at Lake Farm, and I know from previous trips the Stonechats like it to be still and sunny, so we didn't see any. But a nice end to the day was having a Skylark come up and flap its wings in that lovely way that only they can do. I think Sue was quite happy by the time we all said our goodbyes. And Paul and Sheila seemed to enjoy our brisk, if somewhat chilly outing.
I didn't feel 100% well today, so cut short our day out fairly early, but I hope Paul, Sheila and Sue had a good morning visiting areas that I consider quite special.
I've still got three days off work before my next shifts start, so am hoping after a good nights sleep, I'll be back on full form tomorrow.
|male Reed Bunting|
|female Reed Bunting|