Sunday, 22 February 2009

February Update

Have not done a great deal this month-the heavy snow early on,followed by a family matter saw to that.
I had a visiting male Blackcap last week in the garden, and yesterday a Chiffchaff started to sing (not very well) outside in the big oak.
Spring is on the way, my snowdrops are out in force, as well as bulbous iris, a few crocus and some cyclamen. Queen bees are on the wing, and this weekend frogs have started to appear in the pond. At least three are already paired up so spawn should appear any day now.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Devon Trip

On Friday afternoon, I spent an hour at the old airfield at Hatfield and the adjacent scrub/pits at Beech Farm where I met one of the people I know from Amwell. Apart from three Stonechats, and a small flock of Lapwing, things looked very quiet, but after about half an hour, one of thee Short Eared Owls appeared and put on a good show for us. I was somewhat relieved as I had paid several visits last year and not seen any.

Saturday was penciled in as a long trip down to Devon.
The main target was the Penduline Tit in a small reed bed near Paignton Leisure Centre. After about twenty minutes it was found low down in the reeds opposite feeding. Shame really as there was a lot of reedmace heads close to us which would have made a better photo. Overhead, a pair of displaying Ravens cronked while being mobbed by a Buzzard.
Broadsands has become a popular destination due to a flock of Cirl Buntings by the main car park. Due to the wind, they stayed in a hedge but showed well in scopes. We saw about six or seven birds, but more have been seen by others. The bay held a large flock of Grebes-mainly Great Crested, but a few Black Necked were also present. From the headland, more grebes and sea duck could be seen, as well as divers, but the best bird was a dark blue phase Fulmar which is quite rare in the channel.
Brixham Harbour held a small flock of Purple Sandpiper at the end of the break-water. I had to return to the car, and when Colin returned he showed me the Grey Phalarope on his camera screen. Luckily it was still present when I got back, but flew off. The harbour was also filling up with Kittiwakes and Little Gulls as a result of the strong easterly winds.
We ended a long day trying to find Cattle Egrets at Powderham Castle and on the river Axe, but without success. I suspect that they had already gone to roost asit was quite late in the day.