Inspired by events over the previous week at Norton Green, I thought it might be worth a walk around Aston End and up the river Beane. There are a few spots that seem to attract migrants-Redstart being the most notable.
After yesterdays rain and drizzle, the bright sun and clear blue skies was nice. Not the best weather for birds though.
Started of in the conifer plantation where there were plenty of calling Goldcrests and Robins, but not much else. The first Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were found in the hedge by Redwings Farm, and the first Swallow was over Aston End. Didn't see anything in the fields around Lords Farm, and it was much the same heading down to the ford. Most of the fields have been harvested and ploughed, so I would have expected a few larks, finches and buntings but they were empty apart from corvids and pigeons.
A few gulls were loafing in the field east of the Aston playing field, and as I made my way down to the ford I picked up a big flock of Linnets-around 40 in total. A juvenile Kestrel was hunting the area as well.
Up along the Walkern road, I had hoped to pick up some warblers in a small elder and blackthorn hedge but it was hard work. Several Robins seemed to be flitting in and out, flying over the road and returning, there were a couple of elusive Blackcaps doing the same, and eventually a Lesser Whitethroat put in a brief appearance. Scanning westwards over Aston End was interesting as it had heated up sufficiently to bring the raptors out. Two Red Kites were being mobbed by two Buzzards, and two other Kites were drifting around. Eventually the Buzzards gave up and joined up with several others-I had at least six over New Wood.
Crossing the river over the wooden bridge I heard two Bullfinches somewhere in the riverside trees. More Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were in the horse paddocks, with several Willow Warblers but nothing else-no Redstarts but one Robin did try its best to impersonate one.
Since there was a lot of activity around the stables I wasn't expecting to find much here and a quick scan of the usual tree failed to find the Little Owl again. February 2013 was the last time I saw one here. Five Swallows flews out overhead, and two Grey Herons flew off as I went through the metal gate up to the willow copse. Thats where I heard the Little Owl alarm call. I think it was coming from one of the old pines and expecting it to be sunning itself checked them all out without success. This seems to be the spot for them now as Ive heard them several times over the last three years. Up by the radio mast I found another Bullfinch and two Meadow Pipits flew over as i reached the outskirts of Stevenage.
Butterflies were very scarce. Ok the weather yesterday wasn't the best for them, but the 4.5 mile walk only produced about a dozen Whites, one Red Admiral and four or five Speckled Woods. A probable Small Tortoiseshell was also seen but at long range and I couldn't get a positive id.