My pre-Xmas bird watching this year has been spent in Essex, Kent and Wales! An eclectic mix I am sure you will agree.
Tuesday was spent at Wicken Fen with Ken on the hunt for Hen Harrier coming into roost. Although the day was rather grey, and the ground wet, we did manage to see large numbers of winter thrushes. Fieldfare were the most gregarious, perching high in the trees and giving us a great show, if a little hard to photograph.
Redwing were harder to spot, but probably in as high numbers. Chaffinch appeared everywhere, in ones and twos, flying between the hedgerows and grabbing our attention. Over the set-aside fields beyond the reserve we spotted two Ring-tail Hen Harriers, and a couple of female Marsh Harriers. From the Tower hide we could see the ducks and cormorants on the pond, the main birds seen were Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Coot and Moorhen. As we wandered around the reserve we saw several Kestrels.
At the end of the afternoon we waited by the visitor centre and watched as first one, then two ring-tails came in to roost. Then a long-awaited male appeared, and crossed over with a Barn Owl, both appearing to dive into the reedbed within seconds of each other – the Barn Owl was my second in a week and the year!
A Whooper Swan has found itself an easy life with the chickens on the smallholding near the entrance to the reserve, it does not appear to be ringed. Needless to say it did not find itself on my day list of 28 species.
The next day I returned to home territory and with the usual crew went off in search of more wintering thrushes – we were really after Waxwings, but as we didn’t find any I will have to content myself with more large flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing in the local orchards.
A late morning jaunt to the Isle of Grain added a few waders and Brent Geese to our list for the day, but nothing for the year list. Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Knot, Redshank, Curlew and Shelduck were the main additions for the day.
Then on to the weekend and a wander along the coast in North Wales where I am lucky enough to be spending Christmas this year. On the journey up we counted 16 Red Kite and 12 Common Buzzard – one also sadly lying dead at the side of the road. There were several Kestrels which is good to see as they had been less noticeable in the South East last year, but seem to be coming back in 2012.
Although it wasn’t the best of mornings for light, it was at least dry so I went off for a wander along the coast to see what could be found. The most delightful sight was at least 53 Pintail, with 34 Teal, around 35 Curlew, and over 700 Lapwing. I also counted 153 Shelduck, but they were further out on the estuary and I probably missed quite a few. Along the raised walkway Robin, Dunnock, Great Tit, Raven, Carrion Crow and Starling were found. Several flocks of Lapwing flew over as I wandered along, and appeared to be gathering in one large mass in a nearby field. Four Little Grebe completed my short walk list. The heavens opened and I retreated to cover, warmth and tea.
Apologies for the lack of photographs, but I am having a problem with the upload.
Happy New Year to one and all