Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Midweek already

The weekend Saturday count was carried out in bitter cold conditions but struggled up to 41 species and added

49 Mallard
50 Great black backed gull
51 Lapwing

A late entry there for the normally common Lapwing and I was just going to comment on the lack of ducks when suddenly Sunday morning and a temperature swing of 15 degrees see all the water un-frozen and ducks aplenty on the Horton Grange flash

52 Teal
53 Wigeon
54 Coot
55 Moorhen

Signs of pairing beginning with Great Tit, Coal Tit and Greenfinch all singing and some House Sparrow chases around my house. Nice to see a pair of Tree Sparrows back in the garden after a brief unexplained absence and Skylark overhead.

56 Tree Sparrow
57 Skylark

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Friday evening

After a torrid week gave up work at lunchtime and up to Whittle Dene for a quick look then ended at the raptor viewpoint on the Carr. Sun setting in a clear sky to the west with almost full moon to the east. A male Stonechat flitted across the lane and perched on a fence before heading off to roost. A bird feeding in the reeds was making small calls as it moved but wasn’t going to show….just then a commotion in the middle of the field as two Roe Deer had a head to head the loser coming towards me until at 25 metres he realise my presence and bounded off whilst the victor looked on with disdain. Whose idea was it to give deer a white backside?

Aha! The reed bird is disturbed and the groan, or is it a wail, means the suspect is a Water Rail. A welcome return to my list in 2008 after an absence of a few years.
A small flock of 48 Meadow Pipits squeaks overhead to their roost site in the rank grass……strangely, or is it just nature? next to the favoured roost of their arch enemy…the Hen Harrier. None present just now but watch this space.
Back to the motor car as a Grey Partridge calls to the west and a Snipe flushes from the field edge, both species being far fewer in number than I remember although the August flood last year brought in excellent numbers of the latter.

45. Stonechat
46. Water Rail
47. Grey Partridge
48. Snipe

Will it be the half ton tomorrow?

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Week 1

The route is from my place NZ734203 to Mayfair Cottage NZ185736 to NZ184746 on the range bridleway, back to Mayfair Cottage then to NZ175735 near the golf course then home (but only counting new species on the return)

03.01.2009.........08.40 -11.00

Weather cold and dull, brightening to sunny later

1. Magpie
2. Woodpigeon
3. Jackdaw
4. House Sparrow
5. Robin
6. Black headed Gull
7. Collared Dove
8. Goldfinch
9. Blue Tit
10. Starling
11. Rook
12. Wren
13. Long tailed Tit
14. Song Thrush
15. Great Tit
16. Carrion Crow
17. Great spotted Woodpecker
18. Mistle Thrush
19. Greylag Goose
20. Meadow Pipit
21. Kestrel
22. Pheasant
23. Chaffinch
24. Dunnock
25. Blackbird
26. Reed Bunting
27. Mute Swan
28. Lesser Redpoll
29. Greenfinch
30. Buzzard
31. Fieldfare
32. Redwing
33. Pied Wagtail
34. Grey Heron
35. Sparrowhawk
36. Willow Tit
37. Bullfinch
38. Curlew
39. Yellowhammer
40. Goldcrest
41. Jay
42. Treecreeper

and from 01.01.2009

43. Golden Plover
44. Common Gull

Nice to pick up Willow Tit and Treecreeper early in the year and unusual for an early Curlew. Prestwick Carr is possibly one of the best places to find the former and come late February the place should be jumping with the latter!

Friday, 2 January 2009

The Patch

My Prestwick Carr patch consists of the area inside a polygon with corners at Dinnington, Horton Grange, Berwick Hill and Prestwick Village. The centre is the low lying Carr which is a lake drained in the 1800’s and still subject to regular flooding the most recent being August 2008 from which the land has still not recovered. The Carr is surrounded by general farmland some of which is part of an M.o.D firing range and along with a few smallholdings there are a number of ponds, areas of flash water and small plantations of mixed conifer / birch woodland. The site is bisected east – west and north – south by single track roads which date back to the time of drainage and possibly before as the area has history from before Roman times.

I have counted the central area almost weekly for the last ten years with my patch list standing at 148 including Bittern, Common Crane, Red-backed Shrike, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Rough-legged Buzzard, Garganey plus thanks to the August floods…Pectoral Sandpiper and Little Stint! A general count lasting two hours will generally identify around 40 species with late April and September breaking 50. My record is 63 set on May 5th 2008 again when the Carr was flooded.

As mentioned yesterdays count was subdued at 32 but included small flocks of Greylag Geese, Bullfinch and Lesser Redpoll with a single Treecreeper. Will try again over the weekend.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Down to Prestwick Carr this morning to start the new list. 112 last year but it was an exceptional year and I would imagine in 365 days I’ll be looking around the 100 mark if I’m lucky.

The morning was cold, dank and dull which seems to have suppressed the bird life but as I approached Mayfair Cottage the mournful sound of a small flock of Golden Plovers overhead got me in the mood and reminded me why I am so drawn to the place.

The dog walkers and cyclist had, like myself, made a slightly later than normal start and the stillness was calming as I watched a Buzzard looking for an easy meal, hopping from round bale to round bale which, due to the recent flooding, are still stranded in a sodden field.

Did I say silence? No and for good reason as part of the charm of the place is you can stand there gazing at natures wonder, almost in a world of your own whilst the gentle hum on traffic on the A1 to the east is occasionally reinforced by a train travelling the main line. Jets warm their engines at the airport to the south and eventually the tumult grows as they roll down the runway and up to sunnier climes. And finally the sirens of emergency services heading to yet another incident on the A696 to the east…………strange place this Carr.