Have been out early and late yesterday and today in the vain search for Geese using Prestwick Carr. With no flash water and all the ditches dry the chances were slim. The area where Geese used to roost was destroyed by the open cast operation and subsequent drainage so, with hope in my heart, have put in some hours to make sure nothing escapes counting.
Yesterday mornings count was forty five species including my first five Fieldfare of the autumn, a scattering of Redwing and 31 Pink footed Geese over but not any chance of them landing. Last evening met Peter the Painter who had been watching two Short eared Owls hunting with good success earlier on in the evening. While we talked a Kestrel glided down from a tree and into the grass rising back up into the tree clutching prey so the lack of water has had benefits in the number of small mammals available.
This morning set out under clear skies with a crisp frost and low mist rising from the ground. Keeping ears pricked for any goose calls started at Banks Pond which held just two Moorhen whilst the view over the whole Carr from Prestwick Road was devoid off bird life. Checked the sheep fields near Mayfair Cottage before parking up and walking along the bumpy road to check the only other pond. No geese but a single Fieldfare chuck chucked overhead, two hundred or so Woodpigeon left the wood and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flushed from the roadside. Calls from Robins, Wrens, Tits and Reed Bunting filled the air but on scanning the pond not even a duck in sight although a familiar dark shape flew over on the way from Blagdon to the Tyne. A benefit of the day is another addition to the year list.
Returned to my car and off up the range track to complete the search. A flock of fifteen Linnet flushed from the adjacent field whilst a covy of four Grey Partridge fed. More Redwing called from the woods and two male Stonechat were singing. No Geese, no Harriers I headed for home just after hearing two Little Owls calling from a copse near the range. Made a note to check for roosting sites as I know the trees in this area are holed and used by Woodpeckers so hopefully the Owls have moved in. One more needed for the ton.............oh for some water and waders!
PS Hang on! Did I mention Pink footed Geese. That's 100 up.