Sunday, 15 November 2009

No counts

Out before first light this morning to try and find some geese to count. These nine Greylag above were present near Horton Grange flash on Tuesday but this morning it was a no show. This flash formed after the completion of the opencast and was present for a year until this summer when Banks carried out extensive drainage works. You can see in the background that it's making an effort to reform.
Checked Banks Pond but only the call of a Tawny Owl from the copse at Curlew Cottage, then up to Prestwick Road to get a view of the whole Carr, then to the west end where the water level continues to rise. This is quite normal for the area where there is about a two day lag between the rain and the peak water level as the water backs up the ditches from the restricted outfall to the River Pont. Pied Wagtails were beginning to feed on the horse fields near Mill Farm where the owners attempts to raise the land have also shown little success.
Shame the flood is too late to bring in any waders although a small flock of Lapwing and the occasional Golden Plover overhead is nice but little chance of me adding to my current 100 for the year. Oh memories of Pec Sand, Little Stint, Wood Sand, Ruff and Greenshank from last year. I'd even settle for a Redshank to be honest.
Never mind, back up the bumpy road counting Woodpigeon as they emerged from their roost in the wood. Got up to around 430 before birds started returning and confusing the issue. Gulls started drifting inland as I checked the grassy slope where the geese used to roost. Unfortunately in this area Banks drainage has actually worked and the flash they used at the base of the slope has gone and the Blackpool drain works effectively.
No sign of any early owls but I notice that land where they have hunted for the last month is largely flooded although it still looks like fen grassland. This may explain last evening where from 2.00pm till 4.00 there was not an owl to be seen. Bit of a shame as there were at least ten people waiting for them to appear. I have two theories. Either, they have abandoned the area as the flood set in and have moved elsewhere. If this were the case I would expect to see birds near the Airport, at Havannah, Arcot or north of the wood. The alternative is that as the water rose the voles were disturbed to the higher ground and the owls gorged themselves and hence didn't need to hunt last night. This has occurred before when in a major flood there was evidence that all the small mammals were driven onto the hump back bridge on the bumpy road, it being the only dry ground for 200 m in any direction, and that the Owls and Kestrels made hay. Let's hope this is so.

Final check up the range track where Fieldfare and Redwing were much in evidence along with a Mistle Thrush trying to protect its larder as it did with gusto at the same place last year. End result.............a no count. Well they say its as important as finding birds but not as satisfying.

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