14 June 2005

Hidden treasures

One of the delights of local birding is that it encourages you to haul out the OS map and scour the local area for likely places to find birds. It's amazing what you can find virtually on your own doorstep when you do.

The first place I found is a little patch of field, covered with wildflowers and surrounded by hawthorn scrub, a small wood and a farm pond, all within 150 yards of my back garden. I was faintly aware of it already, but I was encouraged to explore it a bit better when I heard one night from my garden the sound of a Cuckoo. Sadly I couldn't track down this distinctive summer visitor (all too rare these days) but I did enjoy a lovely half hour stroll finding Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Swallows in abundance, plus a nesting Moorhen on the pond.

Secondly I took a short trip to Cubbington Wood, a small but attractive area of mature woodland not five miles from my house. It appears to be maintained for nature by far-sighted private owners, and they also allow public access. Again, nothing spectacular or rare emerged, but Buzzards, Yellowhammer and Swallows filled the fields around it, while inside the wood itself we found a good range of woodland birds including Chiffchaff, Treecreeper and a Nuthatch feeding a juvenile bird.

ps. An additional note. I returned to Cubbington Wood a few week's later with a very experienced birder of my acquaintance. I thought I had given it a pretty good going over, but the list of birds he helped me find was phenomenal. Those that I had missed on my own visits included: Lesser Whitethoat (a lifer), Spotted Flycatcher (5 of these uncommon birds in all, I've only ever seen 1 before!), and Marsh Tit.

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