29 October 2007

Post-pub birding

And my award for most exciting and unexpected bird encounter of 2007 goes to... the Barn Owl that was flying along a well-lit main street in Radford Semele last Thursday night at about 11pm.

I've long known them to be in the area, but have never seen one closer than Napton. And I certainly wasn't expecting to look up and see one as I staggered back from the pub. That's what I love about birding - wherever and whenever, there's always the chance of a moment of wonder and delight.

14 October 2007

Leam Valley at its finest

A quite stunning sight when I arrived at Leam Valley today, with the sun still red and low in the sky, and five or six feet of gentle mist hugging the ground.

The beauty of the morning set me on my way in good spirits, and my optimism was soon rewarded with a tree full of Siskins, a lovely yellow-and-green streaky finch which is a regular, but scarce, winter visitor to these parts.

I found things fairly quiet at the scrape, apart from when a dozen or more Black-headed Gulls swooped in for a fight. A female Tufted Duck was the only out-of-the-ordinary bird, so I pressed on to the fields of the Offchurch Bury Estate. Here I found a Skylark in full song, plenty of Jays criss-crossing the whole area, a some particularly bold Yellowhammers, allowing me to get my first ever pictures of this magnificent species, albeit poor.

And to wrap up my morning I encountered three favourite species of thrush. First of all a handful of Fieldfares passed overhead, flying S/SW as you might expect at this time of year. Shortly afterwards they were followed by a magnificent flock of 70+ Redwings. And as I turned for home, two Mistle Thrush flew to the top of a nearby poplar tree and started churring vociferously at the world in general.

5 October 2007

Minsmere delivers again

After a long time with no real birding, three days at Minsmere was a real opportunity to 'fill my boots'.

It was an opportunity I didn't waste. The highlight of day one was a Great Grey Shrike, a lifelong target for me. It showed well, albeit a long way off, and was a real thrill.

Day two was equally good, with a Brambling on the north path followed by a Snow Bunting on the coastal track (another lifer). On the scrape there were at least six Little Stints (best ever views) plus the usual wide selection of waders.
In the woods I was lucky enough to photograph some Red Deer through the foliage, and found a good collection of woodland birds.

In all, I found 75 species, including two lifers, a few 'best ever views' (the stints, two Lesser Whitethroats and the Brambling) plus lots of lovely fresh air and peace. Unbeatable.