26 October 2008

Ufton Fields

I took the bike up to Ufton Fields this afternoon, and discovered just how steep that 1 in 10 hill is!

2pm isn't really prime birding time, but a morning visit wasn't really an option with some pretty grisly weather. By the time I did eventually get out the clouds had cleared and it was a pretty nice afternoon.

The colours at Ufton are turning decidely autumnal now, with lots of gold in particular. Among the birds I did find were some of the more colourful residents - Bullfinches, Goldfinches, a Green Woodpecker and a Jay. All of them made for a pleasant spectacle in the late autumn sun.

It was one of those afternoons where the birding takes second place to a nice walk, but it was none the worse for that.

Bird of the day: Jay (Garrulus glandarius), a real favourite at this time of year. Hard to believe that I wasn't aware of having seen one until my early 30s - I now tend to see several a day at this time of year, as they fly overhead building up their acorn reserves for the winter. They're big, they're noisy, they're pink, blue, white and black - and yet an amazing number of people simply never notice them.

19 October 2008

On my bike

My latest piece of birding technology isn't a new camera or lens, nor binoculars, a telescope, a tripod or any especially waterproof / camouflaged/ rustle-free / warm outdoor clothing (although heaven knows I've spent enough on each of those over the years).

It is in fact a bike - a modern hybrid type thing designed to whisk me swiftly and effortlessly to various parts of my birding patch, especially when I don't have access to the family car.

And it's great. OK, I can't claim to be swift, and it certainly isn't effortless (I'm working on the assumption that it is going to get easier). But with a little effort I can get it as far as Draycote Reservoir and back, a not-inconsiderable distance of 30+ miles. And although my first such trip left me little energy for birding, I at least managed to find a Little Gull (first of the year), a Shag (a first for me in Warwickshire), a couple of Grey Wagtails, a few Lapwings and a Green Woodpecker - sufficient to lift my soul for the return journey at any rate.

Leam Valley, Ufton Fields, Cubbington Woods and Offchurch are all within easy range, Napton Reservoir is achievable, and Draycote is there for those very energetic days. My next calculation is whether I'll make it to Brandon and back.

Bird of the day: Little Gull (Larus minutus), a lovely little bird which flits low over the surface of the water and resembles a tern. Young ones such as this have a distintive 'W' marking on their back.