10 October 2009

Aha, migration (but where are the rare ones?)

Determined to find the latest arrivals to the area, I headed up to Napton-on-the-hill for a thorough look around - if anywhere in my patch has a record for early / interesting migrants, it's there.

So I arrived at dawn, then scoured the area around the church, the track to the windmill, the embankment, the fishing pools, the quarry and the scrubby woodland. The hour was right, the season was right, what could go wrong?

Well, thick fog for a start. I could see little, and hear even less. Nothing, apart from a very occasional robin and one Mistle Thrush, moved or sounded from 7.30am until 9am. That was 90 minutes of not very much (the deer aside, which nicely broke up the monochrome monotony - anyone know what type it is?)

Still, things livened up a bit from 9am, and I settled in near some berry-laden bushes and watched as first the blackbirds streamed past (20+) and then a similar number of Redwings broke cover and headed across the hill. So, nothing rare, but there they were - the first real evidence of mass migration on my patch this year. And as I left (the sun finally bursting through, typical) I saw one last hurrah from the old guard - a swallow doing two laps near my car before heading off south. Good luck my young friend, see you next year I hope.

Bird of the day: Redwing (Turdus iliacus), a small thrush and one of our earliest mass migrants, visiting us from Scandanavia every winter. Beautifully marked, particularly around the face and eyes.

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