6 October 2014

An autumn lunchtime

It's as if somebody pressed a switch marked 'Autumn'.

While the fields and waters around my office have been stuck in an all-too-dry post-summer lull for many weeks, today's wind and rain brought the whole area bursting into autumnal life.

First up, geese - and is there any sight more autumnal than 100+ geese grazing their way across a field of stubble? I scanned this flock of greylags for a good while hoping to pick up the odd straggler - a pink-footed or perhaps even a bean. Sadly, when I did find the odd-one-out he turned out to be a lone canada. Top marks for trying, and all that.

My thanks go to the nearby buzzard which had them constantly lifting their heads for my closer examination; a female kestrel was also in close attendance on nearby wires, although her attention was mainly taken by mobbing magpies.

On a neighbouring field, the wood pigeons and jackdaws were joined by a loose, mobile flock of 12+ skylarks. A few chaffinches, dunnock and blackbirds edged along the sides of nearby farm hedges, and a big flock of starlings flew into a nearby oak. Carrion crows criss-crossed, a few rooks called loudly from the tallest trees and, out on the lake, a couple of moorhens swam with one each of great crested and little grebe.

A kingfisher, heard by not seen, was a treat on a short but sweet lunchtime walk; an authentic autumnal experience in which only one or two late-calling chiffchaff struck a discordant note as reminders of a summer finally gone.

Bird of the day: Greylag goose (Anser anser), the classic British wild goose: widespread and common, but in flocks no less redolent of autumn than its scarcer cousins.

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