7 November 2014


Napton had been in the finest possible birding form last weekend (see previous post) with plenty on and around the reservoir and a few extra ticks on the hill.

My favourite birds at the reservoir were the small flock of meadow pipits I finally located in hedges at the back of the water, but also of note were: four lapwing flying south; plenty of snipe flights (who knows how many individual birds on site?); 12 common gulls among the black-headed; two big arrivals of starling (c40 in the first group, close to 100 in the second); three fieldfare overhead; a male sparrowhawk dashing low over a nearby field; and nine wigeon.

But, as previously reported, with brunch beckoning I forced myself to drive past the Long Itch diner and on to Brandon Marsh, conscious that the long-staying stonechats were still being reported. One Full English later and I was in the new Ted Jury hide, looking at not one but two neat little 'chats - a female and a male, the latter with fairly muted head colouring rather than the striking black I'm more used to seeing in spring. A first winter male perhaps?

Both were extremely obliging, hopping from bush top to reed stem to post to tree stump, only occasionally dropping from view.

With a sprinkling of wildfowl on the East Marsh hide, plus a kestrel, a buzzard and some regular visitors to the Brandon feeders I was able to conclude a day with a creditable 47 species. 

Bird of the day: Stonechat (Saxicola torquata); much as I loved the little 'mipits' at Napton, the stonechat has to be the bird of the day. A regular but scarce find for most inland birders, it's a distinctive and attractive bird with the commendable habit of sitting at the top of bushes and vegetation (unlike some birds I could mention - yes, cettis warbler, I'm looking at you). 

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