12 November 2014

Come sunshine, rain and pie

I started a busy birding weekend in driving rain and finished it in fine autumnal sun; the funny thing is that both were equally enjoyable.

Napton Reservoir can be bleak enough at the best of times - it seems to attract winds that nowhere else can find. With some cold heavy rain added to the mix it wasn't the most promising start to a weekend, but there was enough about to make for a rewarding hour or so.

No notable wildfowl on the water, just c.80 coots, c.30 tufted ducks, c.40 black-headed gulls, a handful of common gulls and a great-crested grebe - plus a big flock of 50 canada geese and a single greylag.

There were only a few fieldfares and redwings around the perimeter - I've yet to see a large flock of either this year - but there were well over 100 starling moving. Three snipe flew while I was there, and two groups of lapwing flew east - three then five, the latter group touching down momentarily. A male bullfinch and a kestrel were also present.

The sun was out by Sunday morning, and my customary bike ride was considerably enlivened by passing views of a flock of c.20 golden plover in fields near Long Itchington.

Male Goldeneye (Credit: Bill Thompson/USFWS)
Later that morning it was off to Brandon Marsh for what is becoming something of a family routine - lunch then birding.

Pie Week went down well with the troops (steak and mushroom, thanks for asking) and then we headed off for a reasonably thorough look around the reserve.

Our reward was a total of 42 species found: highlights including a sparrowhawk and three snipe at East Marsh Pool, great views of great spotted woodpecker and nuthatch at the feeders, and three goldeneye - a male and two female, back at East Marsh.

Bird of the weekend: Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), a gorgeous diving duck (well, the male at least); a winter-only visitor in these parts with the tiny UK breeding population confined to Scotland.

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