3 October 2015

It's not great, but it's mine

I suspect Leam Valley would be few birders' idea of a great patch. Certainly few 'serious' birders.

Despite a reasonable smattering of different habitats, this local nature reserve has proved a tough challenge over many years. Rewards have been modest, with the stand-out discoveries (modest as they have been) significantly outnumbered by visit after visit of same-old same-old mundanity.

It was only as I crossed the entrance footbridge just before 8 o'clock this morning that I realised just how much I'd missed it all :-)

Eerily still, grey but mild, it was a lovely morning to be out and about - even more so given the many-months break since I last ventured forth with binoculars.

The regulars all welcomed me back in turn. In the first dead tree a buzzard loomed large over a squabbling magpie and a great spotted woodpecker. Not much further along the river was a second buzzard and several green woodpeckers.

As ever I was hoping for waders at the scrape. As (nearly) ever there were none. But I was pleased to see a dozen or more female teal busily feeding, and even more pleased when I noticed the lone wigeon on the near shore - a female, and from memory only my second or third here.

Winter wildfowl briefly gave way to summer again as 6 swallows flew west; and then I stumbled across my bird of the day, a late - albeit not bizarrely so - yellow wagtail busily feeding alongside house sparrows and yellowhammers in a nearby ploughed field. Sadly it's not a bird I see much locally, apart from Draycote Reservoir's annual influxes - from memory I can recall a flock near Radford Semele, one of two birds at Ufton Fields and now this one.

Other finds of note were my first redwing of the year (high overhead), several nuthatch, and an intriguing snatch of explosive call which may well have been a cettis warbler. If so, it would another first for this site - I shall certainly be back soon to investigate further.

Bird of the day: Yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava), a lovely little bird which is all too rare as a breeding bird in Warwickshire these days, having suffered terribly from changing agricultural practice, draining and replanting of meadows and so on. A familiar tale for all-too-many species.

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