Friday, 1 January 2016

1st January - A World in White Gets Underway

Spent the New Year on the south coast, and the first bird I heard of the year was a singing Robin, and the first bird seen was a flock of Brent Geese.  It may very well be a new year but the weather is still very much the same, overcast with th threat of rain.  The temperature this morning though was a lot colder.

Back home I decided to go out for a walk through the woods while the weather stayed dry, but there was always the sense that the rain was not too far away.  I was not expecting too much, but there was always the thought that maybe there could be that New Year's Day Mega.

As I walked along Brislands the sun was trying to break through the cloud, but never really succeeded

Looking across the fields as I walked along the lane I could see plenty of Woodpigeon, but also a collection of smaller birds that turned out to be Chaffinches.

I decided to enter Old Down from Gradwell Lane, and as I walked to the footpath a Robin was the only bird I could hear,

The path alongside the paddocks, and then pout across the field was very wet and muddy, and it was very difficult to walk, taking three steps forward and slipping two back!  A head there were Woodpigeon and crows on the fields, and then three smaller and duller birds slowly making their was across the field.  These were Red-legged Partridges and the firs I have seen around Old Down for some time.

It was very quiet in the wood, the colder weather silencing the singing Great Tits.  I walked along the perimeter path, and soon found a small flock of calling birds.

Moving quickly through the trees they were difficult to pin down, it was a mixed flock of Long-tailed Tits and of course Goldcrests, this winters influx bird, they seem to be everywhere.  One appeared above my head.

On reaching the Kitwood path, I turned back into the wood, pausing to listen, the best way to find birds in the wood.  I soon heard the "seep" calls of Redwings and scanned the trees to see if I could find them, they always seem to be able to merge into the bare branches.  Finally one moved and then another and as they settled back into the branches I was able to see them.  Distant, but recognisable as Redwings.

I walked around to the the crossroads with just Wrens calling and darting out of the dead bracken.  I turned down towards Old Down Cottage, and then along the short path to the perimeter.  This is a good spot for Marsh Tits and very soon I was hearing a pair calling, one coming close as they foraged in the branches looking for small insects.

At the perimeter path I could hear Fieldfare and picked them up on the field, but as soon as I moved to get a better view they flew up into the trees and disappeared.  There were Blackbirds in the field, and they were unconcerned, there was also a Jay, but that too flew off as I tried to get a better view.

All around there were birds, Chaffinches, Goldfinches and quite a few Great Tits and Blue Tits.  I then managed to find the Fieldfare in the top of the tree, but again as I moved into a better position they flew off across the field to the trees on the other side.  I found them perched at the top of the trees with a crow, again a very distant shot unfortunately.

I walked slowly on disturbing Bullfinches from the brambles, and Goldfinches from the low dried out weed stems, one bird appearing in the open and allowing me the chance to photograph it.

Bullfinches seemed to be everywhere and as I walked more came out of the bramble.  A female sat long enough for me to get a closer look and I could see that they were feeding on the rotten blackberries, her mouth full of seeds.

The males were not performing and would drop out of sight once they had flown up.  The females though appeared to be quite happy out in the open.

Looking out across the fields to the west I could see a hazy cloud rolling towards us, not a good sign, the rain seemingly not to far off.  I decided that it was time to make my way home, and headed out of the wood through to the Brislands path, then down Brislands through the puddles and home.  

A brief New Year's Day walk, and the chance to get five tit species and four thrushes on the new 2016 list.

I have been asked if I could publish the list of birds seen in 2015, so here it is, the new birds for the patch are in bold.  There are of course some notable omissions, namely Barn Owl, Little Owl, Sand Martin, Great Black-backed Gull, all birds that should have been found but eluded me

Mute Swan
Great Tit
Coal Tit
Red-legged Partridge
Marsh Tit
Grey Partridge
House Martin
Grey Heron
Long-tailed Tit
Red Kite
Willow Warbler
Garden Warbler
Golden Plover
Black-headed Gull
Song Thrush
Mediterranean Gull
Common Gull
Mistle Thrush
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Spotted Flycatcher
Herring Gull
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon
Stock Dove
Collared Dove
Tawny Owl
House Sparrow
Grey Wagtail
Green Woodpecker
Pied Wagtail
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Meadow Pipit
Carrion Crow
Lesser Redpoll
Common Crossbill
Blue Tit

Here is to finding them all again this year, thirty are already in the bag!

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