Saturday, 21 November 2009

At last... was dry enough to get out, just, but I was due to feed my ravenous Tree Sparrows, again! I pulled up at the barn where the feeding bins are located on Rawcliffe Moss and collected two buckets of seed. Towards Turnover Hall farm I could see some white blobs and once I had 'binned' them I could see that they were four Whooper Swans. As I got in my car a Grey Wag dropped in to feed briefly around 'tailings' mountain before being flushed by a vehicle coming along the track.

A great deal of the flood water had subsided compared to a couple of days ago, but water levels in the ditches were still high.

There was still some flood water on the field directly west of the track and 350 Black-headed Gulls were taking the opportunity to feed and bathe. I grilled them as best as you can with a pair of 10 x 40 bins, but there were no Meds amongst them. There were, however, 24 Lapwings and seven Common Gulls.

Starlings were also feeding on the wet pastures and at this locality I had 700 birds, but by the end of my hours walk round I had seen 1,712 in various locations. I also had my largest number of Woodpigeons so far this autumn/winter made all the more obvious by the 'guns' on Turnover Hall making everything within a mile radius 'flighty'. In all I had 3,102 nervous Woodpigeons flying back and forth across the mossland.

A few Pink-feet went over, 70 in all, and again today Tree Sparrows reached their highest numbers for winter so far at 219. Mixed amongst them were the usual Chaffinch, about 25 in total, but this total could have been higher. As I was putting the food out, two Swans came flying towards me and I thought they were going to be Whoopers, but I heard their 'singing' wings and two Mutes came over the hedge low and landed on the flood behind the hedge. In fact, the same flood that held 13 Whoopers a couple of days before.

I decided to have a walk along the '97' hedge and on to the plantation. Along the '97' hedge I had three Song Thrushes and 37 Fieldfares feeding on hawthorn berries in a lone hawthorn just beyond the pond. Further up the field I pushed four Roe Deer from the hedge and these in turn flushed five Snipe as they bounced across the adjacent stubble field.

Continuing along the hedge five Redwing went over and a single Reed Bunting called form near the Badger set. On the top fields I only had four Skylarks get up with a single Meadow Pipit. A walk through the plantation didn't reveal very much other than six Goldfinch and some calling Long-tailed Tits that I couldn't get on to.

I walked through the plantation and out on to the northern side and had a tight flock of about 100 wheeling Jackdaws. They were behaving as though a predator was about and then the predator appeared in the form of a Peregrine. It wasn't interested in the Jackdaws, but they weren't going to take any chances.

It was at this point that it started to rain and I hurriedly made my way back to the car. As you know I have a penchant for North American birds and my mate Nigel sent me a few pictures of an adult female Cooper's hawk that he caught and ringed recently. In North America, or should I say in southern Ontario, there are two fairly common Accipiters, Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks. Sharp-shinned or Sharpies as they are known are smaller than our Sparrowhawk and Cooper's are bigger, somewhere between Sparrowhawk and Goshawk. Nevertheless, I imagine the Cooper's below was quite a handful!

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