Monday, January 17, 2011

Out and About

Recent numbers paint a grim picture
I've been very concerned over the past few months regarding the lack of Barn Owl sightings both locally and at Brandon Marsh, particularly with regard to the recent cold snap. Therefore I wasn't surprised when I read the latest BTO bulletin which painted a very grim picture with increased numbers of reported dead ringed birds (recoveries).

In recent winters they have typically received 30-40 dead Barn Owl reports in December, but in 2010 the December total topped 100. Reports of dead ringed Barn Owls are continuing to arrive at BTO HQ and this January’s total may reach the record of 81 birds that was set last January during another unusually severe winter.

On a brighter note I've managed several visits both locally and at Brandon Marsh, where I also ended up this morning, managing to connect with a very secretive Bittern at Big Hide, found skulking in the reeds. Also on the pool was a single male Shelduck and a Barnacle Goose was also seen on Swallow Pool. Worth mentioning too that I heard 4 Cettis Warbler during my visit, these birds suddenly deciding to let us know that they did OK during the recent cold snap and a Fox, my first this year, was also seen briefly on Wigeon Bank. 6 Snipe were also resting on Willow Island.

On Thursday while working over on Phase 3 of Newlands reed bed I flushed 2 Woodcock and am delighted to say that both Ken and Mike, members of the Brandon team, managed good views of one of them, a first for them both.

My Saturday early morning visit produced Short-Eared Owl which I located perched on a small dead tree at the far side of Newlands reed bed near the golf course. Still some small mixed flocks to be found of Lesser Redpoll/Siskin but personally I haven't managed to connect with the recent Mealy Redpoll. I also discovered a wintering male Blackcap near the saga sign, the bird was with a mixed group of Tits.

Little Owl
Locally our resident Tawny Owls have began calling once more and just prior to updating this blog I managed to catch 2 Little Owl which were silhouetted against the darkening sky in an adjacent field. Today when I dropped in on my roosting Long Eared Owl I discovered to my delight that there were 2, although very very hard to pick out!

Finally, a trip to Heathrow Airport yesterday on business produced no less than 12 Red Kite, which if you know the M40 motorway can always be seen in good numbers when passing close by to High Wycombe, where they were re-introduced some years ago. Plenty therefore to add to my new year list, if only I actually kept one!