Monday, April 25, 2011

Solitude - MY Easter Weekend!

Our Local Tree Sparrow Population
For someone like me who hates crowds and prefers the solitude of the countryside, walking a nature reserve or country park becomes a no-go area over the Easter weekend and any birding I do attempt is in the early hours and well before the hoards arrive.

I've stayed very much local over the last few days with visits to Napton Hill and Napton Reservoir, plus monitoring the wildlife at my home Marina, although the latter has been a hive of activity with boats constantly coming and going. When aboard, my favourite birding is simply sitting on the end of my pontoon sky watching, at Wigram's we're lucky enough to have a great panorama and this can actually throw up some interesting local rarities. Over the 5 years we've moored here I've recorded such species as Osprey on passage, Red Kite, Arctic Tern, Whimbrel, Waxwing, Great White Egret and on one winters morning a Bittern was photographed by a fellow moorer from her boat window walking on the ice!

This Easter weekend has in fact thrown up a few surprises in the mix, along with the usual species around the marina such as Whitethroat, Yellowhammer, Bullfinch, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Reed Bunting, Pied Wagtail and Tree Sparrow. My first Cetti's Warbler at Wigram's was heard yesterday morning and after a good scan of the adjacent fields I recorded Barn Owl, Curlew, Golden Plover, and Lapwing, plus the Skylarks have been singing all weekend, which has been a real treat. Our resident Little Owls have been rather quiet of late, but I did manage a brief glimpse of one perched close to last years nesting location.

Our New Resident!
Barn Swallows have been constantly passing through, along with a few advanced party Swifts. The bird feeders are less busy with so much natural food around but Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch are still regular. Common Buzzard have taken to the air on many occasions along with a lone Sparrowhawk and possibly two Kestrel have been working the area all weekend. Napton Reservior and Hill unfortunately didn't produce anything out of the ordinary other than a single Yellow Wagtail, and a chat with Bob from Napton's Church Leyes Farm brought up the question of the lack of rain within the area, apparently the local farmers are desperate for some!

Finally, after arriving back from Canada we discovered that one of our resident Hybrid Mallards (pictured) had set up home in one of our plant pots and is currently sitting on eleven eggs. I'm happy to report that said bird is doing well and thanks to the wife's constant pampering, is probably the most spoilt and protected bird in the world!!