Monday, January 07, 2013

It's January!

How do I know it's January? After returning from the volunteers AGM at Brandon Marsh yesterday, where I had the briefest glimpse of my first Bittern of 2013, the wife had me out on the bikes later in the afternoon. Then, this morning I was cajoled into going swimming at 7.30am and to top it all, no bacon sarnie for breakfast. This is how I know!!

Napton Great-crested Grebe
Notwithstanding I still managed a nice local 5 mile stroll around the patch this afternoon and decided to try a few areas I hadn't visited for sometime now. It was also a perfect opportunity to try out my new Vortex Razor HD binoculars, my excellent Christmas present from my wonderful wife. Another reason I took this decision was after reading RM's blog and an account of an Asio Owl species seen early this morning flying over the perimeter bank at Napton Reservoir. Over the five or so years I've been mooring opposite the reservoir at Wigram's Turn Marina I've familiarised myself with one or two Long-eared Owl roosts. Sadly the last two years have proved to be barren.

I first started at the reservoir where the usual selection of Gulls was not only on the water but in most of the surrounding fields. Suffice to say that after a painstaking inspection the best I could muster was Great Black-backed, not a white-winger among them. The usual Coot-fest was on offer along with a half dozen Great-crested Grebe and besides the many Tufted Duck a lone ♂Pochard stood out. A walk to the east side had Snipe, Jay, Green Woodpecker and Kingfisher but sadly didn't throw up much else with most of the treeline now cropped. I'd love to know what the Canal Trusts 'Management Plan' is for this place, to me it seems that anything that has the audacity to grow is immediately brutalised, hence the persistent breeze around the place!

Crossing the Calcutt locks I took the footpath that runs to the rear of Ventnor Marina and immediately after the gate I was in something that resembled a quagmire, or as Wikipedia would have it, "water infused earth". Anyway I decided to battle on with a nice party of 2♀ and 3♂Bullfinch, Goldcrest and Yellowhammer in the Hawthorn area where I'd recorded LE Owl a few years previous. The footpath takes you past a smart little pool to the back of Ventnor which has quite an intriguing reed bed surrounding it and always well worth a little extra scrutiny. No Owls but a trio of Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard for my efforts.

Local Raven
The footpath then leads towards Calcutt Spinney, a great place to watch an enormous Jackdaw roost each evening. Here Great-spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper and as I made my way back across the open field a 'cronk-cronk' alerted me to one of the local Ravens who dropped in briefly, allowing me the opportunity of a well cropped distant photograph.

Finally, no trace of Asio Owl after checking a few other areas but a really enjoyable few hours with lots of Fieldfare, Redwing and the odd Song Thrush around, oh and I can highly recommend Vortex HD's, a terrific pair of bins!