Winter Arrivals

Young Mute Swan
Young Mute Swan
The thing with Manor Farm, and the UK in general in October, is that you never know what birds you will see while out and about, some moments you can be watching the last of the summer remnants feeding up for their long migrations or passing swiftly over head; while at other times you are watching the first winter arrivals as they drop in for their first visit of the season.

On other occasions you get luckier still and see both summer hangers on and winter visiting birds while you are out on the same walk,!

Today was one of those days.


Winter Arrivals


As I arrived at the old lock some very late Sand Martin (7) flew past, heading due south as the crow flies, while Skylark streamed over head from East to West. Mistle Thrush were back in flocking numbers (6 or 7 strong) while Chiffchaff and Blackcap still called out to me from deep in the bushes, it really was a mixed bag of birds.

Young Wood pigeon, still has some scruffy neck feathers.
Young Wood pigeon, still has some scruffy neck feathers.

Recharging the Batteries


I should say on some days just getting out is all I really need to recharge my batteries and reset my mood, at other times I need a distraction from my thoughts and the birding action needs to be high to keep my interest, today was one of the latter. I needed action and for much of the walk nothing was happening.

The clouds were slowly emptying their load in a soft drizzle while the sun occasionally burst through to warm my back (it was a mixed bag of weather) but the birds just did not come.

That is until I was nearing the Millennium bridge, when a "chacking" sound alerted me to a little bird atop the weeds to my right, a stunning male Stonechat was flicking about the scrub, occasionally fly catching from the tops and moving across the river and back again.

This is a clear sign of winters approach as last year there were a few in residence around the area. Thankfully he posed for a few (distant) photos, and a little video as well (I'll post a link to that later).

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
Male Stonechat - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
Male Stonechat - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
Male Stonechat - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
Male Stonechat - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
Male Stonechat - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
Male Stonechat - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes

More Winter Visitors


Leaving my chat friend behind I carried on around the lakes as the rain started to fall heavier, putting paid to any chance of more photos, but thankfully not to more birds!

Just as I was passing the recycling plant again a call alerted me to the presence of a bird, this time a piping call was coming from above me, searching the skies I spotted my first Golden Plover of winter, flapping hard and heading East quickly, then above him I spotted a much larger flock of 50 or so more. watching these eventually they came down north of the camp site lakes (not too sure where exactly).

Further West along the lake I came across two more Stonechat, this time one of each, Male and female as they skirted the edge of the lake in the scrubby plants and grass.

My final birds of note were my largest flock of Meadow Pipits that I flushed as I crossed the now sodden grass and headed back to the main paths, 15 birds in total flew up from my soaking feet as I made my way across the meadow.

I headed home now soaked but fully recharged and ready for what the week has to throw at me.

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