A Wet and Windy Thursday in November

A Wet and Windy Thursday in November - Mallard
A Wet and Windy Thursday in November - Mallard
Sorry I'm a couple of days late posting about my walk on Thursday, I'm only just dried out, and warmed up enough! No really just been busy. Anyway on with my Wet and Windy Thursday in November.

With the recent storm "Barney" buffeting the country Milton Keynes has been no exception and with winds gusting over 50MPH it has been pretty windy out there, Thursday I decided to brave the conditions and head out to see all the amazing storm blown sea-birds that have pitched up on the patch, well with Bonxie and Kittiwake in Bucks the last few days and many more sea-birds dotted around the country that was my hope.


A Wet and Windy Thursday in November


Stepping out of my front door it was Windy, Wet and for the first time this winter, really cold! A perfect day for walking the patch? Well maybe not but you can't always let the weather put you off. One thing I was pretty sure of I wasn't going to get hundreds of first class images but camera and bins in hand I hit the patch starting at the West end by the old Mill buildings.

Heading along the river Ouse The first bird to grace my vision was the stunning blue streak of a Kingfisher as it belted past at break neck speeds, only to gracefully turn on a sixpence and alight in a bare bush only metres in front of me, sadly as with all kingfishers along this stretch of the river it soon spied me and was off again down stream. As it flew it past over the head of a hunting Little Egret fishing in the ice cold river.

Again the disturbance along the river (usually from dogs, often chasing balls in the river) has the birds very flighty so as soon as the egret became aware of my presence it too was off, this time upstream. The only birds it seemed that were willing to stick about where the quick running Moorhen and a family party of Mallard, who did leave the river as I past them but settled there and allowed a photo or two (top image and below).

Mallard - Female
Mallard - Female


While photographing the Mallard a huge flock of Lapwing flew up from the distant fields (over the river and beyond the hedge, sadly fields scheduled for development into a sports facility!), they circled around a number of times before eventually heading off over the canal and towards the Manor Farm pits.

Pit Side Scrub


Heading through the cattle creep quite a bit of work could be seen on the pits themselves, it looked like one of the hides is under construction, but it seemed a distance away from the water so could have been a walk way, only time will tell. This work had the local Mute Swans quite edgy and they seemed to be flying around quite a bit.

Bypassing most of this area quickly, bar a quick check on the camp site lakes that contain the areas only Pochard still, I headed further down river only stopping when a tit flock began flying from the poplars to the north into the scrub and weeds that border the pits. This flock was mainly Long-Tailed Tits but with Great tit and Blue tit in nice numbers as well.

Blue tit in the scrub
Blue tit in the scrub


These were not the only birds in the flock though a few Goldcrest put in an appearance, zipping around the lower weeds ducking and diving from view most of the time. 

Goldcrest hiding in the weeds
Goldcrest hiding in the weeds

As I wandered along I began flushing quite a few small brown birds from the weed edges, these light brown birds, with black and white tails often dived straight back into the scrub but the odd one would pop up long enough to prove itself to be a Reed Bunting, others turned out to be Dunnock, Robin or Goldfinch, but it was pleasing to see so many small birds about.

Lonely Lady


As I approached the millennium bridge, the female Stonechat popped up and flew across the river, to give me a few minutes of her time as she rested on the surrounding fence, occasionally hopping down to the grass to feed, sadly she seemed to be alone and after 10 minutes there was no sign of the male, so I walked on.

Stonechat - female
Stonechat - female


The pits themselves sadly turned out to not contain any displaced sea-birds, no gannets or guillemots no skuas or auks, in fact apart from the regular Common gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Black Headed gull there was very little. A lone Herring gull the only gull of note and a Little Grebe rapidly swimming between banks the only water bird to talk about.

Heading back up stream I stopped by the Stonechat to have another look and thankfully the male popped up over the river, feeding in amongst the weeds with the female, a large flock of Goldfinch (30+) a few Reed Buntings and my largest Linnet flock of the site (17 birds).

The only highlight on the return walk was another Little Egret, this time flying past but as you can see from the photo it was travelling pretty fast with the wind at its tail!

Little Egret moving at speed
Little Egret moving at speed


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2 comments:

  1. Ah the familiar 'blue streak' that is a Kingfisher! :) I've never managed to take anything other than appalling record shots of these beautiful birds, though am always delighted when they zoom past. A lovely selection of birds mentioned too, particularly perhaps the flock of Linnets which (as with so many other species) have declined in number so significantly. Your post has reminded me that I must go and check if any of the winter ducks have arrived on our local reservoirs now that the temps have really dropped!

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    1. It is sad that bird such as the Linnet are declining so much and I am glad that there are some around, but with the amount of seed heads from the weeds it is a shame there are not more. Many years ago I'd have expected a lot of Linnet (hundreds rather than tens) and Yellow Hammer, sadly I have not seen the latter at all at this site since I returned to watching it.

      I hope you find some nice ducks on your local waters, I'm hoping the numbers here will pick up once the work calms down, I fear too much human activity is keeping the larger numbers elsewhere.

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