Waking this morning, I was not really sure what the day would hold for me when I set out on my daily (this week) walk of the patch. I was assuming that the weather would present a drab, and over cast winters day, typical of this time of year. But upon opening the blinds I was confronted with a sheet of white. Overnight there had been a couple of inches of snow! And this frozen blanket was covering my world.
There are two elements that a snow day, like today, provides, firstly the snow has an eerie way of muffling any noise so the distant roads constant hum is mellowed, the second is that only the foolhardy, like myself, head out, there were very few other people out braving the Arctic conditions, so my walk became one of quiet contemplation, and enjoyable photography, with not much disturbance.
The snow also provides an interesting challenge, well to a nature lover such as myself, as the fields become littered with animal tracks, my goal being to try and identify which mammals have been wandering through the fallen snow overnight. I counted Fox, Rabbit, Rat, a presumed Pheasant (walking in a straight line for ages across some fields so I can think of little else), some form of small Mustelid (I assume stoat), other rodents, magpie, Moorhen and Robin (the latter I only know due to there being one).
|Canada Goose in flight (while snowing) – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes|
It was quite amazing how many Wrens there were out today. It seemed every corner held at least one Troglodytes Troglodytes (scientific name), and that meant that I was again able to spend some time photographing these miniature rattles (their call).
|Winter Wren (on fence) – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes|
|Surrounded by snow Winter Wren – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes|
|Winter Wren – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes|
It wasn’t only Wrens that captivated my camera today, no, again I was greeted by my almost tame Robin friend, if it had not been snowing I would have had him eating out of my hand but as he approached the cold got the better of me and I had to put away my hand (he was down to mere inches!), I repaid my robin model with a small clump of dried meal worms (which he seemed to enjoy) and then continued on.
|Robin – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes|
|Another Robin – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes|
|Robin in the snow – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes|
It was just after leaving my Robin friend when the real excitement happened. While checking out the camp-site lakes, noting Gadwall, Pochard and Great-Crested Grebe, I heard a few finches alight into the trees behind me, turning around I puzzled for a few moments at why these chaffinches seemed odd, and then I realised rather than chaffinches it was a small flock of 6 Brambling! Grabbing my camera up off the bench next to me I edged around the trees for a photo, when suddenly overhead there was a very unseasonable Oystercatcher calling. After watching it disappear I turned my attention back to my small finch party only they had gone, and I had no idea where.
15 mins of searching provided no further sign sadly, although it did produce a pair of Reed Buntings flitting among the weeds and grasses. But two patch ticks in a couple of seconds was staggering (now at 113 ever for me on the patch).
Continuing along the river (and flushing a number of Pheasants, 2 cocks and 4 hens) I soon headed along the old lock path and was shocked to spot an adult male Sparrowhawk sat atop of one of the nearby bushes. After a few photos he was off hurtling through the bushes and ruffling a few feathers on his way, I spotted, Jay, Magpie, Wood pigeon, Great Tit, Goldfinch and Blackbird all frightened into flight by the crafty hawk.
|Sparrowhawk (male) – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes|
Finally exiting the patch through the old churchyard, I was witness to a very strange call. I assume a Magpie? It sounded as if a cross between magpie (the start of the call was his cough like sound) followed by a hawk (the second sound was a mewing or keying soft call). All very odd, but a fine way to end the day. Maybe a Jay?
|Redwing – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes|
Full Snow Day Species List
|Great Crested Grebe||1|
|Eurasian Oystercatcher||1||Flew over calling and headed off over cosgrove|
|Common Snipe||3||1 Flushed off small farm pond|
|Great Black-backed Gull||1|
|Eurasian Green Woodpecker||1|
|Brambling||6||In trees by rough ground opposite Tove|
|Bonus hose sparrow for reading this far!! Outside my house.|
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