I started late on the patch today, very late compared to my normal walks, in fact I didn’t leave the house till gone 10:30.
By this time the sun had decided that it was time for a little break, and was playing peekaboo from behind the clouds, that were now filling the sky.
By the time I reached the fields beyond the church in Old Wolverton the wind was picking up and the day was starting to feel like winter. But never one to give up (I like to think of myself as an intrepid explorer) I carried on, onto the patch and started my search for the exciting birds that I am sure will one day appear.
The lateness of my journey proved a bit of a problem, as I soon found out, as the area of the old lock, an area that is usually one of the hot spots of the patch, was silent, entering the area there were one or two Dunnocks calling from the bushes and the odd Magpie was flying about but that was it, there were virtually no other birds calling or moving about.
A couple of Little Egrets flying over provided my first “interesting” birds of the day as they grunted their way towards the Manor Farm pits, only for one to turn back and head out onto the fields beyond the river, where it hunkered down for a sleep.
Arriving at the aqueduct, I had a brief chat with a fellow photographer (she had had more luck than I having been out earlier and had some cracking Goldcrest photos for her efforts) and then headed down stream.
Work in Progress
Passing under the aqueduct (I’m sure the cattle creep is getting lower), two things became obvious, firstly that Common Buzzards really are stunning birds, I say this as a wonderful bird circled above me as it was being harassed by the local corvids (both Carrion Crows and Jackdaws).
Secondly the work has well and truly started on the nature reserve, the path that will be (I believe) a board walk through a wild flower meadow is taking shape, in fact along with a single digger creating the channel that it will follow there were two dump trucks dropping off gravel. I am really looking forward to this area come next summer and the ones beyond (as long as dog walkers are banned!) it should be a marvelous place for butterflies and other insects.
Following the river, I paused to photograph a couple of Mallards and Moorhen but again the area wasn’t hugely busy for quite a while.
Things finally came to life as I reached the sharp bend in the path at the camp sites edge. Here the air was alive with sound. Wigeon could be heard whistling on the water just beyond my vision; and a tit flock was scratching their way through the bushes.
Long-tailed tit; Blue tit; and Great tit made up the bulk of the birds. But a few small Goldcrest were feeding in amongst them; and a small charm of Goldfinch (can they be called a charm if there are only two or three?) fed on the teasels that almost rattled in the wind.
Manor Farm Pits
Finally arriving where I could see the Manor Farm pits it became even clearer that work is under way, as not a single Lapwing could be seen. This is very rare in winter! Well that and the fact that diggers, trucks and a shipping container could all be seen lining the edge of the pits.
The area was not devoid of birds though. A party of 5 Little Egret and 17 Cormorant were intermixed with the gull numbers. Black-headed gull making up the most; but a few Common Gulls; and Lesser Black-backed gull also involved.
It was also amazing how many Jackdaws and Crows were moving about, huge flocks would fly up as they were disturbed by the workers.
It was also while watching the pits that I had my first flocks of Redwing for the winter. A flock of 31 being my first followed later by similar sized groupings.
I decided to return back the way I had come, rather than pass through the workers. And along the way did spot a few interesting birds. Well a Kestrel, not the most common bird around the area. And managed a few “in flight” shots of some of the local ducks. Mallard and Gadwall; arriving back at the old lock for a few moments of sunshine.
|Gadwall in flight|
|Mallard in flight|
|Kestrel in Silhouette|
My second time through the old locks was almost as empty as the first. But a couple of Jay were a pleasant surprise. And a Little Owl calling from somewhere deep in the bushes was a total shock.
Heading home my only regret was the heavy rain that had started falling! but a few minutes waiting under the huge trees while it passed prevented me becoming too wet.
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