It seems like it has been forever since I last managed to get out on the patch, in fact it was the start of the month (Inspiration Lacking), but lots of work seems to have got in the way through Feb (staffing levels at my work have meant plenty of over time).
Today, however, with the early spring sunshine streaming down, I finally found the time to head out across the fields and into the glorious realm of Manor Farm and it’s lakes, river and wild areas. And finally have a February walk.
It’s safe to say that there have been a few changes since I last ventured out into the great outdoors.
Please read on for more.
Finally a February Walk
Since I last hit the farm, a Ferruginous duck has been seen at Caldecotte lake on the opposite of town; and a Dipper has been seen on my old patch along the small stream. The one I used to follow, photographing Kingfishers and dreaming that the small water fall and protruding rocks would one day hold one of these enigmatic water walkers. I saw neither of these birds by the way (the dipper was only seen twice).
On the patch things have also been moving. The high floods have been replaced by regular water levels; swathes of Snowdrops and Daffodils have appeared (the early spring we are having is lighting the area up with colour); the paths are coming along; and there are now two (out of three) of the hides standing proud on their jet black support posts. It won’t be long till the third hide is in place; and these and the paths are fully open. I really can’t wait.
|One of the two hides up at Manor Farm so far (the smaller one)|
Spring is Coming
With the early flowers blooming, you’d be forgiven for thinking spring is already here, and as much as I would like to say it is, there is still the bitter chill of winter on the wind, and it is, of course, only February. I was half expecting chiffchaffs to have arrived (sadly they have not) but the first spring arrivals of the bird world have appeared, today as I wandered the eastern ends one of the returning pairs of Oystercatchers were displaying together across the islands.
Along the walk the resident birds are either beginning to pair up, like the Green Woodpeckers chasing each other from tree to tree in a colourful game of kiss chase, or are in full song, like the delicate, cryptically plumaged Wren, blasting out their trilling songs hidden within the scrub beside the paths, as they hunt out a partner for the summer months ahead.
|Wren Deep within the Scrub|
|And venturing out into the open a little|
|One last Wren|
Winter Hanging in Still
It isn’t all about spring though, a couple of pairs of Goosander are still hanging around, making their presence know, the males quickly turning the beautiful shades of peach of their breeding plumage. Teal and Wigeon continue to pipe and whistle from the lakes edge. Taking to flight when easily spooked by the continued presence of the site workers.
|Wigeon in Flight|
Time to Stand and Watch
My walk today took me on a full circuit of the lakes, but a large part of my time found me stood by the eastern gate looking out over the main lakes, there were not huge variety of birds from here but it was a wonderful place to stand and watch as corvids (Carrion Crows and Jackdaw) and Gulls (Black Headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull) flew up and over my head.
The sun was warm on my back and lit the birds beautifully as I fired off shot after shot with my camera as the birds performed their aerial displays for me. The only downside was the light stench of rubbish drifted my way, coming from the recycling plant.
|Common Gull in Flight|
|Common Gull in Flight|
|Jackdaw in Flight|
|Black-headed Gull in Flight|
|Jackdaw in Flight|
|Lesser Black-backed Gull in Flight|
|Carrion Crow in Flight|
Final Flights of Fancy
As I was on my final stretch, walking the top path, and just after I was photographing a couple of Long-Tailed Tits that were busy feeding in the low bushes beside the path (photo farther down page), I spotted a raptor flying low across the fields, and for once rather than lift my camera I lifted my bins and was greated with one of my closest views of a Peregrine Falcon as it powered past me.
Recovering my senses after this wonderful view, I started looking around to see where it had gone, and eventually I spotted it circling above me (very high). After grabbing a few tentative photos I watched as it drifted off over the aqueduct and rose steadily higher until I could no longer make it out. I do wonder if it is one of the birds regularly seen at the MK Dons football stadium, or if it is a different bird (and maybe another local pair?).
|Peregrine Falcon in flight (very heavy crop)|
|Long-tailed Tit (mentioned above).|
My walk over I headed home.
Below are the remaining photos of worth from the days walk.
|Male Mallard swimming the small brook|
|Carrion Crow perched|
|Cormorant drying its wings|
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