I’m pretty sure if you have spent any time as a student in your life, which let’s face it most people have, then you will at some point have experienced some form of procrastination. As an OU student once more I have become a little more skilled than many my age. I hit the big 40 last month. Well today, for probably the first time in my life, I found my procrastination pays off!
You see after a weekend of a sickness bug sweeping through the house, and after dropping my daughter at school. I was faced with the option of heading out for a patch walk, in some glorious spring sunshine, or rest up at home and be close to the toilet. Eventually after a 20 minute internal discussion I figured I couldn’t let the sunshine pass and so headed out.
Procrastination Pays Off
As I headed through the Old Church Yard onto the high hill overlooking much of the Western Reaches of the patch, I began to unpack my bins and camera and while I listened to a distant “yaffle” of a Green Woodpecker and a few squabbling Jackdaw as they argued over the better nesting sites in one of the tall old trees, I spotted a large raptor heading my way.
Raising my bins I was greeted with the stunning, red, grey and black of a Red Kite as it slowly circled towards me. I watched in awe as it effortlessly soared on long wings over the church and as it disappeared out of site a Common Buzzard replaced it in the brilliant sunshine. This bird was quickly joined by another and then a third, all drifting low over the old stone building.
Behind them a further two Common Buzzard came into view, this pair being harried by the local corvids, as Rook and Carrion Crow both tried to frighten the massive birds away from their territory. I watched as all five birds began to drift off in different directions and realised that if I had not delayed my walk by that twenty minutes or so I would have completely missed this amazing spectacle.
|Red Kite soaring over Old Wolverton|
|Red Kite Gaining height|
|One of at least 6 Common Buzzards seen at Manor Farm, Milton Keynes, today|
|A second of the Common Buzzards|
All three hides are now in situ and looking good on the pits, I’m looking forward to the day that I can walk the paths and spend some time sitting in the hides picking my way through the ducks and waders, but until then I made do with a shorter than normal walk along the river (seriously I still have a slight feeling of the stomach bug, I was taking a risk being as far from home as I was!!).
Walking as far as the millennium bridge I was pleased to see, briefly, that at least one of the over wintering Stonechats is still there (the female), and was delighted to encounter my 6th Buzzard of the year, flying low over the reserve, frightening the local Mallards and Black-headed Gulls.
|The 6th Buzzard of the day being harassed by a Crow|
|Long-tailed Tit in hiding|
|In Amongst the branches|
|Hanging on Tight|
|Set for Flight|
|Wren clinging to a fallen log|
Wandering back I was pleased to not my third raptor species of the day as a Kestrel flew along the path in front of me alighting in the tall poplars bordering the path before rapidly flying off when it realised I was approaching. I was treated to three or four more fly-by’s of this small falcon as I followed the river back home.
As i walked I was pleased to hear the sounds of Goldfinch all around me, not the usual large flocks but small parties of twos and threes, intermixing with these stunning finches were their cousins the smaller, more delicate Redpoll, a site (or sound) that is becoming more common around the patch it would seem, or perhaps I am just improving at recognising their calls?
|Goldfinch keeping a watchful eye on me|
It seems to me today that most of the birds still on the patch are starting to set up partnerships, from the multitude of Mallard and Canada goose pairs swimming the river Ouse to the canoodling Moorhen that gently pecked at each others feathers in a romantic preening gesture. It must be a sign of the coming season.
|Moorhens preening each other ready for a romantic evening?|
As I was wandering home along the old lock area, the sight of a tiny Goldcrest, flying in and out of the nearby blackthorn and Elder caught my eye. And with a little stealth it allowed me to approach very close. Too close for the camera at times. I stood and watched at first, taking in the stunning beauty of this miniature gem (the joint smallest bird of the UK). The occasional flash of gold and red as the crown flared; the hovering flight as the bird leapt from the trees to catch tiny, unseen insects, mere feet from me; was almost too overwhelming. But eventually I managed to pull myself away from just watching and grab some photos.
OK quite a lot of photos. But they are one of my favourite birds. One of those birds that while common still gives me a thrill to see.
|Goldcrest peering round a branch|
|Ready to hunt|
|Flash of Gold|
|Close up Gold|
|in the bushes|
|Searching for Food|
These are the last of the photos taken today. They didn’t fit the narrative of my walk but I wanted to share them anyway. So am throwing them in at the end.
|Canada goose swimming|