Sunday, 17 March 2013

Winter continues

It's been a quiet week. With winter visitors leaving and the first hardy summer migrants only just starting to trickle in, mid-March usually is quiet but this mid-March feels particularly so. Winter still seems to have a firm grip on the weather. The snowdrops in the garden are still in full bloom and the daffodils have barely reached the bud stage. The Rooks are one of the few signs that spring is coming as most have changed from gathering sticks to arriving at their nests with beakfuls of nest lining instead, and I found the first Moorhen nest of the year yesterday. During a brief sunny spell in the week I also heard the distinctive calls of displaying Marsh Harriers.
Lambing starts again on Friday so yesterday was spent getting the lambing shed ready. There were big round hay bales to be man-handled and then the accumulated muck of housing the sheared show sheep for 4 weeks had to be forked out by hand leaving little time or energy for birding. The weather was horrible anyway. The only highlights(?) of a quick sprint round our marshes were an increase in Greylags from one pair to two and a flock of 50 Siskin in the wood.
Today was a little better. This morning I watched from the back door 2 Buzzards displaying, their calls once evocative of the South West now ringing out across the far East. There are plenty of small woods in the immediate vicinity for them to breed in so fingers-crossed. The Reed Bunting flock visiting the feeders increased to about 7, mostly males in fine breeding plumage.
This afternoon I took the dog and headed out on foot to parts of Thorpe Marshes I usually only scan from the house. A distant Starling flock suddenly took flight, started doing the classic morphing shapes in the sky, a bewitching sight, and then promptly vanished. 20 minutes later I found a fine adult male Peregrine eating something dark on the ground in the area the Starlings had been, presumably the reason for their display. Other than that it was pretty quiet, just the usual Marsh Harriers, Buzzards and Barn Owls plus a scattering of Chinese Water Deer.
I suppose the most spectacular sight of the week has to be the Rooks (and their Jackdaw accomplices) again. On Friday at dusk with a strong blustery wind the entire flock of several hundred black corvids suddenly erupted from the wood, twisting and tumbling in a wild display under an ominous darkening sky before almost as suddenly plunging back into the wood to roost. It just shows that common birds can sometimes be as excitingas the rare ones (paarticularly when rare ones are thin on the ground!).

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