09 October 2005

Back To Birding!

I can't believe it's almost 4 months since I last did some "proper" bird watching! OK, I've been on 2 or 3 walks during that time, where I have seen birds, but today was my first time out with my binos and scope since June 22!!

After a couple of heavy rain showers yesterday this morning dawned dry and bright and by 7:45am I was out the door and on my way to the first stop of the morning. Ambaston Gravel Pits is a small area of old gravel workings and farm land which is only around 15 minutes from home, by car, so makes an ideal local patch when time is short. Today I spent 2hrs there and although I only walked around 1/2 a mile from the car and back I saw 36 species of birds. Not a big total but it was just good to be out in the early morning air!

The main pool held c500 Black-headed Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 25 Coot, 4 Teal, 4 Mute Swan, 9 Mallard, 2 Tufted Duck and 2 Little Grebe.

The fields and surrounding hedgerows gave, amongst others, 2 Red-legged Partridge, c40 Stock Dove, 20 Linnet, 2 Yellowhammer, a single Kestrel and one Grey Wagtail. A pair of Stonechat were flitting around the tops of a reedbed. Flyovers included c40 Canada Geese, 4 Jay, 4 Skylark and a single Lapwing.

As I started back to the car a slight movement on one of the small islands caught my eye and on checking through my 'scope I found a Snipe creeping around the water's edge. Within a few minutes I had counted a total of 13 that I'd missed earlier! Just as I was about to walk off, a shrill, pig-like squeal stopped me once more. Definitely a Water Rail, but would it show? Five more minutes and I had another bird on the day list! Not stunning views but they very rarely are with such a skulking bird!


My second site was Barrow upon Trent. The only public access here is to a small lake that has been left after the gravel works had finished with it. The last time I came here was back in March this year when a Slavonian Grebe was present - nothing that good today!

I walked from the village, down the lane to the lake, around the lake and back, a total time of just 85 minutes. There was nothing much of note here but the walk was good and I did see 25 Pochard, 50 Tufted Duck, 10 Great Crested Grebe and 7 Mute Swan on the lake.

Other sightings included 1 Jay, 3 Bullfinch and a Green Woodpecker. Two Buzzard circled on thermals a short way away for a time with one landing close by at one point.

All in all not a bad morning! 45 species in total and all within 10 miles of home!

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