Sunday, 1 February 2009


TREE SPARROW (MIKE LAWRENCE) - one of my favourite birds


The first day of February was a cold one, with freezing air rushing in from Russia on a blasting easterly. Although dry and bright for the first half of the day, snow flurries moved in by mid-afternoon and at the time of writing, snow is now lying at least four inches deep on my driveway.


A large flock of 241 FIELDFARES feeding on a sunlit field just south of the A41

GRENDON UNDERWOOD LAYBY (opposite Winding Brook Farm)

Although I failed to find the female/immature Merlin that RDA saw yesterday afternoon, I was absolutely delighted to find a single TREE SPARROW feeding with the large flock of finches and buntings on the strip adjacent to the hedgerow visible from the gate at the north end of the layby. The flock also held a fabulous male BRAMBLING, as well as 168 Chaffinches (in two flocks), 97 Linnets, 7 Goldfinches and 28 YELLOWHAMMERS.

The field also held 9 Common Pheasants, 17 Fieldfares and a Common Buzzard, with a flock of 59 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER in flight.


I was surprised to find a shivering Rosie Hamilton and friend in the Crispin Fisher Hide but very pleased that they had both seen one of the remaining EURASIAN BITTERNS at the site (it was a new bird for her friend) - briefly seen in flight in the left hand reedbed.

I had travelled over for the gull roost with particularly Iceland and Glaucous in mind (especially as so many have arrived in the country in the past week). I was to be disappointed though as by 1700 hours, heavy snow had moved in seriously affecting visibility.

It was a large gull roost however and from the lower hide I click-counted a total of 3,336 roosting gulls by 1645 hours - just 413 Black-headed, a miserly 33 Common, 912 and increasing Herring (the vast majority Scandinavian argentatus), 57 Great Black-backed and an overwhelming 1,921 Lesser Black-backed.

Of the rarer species, all I had was a first-winter CASPIAN GULL (with some paling at the base of the bill) and 2 4th-winter YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS.


A total of 31 RED KITES roosted in tall Pines at a traditional roost-site at dusk (1734).

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