Saturday, 14 March 2009

Black Red and Iceland

I'd promised myself that I'd update my blog more regularly this spring, so here goes.

Saturday was not bad. Started off with a quick look for the Shuttleworth Bean Geese, which have been around the county all winter. They are probably the longest stayers ever in the county. I didn't see them, but I wasn't surprised by this as they only seem to favour the fields here mornings and evenings.

Next stop was a brief look for the local Peregrines. I found the male pretty quickly, but no sign of the lady. They'll soon be getting frisky!

Then popped in to Octagon Farm. This was somewhat a waste of time. The only birds of note were four Little Egrets, and five Snipe. No sign of the Water Pipit. Was going to wander round the Meadow Lane complex of pits until I realised they would still be working them, so headed in to the Marston Vale.

Did my WeBS count on Chimney Corner South. Very uneventful. All the ducks have cleared out now, which left the 62 Coot being the most numerous bird on the water.

Next was Coronation pit. Even though it's pretty full of water, there were plenty of birds on it - mainly big gulls. One of the fields adjacent to the pit also had a few roosting on it too. Lots of Lesser Black-backs, but only a few Herrings and GBB's. Unfortunately something in the nearby farm flushed most of the gulls off the field, with many of them heading off towards Stewartby. So this is where I headed too.

Found plenty of birds on the water, and over the tip, when I got to Stewartby. After a few mins I'd found a lovely juvenile Iceland Gull in the tip corner of the lake. It looked like a different bird to those I'd seen before in the roost, so that makes a third individual Iceland so far this winter in the county. With the tips all closing down in Beds, white-wingers are fast becoming increasingly rare, so finding one is rather pleasing. After a few phone calls to alert interested parties, I watched it for a while, then moved round to the gull watch point where Keith and Roy were. They'd just had a Sand Martin go through, but not a lot else of interest. I left them to it and went round to Marston Vale Country Park.

Plenty of smaller gulls were again on the short grass next to the entrance track, and I went through them just in case there was a Ring-billed sat amongst them. There wasn't, so I had a look at the Pillinge. Two of the seven Cormorants sat on the raft caught my eye. They were drab and seemingly had a different shaped gular patch - carbo? Perhaps. I will have to dig-out Mr Garners book and find out if I'm right.

Walking back to my car I found out about a male Black Redstart at Blows Downs. 25 mins later and I was walking around the paddocks. Eventually we found it bombing about the bottom paddock, flicking its tail furiously. They are stunning birds - one of my favourites. This individual had a few white flecks around the head, but otherwise a spanking male. It was a great end to the day.

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