Though I've been out and about lots since the summer, the combination of not seeing much interesting and moving house means I've not felt compelled to sit down and write my blog.
This weekend has been beautiful; the light this morning particularly was fantastic, though I didn't manage many photos. I think it's about time I set my hides up again and return to waiting rather than walking... it can be just as fruitful an approach (though a lot colder).
I walked the length of the Swale between St Wilfrids and Great Langton. In the woods there were small birds in abundance. Coal tit, treecreeper and nuthatch are readily found here and rarely elsewhere on the patch. I heard marsh tit and watched goldcrests flit busily between the tops of the scots pines.
Stood still, the birds became increasingly accustomed to me and allowed me closer than usual... I was enjoying this privilege when it all kicked off; the birds alarm-called and I searched for the source of the disturbance... a RED SQUIRREL!!! No, wait... what on earth is that? I couldn't believe my eyes as a stoat descended down the trunk of a tree in squirrel fashion. It must have been 20ft up when I first saw it and it looked completely at home in the tree. A first for me! Stoats are my favourite animals on this Earth, so I was thrilled to see this unusual behaviour.
A little further along the river I spotted a wader on a distant gravel bank; it was my first green sandpiper since last winter. I've become so accustomed to seeing them now, that I can predict exactly where and when they'll show up. Always under trees along the river, and only in the colder months.
Another winter-only bird made its first appearance too... siskin. I was stood hoping to catch a kestrel swooping down for a mouse, when two of the pretty little finches grabbed my attention as they noisily flew above the clearing to settle behind me, high in a tree.
Reversing the winter trend, I was buzzed by a fast flying butterfly. Though records of over-wintering red admiral are not unheard of these days, it's still a surprise to see one in mid-November.
Finally, as I returned back to the church, the sky went black with starlings.
Elsewhere on the patch...
Herons are increasingly common and I now see little egret every time I go out.
Including this one with leg rings:
I only wish i knew how to read them so I could send a record in and find out where it has been.
It's always nice to see something other than birds... even things unpopular with the local gamekeeper: