Sunday, 11 March 2018

After the Thaw

The only snow that remains from last week lies sheltered behind the North facing side of a hedgerow, or compacted into piles of ice. The rapid melt has created dozens of pools across the parish so I headed out this weekend optimistic of finding something new or interesting.

A walk around the long river loop turned up nothing new, though I enjoyed watching spooked hares kicking up spray as they fled across the waterlogged fields. It might be my imagination, but fieldfares seem to be heading North already. Last year I had a small flock pass over on the 8th May!

With not much going on, I tested one of my theories... that singing loudly as you approach an animal causes it not to flee so willingly. The thinking behind this is that if I'm making lots of noise, I can't possibly be stalking prey. While I cannot say with confidence that my theory is correct, I did manage an unusually close encounter with this pair of yellowhammers as I murdered a Beatles classic.

In the North of the patch, the flash outside Great Langton was covered in birds. Wigeon, lapwing, curlew and pied wagtail were too numerous for me to be bothered to count. A drake and duck shoveller were my first on the Patch and a welcome tick for the year.

At the church, the finch flock had changed considerably. Originally chaffinch and brambling, the brambling had gone by last weekend and was replaced by a few linnet and greenfinch. This weekend it was predominantly linnet with one or two chaffinch thrown in, together with a lone bullfinch... a bird I don't recall seeing feeding on the ground before.

To my surprise, the flock was joined by completely white bird, which I deduced to be a leucistic linnet. Unfortunately, the camera was at home charging, so I vowed to return on Sunday and try again for this and the shoveller.

What a difference a day makes! To my surprise the flash was now almost devoid of birds. 30-40 lapwing and 3 green sandpiper remained but there was no sign of a single duck. Disappointed, I headed to the church to try my luck for the white linnet. Thankfully the bird hangs on... here it is photographed from some 100 yards away, hence the grainy image!

And some images of the linnet group...

As always... click on the images for full resolution versions.

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