Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Ring-necked Duck

I was already in the valley enjoying my "exercise" walk yesterday when Jim called to say Neville had refound the female Ring-necked Duck on the pools at the back of Holyfield lake so I was able to get to the pools without delay. There was nobody looking when I arrived but I quickly found the female duck at the far corner of one of the two pools. She was distant but I haven't seen too many females over the years so it was nice to catch up with her. I'd tried earlier for Siberian Chiffchaff at the muck heap but found only a single Chiffchaff along with dozens of Pied Wagtail, a Grey Wagtail and a couple of Mipits although I didn't stay long.

Female Ring-necked Duck

I've again managed to connect with the Short-eared Owls on a couple of my local walks this last week and had decent views of Peregrine, Red Kite, Kestrel, Sprawk and a couple of fly over Goosander too.This week I've also come across some quite large Tit flocks and seen lot's of Goldcrest but I'm yet to find a Firecrest and it doesn't help that I can no longer hear them. There's lots of Fieldfare and Redwing around still but I  haven't found a Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Woodcock, Blackcap or Yellowhammer yet so plenty to look for on my walks. The White-fronted Geese seem to have moved on now but there are still plenty of Goosander and Goldeneye on Holyfield lake. I also heard a Raven calling around the farm at the weekend. 

Short-eared Owl in the snow

I was blessed when this one came and perched next to me

So pleased to share any time with these remarkable birds

Occasionally they drop to the floor and appear to be hunting smaller prey in the grass

Another shot of one flying whilst it was snowing

I'm managing to keep to a fairly local patch and I'm quite enjoying birding without driving miles. There's the obvious benefit of having more time to actually walk and bird as opposed to sitting in the car then there's the cost benefit of not putting fuel in the car and of course there's the green benefit but having said all that I still miss the coast bad so as soon as I can I'll be in the car and heading for Kent, Suffolk and Norfolk or maybe even a trip to Abberton or Wallasea in my home county. I continue to miss them all equally and long for a time when we can travel again.

The park is a couple of miles from my home, I do have walks closer  but the valley gives me a chance to walk and find space. Seventy Acres gets busy with dog walkers so I avoid that unless I'm very early but the track to the farm and the long walk along the river to Holyfield lake are very quiet. As for the Owls well that's got a lot quieter since lockdown thankfully but the sun still brings people out to see them on their "exercise" walk so I find it  best to avoid those days. I can't remember a time before Covid-19 where I ever said to my wife "I'll be back soon, just going for my exercise walk" 

My year list currently sits at 104 and I'm sure I've missed a few good birds but most of the wintering species I hope to catch up with in the autumn if we are lucky to be able to travel by then but for now I'll keep walking locally enjoying what comes my way. I can't help wonder what rarities have been suppressed to avoid giving people the temptation to twitch and although I agree with the suppression under lockdown I will still be interested to see what I've missed at some point in the future.

Onwards and Upwards guys and we can be thankful that the local cases continue to decrease giving some hope that we may be able to come out of lockdown this spring. My parents have been vaccinated too so some positives to take from the doom that surrounds us all. I personally now know three people of the 100,000 plus that have sadly been taken too early by this virus and my thoughts are with them all and their families. 

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