Well I spent much of the day cleaning and disinfecting bird feeders and making preparations to again start a number of wild bird feeding stations as well as maintaining the couple that we run all year. With such mild conditions it is important to realise that bacteria and disease will potentially fester in bird feeders and spread much more quickly that in cold and frosty weather. We are hoping to maintain ten sites this winter which will require plenty of food and time to ensure that the local and transient birds have something to fall back on.
This afternoon we ventured out to Harrington Airfield where the Great Grey Shrike showed well, and was seen to catch and consume a Bumble-bee. The best way to see this bird continuously is to walk along the concrete track and scan towards the old airstrip. It has favoured locations and it is better to watch these from a distance with a telescope rather than walking around the bushes and obtaining brief views. Observers today were spending a great deal of time searching for the bird and continually flushing it without seeing it, such is the poor viewing conditions amongst the bushes and around the bunkers. There is no general permitted access around the airstrip and bunkers, the only footpath is along the concrete track and it is likely that although the landowner has few concerns about a few people walking the rough areas, a large number of people may cause a change of view to the point where no-one is permitted access to the old airstrip and bunkers.
A number of common raptors were on the wing at Harrington Airfield this afternoon, and a first year male Merlin 'beat up' the top fields and rape field next to the firing range wall in pursuit of Skylarks (3.50pm). Other birds included at least 42 Golden Plovers and 2 Bramblings.