Thursday, 24 October 2013

Harrington Hey Day!

Harrington Airfield was certainly the place to be today, and for those birders lucky enough to visit and experience the "magic" of Harrington, a truly memorable experience of witnessing this site at its best.

Over the course of the day, beginning at 07.30hrs and ending at 18.00 some amazing birds were seen, although not by any one person.   Here is my account of my Harrington experience:-

I arrived at 07.30hrs and the first bird I saw was a male Merlin disappearing over the fields chasing the Skylarks, so I thought "that's a good start".  Anyway as I walked up the road to access the rough area I was aware of buntings, larks and finches flying over, a good indication of visible passage happening. It wasn't long before I had notched up a flock of 8 redpoll sp, 2 Crossbills, several Siskins, Tree Sparrows and at least 6 Brambling.   At the very end bunker I disturbed a Short-eared Owl sitting in the morning sunshine. There were large numbers of Skylark, Yellowhammers, Meadow Pipits and Chaffinches, as well as Red Kite, Common Buzzard and a flock of 50 Golden Plovers.

I really didn't want to leave but I needed to be back home by 9 o' clock for an appointment, so it really was a very quick circuit, birding and walking one of our dogs, and I just know that I was missing things and hadn't done Harrington justice.

Following my appointment I felt the desire to go for a run and even whilst running around the Cottesbrooke area could hear Skylarks and Meadow Pipits.  There were 2 Ravens near Cottesbrooke village.

One of our dogs is on restricted walking due to her operations and I take her out in a buggy, especially for dogs....mad I know !!! So as soon as I returned from my run I took both dogs out for a walk, or rather one walking and pushing the other, along the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton. Again there were big numbers of Skylark, Yellowhammers and Tree Sparrows, and being bright and breezy no shortage of Common Buzzard and Red Kite.

Whilst walking along I received a message informing me of a 'Great Grey Shrike at Harrington'!!!  I wasn't at all surprised, but disappointed that I hadn't found it. Anyway we did a quick about turn and I called in the house for my 'scope and camera and off we went to Harrington.

When I dispatched Bazra, my old collie out of the car his face was incredulous as he looked at me as if to say " but I've already walked along here this morning !" Anyway the G G Shrike was soon located around the middle bunkers and although distant showed well. It then became quite mobile whizzing around the bunkers and bushes, where it appeared to catch a large butterfly amongst other things.   It was never difficult to relocate as the Blue Tits, Chaffinches, Robin, Dunnocks etc didn't like it and were mobbing it continually.

On leaving the shrike I drove further down the road and parked at the main entrance and extracted the buggy and Bobbie and took her for a walk along the main track. Poor Bazra really thought I'd lost the plot and overdosed on Harrington, he couldn't believe it.

Anyway I pushed her slowly along the track, again aware of the sheer numbers of passerines present. As I neared the bunker and straw bales on the track I saw at least 6 Bramblings on the field edge, some of which were in bright orange plumage. The G G Shrike then appeared on the bushes nearby and also frequented the bales of straw.  There were quite a few Chaffinch, Yellowhammer etc around the straw and again they did not like the shrike alone and were constantly mobbing it.

At one point it felt like "bird overload" as whilst I was watching the shrike I could hear the familiar cronk of the Ravens and harsh call of the Bramblings.

There were also numerous Common Buzzard and at least 3 Red Kites in the area.

Finally I had to draw myself away but that didn't stop me birding as over the garden whilst I was mowing or rather chopping up the wet lawn I had Red Kite, 2 redpolls, 2 or 3 Brambling, 2 Grey Wagtails and Nuthatch.

Subsequent visits by other birders at Harrington Airfield this afternoon located quality passage migrants in the shape of a Black Redstart and a Ring Ouzel.

Neil only managed to get out briefly this evening (shame!) and popped down to Blueberry Farm where he saw 2 Barn Owls, a Stonechat and heard Grey Partridge.

Regards Eleanor

Great Grey Shrike

Red Kite

Bobbie's mobile hide
and 'scope carrying
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