It was a spur of the moment decision this morning to 'head north'! Following a hasty breakfast I literally bundled the dogs into the car and off we went for the day.
First stop was East Carlton Country Park where the ground was white with frost and the air crisp and clear. Initially it seemed very quiet but then I came across a flurry of activity as a rather vocal mixed tit flock moved through the bushes. As I watched them I realised that there was a number of additional birds quietly feeding on the floor, and counted 10+ Brambling.
Other birds included a male Blackcap, 30+ Siskin, 8+ Redpolls, Marsh Tit, Nuthatches and of course Red Kite.
I then drove the short distance to a large area of rough grass outside East Carlton [Wire Road], where the first bird I saw was a Short-eared Owl. I walked a quick circuit and bumped into a pair of Stonechat, 4 Lesser Redpoll and numerous Red Kites.
Coffee time found me at Wakerley Wood, and suitably refreshed I walked around for just over 2 hours and actually found places in the wood which I had never visited before.
The autumn colours were simply stunning, a beautiful mixture of yellows, gold, orange and brown bathed in the sunlight. The change in temperature meant that the trees were now shedding their leaves rapidly and it reminded me of confetti. I wish that I had taken my camera as I would have had a fantastic picture of Bazra, my collie boy, standing amongst the larch trees in the dappled sun with the fine larch needles gently falling over him. He looked fantastic against this backdrop.
Anyway, back to birding ......it was quiet, just a smattering of Siskin, Nuthatches, Marsh Tit, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Common Buzzard and Red Kite.
A Roe Deer stepped out onto the track in front of us and realised it's mistake and in slow motion it walked back into the trees and melted from view. The dogs took one look at it and thought "too big for us"!
There were some really sheltered areas in the wood and I saw at least 2 Red Admiral Butterfly, amazing for the time of year.
I usually visit the café at Fineshade Top Lodge for their delicious home made soup and today was no exception. I only walked a short circuit here and it seemed quiet. I did come across 2 Brambling which were feeding on the ground. My personal observations of the Bramblings this autumn is that there are quite a few about, but that they are not very vocal. They seem to be either sitting around or feeding quietly, just getting on with things rather than shouting about it.
Time to start making my way home, but I still had two further venues to visit. Firstly Blatherwycke Lake, which I always find a strange place, yet there is often something good there. I had to do a double take this afternoon as the first bird I saw was a Great White Egret standing on the grass towering over it's companions, 2 Little Egrets. This place certainly attracts the geese and there were 100's of Greylag Geese and a careful look through them provided singles of Egyptian and Barnacle Goose. Other birds present were 4 Mandarin Duck, 2 Kingfisher, 12 Siskins and umpteen Red Kite and Common Buzzard.
As I was driving near Bulwick myself and the car coming towards me had to almost do an emergency stop as 2 Red Kites decided to swoop down into the road after a fresh road kill. The kites appeared totally oblivious to the potential danger they were in and played about like two children vying for the best bit of the meat. I wonder if they were youngsters who still have a lot to learn?
Final destination was Fermyn, somewhere I haven't visited for a while. The bushes in the country park itself were alive with Redwings and Fieldfares. I walked through the country park and headed to the Lady's/Souther Wood complex, but I stopped at the obvious open area of farmland where I could look back towards Fermyn and forwards towards Lyveden New Bield. The fields towards Lyveden were alive with birds - Black-headed Gulls, 50 Golden Plover, Lapwings, Starlings and corvids . I also counted 18 Red Kite in the air together, an amazing sight, and the sound of their evocative calls simply spine tingling.
A 'ringtail' Hen Harrier was quartering the fields near to Lyveden and a Merlin, on size suggesting a female, caused chaos for a few minutes as she zapped through.
It was difficult to draw myself away, but I had to as I was quite a way from the car with 2 tired dogs and it was dark when we reached the car park, all rather tired and muddy.
I think that the next few days are going to be quiet in comparison to today.