Saturday, 4 January 2014

A soggy Short Day Count!


On a very wet day, Eleanor popped out to Pitsford Res this afternoon and spent some time birding in the Scaldwell Bay.  Birds noted included two Great White Egrets, two Egyptian Geese, four Goosanders, two drake Smew and a pair of Red-crested Pochard.

I spent the day out in the rain completing a Banbury Ornithological Society Short Day Count.  This is an annual event whereby efforts are made to search a tetrad and record as many wild bird species within the square as possible.  SP54 which encompasses villages and countryside in the south west of Northamptonshire is a regular tetrad which I cover.  I started within the parishes of Thenford and Middleton Cheney at 8am and then moved in to countryside in and around Thorpe Mandeville, Culworth and Edgcote before concluding with some scanning over fields near Sulgrave and Weston.

It's not often that I spend all day in the rain and despite good clothing by the end it was beginning to soak in! I managed to locate 62 species, perhaps the most common 'misses' included Red-legged Partridge and Meadow Pipit!  Mind you I could only find one Pied Wagtail and had to wait until 2.37pm to find it!  In addition I only saw one Linnet and found only one flock of Tree Sparrows which continues a worrying trend.

In contrast there were Redwings and Fieldfares everywhere, all taking advantage of the waterlogged fields and mild temperatures to hunt for worms.  By the afternoon many of them were singing from hedgerow trees and bushes, obviously content with their lot and in stark contrast to the previous two winters.

There was some serious flooding around the Trafford Bridge and the River Cherwell valley areas, some roads not being drive-able unless you were in a four wheel drive or similar.

Scarce birds included a Raven between Thenford and Middleton Cheney, two Lesser Redpolls at Edgcote and a Siskin at Trafford Marsh.   Kingfishers were located at Thenford and Trafford Marsh (two birds), these birds no doubt desperate to locate clear, unsullied water in order to fish successfully (rather difficult at the moment I would think).  Calling Tawny Owls were noted at two sites, and a single Snipe and a Grey Wagtail were near Thorpe Mandeville.

Another count in a different tetrad tomorrow - I hope my clothes have dried out in time for the next deluge!


Neil M
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