Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Brampton Valley birds


At least six Bramblings were by the barn in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton at lunch-time and three paid us a visit to our garden earlier.

The valley continued to provide good birds, initially with the Great Grey Shrike appearing close to where it was yesterday. During the course of the day it became very far-ranging and was not seen for periods but this afternoon it was again in hedgerows north of the track between Brampton Valley Way and Gamboro' Plantation, and was even in hedges bordering the east side of Blueberry Farm. At one stage it briefly pursued a Great Tit! Interestingly it seems that this bird could have been in the general area since mid December 2018 when a GGS was seen and photographed near Scaldwell village, only a matter of a few miles away (please see images below). Personally I think they are different birds, the Hanging Houghton bird appears to have broader white and cleaner tertial tips, a darker and cleaner mask and less abraded tail than the Scaldwell bird. The white area above the mask of the Scaldwell bird seems to be more extensive and the plumage is overall less contrasting, the flank barring seems more obvious than the HH bird...

Large numbers of passerines coming to feed in the wild bird seed crop (the favoured haunt of the shrike) in the Brampton Valley today included plenty of Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers, Linnets and Skylarks and a Corn Bunting was noted early this morning. By mid-morning there were at least two Corn Buntings and a suspicious-looking bunting seen for the second time flying with Skylarks was clinched as a Lapland Bunting, the first in the county for quite a number of years. This bird then flew up again and flew around for a couple of minutes before dropping down in to the crop. Typically Skylarks seems to be the carrier species for this bird. Please note that there is no access in to this field but the crop can be watched from the tracks bordering the field - it is a case of being patient and carefully watching the Skylark flocks when they periodically fly up. If you approach too close the Skylark flock is likely to go up and disperse elsewhere.

With the number of birders present on-site not surprisingly other birds were seen, the best being a lunch-time Merlin, two Ravens and an afternoon hunting Barn Owl.

Elsewhere birds at nearby Brixworth Water Treatment Works included four Snipe, a Grey Wagtail and a Water Rail and there was at least one Great White Egret and a Redshank north of the causeway at Pitsford Reservoir.


Neil M

Great Grey Shrike
near Scaldwell Dec 2018
courtesy of Bill Draper.

Barn Owl
Eldernell, Cambs
recently, courtesy
of John Gamble.

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