Wednesday, 1 January 2020

New Year's Day.


2020 began still. mild and a little grey here in Hanging Houghton, Northamptonshire. Three Tawny Owls and a Little Owl were calling well just before a late dawn. The first obvious birds in the garden were Blackbirds coming in for early morning treats in the shape of suet pellets and dried mealworms. Despite the mild conditions we still have a couple of Pied Wagtails visiting and a Siskin was flying around the garden for a short duration. Two Reed Buntings will probably become more regular as the winter season pushes on towards spring.

However the most common visitor to the garden today were Goldfinches, which can't resist the sunflower hearts (but eating black sunflower and nyger too). Cheerful charms of these birds dominated the feeders, but sometimes gave way to a feisty Greenfinch.

I was fortunate to spend eight days in Portugal over the festive period as part of my tour-leading for Naturetrek. As usual we spent much of our time in the sunny Algarve looking for the typical birds of southern Europe and the Mediterranean region. We were fortunate to enjoy eight days of sunshine, no rain and warm temperatures which of course were ideal conditions to find the birds we were looking for. Unusually we saw some good mammals too, including Wild Boar with piglets, Otter and Egyptian Mongoose. Some of the more topical birds of the region included Great and Little Bustards, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Calandra Lark, Audouin's Gull, Western Swamphen, Little Bittern, Bonelli's Eagle and many others. A separate tab or page is on this blog designed to feature images from this trip.

Locally today a number of birders were out and about and Steve Fisher's efforts at Stanwick Pits provided two Great White Egrets, seven Redshanks, twenty-one Goosanders and a female Scaup. Earls Barton Pits hosted one or two Great White Egret(s) and Thrapston Pits held a Great White Egret, three Goosanders and a pair of Raven. Hollowell Reservoir was good for two Great White Egrets and a drake Goosander and Pitsford Reservoir attracted two drake Red-crested Pochard in the Scaldwell Bay, a Great White Egret in the Walgrave Bay and the usual third winter Yellow-legged Gull off the dam. In addition the wintering Great Grey Shrike was still at the DIRFT3 site near Crick and a Short-eared Owl was reported too.


Neil M

Goosanders courtesy
of Robin Gossage.

Great White Egret.

Goldfinch courtesy
of John Tilly.

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