Tuesday, 4 February 2014

My Local Patch

Sunday 2nd February 2014

Walking around our local patch can always present some surprises. In the past we have seen a kingfisher on one of the streams, we have seen large flocks of magpies some 30 - 40 strong, we have witnessed low flying pairs of herons gliding overhead, and a terrified kestrel flying straight at us below the tree branches. At other times, we have a relaxing stroll, enjoying the familiarity of our surroundings and the sights and sounds of our usual residents.
View across the water meadows from the path

On entering the pathway off the A140, as always, we were surprised at how quickly the sound of traffic died away and we get absorbed into the apparent wilderness of the water meadows. The trill sound of a startled moorhen invisibly announces our arrival into its realm. On glancing towards where the sound has come from, we see some tiny movements low in the reeds, and are rewarded with the sight of a pair of tiny wrens. The air is filled with bird song, some we can identify, others we cannot. We can hear the loud and argumentative calls of blue tits, the 'teacher, teacher' songs of the great tits (it always feels like a few of the kids we teach have spotted us), and the musical chattering of gold finches. 

Robin singing
As we walk, we hear the territorial but beautiful songs of any number of robins, and see the white wing and tail flashes of a large group of chaffinches. We glance across the river to identify the cause of an almighty racket, and realise that it is, of course, a very vocal jay. A heron rewards us with a high fly-by, and it always feels that no sooner have we entered this magical place that we are heading home, over the bridge and into the dense trees. We hear the call of a stock dove, and spot a potential woodpecker nest hole to be checked out later in the year.
Possible woodpecker hole?

But we are soon reminded where we are when the houses and waterworks come into view on either side of us and suddenly out we burst onto concrete path and road. No daredevil squirrels overhanging the road high above today.

On arriving home, we realise that the bird food we put out only the previous day has gone down significantly, and, in an ironic twist, we have had more more birds and a greater number of different species than last Sunday when we took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch. Today, our visitors have included: a gold finch, our usual pair of blue tits and great tits, a coal tit, a pair of collared doves, a dunnock, a magpie and so many starlings. Yesterday, we also had a pair of stock doves. It seems the natural winter food stocks must be coming to an end. 
Stock dove

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