I decided to do the whole area, and started at Church Farm. The walk down to the main pool produced the Tawny Owl, which was showing well in its usual tree. Although the landscape seemed frozen, I was encouraged to see that the pool was almost entirely ice free. Amongst the Mallard and Teal I soon discovered the first Shelducks of the year.
|The pair of Shelducks|
I continued to Stapenhill Wood, flushing a Sparrowhawk en route, but the wood contained nothing better than a single Bullfinch. The plantation formerly known as the ridge field contained a handfull of Skylarks plus 80 Fieldfares and a few Redwings. After a quick look around Netherstead Farm I headed along the hedge-line towards the south end. Peering over a gate I found myself looking at an adult Peregrine perched on a fallen tree in the centre of the old Curlew field.
However, as I walked back to the road all hell broke loose from Spernal Wood as Jackdaws and Woodpigeons burst out in a chaotic melee. I quickly got onto the cause of the panic, an Accipiter sp. Quite a large Accipiter sp. The shape of the tail and protrusion of the head looked interesting, the bird itself looking brown above with a barred upper tail and noticably pale below. It swept upwards and flew along the top of the ridge and then away over the trees. Five minutes later more Jackdaw cacophony, and suddenly an Accipiter appeared in front of me before banking and heading back to the wood.
Was it a male Goshawk? I'm not sure. I am struggling to decide exactly how big it was. Definitely smaller than a Buzzard, possibly Crow sized. I could have done with seeing a bird of known size right next to it (but everything was trying to be as far away from it as possible), and I could have done with a second opinion.