Sunday, 19 March 2017

Sunday March 19

As I crossed my patch boundary I noticed 14 Magpies in a tree, a record count. This was to prove somewhat ironic as I noticed a couple of gamekeeper vehicles, and as I approached the pool was greeted by Will with the news that they were shooting corvids today.

It was a morning of sunny intervals and a brisk south-westerly breeze, and my mood nosedived on receiving the news. I was already on a shortened visit due to a family party. Still, might as well check out the flash.

Oh boy, how things were to change. The first bird I noticed was an egret hunkered down in the corner of the nearest flash pool. It turned out to be a Little Egret. I only saw one here during the whole of last year.

Little Egret
I then scanned across the rest of the flash noting six Green Sandpipers, 39 Teal, a Snipe, and in full view a Water Rail. Just the second record for the site. I scrambled to get a photograph, but the bird had disappeared into the vegetation. After about thirty minutes it reappeared a couple of times and I managed a shocking, but identifiable shot of it.

A headless Water Rail
I then scanned the pool and noticed a Black-tailed Godwit. Had it been there all the time?

Black-tailed Godwit
Blooming heck, this was turning into a great visit. A loud gunshot spooked everything and beyond the furthest flash the farmer was tazzing about on his quad bike. The resultant pincer movement left all the waders on the nearest flash. I added two Redshank to the list. Then a pair of Shelducks flew in.

I decided I had seen everything there was, and so moved along the hedgerow to try to get a better view of the Little Egret. I only succeeded in flushing it fifty yards, so I returned to have another go. This time it flew off completely, and shortly afterwards a small wader flew up and did a circuit before landing. This turned out to be the first Little Ringed Plover of the spring.

Little Ringed Plover and Lapwing
I wandered back feeling pretty pleased with my lot, but then came across a corpse of a Barn Owl, which rather spoilt the morning.

A sad end to a fine bird
The cadaver presents something of a mystery. It wasn't there on Friday, but appeared not to be fresh. I assume a fox had partly eaten it, but the cause of death is unclear. I suppose it could have been killed by a vehicle and then transported a mile by a fox. On the other hand it could have met its death by some other means, perhaps overnight, close to the spot where I found it.


  1. Did you know about the Predatory Bird Monitory Scheme, Richard? You can send them the remains for testing.

  2. Thanks Mairi. I will look into this. The corpse was a bit far gone last time I saw it and so I thought it might be too late.