In Dusk We Trust - Some Owling in Co.Durham, North East England, Great Britain
Leucistic Little Owl image copyright Hilary Chambers, Durham.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

21st Jan 2010 - Ramble on

A good start with garden yr-ticks of both Woodcock & Bullfinch over at first light, with Redwings & Fieldfares going over north as we walked to breakfast club.

Up the hill overlooking the Biffa site, male Kes setting his stall out very vocal & whizzing back & forth along the escarpment with clipped wing beats.

Convinced myself the Corn Bunts would show if i stood gulling long enough . . . plenty gulls, nowt different, poor, a Stoat on the path brightened things up; came away & crossed The Cut.

On the tops the fields were lifting with thrushes, around 1,500, majority being Fieldfare in 2km along the ridge. The first big groups ive since b4 Xmas.

Most as wary as ever - but a few allowing a closer inspection.

Cold, breezy & damp - no sign of any owls sitting out on the limestone,

& again no sign of the Peregrine having yet returned . . . but the commoner stuff was busy, a cock Chaffinch had a tentative attempt to make it sound like Spring, with Great Tit & Songy-singing & Cushats vocal too, with one in display flight

Couple of coveys, the largest being 14. Small flock of 20 each of Yellowhammer & Tree Spugs at the hilltop stables, with Willow Tit pair n a garden.

Also some evidence of Barns owls (this area is between known breeding territories, but still working on this one ..)

This quiet little clump looked good for a Leo . . .

Looking closer, no birds, but a bit splash . . .

subtle evidence of Barnie having been sat in out of the breeze
a downy feather with white tips & a white one with gold tips caught on bramble

and not so subtle :-

its been splashing down

2 pellets at base of post

Over to one of the earliest sections of the GNForest to have been planted - dont know this area very well - hard to work & limited horizons.
As chance would have it, from the track spotted a bit splash on a Scots Pine within a small shelterbelt. Scoping through, a pellet was easy to see (no understory & had been grazed off)

Beneath the young pines, a couple of bits of brocken pellets but not much splash, obviously hoping for Leo. . .

Moving through the belt & a couple of trees later i found it !
But what was it . . . ? Tawny ? . . . Leo ?
all i could see was a few bits of silhouetted back & legs . .
For 5 mins i tried to get a better view, but he was tucked in right tight.
Didnt know what i had.

Still unsure ( ! ) i looked around closeby & it may as well have left a neon sign.

A (now) obvious Tawny hunting perch.

Loads of signs of vole activity

voles holes

and an insight into their activity under the snow

vole runs

Continued on past the shooting syndicates many Pheasant feeders helping keep some of the farmland birds ticking over - an impressive 40 Tree Spug, 25Yellowhammer, with a pair of Jays cashing in on the free feed too.

Pleased (relieved even)to see a fem Stonechat in a regular spot. Met up with Jimmy & we looked about, 4Shorts, couple of coveys etc.
Davy flagged us down saying he'd just been watching a Barnie up the top road, all we managed was a long range glimpse..

but we did find where one of 'em been holed up out of the wind :-

a shooting butt with 15 or so BO pellets in it ! (only 2 in it a Xmas - so maybe a good bet to watch & wait from Jim & Cols hide ? )

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