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

Monday, 29 March 2010

Ramble over looking for Wait Heres

Weather not as poor as forecast, so up along the tops again hoping for my first local Wheatear.

Along the escarpment
3Woodcock up off pathsides, obviously migrants as were 3Chiffchaff.
2Sand Martin back at the colony, with 4Little Owl in & around the sand hole, where 5+pr Stock Dove contested nooks & crannies with 15pair of wheeling Jackdaws.
3pr of Grey Partridge came up, a single Willow Tit perhaps bewildered at the recent large scale thorn & gorse removal.

Very prominant all day were Long-tailed Tit with 6+pr along this first section.
A handful of Lapwing pairs on the autumn sown ground; 1 female incubating - lots of Magpies & Carrion Crows around, the males will have to be on their toes.
Unlike last year, Kestrel the only falcon settling to breed.

Hill top stables provides full board accomodation for finches & buntings year round.
A decent colony of Tree Spugs here, with 30+ today.
Could hear their racket a good way off, vaguely reminiscent of zebra finches! Wondered where they all nest as there arent too many mature trees . . .
the answer was down the back of the fence !

Tree Spug City
20 or so nest boxes hidden between the wooden boundary & a thorn hedge.

After a look at a regular Tawny Owl in Pines, i back tracked to try out a new area.

Looked promising, masses of mature thorn scrub, rough grassland & a boggy pool.

Even more surprisingly a signpost read "W.L Nature Reserve".
Finches & buntings well represented with 2Willow Tit, several more pairs of Long tailed Tit.
1Woodcock close to the pond which held pr Coot & Mallard with Redshank over.
A superb little area - out of sight from my usual route & well worth closer inspection - especially at dusk, habo exact for Leo.

Close by a "tick tocking" Snipe was an exciting find - only 1 other place on the patch where they are regular breeders.
The general area held pr Teal, 1Heron, 1Redshank, pr Curlew, 7Reed Bunting, 3Chiffchaff, loads of Toads but no Frogs.
A small wood close edged with a clump of mature Scots Pine looked just right for asio otus too . . .
A couple of bits of pellets were inconclusive although two others were huge -
Theres one big Tawny in there somewhere . . .

Found a dead thing:-

seen better days - fox ?

Two GSWpkr drummed within 100m of one another with 2 singing Chiffs, 1Jay & 4Stock Dove for good measure.

Onto a long abondoned wagonway through an area of arable & small woods into an area with several wildfowlers flighting pools.

No Garganey today
1Heron, pr Oystercatcher, pr Redshank, prGadwall, prWigeon, 20+Greylag Goose, prMute Swan, 2pr of disputing Dabchick, 2alba wagtail, 1(stake out)Long-eared Ow in a thorn thicket, hopefully his mate will be there too

Thorn scrub - full of birdlife

10+Tree Sparrow, pr Jay, 4Stock Dove, Lapwing, 12Tufted Duck, 2pr Grey Partridge, 2Chiffchaff.

Out into an open landscape of many acres "out of production". This had been topped down & has been popular with owls & the odd Hen Harrier over recent years.
A couple of pools here holding very little of note:- 5Dabchick, prMute Swan, 10Tufted Duck, pr Teal.
4mReed Bunting seen including 1 on bird feeder.

feeding on fat balls

Had just about given up on the White arses
But, 5 hours in & up out of the grass came one after the other - 7male & 3fem's. Strange watching them work back South (!) as they fed into the wind.
A couple went up onto the wires, others aroused interest from a fem Stonechat.

At last !
A Wait here

Thrushes were not particularly prominant today with only 1 group of 17Fieldfare seen.
The rough grass ideal for many species with numerous Skylarks & Mipits, nesting Lapwing & 2pr Grey Partridge.
A barn door was open & it drew me in like a magnet.
A top coat warmer inside, whitewash showed were Kestrel had been holed up out of the wind.

barn roost

Outside, on the ground below the apex was a sprinkling of BO pellets

Heading back now, weather beginning to deteriorate.
Went via a wet woodland:- Here 3mTreecreeper singing, 2Moorhen, pr Mallard, 1Jay, 1Buzzard, 2Kestrel, 3pr Long tailed Tit, another Woodcock (must go back to check this for roding birds) Mistle Thrush singing.

Mechanically damaged Birch showing advantaugous roots

A few spots of rain now, 1GSWpkr & 2 Chiffchaff - 1 at the wood edge & another in a gulley.
As the rain came on i picked up the pace with 2Snipe coming up from a promising rushy area.

New Windmills
Passed close by the new windmills - 1 in particular having a squeak on it - not being too disimilar to juv Leos ! - that should prove interesting, & perhaps somewhat frustrating come June.

Tally of 66 species

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