Thursday, February 12, 2004

Another cracking day from the house, with a covey of seven Grey Partridge seen briefly from the back garden, soon followed by a female Merlin from the office window and the usual garden suspects - Treeps, Reed Bunts and Yammers. Fan-bleedin-tastic!

Sunday, February 8, 2004
I seem to have spent so little time out this year, so with recent reports of a couple or three Little Egberts knocking around the Milking Nook area near Newborough, I decided to take a wander up there with Katie Fuller.

We drove slowly along the droves checking all the dykes and soon came up behind another car driving too slowly to be normal. We exchanged pleasantries and negative gen with Tony Parker before resuming our search. We happened across a couple of decent flocks of feeding Fieldfares before heading up towards the River Welland by Borough Fen Decoy. Still nothing. We turned round and stopping along Decoy Road to watch a mixed flock of feeding Starlings and Fieldfares, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a movement - Little Egbert! It was gone - dropped in to a dyke right in front of us. Then two birds popped up again and landed in the adjacent field, both cowering in the strong wind. I maneuvered the car and managed by setting up the digiscope in the back seat I was well out of the wind and managed to get a couple of record shots shooting directly in to the sun! Oh um - you can't win 'em all.

Monday, February 2, 2004
I found myself out and about over lunchtime so decided to do a loop along Willow Hall Lane and area to check the fields for loafing gulls. There were none along WHL, in fact, the herd of Bewick's Swans which I think attracted them to these fields in the first place, had now moved on. I checked further along and found myself at Dogsthorpe Star Pit. There were plenty of gulls down on the pit, but several scans revealed nothing - although the viewing angle wasn't great with all the birds arse-end on and I was looking right in to the sun for about a third of the birds. Suddenly a loud bang as a bird scarer was set off on the adjacent tip the birds nearest to the tip rose. Right in the middle of the rising mass was a startling white bird - it was the first winter Iceland Gull found over the weekend on Prior's Fen by Kev Du Rose. Fantastic! The birds stared to land and followed the Ice to the ground. But no sooner had it hit the deck when a handful of crackers were let off on the tip and the bloody lot - about 3000 birds, rose and were soon gaining height and beginning to disperse! Damn.

Picking up the Ice again wasn't that difficult. It was so white, an advanced first winter bird, and it circled upwards and then began to drift off away from me with a large group of birds heading up towards Newborough. Lost to view I made the call to put the news out and jumped in the car to go and check the field up towards Newborough. When I got to them I was amazed that the 1000 or so birds that headed towards here had vanished. Another quick run round the Willow Hall Lane loop revealed the same out there - no gulls! Where had they all gone. With the birds from the tip, some 6-7000 gulls and quite a few hundred corvids had simply vanished!