Thursday, October 30, 2003

I'd spent the last couple of days away and was knee-deep in e-mails and work today with little time for even a peek outside until the quiet of the fen was suddenly broken by thunderous noise of two Army Puma helicopters! The first came right over the house, by the sounds of it skimming the roof! I leapt up and out the back to see what the noise was (grabbing my bins on the way of course!). Outside I saw a Puma chopper skimming the field behind the house when a second came over the house in pursuit of the first. Wow! War games on Farcet Fen!

Looking back at the first, it was flushing everything from the ground in its path. Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Yellowhammers, Corn and Reed Buntings all came leaping up from their ground feeding sites. A large bird then rose. An owl! I was on to it immediately and switching my Duovids to 12x was staring at a Short-eared Owl. Fantastic. Garden tick no.88. It rose quickly on deep wingbeats, then turned and flew straight towards me still gaining height. It was taking the reverse route that the two choppers had just taken, which lead it right over the house. Fabulous! As it came up to the garden and overhead, I could see its yellow eyes still on 12x. Wow!

The choppers sped off towards the nearby irrigation reservoir, scattering a handful of Fieldfares from the nearby elms. I had just lost the owl from view as it too headed towards the res, so I started checking all the birds in the air. Lapwings, Stock Doves, Woodpigs, then a duck. A female Goldeneye. Great. Not even a garden year tick, but only the second record. It had obviously been put up from the res. Then coming out of the background of whirring shopper blades, the clear 'tchuu' calls of a Redshank - garden tick no.89! Fan-bloody-tastic! Nowhere near as enjoyable as the SEO, but nonetheless, still a welcome addition to the garden list. The Redshank was followed by two Snipe and all three birds zoomed around over the fen before departing to the south-west and out of site.

Distracted from my work, and it being lunchtime, I decided to have a quick walk out to the raised reservoir to scan the fen from their for other birds. The SEO was put up again by the choppers and settled not far from me in a clump of fat hen trying to hide from the great armoured sky-monsters. More pipits and Skylarks were being put up and hordes of Woodpigs, but nothing else of note. I returned back to my desk (via the kitchen for a sarnie and a coffee) well chuffed with the two additions!

Short-eared Owl and Redshank take me to 89 species seen in the garden or from the house and garden since I moved in on 30 November last year. Only two gardens in the PBC area have recorded over 90 species - the Stone's garden in Elton (92) and the Hamlett's Longthorpe garden (93) - and both watched for well over the 11 months I've had! With some relatively easy species still missing, 100 species should be well within reach.

28-29 October 2003
A couple of days in Germany and very little to bright up the monotony of the meeting room. The meeting room did, however, have a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the nearby river valley and Common Buzzards and Red Kites being mobbed by various corvids were welcome distractions at times!

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