Friday, 25 May 2012

A Quiet Week on the Patch

25th May - Just a couple of visits this past week and it feels like Spring is drying up.

An early afternoon visit on Tuesday 22nd before school pick-up found a Redshank and Dunlin both in fine summer plumage, together with 2 LRPs and today on a morning visit, just an LRP.

On Monday 21st, I had decided to go for the Cattle Egret that had been found in North Bucks on the previous Saturday.  A detour on my way home from work was slightly easier than making the trek up north and back on the weekend with my family commitments.  I had good instructions on where to go and at 6:45pm was watching the bird feeding along a fence line in a cattle field together with a Little Egret.  It was a lovely warm sunny evening, so I spent some time watching the bird bedecked in its fine summer garb.  It seemed little concerned with the few walkers who were passing by occasionally.

I then decided to visit Manor Farm, as it was nearby and a new site for me and records many good birds.  Again, following instructions that had been given for the original location of the Cattle Egret on Saturday, I was soon parked up and walking out to the floods.  The western side appeared to hold most of the waders and I counted 4 Common Sands, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 LRP and 2 Oystercatchers together with 4 Little Egrets.  Whilst watching these, a Little Owl started calling from a large tree not too far from me and as I looked, it flew down towards the hedgeline next to the floods.  A pleasant evening - I called home at 7:30pm and said I was heading back.

At about 8pm, I received a text from Simon N informing me of a male Red-footed Falcon along the Jubilee River!  This site is about a 20 minute drive south of where I live and I was weighing up whether I was going to have time to get there before it got dark.  Jim R, who had located the bird, phoned me shortly later and said that the bird was sitting in a tree, so it sounded like it might roost there.  He said, "Are you coming for it?", to which I replied, "Yes, but I'm about 40 minutes away".  I phoned home again, explaining my change of plan and then had a stressful journey down wondering if I was going to make it.  Luckily, it was a light evening and I eventually arrived on site at 8:50pm, following Rob A along the last stretch of the drive.  Graham S was sitting on the river bank with his scope pointed at the top of an oak tree on the opposite bank and there it was, a lovely 1st summer male Red-footed Falcon.  The light was still pretty good, so I was able to watch the bird for a little while and note its plumage.  It fanned its tail at one point revealing all juvenile barred feathers with no moulted adult feathers at all.

A little walk from here and a Nightingale was singing.  A late flying Hobby flew past and as I walked back to the car, the Red-foot had dropped down from its high perch, presumably to roost.  All in all, a very pleasant and exhilarating evening - I returned home for 9:50pm and a late dinner!

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