Holmethorpe SPs ... Monday 29th March 2010

I met up with Gordon Hay today and we walked the very muddy paths of our local patch again in search of migrants.

Overnight rain had given way to a dryish morning and our hopes were high that something may have dropped in on the southerly breeze. As always seems to be the way, the apparent ideal weather conditions failed to produce the goods.

Migrants consisted of 18 Sand Martins, 3 Swallows and 12 Chiffchaffs, which were pretty much on a par with the weekend's totals.

Four Red-crested Pochards and 3 Wigeon had dropped in on Sunday, but there were no signs of them today.

Fieldfare numbers are still quite good locally, with around 30 birds seen, but Redwings were hard to find with just a handful flying over. Gordon had heard a Green Sandpiper calling and there were still 4 Common Snipe showing.

Wildfowl consisted of 5 Gadwall, 6 Teal, 8 Shoveler and a female Goldeneye. Four Egyptian Geese flew in and a Little Egret was trying to hide in the brook.

Around 7.45 a.m., it became very misty but this cleared quite quickly and it was shortly after that the highlight of the morning appeared. At 8.20 a.m. I noticed a large raptor flying along the ridge in the distance. Gordon quickly got onto it with his scope and announced it was a Red Kite. It flew closer and crossed Mercers Farm fairly low, giving superb views before gaining height again and flying off to the west over the local landfill site. This is the third local sighting of this species so far this year, Gordon having seen the previous two birds as well, but this was a welcome addition to my year list.

As anyone who digiscopes will know, trying to get shots of birds in flight is not easy and this bird was no exception. The only shots I managed were a couple of really poor ones as the bird disappeared into the distance.

A Little Owl was calling from an oak on the farm as the kite flew over and on the farm fields 6 Pheasants and 45 Stock Doves were feeding. The only other birds of note around the pits were 12 Linnets and a pair of Bullfinches.

One oddity we have at the pits at present is a Song Thrush that incorporates an almost perfect rendition of Willow Warbler's song into its repertoire. No matter how many times I hear this bird singing, I have to check it out, just in case.


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