Monday, 21 January 2013

The Night Walker

So on Saturday night I shared a couple of very large glasses of wine with my good lady and was nicely relaxed. My wife then decided to retire but I wasn't quite ready. So I went for a walk. In the snow. For 4 miles. With the snow on the ground and cloud cover it was actually quite bright and I could make out the mammals doing the rounds with ease. Ostensibly I was looking to add Barn Owl to my Foot It list but that didn't happen so I savoured what I could and enjoyed the walk.

I wandered south along the road to Wansford with Wansford Carrs my eventual destination. I managed to see my first Roe Deer locally with 4 stags hiding in a field. Hares were plentiful with 21 seen in total including 13 in 1 field, mostly feeding but also a bit of social interaction. The sap must be starting to rise for these guys. A distant Fox wandered along the road until disturbed by a car.

There were no bird noises at all until I reached the carrs and it was evident that there were plenty of Lapwing and Teal roosting around the pools (and seemingly much more but I couldn't decipher the shapes in the dark). I wandered beyond the small drain to get a different angle on the cars but all I picked up was another distant Fox traversing a field and bothering some roosting Lapwing without effect. As I mooched back across the drain a funny looking heron flushed directly away. It was sort of hunched and flew very mechanically. Initially I was trying to make it an owl but eventually the logical part of my brain kicked in and placed the mystery shape - a Bittern. I was half cut, it was 11pm and dark and I had just managed to score a local mega. The journey back was uneventful in the extreme with only the big gathering of Hares noted. And of course no owls.

Today I was stuck with the girls due to snow on the high ground round here blocking access to my mothers village. This curtailed any real birding activity as persistent sleet isnt ideal walking weather for a baby and an under 5. Fortunately they both conked out on they way back from Tesco this afternoon (nothing to do with heaters being on max surely?). I checked out the Mere but drew a blank with a single Tufted Duck all I came away with aside from the dross.

I was annoyed so I went by car to Wansford Carrs for a look whilst the kids caught flies. The first thing I saw was a flock of a dozen Redshank feeding on worms as the grass was slowly revealed under the snow. Everytime a bird came up with a worm, a Black-headed Gull would attempt to kleptoparasatise it. It was fascinating behaviour. A flock of 2 dozen Teal flushed from the back of the carrs and they were joined by 3 Pintail as they flew off. I soon noticed 2 Shelduck on the flood. Neither of these were on my predicted list for Foot It and naturally both would have been much wanted ticks. Lets hope they are there tomorrow. A Little Grebe then started whinnying in the background. One that I expect to connect with on foot but haven't to date. In all it would have taken me to 74/78. Gah!

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How brains and birds become mutually exclusive