Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sawbridgeworth Marsh roost Dec 30th

I called in at Sawbridgeworth Marsh at 3pm for the roost.

I’d been here earlier in December with Mike, and courtesy of his superior skills had an excellent set of birds including 2 Water Rail, 1 Woodcock, 1 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, 23 Fieldfare, 6 Bullfinch, and 43 Reed Bunting.

Today I was on my todd. Without Mike's expertise I had to do a certain amount of guesswork with distant corvids and small silhouettes in the gloom that gave one brief call and then diver into cover. Nevertheless I clocked up the following.

Woodpigeon c250 rough count
Redwing 3 N
Greenfinch 5SW, 9 NE
Cormorant 2 (1 ad with a missing primary on right wing, 1 juv N)
Kestrel 1
Magpie 2N
Bullfinch 2 calling
Corvids - mainly Jackdaw I think 173S
Starling 5W
Snipe 3E high - probably disturbed from somewhere and trying to find a roost.
Green Woodpecker 2
Yellowhammer 5E
Mallard 4N
Reed Bunting 14 in
Meadow Pipit 12 in
Lapwing 35 NW
Water Rail 2 heard
Blackbird roost calling.
Fieldfare 6 in
Carrion Crow 5 in.

The Reed Buntings call once and then dive in from a height. They arrive over a period and drift in individually or in small numbers. In contrast the Meadow Pipits fly around for a while, as if unable to find the exact ideal spot, and then drop in. It seems strange that when faced with the same apparently identical problem of how to get into a roost these two birds should adopt such different strategies.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Weymouth in mid-winter


A brief hiatus in the mid-winter rush. We were down at Weymouth for a couple of days, but with one thing and another I didn’t get to see any birds. Instead we went for a freezing walk on Britain’s best beach.

Apart from the usual shells and weed, the beach was littered with what I assume were sea squirts; semi-translucent rubber-like things about a couple of inches long that if you trod on them sent a jet of water out the end. The first time I’ve seen this on the beach, and presumably was a result of the stiff SE wind of recent days.




There were about 50 Carrion Crows searching for scraps along the beach too.