Monday, 30 November 2009
I always point the birds out, hoping that some of it will stick. This morning it was my turn to be on the receiving end. As she stood having her trousers adjusted looking over my shoulder, my daughter of two years and sixty three days suddenly flung her left arm up to point, narrowly missing my left eye. At the same time she screeched "Dad" in a tone which most birders would reserve for say a sighting Of Zino's Petrel past their local headland or possibly a brief glimpse of Siberian Blue Robin on a foggy autumn morning. "Dad....AGPIE!" was the repeated excited perfect piece of ornithlogical identification.
So you'll excuse my pride and wish to record the start of her self found list.
30/11/09 Magpie 1, our apple tree.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
Shag, Eyemouth Harbour
Last stop Stag Rocks for another attempt at this year's showy Black Guillemot which was again absent. Single Slavonian Grebe, another two Long-tailed Duck and a couple of Red-throated Diver the best we could manage.
Friday, 27 November 2009
The weather looks reasonable so I think we'll go all the same and keep fingers crossed it's just been elusive.
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Don't know about you lot but I find Surfbirds a difficult site to navigate, it is not easy on the eye, almost like a moulting gull it sometimes feels it's neither one thing or the other, so I don't spend much of my online time there.
So when I ended up clicking on a link in a blog post that took me to the leader board of Surfbirds British non-motorised year list 2009 and found iconic Northumberland Birder Andy Mclevy sitting at the top, at number one, you could have knocked me down with a feather.
Having bumped into Andy en-cycle many times this year I had thought it was perhaps the start of a natural downshift toward a more sedentary form of birding in his Autumn years and all this time he's actually been pumping the pedals to maintain his competitive edge on a national, albeit obscure, listing challenge.
It may be slightly premature to congratulate him but he is 21 species ahead of his nearest rival and not likely to be caught. He may not thank me for it but I thought he deserved a little recognition for his achievement, 170 species by bike or on foot, no mean feat for a pensioner.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Monday, 23 November 2009
Now for those of you wizened & grey tapping away with a single finger reading this it might seem ludicrous to think you couldn't identify a Corn Bunting but consider for a second what if you were sixteen again. OK consider if you were sixteen again and you managed to get out of bed. Now you don't have a car, foreign holidays are about to become a thing of the past due to increased Fuel Levys where are you going to connect with Corn Bunting?
Durham is the obvious answer and it would be great to think the mini-recovery that has happened there can continue and spread but that is going to take a great deal of hard work and changes in a number of farming practices which may or may not happen.
Obviously any change is the responsibility of the CRC but you have to wonder how much longer they can resist adding it to at least the list requiring brief notes. A sad reflection on our times.
The saddest thing for me is that it's happened on our watch and no one seems to have lifted a finger to try and prevent it from reaching this point (I'll stand corrected if I have missed an initiative). Look at the literature and you can chart the decline from Northumberland's Birds (1983) ' a well represented breeding resident' via Northumbrian Birds (2001) ' uncommon and declining breeding resident' to the situation today outlined above. Corn Bunting may still be abundant elsewhere in Europe particularly in the East in countries such as Romania and Croatia but for me the loss of it as a county bird is without parallel, I cannot think of another breeding species that has undergone such a catastrophic decline in my lifetime and summer will never be the same without those jangling keys.
Galloway, B. & Meek, E.R (1978-83) Northumberland's Birds. Trans, Nat History Soc. Northumbria 44 (1-3): 1-195
Kerr, I. (2001) Northumbrian Birds. NTBC 1-184
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Greenfinch - Where are they all? Several tetrads without any, none with more than three. Chaffinch numbers seem pretty poor too.
Footpaths - There should be a requirement on landowners to maintain visible footpath routes and way markers. If it already exists then there is a few folk around here doing their level best to ignore it.
Farming & Wildlife - It appears to me that, at least in the limited sample areas I've covered, that most of the farmers are doing almost nothing to maintain or encourage biodiversity. Leaving a few metres around field edges is all well and good but there is no huge benefit if what is growing there is of poor value. I see more effort going in to maintain Pheasant numbers than any native species, I wonder why? There is a some spin off benefit of the supplementary feeding that goes on and some of the planting specifically to help the Pheasant but it is not particularly intentional.
The last couple of weeks have reinforced my belief that expecting farmers to voluntarily look after biodiversity is ludicrous. If we want it to happen we have to make them do it and be prepared to pay them for doing it - period.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
As a middle aged man and a father I have kind of left hero worship on a time consuming scale way back. However, two names kept standing out amongst some of the 'friends' of 'friends' I was acquiring. Two names that are in my mind living legends of birding, Killian Mullarney & Klaus Malling Olsen.
That's KMO in the picture I've nicked from the Oriental Bird Club up there looking a little less eccentric than the one on his Facebook page.
Until a day or two ago I had avoided any attempt to kiss ass and get hooked up with either, despite being sorely tempted, not out of any sense of ego, more curiosity, I wanted to share in the words of wisdom that were being passed down from on high. The odd secret ID feature of 2nd calendar year Baltic Gull, or an occasional vignette from KM just for his Facebook friends.
Then that 1st-winter GWG (hybrid?) turned up and I began to wonder if there were threads of informed comment running on their pages, so I wrote a nice little note informing Mr Olsen that whilst I wasn't fit to shine his shoes I'd be eternally grateful to share in his wisdom. The following morning, I opened my Inbox and there it was, I was accepted, KMO was MY FRIEND, the joy. Almost trembling with excitement I logged in to Facebook and clicked on his name in my notfications, the screen hung momentarily as I waited for enlightenment. As the page opened it appeared odd, mixed up, I was too excited, "calm down", then it hit me with a huge thud between the eyes, square on
it was all in Danish.
I expected the first Tetrad to be poor as it is mainly farmland with a hamlet and one 'acre' wood, overall bird numbers were low but the first Sparrowhawk of my Atlas visits was pleasing as was single Redwing, Mistle Thrush & Fieldfare. Apart from a decent flock of Linnet and a surprise Nuthatch it was all Jackdaws.
Goosander, eclipse male
An interesting response to an enquiry I made earlier in the week has given me some food for thought, hopefully it might lead to what would be a very ambitious ornithological project.
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Why should big business have all the benefit of the latest trend? What about conservation getting in on the act so to speak.
So this morning in a blatant attempt to court publicity and nothing to do with filling up space on the blog I launched 'The Tetrad Twins', young, good looking, talented and doing their bit for the BTO Atlas.
The Tetrad Twins getting ready for the big launch.
Their first public appearance seemed to go fairly well, although the fame had gone to their heads a little by the end of the first hour as they were demanding dressing rooms and heated seats in order to continue. We kicked off in NZ28C which has a bit of up market urban, think David Lindo with a Jag, a tash and a pipe, a little farmland and a railway station for in-tetrad entertainment. It seemed to go well, we strolled past the local private nursery and you could see the other kids thinking "hey they've got OS maps and notebooks and look at the Leicas", no doubt some of the parents will get it tonight "Mum, can I get a pair of 8x42 from Santa?"
"27 in that flock Dad"
Should the BTO wish to get in touch contact details are on on the blog front page, obviously a signing on fee will be needed but a couple of bags of Cadbury Buttons and an Atlas notebook each should just about do it.
These things needs to be sustainable though, it's no good not having a long-term strategy so we have to look beyond The Tetrad Twins and think how we're going to stay with the market as it matures. One option would be a "Birders Got Talent' compered by none other than the Drunkbirder who could probably give Ant& Dec a run for their money(it's not hard). Filling the show would be easy as the Punkbirders seem to spend as much time making strange videos and perfecting odd talents as they do birding. It's got shit hit written all over it.
There we are an entertaining and interesting blog post without mention of the fact that Mistle Thrush and three Reed Bunting were the most exciting birds we managed in this morning's atlas tetrad, roll on Thursday.
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
The use of Latin names for species provides birders with a universal language that ensures no matter where you are in the world two observers should be able to establish a name for the bird you are looking at regardless of the other language barriers they have.
Despite this there are still areas where terms can be used to describe differences amongst the same species that can create confusion.
Let's take Snow Goose Anser caerulescens most birders know it occurs in three forms, phases morphs and they are white snow and dark blue and (phew) intermediate. Clear, mmm.
If we look at the history in recent birding literature we might get somewhere. In the old days before I was even a twinkle in an eye the non-white version was often referred to as "Blue Goose", Peterson, Mountfort & Hollom in their 'Field Guide to the Birds of Britain' referred to it thus but stated it was a 'colour phase of this species'. Moving on in time a little to 1977 and Cramp & Simmons in 'Birds of the Western Palearctic' used the terms 'white morph' and 'dark morph' throughout their definitive text, with two single bracketed references to 'Blue Snow Goose' also mentioned. By 1988 Madge & Burn in 'Wildfowl An Identification Guide..' had reverted to using the term phase and wrote 'occurs in two distinct colour-phases, a white or snow phase and a dark or blue phase' they then adopted the terms 'snow phase and blue phase' in the remainder of their text. Fast forward to 1999 and Svensson & Grant's treatment in 'Collins Bird Guide' probably the most widely used field guide in Britain and Europe since, refers to 'two morphs' a 'white morph' and a 'dark morph' For once however they shed some light on the term 'morph' in the terminology section defining it as 'variant of certain appearance within a species, not geographically defined (cf.subspecies). The same as formerly often used phase'
So why did 'morph' replace 'phase' and why do many in the UK now insist on using 'blue' rather than the more accurate 'dark'?
Phase has multiple meanings, one of which implies that the condition referred to is temporary and will move to another 'phase'. Other observers have speculated that during the 20th century as more amateurs came into ornithology (and it became birding) that these meanings were confused and that a new term was sought that didn't imply a time related change, hence the introduction of morph. So morph whilst the new kid on the block relatively speaking being the term used in BWP and by Svensson & Grant would seem to be the way forward.
Which leaves us with 'blue' or 'dark'. Blue in conjunction with morph appears to have been adopted fairly recently in the UK, I can find no reference in BB so it is probably the final legacy of the old 'Blue Goose' name. There are not many sources where I can find extensive use of the term 'blue morph'. One is in the, otherwise above criticism, electronic BWPi where the images have been labelled 'blue morph' in contradiction to the Handbook text that fails to use this term even once. Taking a glance over the pond where Snow Goose is actually a wild breeding and resident species the definitive 'Birds of North America Online' prepared jointly by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Ornithologists' Union make reference to both 'dark' and 'blue' morph and current US birding guru David Sibley uses the term 'dark' morph in his Field Guide to Birds of North America, simply including a passing reference to the old Blue Goose name. There are many other authors who use multiple terms within the same text without comment (Lewington, Alstrom et al) suggesting a degree of comfort with the interchangeability of the terms.
If we are content to use the new term 'morph' rather than the older 'phase', then is there any reason not to adopt the term 'dark' in preference to 'blue' it would at least ensure that we were in synch with the major texts currently available on the species. The more technically accurate description might be 'dark bodied morph' though this is unlikely to catch on in the sound byte era as it's less punchy.
You can wake up now, I blame the blue dark nights.
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Blackbird, 1st-winter male
Friday, 13 November 2009
Starting very local with the closest Tetrad to home with a Greggs Traditional Cornish in the backpack first bird was a Robin, I suspect this blog would begin to lose readership rapidly if I drone on about every tetrad and every sighting so I'll restrict myself to the odd highlight.
Bird of the day, a nice Willow Tit almost at the northern edge of the tetrad calling it's distinctive three note contact call full of zzzz's from a small mixed wood with a stream running through. Two Common Buzzard calling a few hundred yards from home were a close second.
Biggest miss of the day, a flyover duck that looked suspiciously like a drake Northern Pintail heading toward Bothal Pond. Strange flight action it kept moving it's head as if to look down like an inverse Red-throated Diver. 23 Species with another three roving on the way home and a decent pastie.
I didn't find the county's first Cetti's Warbler but someone is going to in the next few weeks and the smart money might just be on someone doing Winter Atlas work being the finder.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
I don't often find myself thinking about what I'd do with large sums of money, I seem to be in amongst a small minority that thinks we're all pretty much affluent enough in the west and need to realise it. I guess this comes from spending a fair bit of time in countries with 'low labour costs' the term the industry I worked in used for paying what was often a pittance to people in Bangladesh, China, Romania, Morocco etc. Have a bit drive round the suburbs of Bangladesh and if you have any shred of intelligence and morality you'll soon stop whingeing about life over here.
However forty five million pounds is big dosh and I've found myself wondering what it might achieve in conservation terms. You could build 45 Saltholmes for a start, maybe even 46 if you didn't put Brabantia bins in them all. Perhaps buying up nine 7550 acre Northumbrian Estates in order to provide a safe haven for Hen Harriers would be more up your street?
You could find the last Slender-billed Curlew for 45m and have change to save the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. How many IBA's could be conserved, improved and perhaps expanded for 45,000,000? Makes you wonder.
Given the popularity of lotteries generally I also wonder why RSPB or Birdlife don't operate their own with the proceeds going to conservation, I might actually be tempted to buy the odd ticket if I felt the money was going to end up supporting things that matter as opposed to say a theatre in Stratford that is only ever going to be visited by a few thousand people most of whom are in the top 2% of the world's affluent anyway. It would be a fitting irony if a lottery could actually end the survival lottery that many of the planet's bird species are threatened with wouldn't it.
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Brabantia sp Image courtesy T. E. Scodirect
I left overjoyed, my morning hadn't been a complete waste. The 15 Black-tailed Godwit and single Little Egret on 'Bottom Tank' were almost superfluous. Now at last I had a record worth sending to the Durham county recorder. After a little research online I now think that this was probably a Brabantia 40L, if anyone else has noted this particular individual and can confirm the ID please leave a comment.
Saturday, 7 November 2009
Not wishing to waste a nice, bright morning I wandered around looking for other targets all a little difficult with the sun low in the southern sky and me on the north side of the river.
There are many reasons why birders, bird, probably as many reasons as there are species. For some it's all about the birds, the unparalleled beauty, others enjoy the thrill of the chase, dare I say hunt. For some its names or ticks on a list or lists, others value the rare, still more are seduced by the competitive lure of the combination of lists and rares .
Maybe its a little of all those I just mentioned but I keep finding more reasons, so here's another one from this morning.
1. What other hobby allows a man to crouch for an hour on an upturned fish crate surrounded by 4 inches of water on an ebbing tide yards from a commercial fish quay without feeling the slightest embarrassment?
Lost it? Not quite, trying hard to capture some Turnstone images just east of the fish quay I was struggling. The strong sunlight was resulting in heavy shadows on one side of the birds masking the detail. I knew I had to get between the sun and the birds but they were feeding along the tide line and I didn't fancy getting my feet wet. An upturned fish crate gave me an idea. I dragged the fish crate into the surf, jumped on and sat down. Gradually the Turnstone grew in confidence and fed nearer and nearer eventually passing right through my shadow allowing me to get some images that were halfway to reasonable.
Friday, 6 November 2009
Nothing notable on the journey up, Common Buzzard on a haystack and several large areas of standing water including what seemed like whole fields in places suggested very heavy localised rainfall.
I breezed into Budle Bay at low tide just after 09:30 and quickly picked out the first of the target birds adult white morph Snow Goose chilling with the Pink-footed Geese along the northern edge. Three Pale-bellied Brent Goose were a little further east and the main body of Barnacle Geese arrived whilst I was there, I counted over 160 but I've seen bigger numbers published elsewhere so either I missed a few in the channel or there were some elsewhere.
Pushing on to Stag Rocks it was cold but dry. First birds up were a couple of Long-tailed Duck with at least seven counted as the morning went on, one or two just beyond the breaking waves showing well. Several Red-throated Diver lounged around again beyond the breaking waves and further out. Two Slavonian Grebe provided the second year tick of the morning showing intermittently between dives about 100m south of the rocks.
With no sign of either of the winter plumage Black Guillemot, (apparently there have been two different birds, one adult, one 1st-winter) I headed to the lighthouse and took a look north. Another birder/walker joined me and it was he who picked out three Velvet Scoter flying toward Holy island at some distance. Most of the Long-tailed Duck were over this side with a single group of five, three male two female, counted.
A magnificent almost fully summer plumage Great Northern Diver sat almost due east and washed and preened for several minutes showing very well about 250m off the rocks. Small numbers of Purple Sandpiper moved along the rocks and a skein of 30 Pink-footed Goose headed south.
Back to the car and another hour searching for something Tystie but without reward. Perhaps another day although three out of four ain't bad to misquote Meat Loaf.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
This lunchtime one year later John Mcloughlin finds....
Olive-backed Pipit on Flambourough Head.
Right place, right time.
And has anyone else noted the increase this year, I reckon possibly up to 18 individuals (assuming all the birds on Shetalnd were different individuals) as opposed to eight and nine in last two years. Reasons?
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
They, along with Stewart and Stringer's comments have had me thinking about how it's almost impossible to keep abreast of everything when it comes to ID even for UK species. Both experienced birders, one lapsed and one current ringer and certainly with more experience of birds in the hand and bigger lists than me yet neither aware of Shirihai's text on Iris colour in relation to ageing Blackcap. Then again the only reason I had just read it was that Blackcap's have been often the only migrants I have seen on certain days this year and I dug the book out to check if there were any obscure races that I should perhaps be more aware of to add a bit of excitement and challenge to the "oh it's another Blackcap" moments.
1. The 'Shooting & Game' media should be consistently delivering the message that Illegal Persecution has no place in your sport. It should be a seen as a cancer that undermines the responsible and all particpants should be encouraged to root it out. If the number of column inches devoted to this message were equal to those criticising the conservation organisations such as RSPB and Natural England then people outside shooting may begin to believe their is a willingness to resolve the problem.
2. How about an industry accreditation/stewardship scheme that had Biodiversity Management Plans at it's core and was independantly scrutinised. The rewards for achieving different levels of accreditation could be directly linked to stewardship payments providing financial reward to those managing true biodiversity and achieving the highest standards. A combination of planned annual and random visits would verify the scheme. This could be used as a selling point in the same way as star ratings work for hotels and British Standards and ISO in other industries.
3. Committment ahead of the end of the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project to its findings & if diversionary feeding is demonstrated to work (again)it should be universally adopted (and incorporated into 2). The Brood Management Scheme proposed by Prof Steve Redpath should also be given due credence and tested as to viability.
4. Better promotion of the CAIP (Campaign Against Illegal Poisoning) with free advertising space in shooting magazines. Regular poison 'amnestys' on banned substances such as Carbofuran to take stocks out of circulation and put them beyond use.
5. I'd like to see a rural schools education programme to counter the underlying culture that dictates all birds of prey are bad, one that teaches the principals of predator/prey relationships to help the next generation of farmers, landowners, gamekeepers & shooters avoid the misconceptions that are so prevalent today. Perhaps an urban scheme to enlighten townies on countryside management might also be appropriate.
6. A requirement by law to notify the relevant authorities of the discovery of an active Hen Harrier nest placed upon all individuals.
7. Removal of the pressure being placed upon the Scottish government to issue licences to control Sparrowhawks & Common Buzzard by the Scottish Gamekeeper's Association and other shooting interests in Scotland.
Not much to ask really is it?
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Monday, 2 November 2009
A few days ago the voice of the shooting man James Marchington posted a provocatively titled piece on his blog 'So Where's The Illegal Persecution of Harriers?' highlighting that there were no 'confirmed' incidents of illegal persecution in 2008. Of course as James and those who carry out the destruction and nest disturbance are all too well aware, finding and providing evidence for these cases is extremely difficult. To be fair to him once we had finished with the handbags in the comments he did state his position as follows:
Let me state my position clearly. I know that illegal killing of raptors does happen. Although I've never witnessed it with my own eyes, I accept that people connected with shooting are sometimes responsible. I have never seen reliable statistics on the true extent of the problem, and can only speculate on how widespread it is. I am 100% against any illegal killing of raptors. Any gamekeeper or shooter who illegally kills a raptor is not worthy of the name, and I despise him. If I personally came across a case of this happening, I would not hesitate to report it to the authorities, and I would urge any gamekeeper or shooter to do the same. It is not only despicable it drags the reputation of shooting through the dirt.
Which is commendable and the only point I would take issue with is his comment about having 'never seen reliable statistics' as I'm not quite sure how he would suggest going about establishing that, a phone survey of every gamekeeper? "Have you shot any raptors lately?" or "Have you laid out any poison baits that could have inadvertently been consumed by raptors?"
A day or so later James goes off on one at the Independent for poor journalism in their front page story on wildlife crime, complaining "Is there a huge increase in actual crime, or is this an increase in the reporting of something that was already happening?" Slightly missing the point that regardless of whether there is more or less wildlife crime or whether it is simply being better reported it is still there and happening too often.
A case in point yesterday as I read about another raptor incident this time with a female Red Kite in Yorkshire. the bird died from illegal poisoning but the post mortem revealed "that the female kite had survived shotgun pellet wounds but had died from Carburofan and rat poisoning." This was the fourth such incident in the Washburn Valley in the last nine years (that have been found & reported). Oh and just so JM doesn't think I am being selective the shotgun pellets could have come from a black gay urban solicitor who likes to shoot at weekends or a Polish plumber who has brought his illegal shotgun into the country to catch what he can just like he did when he was at home or even a white gamekeeper who gets a knowing glance from his employer every time the 'hooky beaks' are mentioned. It should however be pointed out that no conclusion should be drawn from the coincidence that the area supports some of the 'finest English grouse Moors.'
To rub salt the national media reporting on Wildlife Crime figures (the same ones JM was disenchanted with) name 'Northumbria' as the wildlife crime capital "with 525 reported cases between February and July this year. The county is also responsible for the highest number of wildlife shootings." Aside from 'Northumbria' not existing, presumably they have mashed Northumberland & Durham's figures together to come up with this, it doesn't exactly
make you proud to live here does it?
Then today after nearly redeeming himself James, who obviously had a bad weekend, goes off on one again about the RSPB's press release. As Hen Harrier is not globally threatened JM reaches the conclusion that it's simply a case of "not as many as they'd (the RSPB) like breeding in Britain." You can read his post here and his 'cherry picking' of quotes from the BTO to support his belief that it ain't the shooters to blame. You will notice that he significantly makes no mention of the BASC's Chief Executive's comments in the same press release that "It is imperative that we find a solution to the conflict between grouse shooting and birds of prey and those who manage grouse moors must continue to be vigilant against persecution of harriers."
So up here in 'Northumbria' what really is the situation. Historically Selby (1831) described Hen Harrier as breeding regularly on many of the Northumberland Moors. By 1912 George Bolam blamed it's virtual disappearance on 'the advent of the gamekeeper with his traps and guns.' Subsequently numbers recovered slightly when planting of the Border Forests created additional suitable habitat. Sadly since the Nineties illegal persecution has played a significant role in keeping numbers low, 1993 saw a female and three young killed, 1995 four pairs persecuted, the same in 1996, 1999 saw Starlings laced with poison used at one site and so on.
At the same time numbers elsewhere, Scotland for example, away from grouse moors have grown.
We are where we are through a combination of factors, historical illegal persecution from a wide variety of sources as well as pesticide use have contributed to the near eradication of Hen Harrier as a breeding bird in England.
The last major studies in both England & Scotland (Etheridge et al 1997 & Hudson 1992)drew the same conclusions finding " Of territorial female Hen Harriers present on moorland in England in spring, only 28% breed successfully on commercially managed grouse moor compared with 70% on moors with special protection schemes." and in Scotland "only 20% of females successful on managed grouse moor compared with 60% on other moorland."
The conclusion of the English study is remarkably similar to that from Scotland: illegal persecution limits natural distribution and densities of Hen Harriers in the UK, a finding which has been acknowledged by game interests (e.g. Potts 1997).
Is there a solution? As managed game moors have unnaturally high numbers of Red Grouse they represent a good food source for the Hen Harrier. They are managed for profit and the reduction in available 'game' that can occur from Hen Harrier numbers allowed to breed freely will significantly reduce the profit. So either we ban game shooting removing the desire to control the Hen Harrier or we make it more profitable via stewardship schemes to manage game moors to include the Hen Harrier. The removal of chicks for a possible lowland re-introduction scheme could only ever be a short term measure and supplementary feeding whilst it may work needs to be paid for. It comes back to how much we care and whether we are prepared to see our taxes used to make rich landowners richer in exchange for abiding by the laws of the land.
Sunday, 1 November 2009
A stop at Monk's House Pool on the way home yielded 11 Northern Shoveler and a huge 400 strong flock of Linnet in the stubble field just south of the pool. I spent a while searching for other species, Twite or Snow Bunting but it seemed to be a single species flock, perhaps the biggest I've seen for some years.