Sunday, 14 February 2010

Eagle Owl, Eating More Turnip & Otis

Time to blog has been limited over the past few days as I've had my nose to the grind, four days work as well as some website re-writing work for a client in Spain has left little spare time. None of this actually feels like work anymore of course as it's all bird related and therefore incredibly enjoyable. Perhaps no wonder then at 05:00 this morning that I should find myself parked a little way from a lake surrounded by tall pines watching at first some common birds such as Reed Bunting and Fieldfare move across the road in front of me. Then over my shoulder a magnificent Eagle Owl perched atop one of the pines just a few metres back turned to look in my direction. I struggled with the camera trying to turn and drop the window to get a shot but a speeding coach disturbed it and it flew off over the lake. I woke at this point to reflect on a rare vivid dream as it isn't too often I get a lifer in my night dreams.

Yesterday morning was free with work starting late so I aimed to get two more TTV late visits completed. Neither produced anything particularly interesting, 41 Redwing in a Sheep field in the first and 25 Reed Bunting in the second. The weather was variable so the first felt more like a 'Wetland Bird Survey' with me in the water whilst the bright sunshine of the second had me wishing I'd left the layers at home. The Reed Bunting were all around a winter Turnip field and no doubt the same birds reported a few weeks back when we started the Bird Aid supplementary feeding. Not sure if it was the weeds in the margins between the rows of Turnip that are providing the food although I'm sure someone more knowledgeable about this will provide the answer. Struck me though that if Turnip fields provide good winter habitat maybe we should get the Turnip Marketing Board to step up their TV advertising.

Over recent weeks I have been lucky enough to have several conversations with fellow blogger Charlie Moores from 10000birds. He has made no secret that he is looking to switch careers from his current one into 'nature' and as I continue my own personal experiment along similar lines we've been sharing contacts and ideas which has been a pleasant and useful experience. One of Charlie's hats is as editor of Otis the magazine of the Great Bustard Group. He kindly sent me a couple of copies of the new issue which is simply amazing for such a small group. Professional, glossy, great pictures and a full history of the project to date it's easily on par with any of the local Wildlife Trust publications that I've seen. Well worth checking out as it's very up to date with a piece on how the Bustards coped with the recent cold snap.

Missed out today on the mini-Waxwing explosion but after looking for the 10 reported at Ashington behind the Block&Tackle I have a feeling they may return as there are at least three ornamental cherries with fruit in a 50m area and 1m due south at Stakeford roundabout a large berry filled Cotoneaster. Whilst these berries are obviously less palatable otherwise the local Blackbirds would have finished them off weeks ago they might offer the only food supply left at this time of year so worth keeping an eye out.

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