For only the second time in the history of this blog I’m posting without any images, but I want to keep up-to-date at this crucial time of year and also have news of a very special bird.
I planned visits to four or five sites during the course of Saturday morning (30th) but ended up staying at just one! The site in question is privately owned so regretfully has to remain undisclosed as I don’t want to jeopardize my own access. Anyway, it started fairly normally – a few Whitethroats and number of Linnets seemed the best on offer and later a juvenile Stonechat was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. I was thinking of moving on, but my attention was drawn to a small sallow which had a couple of birds flitting around the bottom which turned out to be Reed Buntings, but the view through my binoculars also picked up the movement of something else – it was a Wryneck!! I almost laughed audibly at this point as the next site I planned to visit was the Mill Field LNR at Old Basing – to look for this very species! The time was now 8:05; now comes the downside. At the expense of everything else I spent the next two hours’ trying to get some sort of image but just couldn’t. The bird was most elusive, as elusive as the Mill Field bird in 2011. It would appear very briefly, but by time I had raised my camera (which is bloody heavy) it would disappear – I have a number of shots of out of focus foliage! It could then take up to twenty minutes to appear again but I was determined to get an image; any image! Twice I gave up and started to walk away, only to once again see it fly across in front of me and out of view, and the process started again! A Saturday in August means football of course, and as we were at home to Sunderland (we won 1-0!) I had an appointment with a pre-match pint at the famous QPR home pub ‘The Crown and Sceptre’ in Shepherd’s Bush so really had to leave; the time was now 10:30 and I had last seen the bird at 10:15. I left feeling a bit dejected which on reflection was ridiculous – I’d just found a very scarce county species on my own patch and it was a first for the site, plus it was another excellent notch on the year list! Once again, It’s the tick that counts!
I’ve always loved Wrynecks, and I think it’s because as a young birdwatcher starting out, I can vividly remember reading about them (and other species) and thinking they only existed in books! I’ve seen dozens since but they still remain special.
Needless to say, I didn’t go anywhere else on Saturday but did unsuccessfully follow up on an earlier report of a ring-tail harrier near Ramsdell which could very well have been a Montagu’s – many thanks Dave/James for passing this information on.
I returned to the Wryneck site on Sunday morning but it appeared to have moved on. This time I did manage to visit some other sites, the highlights of the morning being singles of Tree pipit and Lesser Whitethroat at the Mill Field LNR and two Redshank at Rampton’s Lane gravel pits – a first for the site.
For locals: I have just learnt that the Borough Council are planning to turn Old Common in Basingstoke into football stadium and car park. The 8 acre site which has been open green space since the 13th century and will be lost under concrete! The area currently has a variety of habitats for wildlife including scrub, grassland and trees. The Public Consultation on the future of Old Common has started and every opinion counts! See the link below.
Thanks for reading and apologies for the lack of images!