Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Winter valley bird watch 2nd February

Well I did well with the weather; I managed to supply a beautiful bright winter's day, but failed to produce the marsh harrier-will try harder next time. We covered ten different sites across the valley and recorded 67 different species within 273 separate records. My favourites of the morning were the goldeneye at Hardwick Parks  and goldcrest which I guess are always around if you are looking carefully, but I am usually galloping along on one mission or another, so miss these tiny secretive birds. Gill and I were surprised not to have seen a chaffinch all morning then, as we stopped to ponder on the flood of water rushing down the Windrush, we saw not only chaffinch but also a kingfisher. This is probably not the one we saw but it is a great photo that Graham Lenton gave me and is a local bird.

Photo Copyright Graham Lenton
I suppose that is why bird watching is always so tantalising, you never quite know what you are going to see. We all met up for lunch in the hide to share bird stories and tease Keith  and Jon who got the largest list by far as usual, not that we are competitive. The conversation is always far ranging and we covered the delights of the wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria which Graham had just seen on a successful birding trip in France. When I looked it up I realised that I too had seen these amazing birds when I was in the Pyrenees a couple of years ago.
There were good numbers and a wide variety of ducks with pochard, red crested pochard, gadwall, teal, wigeon, shoveler and pintail across the main pits. Some interesting records were a grey partridge by Barry and Ian at Rushy Common and the flock of 50 pied wagtail plus chiffchaff by Keith and Jon at Witney Lakes.
 Shy bullfinch and photo inside the hide to prove it was sunny.

Anthony told us about the pintail and shoveler numbers at Dix Pit so Gill and I stopped off for another beautiful sight of more than 200 shovelers and 60 pintail in the late afternoon sun, a delightful end to an excellent bird watching day.
We will run another valley birdwatch in May so if you would like to join us please let me know on lwvp@oxfordshire.gov.uk


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