Tuesday, 5 January 2010

On a clear Day you can see for miles

I had a walk round Bockhill, St Margaret's, this afternoon, once it became apparent that the England team would struggle to take wickets in the 40 deg heat. A party of 12 Yellowhammer, at the edge of the football pitch, was a good start, but thereafter I struggled to find many birds.

When I got to the top of Old Stairs Hill I was surprised to find that I was able to see the wind farm in the Thames Estuary. This is about 11-12 Km out from North Foreland, and I reckon about 36-37 km from where I was standing. A few minutes later the sharp, clear light had gone a fine snow was falling, reducing visibility to a couple of Km.

I met "The all year swimmers", who had also noticed the wind farm for the first time. They confessed that they hadn't been swimming in the sea since November, I was shocked. I walked on and then found that Pete, their dog had chosen to follow me. Only trouble was I couldn't tell which was he was facing! I made my way to the "Empty wood" where I came face to face with a Little Owl, that disappeared before I could get a photo. A trudge round finally succeeded in getting my objective, when I flushed a Woodcock. Again views were only in flight and of the vanishing sort. A covey of 16 Grey Partridges were the first of the year for me. Although Blackbirds were numerous and there were a few Song Thrushes around (including one hammering a snail in Bert's Garden) there were no winter thrushes.

At the farm there's been some progress on the renovation of the cottage, although I guess it will be slow going if the weather remains like it is at the moment.

As I walked past the Gun Emplacement a kafuffle made me look up and I was just in time to see a cloud of feathers falling from what at first look like a small whirring helicopter carrying a large suspended load. It was in fact a female Peregrine carrying a rather fat Wood Pigeon. She struggled to fly, such was the bulk of the Pigeon, managing to slowly traverse the large field, followed by the male. I saw her touch down about 200 yards away but then lost her in the folds of the land. All this took place with my camera neatly snuggled in it's bag to save it from the snow, and it was f8 for a fortnight anyway. A memorable sight, recorded, for the time being at least, in my memory, but without a digital back up.
The only new bird added to the garden year list in the last two days was a Pied Wagtail, bring the total to a miserable 24. The Yellowhammers were only 300 yards away, so perhaps they'll pas a visit.

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