Monday, 25 October 2010

Cock 'o the North

After the northern out post of the family departed this morning I walked down to the farm in the hope of finding a late autumn special.

In one of the bottom corners of the Paddock there's a water trough for the ponies. It is a great attraction for birds and the hedge here often holds interesting birds.

One of the most notable things today was the number of Blackbirds around. As I walked down the Droveway several seemed nosily exit from every bush as I headed towards the Paddock, and there were several in this corner waiting to drop in for a drink. As well as the Blackbirds the hedge also held a good number of Chaffinches and several Song Thrushes.

I noticed a bright patch in the bush nest to the trough and a closer look showed it to be a Brambling. This is one of the most migratory of the finches, moving from it northern breeding grounds southwards in the autumn. If their food supply, the berries of various plants fails in their normal wintering grounds there can be large irruptions of this species, when it can sometimes occur in enormous flocks.

I don't know if it was tired, having just arrived or if it was just naturally unafraid of humans, but it allowed me to approach very close before it moved. Even then, as I very slowly edged closer, it just hopped on to one of the outer branches and still remained quite un-phased.

Even though, at this time of year they are much duller than they are in the spring this female is still an attractive looking finch. On the picture above the striking white back and rump can be seen. When they are in mixed flock with other finches, especially Chaffinches it is often the white back that alerts one to their presence.

This year looks as if it is going to be a good year for Bramblings in Kent with quite large numbers already reported from various sites. Another normally scarcer visitor that has arrived in good numbers is the Waxwing, and already two have be reported at Bockhill and there are several places reporting small flocks, including Dungeness and Meopham in Kent. If you've got berry bushes in the garden they are worth watching out for. As I walked up the Monument a Redstart was flitting about at the top of the Paddock, probably the same one that's been on the Leas over the road for a few days, and a Lapland Bunting called as it flew over. I saw nothing exceptional but it was a very pleasant afternoon, the sort of bright autumn day that gets you out in the fresh air. Rain is forecast for the next two days, but tomorrow might not be too bad in the morning, so it'll be an early walk in the morning.

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