Wednesday 22 November 2023

The Magic of March 2023; Part 2

No spellbinding fireworks for the second half of magic which in reality, rather fizzled out.

Saturday 18th March; Go(ss)ing for it!

Another visit to our go-to local site for Goshawks. It's no secret that Goshawks are expanding and can be found in many woodlands nowadays, but unfortunately they still fall foul of direct persecution from folk who sadly don't see the value in having them as an important part of an avifauna. Hence I will never divulge where I go to see them.

Despite being a mainly sunny early afternoon with just the odd shower that rattled through, this stakeout didn't turn an awful lot up. Yes we saw a couple of Goshawks, and that is always a treat, and the male did entertain with some display, but they were distant and once again I didn't get the photo opportunity that I crave. 

Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)

There were other flyover birds that were more interesting. A Woodcock crossed the field and a pair of Crossbills flew from one stand of trees to another for another year tick.

Year List addition;

170) Common Crossbill

Sunday 19th March; Unspotted Woodpecker

Another search for the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers proved fruitless. Only birds of note were a couple of early Chiffchaffs.

Later in the day we nipped up to Ardley to get our first Wheatears of the year. Spring is springing!

Year List addition;

171) Wheatear

Wednesday 22nd March; Slim Pickings at Slimbridge

On Mrs Caley's birthday, we headed to the WWT Slimbridge, more for a day out rather than to target any specific birds. There was nothing to twitch and nothing to see for a year tick until we spotted a Spoonbill asleep way out from one of the hides. As per usual there were lots of Geese around. A Ross's Goose kept company with the Greater White-fronted Geese and a blue morph Snow Goose was buddied up with Barnacle Geese.

Ross's Goose (Anser rossii) & Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)

Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens) & Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)

However, Slimbridge always offers a good selection of birds and we had fine views of a pair of the Cranes feeding very close to one of the Rushy hides. If you can be bothered, I can't, then you can look up on the Great Crane Project website which two individual birds they are.

Common Crane (Grus grus)

Spring was in the air judging by the amount of pair-bonding and early mating going on.

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Probably the highlight of the day though was a lovely pink flushed Black-headed Gull that was performing nuptials with its mate on the South Lake.

Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

Year List addition;

172) Spoonbill

Friday 24th March; Another Go

Another attempt where I hoped to get a nice and close flyover from the Goshawks and another attempt where again, the birds shunned me and offered only distant views. I'm ever hopeful though so will try one more time this spring.

Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)

Buzzards, Ravens and Red Kites showed well enough as did a Kestrel and Sparrowhawk but I wasn't there for them.

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

Saturday 25th March; Patching Things Up

With breezy and showery weather we decided we'd stay local for a change. We're not patch birders, far from it, mainly because I get bored quickly and seeing the same stuff all the time doesn't give me much of a buzz. But sometimes it's nice to stay local and only have a five-minute drive to get home after birding. We were on the hunt for early spring migrants but after checking our local Wetlands Reserve, the potential migrant hotspot of Muswell Hill on the Oxon/Bucks border (which sometimes, but not very often, turns up something a bit scarcer) and a farmland walk at Lower Heyford, the only birds of note that we saw was a pair of year tick Corn Buntings and a nice Wheatear.

Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

Year List addition;

173) Corn Bunting

Red Kite (Milvus milvus)

Friday 31st March; Farmoor Rain

The month rather fizzled out with a very damp walk at Farmoor. We paid most attention to the Pinkhill area because at least there we could shelter from the incessant rain in the hide. Most of the birds stayed away from us too, no Water Rail that had been showing for all comers in the previous few days nor the Osprey that had been seen on several occasions. We did find a first Blackcap for the year and a potential new tenant for the nest intended for the Osprey.

Greylag Goose (Anser anser)

Otherwise it was only nice weather for Ducks (and Grebes). 

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Year List addition;

174) Blackcap

Great Tit (Paris major)

Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)

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