Friday, 27 April 2012

Birding with a limp at Croxley Common Moor (27th April)

Straight after lecture, which finished at 15:10pm this afternoon I ran/ hobbled of to Croxley Common Moor, as I had smashed my knee cap into the flight of stone steps at school.  Despite this lagging me down I arrived at the moor at c.15:40pm.


I headed straight across the moor from east to west, near the railway bridge (generally the most productive region).  However, I could not locate anything except a few singing Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs Blackcaps.  Several Reed Buntings were also present as were 2-3 Green Woodpeckers and a Pheasant calling from nearby the Gade River.  I was limping back in the direction I had come when a Common Tern flew through followed by a text that Ian had located 5 Wheatear at Cassiobury Park (a potential first for me at the site).  I decided to turn the situation around and up my momentum and no sooner had I put the phone away I located my first 2 SWIFTS of the year hawking over the southern edge of the moor, followed by another year tick in the form of 2 WHITETHROATS.  I also nearly walking straight past my third year tick of the day, I just caught a glimpse of a brown bird perched in the open on a bramble bush and I quickly lifted my bins to reveal a stunning rufous CUCKOO! (maybe the day could be salvaged after all).  It remained for some time perched in the open, before flying low across the ground and landing in a small tree on the opposite side of the River Gade, still in good view, allowing me to take some rubbish shots on my phone.  Other birds of note, before a shower of rain set in were 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Jays, and several Swallows (up to 4).  Next I received further news that Wheatears had been reported at the site earlier today, I assumed they would have taken land fall near the eastern extent of the moor, were the grass is shortest.  Fortunately, luck was once again on my side and I bumped into 3 Wheatear (all stunning males, including a probable Greenlander).  I retraced my steps again back to the western corner, when a shower of rain set in.  Within minutes Wheatears were appearing all around me with a minimum total count of 8 Wheatear although I assume over 13+ were present in the nearby area.  Even better, the rain also brought in a stonking WHINCHAT, a very pleasing find.  It was mainly frequenting the central/northern edge of the moor, perching most of the time on long grasses or brambles (only once on the ground).  I lost it several times due to interruptions from dog walkers, and as I was getting the message out but I did get occasional good views (although it wasn't very approachable).  Other birds of note before I left at 17:50pm, included 4 Common Terns, many more Whitethroats (concentrated mainly near the river) and 2 Green Woodpeckers doing a stand-off, which involved swaying their necks from side to side in a threatening way to their opponent.


I still had to limp back through Watford to catch a bus and bypassed Cassiobury Park in hope of Ian's Wheatears.  To my surprise all 5 Wheatear were still on the hill with the wooden benches, next to the cedar.

In all, a rather good days after-school birding.

No comments:

Post a Comment