Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Post-North Ron Doldrums (20th November-14th December)

The journey back from North Ron involved a brief flight to Kirkwall (the Peedie Sea produced Long-tailed Ducks and a Black Swan) followed by an overnight stay before continuing the following morning with Kevin and Alison in their camper-van to South Ronaldsay where we took the ferry to Gills Bay.    A brief stop at John O' Groats was followed by a long journey south to Inverness and then finishing the journey by coach to London.  The ferry crossing produced a couple noteworthy birds including Great Northern Divers, 2 Bonxies, Puffin, Black Guillemots and Long-tailed Ducks.

I'd barely recovered from the journey but decided that a visit to Staines Res the day after I got back from Scotland (21st November) wouldn't hurt. Reward in the form of 3 Scaup, large numbers of Tufted Duck, Mallard, Pochard, Wigeon, lesser numbers of Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler and Goldeneye.

Employing the North Ron birding style on my patch by walking as many hedrows as possible and zig-zagging across the fields was well worth the effort Ephraim and I invested. The patch produced numerous Goldcrests, Redwings, Fieldfares, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds erupting around us as we walked the periphery of the fields. Despite the mild winter, the technique paid dividends with the highlight being my first patch Woodcock bursting from cover and making a bid for freedom over the nearest tall hedge. Yellowhammers were also present around much of the farmland along with lesser numbers of Bullfinches, the occasional Little Owl and other wildlife in the form of a Red Admiral and Fox.

A second visit to Staines Res and Moor with Ephraim produced a total of 7 Water Pipits along the banks of the River Colne, a Jack Snipe, 2 Cetti’s Warblers, Stonechats and flyover Siskins.

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