18 March 2012

Return to the patch (again & again)

Ok, so it was Saturday morning (17th March) and for some reason I made the decision to head down to my old stomping ground, King's Mill Res', and do some proper birding instead of that silly twitching nonsense. Upon arrival at KMR, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of vehicles in the car park! That usually means no other birders have arrived before me but more importantly that there would be minimal numbers of dog walkers and bread throwers!
Due to the peaceful atmosphere my first area of coverage was the scruffy ditch adjacent to the car park where a Water Rail lives and luckily he (or she) was in! I attempted to 'pap' it but my Mobi-Scoping kit just wouldn't focus down close enough. I told him (or her) that I'd be back later to try again, said our goodbyes and went our seperate ways. I headed to 'Thee Olde Wheatear Field' (AKA The Lawson Mardon Paddock) and as I expected, there, on the short cropped turf and perching upon various stuff like posts, upturned baths and wheelbarrows, was NO Wheatears! Too early?
Prime Wheatear turf (minus Wheatear).
Prime Wheatear Posts (minus Wheatear).
Prime Wheatear wheelbarrow (minus Wheatear).
So not dejected in the slightest, I carried on with my ornithological hunting but with the volume being raised by joggers, dog walkers and bread chuckers, I headed towards the viewing platform in order to avoid being trampled. Nearing the platform, I had a quick scan over to the SE and noticed a small raptor circling to the left of Hamilton Hill. I then noticed a much larger bird being rattled by a corvid! The bigger bird was actually an even larger corvid - RAVEN! I locked my scope onto it and enjoyed a good 3 or 4 minutes of aerial acrobatics as the two birds seemingly playfully jostled until the Crow got bored and the Raven sauntered off south east.
I then met up with Rich Challands. We did the obligatory 'stand near the SW corner and look at Snipes & Teals' stuff and spoke eloquently about cats & their owners and then it was time for me to leave.
KMR is about 6.8 miles from my house and should take (according to google) 17 minutes by car. So it was only right for Rich to wait 'til I got home before he should text me with news of a Jack Snipe at the Sailing Club Marsh. Needless to say, I was back at KMR within 12 minutes but alas even with no traffic on the roads(!) I was too late. The Jack Snipe had been flushed. By a dog? A Jogger? Horse? Stray cat? Elephant? Nope! It had been flushed by a fucking FROG! Yep a FROG!
Luckily Rich had seen where it had ditched back down so there was no choice other than to slip on our wellingtons and get stuck into the marsh. It didn't take long for our ingenius plan of clapping, shouting, jumping and smashing cymbals together to work as the little snipe soon got fucked off with it and silently erupted from the boggy ground. It circled above our heads a few times, obviously wanting to ditch down again but due to our presence it bottled it and chose a smaller pond over the railway. Chuffed with that, we went to see if the Water Rail was still at home. It was.

Mr or Mrs Water Rail posed majestically before she had to nip to Asda
I left for home again but I'd only gone about two miles when I received a text from Wayne Collingham. I had to go back AGAIN! Spinning the motor round, I tanked it back, dumped the motor on the entrance track, met Rich and ran over the A617. Wayne was stood in the middle of 'Thee Olde Wheatear Field' looking at this -

Gorgeous Miss Wheatear trying to say ''I've been here all morning'' But I know she's lying!
On a serious note, in almost 18 years of watching KMR, the majority of my Wheatear sightings have been in this field and most have been discovered in the second, late morning, search. Is this because they continue migrating for a few hours after dawn before hitting the deck for the day? Does anyone know?
The excellent morning was topped off with KMRs first singing Chiffy of the spring. I then got in the motor, turned my phone off and went home. My late afternoon/evening was spent having a Cuba meeting with the Cuba Crew. We discussed little and drank lots. The latter being the cause of my failure to get out birding today.

I'll never learn.

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