Monday, 6 December 2010

It's a game of 90 minutes

Great hour and half this afternoon, 13:45 to 15:15, but on foot close to home.  I haven't been to West Hartford for months and so a walk up Horton Burn and then once 'round the block' was a welcome release from domesticity.  And what an eventful time it was, dear Reader.

After and earlier stroll with the hound, the Burn from Northburn Wood west was busy with 20 or so species, including Redshank and Snipe lifting from the shore, and Fieldfare and Song Thrushes amongst the arboreally-based species.  After depositing 'Herself' at home, bins and camera replaced the canine companion for a more leisurely walk around the patch.  Leisurely?  Nope, not with deep snow and short boots!

Walking north over the Burn a male Sparrowhawk came in from my left at head height after a Starling, which it caught and grounded close by.  Camera de-cased, turned on and ready to go, the naked eye showed the classic 'guarding my dinner' open-winged pose.  Cameraman stationary, camera raised and yes, you've guessed it, bird off low with squealing prey and into a nearby garden.

To the garden, and bird not immediately found (it was on the path to the front door and so below the snow line).  And another repeat of the stand:raise:fly-off scenario.

After a brief chat with a neighbour, the Sprawk was seen flying south back over the Burn, pursued by two Crows and dropped behind the shrubs.  Another sprint, following the noise of the duelling Corvids, and the raptor was found again, in classic plucking pose, and once again, our eyes met and it flew off NE, never to be seen again.  Messers Dunn, Malloy (and even Smith!!!), I would take my hat off to you if I had one on.

Walking west along the north edge of the burn, two of these were next on the list:


And continuing to West Hatford, where the scenery was Christmas card-like:

Walking in from the Fire Station, a flock of small birds flew north and into the smaller trees running east from the SE corner of the sub-station.  As stealthy as a 6' 4" adult male can be in knee-deep snow, I 'stealthily' crept along the hedge between the farmer's field and the trees and raised the bins.  Goldfinches!  Half a dozen of 'em, and as many Lesser Redpolls too, feeding on the trees and occasionally the snow below where the missed seeds had dropped.  But whilst watching, two larger, cleaner, whiter Redpolls were spotted - Mealies!  Superb, and time for a picture (but into the sun, so a nice silhouette of a tree and a couple of birds!!).  Moving position to get a lit view, several attempts at capturing the moment failed, and the flock took to air flying off north.

I then bumped into a guy who had just seen a Barn Owl near the woods to the north, but that eluded me.  And as he spoke, a Woodcock flew north from the thicket down the eastern edge.

And so walking west towards the Flashes, half a dozen Blackbirds fled the trees between the two frozen water bodies, and as I stood waiting to see the cause, another male Sparrowhawk, overhead and off east after one bird.  Moments later, one or two squeals, and I ran gazelle-like back and over the ditch and into the field to the north in the hope of a shot, but no sign of the birds until the Sprawk flew out of the hedgerow, but without its grub!  So a 1 - 1 draw at the end of the match.

A squadron of 11 Grey Partridge flew low and east from the smaller Flash towards the sub-station.

Back to see if the Redpolls had returned, but not so, but another Woodcock flying north and beautifully lit by the setting sun.

So, dear Reader, a crackin' walk and very eventful.  And if you are Gary - The Nemesis - Smith, I have not increased the year list.  The Redpoll addition has been balanced by removing the Egyptian Goose after dialogue with ACAS!