Sunday, 7 February 2016

This week on the patch, 1st-7th February

Just three patch visits this week, and sadly minimal photos again as my camera is still out of action.

Tuesday 2nd February

The now regular after work visit to the patch this evening saw the water levels surprisingly high and access to the main meadows by the river was tricky, even in wellies. To be fair, there wasn't a huge amount waiting for me even when I did manage to get through, aside from ten Teal on the pool east of St Catherine's Lock - which I've decided I'll refer to as St Catherine's Pool from now on. Overhead, two each of Lesser Black-backed Gull and Egyptian Goose flew north and south-west, respectively, as the daylight dwindled, followed shortly by twenty Pied Wags heading towards Guildford. Walking back past the lock keeper's cottage and towards the board walk a dozen or so Canada Geese flew in to the marsh close by, presumably looking to roost and seemingly either not aware or not bothered about me being just yards away. Their arrival was followed closely by a Barn Owl gliding low over the path ahead of me and off through the trees at the south end of the meadows towards Broadford Marsh, flushing a few Snipe and Teal as it went.

Friday 5th February

Two visits today amounting to around five and half hours in total. Highlights of the morning visit included the 1st winter male Stonechat in the scrubby field immediately north-west of St Catherine's Lock, plus a pair of Reed Buntings lingering in a bush by the lock itself. There were Teal dotted about all over the place, with at least four on St Catherine's Pool, ten on the Railway Bridge Pool and a pair on Broadford Marsh viewed from the Railway Line Walk. The usual pair of Kestrels were out hunting, and a Raven flew north-east mid-morning. Two Meadow Pipits west over the river as I was on my way home were only my third record here this year.
The afternoon visit was a good opportunity to catch up with Francis Kelly but also produced the better birds of the day. On St Catherine's Pool there were a drake Teal and a pair of Shoveler. As we walked down the towpath near the lock keeper's cottage, a dozen Redpoll flew over our heads. Chiffchaffs were heard but not seen by the railway bridge towards Artington, and a little further north at the end of the alley that runs N/S adjacent to the railway. Returning to St Catherine's Lock we found a Little Grebe on the river - a patch tick for me. As we waited on the bridge by the lock, hoping for the Barn Owl to appear seven Egyptian Geese flew south-west to roost. We were also able to confirm the presence of three Kestrels on site, as we saw an adult male and adult female together, followed a little later by an immature male - although we never actually saw all three together. As the light faded and the wind increased, any owl action seemed unlikely so we headed for home, although a flyover Little Egret made for a nice end to the day. Also of note were at least twenty-six Magpies gathering to roost at the southern end of the meadows.
What happens if you drop your phone down the loo!

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