Friday, 21 February 2014


I visited Stu's farm today, the female kestrel was about so has definitely improved from the earlier scare at the start of the year. My original intentions was to photograph the kestrel, a few smaller birds on the farm and the Buzzards which at the moment is three birds disputing over breeding territory but it soon became apparent I was going to have to put my best birding hat on and do some counting and leave the photography (well sort of) to one side for now.
As I drove down the lane towards the farm the hedgerow was literally heaving with redwing as I drove down I started off a Mexican wave of Redwing all taking flight from either the hedge or the ditch along the side of the hedgerow. I got to the gate and parked up and had a look in the field as most had dropped down into the field, I noticed some Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush and the regular Starling flock, the Mistle thrush weren't a surprise as there is a breding pair on the farm as I approached the gate everyting scatterd, shit! The Redwing were in three flocks and settled down on the far side but were reasonably easy to count, 43 Redwing in total, the Mistle Thrush were really easy, 2 in total they stood out like a sore thumb to be fair. The Fieldfare were harder as everytime the Starlings took flight and moved to a different part of the field it would flush the Fieldfare mid count. All the birds were busy feeding away which also made it quite hard as they were constantly on the move eventually I settled with circa 50 Filedfare (scientific/expert or what!). Normally on the farmland during the winter whilst walking around it would be at best 20 Fieldfare and the Redwing have been in short supply on the farm my best count was at the begining of winter with 15 Redwing and my average walk around I'd be lucky to get even 1!
 I parked up and had a brief chat and lent a hand to Stuart moving some stuff in his yard, I have a fork lift license so spent half hour moving stuff around for him (his son on booze cruise in Greece), the usual Chaffinches and Pied Wagtails were in the yard and Stu mentioned he had seen some Grey Wagtails in the field and as he described "small brown'ish birds too in a small flock" I had already heard some brief calls of the Skylarks which Stu had said been calling for the last five days or so. Not a surprise really as he had six birds on the farm last summer, which given Skylarks numbers I think is really good.
 I made my way to the field with the small brown jobs in them, located the Grey Wags and Pied Wags easily, the grey wags I didn't bother counting as it looked like the "right"amount I see all the time here but was caught by surprise by the number of Grey Wagtails, 6 in total not too bad I thought but what was also a pleasant surprise was the brown job's were a small flock of 11 Meadow Pipits, couldn't get close enough nor the right side of the sun (looking into it). I couldn't see any stragglers so it was one count I was happy to say with some confidence was 100% accurate, I think.
 I couldn't get close to the pipits more due to unsuitable footwear then skittish birds and Stu had promised me a nice lunch and ale for helping out. So didn't want to drag loads of mud into his house.


  1. For a 'non-photographic day', that's not a bad set of images, Doug!

    I reckon this year's been a bumper year for Redwings and Fieldfare. I wonder how long they'll stay with us with this winter being particularly mild, even if it has been ridiculously wet and windy!

    It seems that the Starlings are making a good comeback too. I'm told that murmuration near Cossington has been a regular occurrence, and I saw a good number out Burrough way yesterday, although not quite a 'murmuration's' worth! Was also listening to Skylark too.

    1. I found the photography easier then the counting:o)
      I agree about the Fieldfare and Redwing but judging from the feeding activity of this little lot it looks like they could be leaving soon, haven't seen many Song Thrushes this winter though.
      I was hoping my routes this week might have taken me out towards Leicester way I might have to go by car, our Starlings have increased but as yet no murmurations sadly

  2. An excellent day. I have never seen a Redwing.

  3. Thanks Adrian, they're a beautiful looking bird, about Blackbird in size with a red underwing, they should be leaving the UK soon, you might catch a few in Scotland

  4. Glad it's good news about the Kestrel Douglas.
    It's nice that you're friends with a farmer who is obviously sympathetic to the wildlife on his farm and also allows you to go around his land and take photographs, even if it is a bit soggy at the moment! And for a few minutes helping out you get lunch and beer thrown in...can't be bad!!
    And you got some lovely set of images, especially the Grey Wag, I've not seen one yet this year!...[;o)

    1. Thanks Trevor,
      I've known Stu before I became a birder, he was actually once very high flying banker/trader type got bored/sick and took up farmimg, we used to go footie together once upon a time too.
      He's always had an interest in nature, long before I did, he's a good bloke.