Thursday 2 April 2020

Coronavirus and birding walks!

Wednesday 2 April

Good to see that my "anonymous birder" has sent in another birding report, this time illustrating what can be achieved on a walk to "improve his or her coronavirus exercise.  And our, presumably, avid birder has certainly come across a good selection of birds so all I can say is please keep exercising and let us know what you are seeing whilst out and about.  I shall, henceforth, call you my "Anonymous Birder" and continue to look forward to further episodes.  Again, do not worry about adding photos as I can certainly find a few to illustrate your reports - assuming you have possibly secreted your hidden binoculars about your person and no need to take a camera as well.  My special thanks for taking the trouble to share your experience with us.

A coronavirus walk in the neighbourhood: Wednesday 1 April

With us all being told ”to get fit for coronavirus" the best I can immediately think of that is practical for me is to take a longer walk in a people-free area and I knew a likely spot with a body of water called Shrubberry.  The first 3km of this walk is on a paved footpath alongside a main road, not people's normal ideal choice, and there was indeed no pedestrians. However, I still had to make my way to the main road from home.  On seeing a lycra-clad, tall and slim lady runner coming in the opposite direction, we quickly took opposite sides of the road as we passed, but more of my best bird of the day latter.

As I was walking I was seeing/hearing several species including Greenfinch, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Robin. Wood Pigeon, Jackdaw, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Blackbird and when I cleared the conurbation, Crow flying across in front of me, a suspected distant Lapwing that kindly made its way in my direction looping above the hedge bordering the road, a pair of flying Mute Swan which I was latter to see in a field, and several male and female Pheasant.

Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus (PHOTO: Bob Wright)
Taking a minor road serving a handful of properties a male Yellowhammer was singing from a tree, then flew away from me but then returned to its original position.

I heard, then saw, a Buzzard, the first of several I was to come across including one that was a quite light colour.  A couple of Collared Dove favoured one property and a small pond over the hedge held 2 Moorhen , at least one Coot and 3 male and 1 female Mallard.

Common Coot Fulica atra Bob Wright)
A thicket ahead of me proved to hold at least a couple of Chiffchaff, several Chaffinch, both male and female, and several Goldfinch whilst the field beyond it held at least a dozen Lapwing, one of which diced with a Crow.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus Bob Wright)
Viewing through a gap in the hedge on the opposite side of the track where a footpath passes through via a stile, in a field I can see perhaps the Swans that I saw flying earlier and 4 Canada Geese.  A Long Tailed Tit flew in front of me.

Continuing on up the track I can hear a Reed Bunting calling from a very dense hedge, but I can’t see it and it stays in cover.  A Song Thrush is calling from the wood ahead of me and I eventually see it. Looking to the back of a field to my right a flock of circa 50 Fieldfare were feeding .

Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus (PHOTO: Bob Wright)
Through the wood and out of the other side, the track is now a wide grassed footpath through the centre of a large undulating field that is favoured by Skylark, some up in the air, others on the field.  But what is that I can hear?  It’s a Woodlark in the sweet chestnut wood to my right, not a species that I have ever come across in this location before, and is the nearest to home I have come across one.  Definitely my bird of the day and lycra free! It continued to call for most of the 15/20 minutes I was in the general area and most certainly it was a calling perch. A Meadow Pipit flew up from the field calling “mipit.” A distant, not initially much bigger than a speck bird,  flying in my direction turned out to be a Grey Heron .

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis (PHOTO: Bob Wright)
But what were another species doing in this fallow field.  When I reach the lake I find that they are 2 of a dozen Shelduck.   A new species for the day so on and around the water were a pair of Gadwall cruising together, 40/50 Teal, and maybe 60 Grey-lag Geese.

About turn, and whereas there is an alternate shorter route home that might have produced different species, the safest for people distancing was to re-trace my outgoing route.  Species were generally repeats of those already seen however, a Mistle Thrush which I had heard singing showed itself in the wooded area at the other side of the undulating field, as did a Wren.  On the home side of the same wooded area 2 Hare in a field adjacent to the track passed 20 meters away as if I was invisible.

Mistle Thrush Turdus  viscivorus (PHOTO: Bob Wright)
Whilst I did see 3 cyclists, the only pedestrian I saw was a person stood on a pavement by the main road and fortunately they were waiting for a bus that came and whisked them away, which meant I didn’t have to deviate from my preferred route.

So home, 12 km in 3 hours, about 35 species, and am I “fitter for corona virus?"  Certainly fitter than if I had being watching the TV for the period.

Species recorded:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pheasant, Heron, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Wood Lark , Meadow Pipit , Dunnock , Robin, Wren, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush , Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Yellow Hammer , Reed Bunting.

Anonymous Birder

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