Well, as I said in a previous post I am taking a more laid back approach to the patch this year and just visiting when the mood takes me. As it so happens I have visited a few times this past week undertaking walks to try and locate the patch's Buntings. Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers have been noticeable by their absence so far in 2014. Both myself and Terry H have put in a number of visits over the weeks and neither of us has seen one (or heard one for that matter) this year. There have been a couple of reports from fellow birders but, so far this year, we just haven't connected with any. Personally I think they may have formed a mixed flock along with a large number of the local Chaffinch and are roaming about spending most their time feeding in one of the inaccessible fields that run between Heath Lane, Stanklyn Lane and the A450. Anyway back to my visits....
Friday 7th February:
Today I decided to walk the footpaths along the Stanklyn Lane fields from the 'gallops field' at the Stone end to the railway line down at Summerfield and back. The field I call 'the beet field' was the most productive with 23 Linnet, 10 Chaffinch, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing and 1 Mistle Thrush of note. Also of interest were 2 Skylarks that were up singing. Such a glorious sound... a real treat to the ears!
On completing this walk I headed over to Back Lane where a male Sparrowhawk was showed well as it flew down the lane in front of me.
At Witch Lane there were 5 Stock Dove feeding in one of the fields. Two Common Buzzards, a Song Thrush and 5 Redwing were also noted. It was also good to see the Snowdrops along the lane finally in bloom.
Saturday 8th February:
I focused today's walk was around the Butts Lane/Barrs Lane circuit. There was no sign of the Corn Buntings reported the previous day but, whilst walking the public footpath, I flushed a flock of c.50 Linnet, 3 Skylark and a single Meadow Pipit.
Thursday 13th February:
Today I undertook a walk from Stanklyn Lane to Captains Pool to check out the fields that lie between the 'carrot field' and the pool. In the hedgerow at the rear of the carrot field there were c.80 Linnet, 10 Chaffinch, 6 Greenfinch, and 6 House Sparrows present. These all went up when a ♀ Sparrowhawk went through.
Linnets - 13th February 2014
Along the dam at Captains Pool I was treated to good views of a Lesser Redpoll flitting about in an Alder with a couple of Goldfinch and a Nuthatch climbing along the branches of one of the Oaks.
On the pool itself a single Great Crested Grebe was present, possibly one of the breeding pair returned early or possibly just passing through...either way it was nice to see. Also of note on the pool were 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 33 Black-headed Gulls.
Walking the footpath back to Stanklyn Lane I noticed some nice patches of Snowdrop flowering and some Coral Spot fungi.
Snowdrops - 13th February 2014
On arriving back at Stanklyn Lane I observed that the paddocks were now full of winter thrushes busily feeding away with c.80 Redwing and c.40 Fieldfare present. On 'redstart hedge' 18 Goldfinch were also showing well.
Redwing - 13th February 2014