Thursday, March 10, 2005

To wit, four "woos!" 123 species in total

An absolutely magical ride today. I set off at 1600 into light rain which quickly became quite a lot heavier over the top of Farley Mount – did I fear? Never! At the now traditional spot, I played a quick blast of call, and within seconds, a Tawny Owl started ‘kewicking’ and hooting in the distant woods. Result! That was the easy one.... Just as I was about to leave, I picked up a distant song from a young rough plantation on the ridge. What was that? Surely not..... It stopped. And then again....yes! Woodlark, completely unexpectedly, in a truly unusual location. Certainly my first singing bird on the chalk in Hants and a really good find. Must go back and check it out again in the weeks ahead – probably just a passage bird?

Onwards a few kilometres, and again within seconds, a Little Owl responded to my MP3 player, and showed superbly in the big oaks in the horse paddock.

Still further on, to the Test Valley, and a simply lovely loop around Houghton and Mottisfont – quiet roads, no cars, lots of birds (including 9 Golden Plover) – more like the Biebrza Valley than Hampshire (no Spotted Eagles, mind you)! I settled down at the recommended high point back on the main road as dusk approached, and scanned the rough meadows. Was that a white dot? Yes! Would it fly? Yes! Barn Owl in the bag. Absolutely satisfied, I packed up my stuff, and gave it one last scan – Short-eared Owl quartering the fields! Stunning stuff – four owls in an hour, plus Woodlark.

Quite elated, I pedalled off home in the darkness, and really enjoyed the sense of flying along pitch black lanes with the stars sailing through the broken cloud, the night chill cutting through the sweat on the somewhat hilly route home. As I said at the top – magical.