Thursday, January 20, 2005

Dusk in the Dever Valley - 52 species in total

With just two species added since the weekend (Great Spotted Woodpecker and Wren, both in central Winchester), it was time to get out in the field once more.

Eight species added today, and some real quality! I cycled the 31km round trip to Bransbury Common, arriving at about 1530, giving me plenty of time to look around before the dusk patrol. The weather was far from ideal – a blasting and gusting NW wind, and I was pretty pessimistic. But I scored with several Buzzards en route, and a real bonus in the form of a covey of about 10 Grey Partridges (a potentially tricky species) from the Roman road track near to the Common. Also several Bullfinches – I have seen this species on every birding bike ride so far! They are plainly commoner than you might think.

Lesser Black-backed Gull was an easy gap to fill, and Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit were hardly surprising species to see at Bransbury proper – but it was far too windy for Stonechat or many other passerines – although there was a Treecreeper in the elder thicket on the south side of the wood.

I was getting pretty negative by 1645, but I decided to give it until 1700, and sure enough, at two minutes before the hour, a Short-eared Owl floated in and perched up on a bush off to the left, about 200m away. Target species nailed! No Barn Owl, alas, but that can wait for another time. The big bonus was a really unexpected tick in the form of a Woodcock flushed from the roadside as I cycled back towards the main road – that will save me some cycling in the dark in the spring...