Monday, February 19, 2007

Patch watching

Production editor Matt Merritt writes:
A hectic weekend left far too little time for birdwatching, but there were a couple of highlights.
I dashed up to Sawley Marina, near Castle Donington, in the hope of seeing the Short-eared Owls that have been hanging around there in recent weeks. This area, between Sawley, Kegworth and the M1, looks like SEO Heaven on the face of it, but none showed. I suspect if I could have stayed until dusk, my luck might have been better, but I was forced to drag myself away.
One of the joys of birding, though, is that you go out looking for one thing, and end up seeing quite another, every bit as exciting. As I looked for the main road, an unfamiliar shape flitted into the top of a tree nearby. A couple of minutes patient scanning with the bins revealed a Little Owl, my first of the year.
I also managed a very quick scoot round one of my three regular sites, Sence Valley Forest Park, near Coalville. One of the Curlews I'd seen earlier in the week was still around, with the other probably on the top pool, which takes far too much walking to. There was a fine male Stonechat, who sat on a fence-post just three or four yards away and spent over five minutes considering me while I cursed the fact that I didn't have any kind of camera with me. And, in one of the little plantations, a mixed flock of Lesser Redpolls, Siskins and Goldfinches were nice additions to the patch list, too. So, what the weekend lacked in quantity of birding, it made up for in quality.

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