Woodcock and Wheatear

The area is open again after the big exercise and last weekend a walk around Imber Firs and Fish Hook was held with the theme being Woodcock and Wheatear.  The weather was kind despite a horrendous forecast though the wind was strong.  There is nothing to protect you from the wind blowing in any direction as it is a high point.  Using the woods as shelter became rather important.  Only a few hardy souls turned up including the Canadian Liaison Officer with his wife.  The walk meant a survey of 2 grid squares which turned up 32 species.  The stars were the 7 Woodcock (an addition to his UK list for one visitor to these shores) which turned out for us with some very good views.  Unfortunately there were no sightings of Wheatear but for those who drove out by Imber Clump there was one on a post waiting for its photograph to be taken.  A pair of Bullfinches put on a display for the group as did a large mixed flock of Starlings and fieldfares.  Skylarks sang when the sun came out and Meadow Pipits provided a collective fly-past.  Goldcrest sang from the woods and a Short-eared Owl quartered the ground close up, demonstrating to the group how it should be done.

The next day was the last Hen Harrier survey of the winter.  I stationed myself at Copehill Down where the only excitement was a Yellowhammer singing and the distant murmuration of Starlings; only a few hundred thousand this time!  The other teams managed to see Short-eared and Barn Owls flying by but no Hen Harriers.   There was even a Little Owl by one Vedette.  Spring must be on the way as Sand Martins and Swallows have been reported around the area as were a few Meditteranean Gulls (I dipped but they were in the flock somewhere).  It does not seem Spring is here given the current weather but I am now keeping an eye out for arriving migrants.

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