Saturday, 10 January 2009

On the trail of a Bogey

It was absolutely freezing when we got out of the car this morning. I can't remember being so cold - it made a winter seawatch at Holme feel like Barbados! A Kingfisher greeted us, making use of a small patch of unfrozen water. A few Bullfinch were flitting about as we walked along a path towards our destination along with a multitude of thrushes, and a Barn Owl added character to the winter scene. A Muntjac and a group of about 20 Roe Deer seemed unaware of us, despite the constant explosions of woodpigeon that marked our movements.

Reaching our destination we scanned for our target - the infamous Long-eared Owl. However, it soon became apparent that we were not in luck. We decided to walk towards their favourite haunt, since there was no chance of disturbing them if they weren't there. Our attention was drawn to a shape slinking through a field to our left as 5 Snipe erupted from the grass. The Fox trotted towards us, as oblivious as the deer had been, and disappeared into a ditch. Reaching the Long-eared Owl bushes we scanned the open fields for any owls that may still be hunting. No luck, although we had another mammal surprise in the form of a herd of more than 100 Red Deer, including 2 magnificent stags! What a sight on a misty winter's morning. As if this wasn't enough a large raptor appeared over the top of the woods: a Goshawk!

We left happy, despite not having seen our target. A further 3 Foxes together were an unexpected bonus, evidently a family group. One final surprise came in the form of a Kingfisher which flew along a dyke, crossing our path not 2 metres in front of us. It seemed to be just as shocked as we were, making a violent swerve to avoid us!

Hopefully another visit tomorrow will bring more luck. My year list currently stands on 69, with Simeon's a few below (he was a bit miffed that I could claim Redwing, Fieldfare and Golcrest as yearers!).


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