Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Farmland birding not always dull



The weather was reasonable this evening after work and it's silly to waste such opportunities, isn't it? For this reason I headed up into the 'mountains' to mighty Morborne Hill, a colossal 56m above sea-level.

(For those not familiar with the area, most of Peterborough is slumped 0-15m above sea-level, so 56m is really something. Bring out the oxygen masks and the crampons!)

The Morborne area has had some interesting birds in the past, for example, Serin, Red-backed Shrike, Willow Tit and Waxwing. The ridge it lies on is also good for raptors - Buzzard and Red Kite (the latter from the burgeoning, reintroduced east Northants population).

I was going to wander about a bit along the lane at the top but they're still rebuilding after the big fire that destroyed one of the radio/television masts there last year. So I went on to America Farm instead, just across the border in Northamptonshire, my home county.

I had a surprisingly fruitful time. I'd just got out of the car when a Short-eared Owl drifted with butterfly wingbeats from behind the red-brick barn and floated over the hill. Walking along the footpath, I picked up the 'chip' calls of Tree Sparrows from over the hedge, and a canary-yellow male Yellowhammer sat out among the blackthorn blossom. A displaying Lapwing squealed through the air distantly.

Behind another barn I heard the sharp 'krrrrrrrrrrr' of a male Grey Partridge, and there they were, a pair sitting together in the edge of a oilseed rape field. On the walk back down, a female Sparrowhawk flap-flap-glided her way across the view, putting up a pair of Pied Wagtails and [more?] Tree Sparrows apparently going to roost in a hedge.

To end on a good note, a Merlin zapped the same way the Sparrowhawk had gone a few minutes earlier. There was enough light to see slightly orangey underparts and a hint of blue above, so a sub-adult male? It hardly matters...

None of it was ground-breaking, but they were all good birds made all the more pleasing by knowing that if I hadn't seen them, nobody would have.

  • Can you guess what it is yet? Go on, work out who the previous owner of this feather was. Clue: I picked it up this evening, but the species isn't mentioned anywhere above...

photo taken with Nikon Coolpix 995