Anyone listening to the T20 cricket may confuse today’s title with an opening England batsman. However this month was another potential for no new birds on my patch which perhaps given the rich pickings last month was no surprise as the winter thrushes returned to the fields and hedgerows. With the month and Autumn drawing to a cold wet and grey conclusion I took an opportunity for a final attempt at some target species for this time of year including the winter finches which could turn up anywhere locally including siskin and redpoll. Initially I used the usually avoided method for searching the patch which I have heard referred to recently as ‘BBC’ or birding by car which given the horizontal sheet rain seemed like a sensible if not environmentally sound option. The rain lashed fields produced little but black headed seagulls picking over the winter crops. Their noisy boisterous behaviour was a contrast to the laid back common gull which accompanied them.
Whilst the East side of the village around Hall Farm has been quite a good place for birding in the last few weeks with a regular male sparrowhawk stirring up the wood pigeons and collared doves it was quiet in the rain so I headed over to the west of the village. As I made my way through the mud towards the Great Melton reservoir and woods there was little to keep me company but lashing rain slippery mud and a couple of carrion crows. I stumbled into a family party of moorhens feeding on the edge of a field these skittish creatures usually skulk in the nearby pond and are usually only detected by their calls however the rain had obviously made them brave and tempted them out.
Moorhen (non skulking)
As I got closer to the reservoir the trees kept off the worst of the wind and rain if not the mud and one or two of the locals called including a singing robin and calling pheasants, wrens, goldcrests, bluetits and a green woodpecker. I had hoped that perhaps the weather being so blustery might have encouraged some new wildfowl down onto the water but the only ducks on the lake were the usual posse of mallards now approaching their breeding finery and occasionally doing some head bobbing and early courtship moves.
Mallards common but still showing off their iridescent green heads even on a grey day.
I sat and waited at the waters edge for a while ignoring the gentle rainfall and whilst I wasn’t rewarded with anymore ducks a kingfisher flew across in front of me only my second sighting here this year. as I left through the woods I was treated to another unexpected surprise as two large roe deer bolted out of the woods and away through the fields. My last encounter was to be a mystery noise as the light was fading I heard what sounded like an otter calling I searched in vain as it called from the undergrowth but it didn’t appear so it will remain a mystery for now. I have used the power of google to get the sound and can only find an otter call out of all the obvious mammals that comes close to the call I heard so come December I will be back to look for signs of its presence and who knows maybe a new duck.