Given the current climate and the possible future restrictions a visit out onto my local patch was needed, my first since completing my two eye operations and being able to have stereoscopic vision. So with a bright sky and little wind out I went to Newchurch Common to get some wildlife therapy.
My first impression was that the lake was teeming with fishermen, they certainly felt that the outdoors was the best place to be. Unfortunately the flip side to this was the paucity of wildfowl on the two pools, no Smew, no Wigeon and no Teal. The only ducks of note were 2 drake Shoveler, a drake Gadwall and 30 Tufted Ducks. Two Greylag Geese were still mooching about on Big Pool amongst a handful of Canada Geese. A single Cormorant was still on Big Pool, both perched up and fishing, much to the annoyance of some fisherfolk! Best waterbird of all wasn’t even seen over the pools though, it was a Kingfisher flashing across the main path as I walked between the two pools.
Several nice passerine sightings included a few firsts for the year on patch. Best of all was a stunning male Yellowhammer, perched on a hedge to the north of Big Pool. In the same area at least 10 Reed Buntings and 30 Linnets also fed in the arable fields. Near Big Pool another stunner was a near summer plumaged male Brambling, sporting his black head and orange breast in the sunshine. About 30 Redwings were in Finch Hedge but these flighty birds headed off pretty quickly. Nearby 7 Fieldfares were seen at the top of tree near the Pine Belt. Another thrush, a Mistle Thrush in song, was also a first for the year on my Newchurch patch. Two Stock Doves were seen in the fields with 5 Feral Pigeons and numerous Woodpigeons and a handful of Rooks and Jackdaws. The first Nuthatch of the year at Newchurch was singing near the entrance gates, my usual site for this species.
This walk certainly was a tonic and kept me away from constant media speculation on current health problems for a morning. I’m already looking forward to my next visit this week and the imminent arrival of Spring and Summer migrants.