Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The harshest frost that I have encountered since living in Pittswood, (9years now) meant that it was pretty pointless visiting the lake area and wet.....err frozen woods! So this afternoon I went over to Migrant alley to sit and watch the fields and scan the sky. Although the sun shone, in a perfect blue sky, the wind was biting, not a strong wind, but enough to numb my face. The stubbles had a thin covering of frozen snow, and the ground beneath was solid, sealing up the invertibrate food source for the birds, but a few LAPWING were still finding something to eat, and whenever they did, they were chased down and 'mugged' by the BLACK HEADED GULLS. A party of some 22 YELLOWHAMMERS were foraging in the hedgerow behind me, as was the odd DUNNOCK, ROBIN and BLACKBIRD. Nothing at all flew over, until about 15:00hrs, when high up 2 COMMON BUZZARDS (58) flew over heading NE, I watched them spiraling, well to the No rth of my patch, over the Greensand ridge.
Half an hour later I was starting to shiver! so having not seen much, I thought i'd warm up a bit by walking over to the tree nursery and waiting to see if the BARN OWL would come out to hunt. Whilst waiting, I got talking to the workcrew there, who told me they had seen it about whilst they were working. As we parted company, the Barn owl flew from it's roost and perched on a fence post, it was a bit far to photograph, but I did so anyway, my fingers were now, beyond cold and were throbbing with pain. The owl flew off up the hedgerow, and i watched it hunt for a few minutes, before i just got too cold. I left the tree nursery, climbed over the style into Ashes lane, and looked across the field where the polytunnels had been last summer, and there was the owl again! quartering the old raspberry canes, and coarse grass growing around them. So out came the camera, but I couldn't hold it still, my hands were so cold, and my head was moving around with my shivering, so i just pointed the camera and kept shooting, I got lots of crappy photo's and a couple of less crappy ones!
I was bloody cold, but it was worth it, to see the barn Owl, the best ever prolonged views I've ever had of one!

Below: The moon was the only thing in the sky over migrant alley that got my attention!
Below: One of a dozen or so Lapwing that were finding enough to eat on the stubbles

Below: a Yellowhammer in the hedgerow that divides Migrant Alley from the Greenhouses.

Last of all, some pics of the barn Owl, not very good, but I was freezing! Also I'd left the ISO on 1600, so most of the pics came out over exposed, a pity as they were the ones that I got as it crossed the late evening sunshine!
The first three pics. were taken later than the last one, that one being taken as the owl left it's roost and sat on a fence post - right under the Nest box we put up for it!


Josh Jenkins Shaw said...

Sounds like a great day Warren! I'm going to be at the college 2moro for my interview for Countryside Management, I shall definatly keep my eye out for th Barn owl.
Well done

Anonymous said...

It felt that cold up here, Warren. As you said "face numbingly so".

Greenie said...

Warren ,
That Barn Owl couldn't , could it ?
Got to agree , it was perishing today in that wind .

Ken said...

Nice number of Yellowhammers Warren, not only that but Buzzards thrown in for good measure. Your Barn Owl pics are not that bad. Good days birding.

Adam said...

Can't get enough of Barn Owls, and your pics are 100% better than my Brambling one! Glad the Barn Owl came to your patch and there's someone there to enjoy it.

I can remember going to Elmley on a trip a few years back and having spent 4 hours in freezing weather I tried to speak to a fellow birder, except my my facial muscles no longer worked, numbed by the cold! I think I just dribbled! Still this cold crisp weather beats the glum we had at the back end of last year.


fishing guy said...

Warren: That Lapwing does look like the Killdeer. I love your flying photos. That is one thing I really have trouble capturing.