Sunday, 20 March 2016

Bramfield & Lemsford Springs

Bramfield Village - 4th March 16

Weather: Mostly sunny, with some cloud. Cold wind.

Bird Total: 20
Plus: Grey Squirrel.

The weather since Monday had been forecast for rain; sleet and/or snow and cloudy, overcast skies. So I had been 'forced' to do some housework.

However, a text from Ron persuaded me to put down my feather duster and pay a trip to, first Bramfield, then Lemsford Springs. Today was forecast for clear, blue skies, with slight cloud. A quick turn-around!

I arrived at Ware station, met Ron and then we drove over to Bramfield, mainly in search of the previously reported Hawfinches. This year, they were a little flighty. Appearing one day, disappearing the next.

This would be Ron's fifth attempt, this year, my first. Last year had been a great success, seeing six of them. Unfortunately, Ron's bad run this year, continued. We failed to connect with any of them.

We spent nearly 2 hours searching, together with two other Birders, around the Churchyard and surrounding area. No Hawfinches.

However, we did have more success with the raptors. First up, was a low-flying Buzzard. We craned our necks, as it buzzed right over us. It was followed, not long after, by a low-flying Red Kite. Very co-operative!

After hanging around the Churchyard for 20 minutes or so, we decided to take a walk out over the adjacent field, to see if we could find the Little Owl, as last year. Again, no joy.

However, we did spot another Red Kite and then a Green Woodpecker. We returned to the Churchyard. No Hawfinch. There were plenty of smaller birds on show, notably some Greenfinch.

However, it was pretty quiet, walking around the Churchyard, between the newly-coppiced trees and dodging the potholes. I was reduced to finding my first Primroses of the season.

Around lunchtime, we decided to cut our losses and head for Lemsford Springs.

Lemsford Springs Nature Reserve - 4th March 16

Weather: Mix of sun and cloud. Very cold in the wind.

Bird Total: 39
Plus: Muntjac; Rabbit.

And so onto Lemsford Springs.

We arrived in good time, retrieved the key and entered the Reserve. The sun was still shining, but a few clouds were starting to appear.

Soon, we were entering the first Hide, where we found fellow Birder, Kev and one other person. There then ensued a quick catch-up.

Outside, we could see a pair of Little Egrets, directly in front of us, over the stream. We could also see a lone Common Snipe; a few Teal and a pair of Green Sandpipers. There were plenty of Rabbits, hopping around, just in front of the Hide.

We sat there for an hour or more, seeing quite a few Goldcrest darting about; a Grey Heron fly-over; a pair of Kestrels, being mobbed by loads of Jackdaws; a pair of Ring-necked Parakeets, squawking over; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Grey Wagtail; Treecreeper and a female Reed Bunting. While the Green Sandpiper count rose to 4. Finally, Ron spotted a female Muntjac, way out to our right. Not a bad haul!

After lunch, the cold wind forced us to take a walk around the small Reserve. We saw plenty of Redwing and a lone Fieldfare; a pair of Mistle Thrushes, feeding on the grass and then we could hear a Song Thrush singing.

There were more Goldcrests about, as well as a Greenfinch. Towards the end of the circuit we spotted several Siskin, feeding on the ground, until we scared them off. Our fieldcraft still needs improvement.

We decided to call it a day at this point, but not before one more Goldcrest showed itself at the exit.

A very nice, unexpected, day out. Thanks again to Ron's expert driving!

'US Presidential Elections: Two little old ladies in a café the other day, were discussing
the possibility of CIA Black Ops & Snipers. They have also been seen spreading
grass seed on knolls in preparation.'