Monday 15th February Fresh N sunny!
With a day of cycling ahead and after having received the very sad news of a great Upton Warren friend, Simon Vickers, having died at too young an age, I think about the people who I have met because of my passion for birds and nature. Some of the most inspirational and fascinating characters are the young people who ooze enthusiasm; children like the phenomenal 13 year old Mya.Rose Craig, Bird-girl ( http://birdgirluk.blogspot.co.uk/ ) and Dominik Reynolds who puts on events for wildlife through establishing the Dominik Wildlife Fund. The next one is an evening of merriment -
Now that would be a wonderful evening to get to. Meanwhile I need to visit the cressbeds of Alresford, Hampshire to search for water pipit. The wind is in my face and despite the almost no cloud, blue sky, the going is tough. Hills are reached and as chalk starts to appear in the fields as I reach the top a group of red-legged partridges, nine of them, become the first year tick of the day. 165.
Thoughts of other chalk downs birds come to mind and maybe a yellowhammer will be added to the year list at last. I text this thought and the news of the partridge to Phil Andrews, my task master and news provider. The reply states that grey partridge and corn bunting might be possible. There are corvids and a flock of around thirty stock doves but no small passerines. The agricultural desert of wheat stubble continues. The constant disappointment of the British countryside. How much have we lost?
A large bird in front of me is obviously raptor, one bird species that we have gained over the decades due to reintroduction. A red kite goes onto the list.
Into and through Alresford, I cycle along the beautiful river and find a small cressbed. No pipits here, there is just a single lesser redpoll and a few moorhens.
A local man tells me that there are more cressbeds down a road to the north and so I find large cressbeds of commercial nature along Bighton Lane. They are surrounded by large fences with padlocked fences. My memories of visiting cressbeds in Dorset back in the years when I lived in that fine county are dispelled by the present problem. How can I search for such a small bird without access. I go to the offices of Alresford Salads and am told by a friendly gent that there is a public footpath along the northern edge of the largest beds.
Two green sandpipers are the first birds I see once I get to the path and after walking along the eastern edge, outside the fence of course, a group of pipits fly from further down the beds and land in front of me, though at the other side. I start to search and find at least one, maybe two water pipits. There is a grey wagtail with them too. Mission accomplished and a hat-trick of year ticks.
The year list still stands at 167. This is twenty two ahead of where I was this time last year.
Up to 9th! The list can be viewed on Bubo on the BUO 2016 year list :-
30.03 miles 1875 feet elevation up 1583 elevation down