Sunday, 22 April 2012

The patch comes alive

It's 5.45am and I'm already at Cornmill Meadows. Soon after going through the wooden swing gate I'm adding a patch tick in the shape of a Mistle Thrush. It's feeding on the wet grass and takes no notice of me.
There's no sign of the Barn Owl on my way round to the Wake Hide, but there are three Sedge warblers singing in the reeds by the hide. Entering the hide there's a nice surprise when I see that the wooden bench that has been missing for my last couple of visits is back in place. There's another very welcome surprise when I scan the pool and spot a Greenshank feeding along the edge of the muddy margins. It's not only a patch tick but also a year tick. I text Brian to let him know and it's not long before he's added it to his list.
I decide to turn right after leaving the hide, and it proves to be a good decision. Just by the metal gate there's a Bullfinch calling, it's a female but still a welcome addition to the day list. Walking on I'm stopped in my tracks by the call of a Coal Tit coming from trees on the opposite side of the Old River lee. It's another five minutes before I get a view of it, But the wait was fruitful because a Kingfisher flashes past and disappears around the bend. I struggled last year to add Kingfisher to the patch year list so I was very pleased to see it, even if it was all to brief. A quick check of the day list on the walk back to the car tells me I've added five patch ticks and one year tick.
A quick drive round to Fisher's Green and as usual I start at Seventy Acre's Lake, But again as usual the Bittern Hide is locked. While waiting for the guy to arrive with the key I scan the lake from the viewing platform and I'm pleased to see several Common Terns circling the lake. It should be an interesting time on the wooden rafts, with the Black-headed Gulls competing with the Terns for the best nesting spots. The guy arrives to open the hide and once inside I quickly add Reed Warbler and a distant calling Cuckoo. Next stop is a short walk round  to Fisher's Green Island, before reaching this area I can already hear Nightingales singing. It proves more difficult to actually get a view of one. 
There's not much happening at the goose fields apart from Greylag and Egyptian geese that already have chicks in tow.
The area around Langridge Scrape provides yet another patch tick when I spot a Common Whitethroat.  It's in the bushes around the bottom of Paynes Lane. The two Little Ringed Plovers are present again but not on the scrape, they are on the adjoining fields this time. The walk back to the car doesn't bring any extra ticks, But in the space of a morning I've added ten species to my patch year list and four to my UK year list.
Still no sign of any Wheatear. But It's been a very productive morning on the patch.

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