Saturday, 2 February 2013

Barn Owl, Lee Valley

A dawn visit on the patch and a start at Cornmill Meadows.
The first sounds I hear are of Wigeon, and a quick scan reveals a flock of forty-three birds.
On the opposite side of the river, there's three Fallow Deer feeding on the short grass outside the office building. A brief look-up when they spot me, and then it's back to the grass.

As I approach the cattle gate a Barn Owl flies low across the meadows up over the fence posts and heads across the river and through the trees. It soon reappears and begins hunting the meadows. A fantastic sight and a bit of a surprise as I had not seen it since October of last year.

On the flooded pools and channels there's Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe. There's 100+ Lapwing along the water edges and four Snipe are found either feeding or sleeping amongst them.
A good start this morning for patch ticks and before heading for Hooks Marsh car park I add Greenfinch and Lesser Redpoll.
Several stops and scans of Hooks Marsh doesn't produce any Smew Sightings and it's a similar outcome at Friday Lake.
A look over the field opposite Hall Marsh Scrape produces a single Fieldfare, another patch year tick.
At Bowyer's Lake, several scans and still no sign of any Smew. A male Goldeneye appears from behind one of the islands and then, at last, a Redhead Smew pops up in the scope.
At the farms, there's no sign of any Little Owls, but a Common Buzzard circles over the trees of Galley Hill Woods and a second bird is seen flying low along the hedge line being mobbed by crows.
I'm still missing a few birds that I would normally expect to have on the patch list by this time, but I'm more than pleased with the Barn Owl sighting and with finally catching up with the Smew. 

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