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|Tuesday 21st April 2009, 04:29||#1|
Once a bird lover ... always a bird lover
Join Date: Jul 2007
Pegsdon Hills – 19/4/09 Migatory birds, Bedfordshire
Pegsdon Hills – Migatory birds. 8am-12pm
We decided to go for a walk to Pegsdon Hills today to see and hear the spring migrants. It meant an early start for us, but we did not mind as we wanted see what birds where there. We arrived at our destination at 8am in the morning. We met up with a few people to go birding together as wanted to meet others who had simliar interests as ourselves.
The weather was dull, and it felt quite cold as the wind was blowing a northerly direction, and the chill factor was there. We felt it a lot. It was brrrrrrr in the wind. So much for the weather forecast stating it was going to be sunny and dry – well it was to be later in the day instead.
As we walked towards the Reserve, there was an air of calm anticipation for what species we would see. The area was very secluded with lots of scrubby bushes, trees which where stunted by the exposure to the winds, sloping hills, short well grazed green grass, and rolling fields going off into the distance as far as we could see.
It was a place of steep secluded hills, and valleys, some slopping down through a 30 -60 degree slope in some places. The valleys became a V shape from the highest point to the lowest point, then to the narrowest point onto the ground level. There seemed to be lots of scrubs and stunted bushes of all types growing up the walls of the valley.
This is ideal country for seeing Birds of Prey flying at great heights, and touching the thermals, as they circle above in the sky. It would be good hunting territory for them. The area is full of wildlife such as rabbits, rodents etc. The place was full of rabbit warrens so that is an added bonus to the BoP’s diet. The Predator and the Prey, united as they stand. There are always winners and losers in this world, and the same applies to the animal kingdom.
The first songs which lit the air was the fast flowing singing from the resident Skylarks. We could see them right above our heads as we walked along the track. It was although we where seen as the intrusion into their world. They will be nesting now, and maybe they where fretting at the closeness of people close to their nesting area. Of course that made us aware of our footing as we would do to protect the species we are looking at. The observation from people who love nature goes beyond the inner self, and goes outward for nature itself.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker is seen for a brief moment of time in the nearby trees. Then it flies off, calling in alarm as it does, and towards the far away trees. The strange flight of two flaps and wings together makes them stand out from other birds their size. It is easy to ID them by the way they fly.
There are lots of noises from Pheasants from all directions claiming their own little patch of the Reserve. There would have been some sparring to show which male is the strongest. The male bird has an outstanding vocal chord that is hard to miss. They where hard to see surprisingly enough, and we never saw them at all through our whole trip.
We move towards some scrub land, and low lying bushes. Yes, it was thought this is ideal Warbler country and, yes, I could hear my first Willow Warbler in this Reserve. As we moved on the songs from the Warblers seemed to increase as the walk progressed through all types of terrain.
Then it was noted that a Kestrel was seem hovering above a field, although it was on the hunt for food. It plunged onto the ground, and disappeared behind a small grassy hillock. It reappeared once more and repeated its same tactics to see if food was on its agenda. It flew off. Another Kestrel was seen nearby, It was action stations for Kestrels as it was their place to be, and they looked at ease.
We moved on once more, and then a Buzzard was spotted being mobbed by two Crows. The Crows are all out to give it as much grief as possible. The Buzzard just moved casually on to avoid any more hassle, and disappeared over the nearest tussock to avoid the Crows. Who can blame the Buzzard for behaving in that manner.
A Partridge was seen close by making a move for cover as they do, as I am sure any Bird of Prey would happily take advantage of them if the opportunity arose. He was a difficult spot as he blended so well in the background. The birds brown streaks versus brown sandy ground, the bird becomes invisible to see.
Now it had got to point we where walking through more dense woodland, and the bird song lit up as we walked through. Mature trees grew on both sides of the pathway, and the Blackcaps where singing everywhere. A Chiff Chaff lights up, and joins the chorus. Another Chiff Chaff, and another Willow Warbler. A couple of Blackcaps sing their hearts and souls for us to hear. We stopped to use the scope to see the Willow Warbler who happily sat on the top most branch of a tree. He seemed not bothered by our presence. Another Warbler sings, and that is a less identifiable song to those who are still trying to understand Warblers calls – like myself and my OH.
A Wren sings beautifully in tune, and then ‘Tsks’ from the nearest bush, and he was very verbal. Then he sings once more in a more joyful way. A mixed response to our presence in his world.
We pass some Dormouse boxes attached to the trees. I heard that there has been a lot of interest going for the local Dormouse population. We can only hope that the boxes are snapped up by the Dormice in question, and used for their hibernation quarters or otherwise.
A male Stonechat makes an appearance and sits on top of a small tree. Yes, he looked smart as a male bird would. He was claiming his territory fro the world to see. A great spot to see any day, and he was a really attractive bird to see. He sat and allowed us to look at him through the Scope for a few minutes. Very obliging bird he was, and he flew off.
Then we are back into the open plains of grassland and hillocks. A field of cows make their presence known to us and they wandered close to us. They are so curious indeed. Harmless though.
A Northern Wheatear is spotted on an open area next to a group of rabbit holes. It seemed to be feeding, and sitting close to the area of the sand coloured tracks made by grazing sheep no doubt. The bird blends with the colour of the track so it became invisible to us. It was touch and go to see the bird. Lots of eyes helped to keep in connection with the bird. We used the Scope and found the bird to our satisfaction, then the bird bounced out of view once more. It was although it was feeding, and moving about a lot. We could see two Wheatears, but they may have been more of them. We could have watched them all day, and they where there for the Scope opportunities for us to take advantage of at all levels.
Then another Buzzard makes an appearance. The Buzzard population is healthy, then two Red Kites appear all at the same time. Buzzards, and Red Kites, a lot to look all at the same time for any person. The Crows where now trying to mob the Red Kites. As per usual, I cannot see the Crows having much an effect on the Red Kites. It is good to know that the Red Kites are doing well, and that is good news for all bird lovers everywhere.
We all walked up a steep climb to top of the hill. We could hear more Warblers chattering away from the stunted bushes. A Willow Warbler or two made their presence known once more. A healthy population of Warblers seemed to be thriving everywhere.
We could see more Red Kites in the Valley close to the Car Park (where we started from). I could hear Birds of Prey ‘meowing’ echoing – a Buzzard came to mind as they are vocal. We made our way down to the pit of the valley, and towards out starting point once more.
We stopped as a Marsh Tit was spotted, by one of the members. The scope was set up, and yes a Marsh Tit was hiding in the scrubby bushes, and he was happy to sit for a while so we could observe him. He moved about but still remained in the same area. The Marsh Tit sat amongst some Great Tits. The Great Tits where observed close by and I could hear their calls from where I stood.
A Marsh Tit, another great spot for us to see and add to our own list of birds so we where very happy with that,
The Marsh Tit had an amazing black colouration of his head. It was although his head was too big for his body parts. He looked neckless as Coal Tits are look-wise My OH stated that observation to me, and still he is a handsome bird to see any day.
We moved on, and as we walked past another field of short well grazed grass. Some movement was observed and a Meadow Pipit was seen moving around the field pasture. Then 3 Meadow Pipits appeared all together as a group. It was although they where having a bit of a fight with another. It was hard to pin point who was the winner and the loser. Maybe it was 2 males and a female, and the female was in a quandary. The female was being the focus of the male birds attention.
We bypassed remains of a Rat and a Rabbit on the ground. That would have been the remains of the carrion, that the Bird of Prey would have consumed. The graveyard of remains of what the birds have not eaten. Yes, and the remains left to rot of course so other smaller creatures can take advantage of the meal.
Then another 2 Red Kites where seen flying above the fields, behind where the Meadow Pipits where seen and and happily situated. The Red Kites where quite close to us and we could get a fantastic view of them. I feel so pleased to see so many Red Kites in one Reserve. They are doing well and flourishing as a species should with help from mankind.
Then we reached the end of our walk, and we all made a beeline for refreshments. A cup of coffee went down well with us, and it gave us a chance to have a good old chin wag with other people about the day’s events and all other things people want to talk about.
There where some interesting plants too. Lots of Cowslips are growing well in the Reserve. I cannot remember seeing such a lot of healthy growth from Cowslips in one area, for a long time, so that is encouraging for all plants in the future
A great morning out for all involved. Well worth the getting up early for any day. Yes, we plan to do more similar trips in the near future.
Cannot wait to learn more and be a lot more in tune with birds as we plan to do so.
Picture 1 - Sign for Reserve
Picture 2 - View Hills
Picture 3 - Valley
Picture 4 - Sign for Reserve
Picture 5 - Trig Point
Success is the progressive realization of predetermined, worthwhile, personal goals.
Paul J. Meyer
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