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Old Monday 24th May 2004, 10:01   #1
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Talking Typical Sunday

sunday 23rd may 04 Long, but I thought I would share one of my pretty typical sunday mornings.

After a couple of days of good weather I was confident of a bright start to the day. Getting out of bed at 4.30 a.m. has never been easy but I do it for work every weekday and the difference was I actually wanted to get up. Out of the door at 5.00 a.m. to a sunny, if slightly chilly morning.

The blackbird male, one of the pair nesting in my front garden, was the first bird of the day. He already had a beak full of small, squishy things for his hungry littleuns. The starlings were on the grass opposite along with a few noisy house sparrows flitting about in the hawthorn above my head.

On the walk to the woods I picked up the ubiquitous (here) collared doves and wood pigeons. There to greet me at the gate to the woods was a wren singing loudly in full view. Out came the camera and into the undergrowth went the wren, how do they know?

Into the woods where the blue tits and great tits were busy and the grey squirrels barked at me from the safety of the trees. A male blackcap thought he could hide from me but all those years in the jungle came into play and he was in my sights! Further in, by the path a chiffchaff was singing from his usual perch on a dead tree.

Then it was off to check on the great spotted woodpecker pair nesting in a perfectly round hole in a different dead tree. Both male and female were coming to and from the nest at fairly regular intervals and the young were making a racket everytime, how they dont give the game away to predators Ill never know. A green woodpecker yaffled in the trees fairly nearby but he kept out of sight and a jay flew off but not soon enough that I didnt spot him.

More pigeons and the odd crow later I was into the corner of a large field (wheat) where a lady puts out feeders and water. There were chaffinches and a greenfinch along with blackbirds, blue tits and more collared doves and pigeons. I could hear but not see another wren and a robin above the quiet clucking of the chickens and between the loud crowing of the rooster. As I left the area a red legged partridge ran down the path away from me before bursting into rapid flapping flight and a glide into cover.

Back home to meet my mate (more pigeons and a couple of magpies) and drive to Oare. We put the world to rights between us, solving wars and moaning about our jobs as blokes do, on the drive and still had time to spot a kestrel, rooks and ring necked pheasants in the fields by the motorway. He kept his eyes on the road at all times of course!

From the access road were coots, lapwings, pipits (probably meadow Im not that good yet!), mallard, mute swan, moorhen and skylark as well as black headed and other gulls overhead (like I said, Im not that good yet and gulls are scary!)

A car was a smouldering wreck in the car park so while my mate phoned it in to the police (he works for the met) I scanned the distance for the barn owl. It wasnt long before I spotted him quartering over the marsh. It is a sight I never tire of and everything else was forgotten until he dropped out of sight. Up onto the sea wall and left by the visitor centre. Shelducks were conspicuous and there were a couple of avocet feeding on the mud. Reed buntings aplenty along with reed and sedge warblers. There was not a sound from the marsh frogs which had been so vocal the week before. A Grey heron fished the dyke and a little egret flew over on some mission known only to himself (but Id bet it had something to do with sex or food!)

We spotted pochard and tufted duck on the water and a black swan preening. There were ringed plover and curlew on the river mud and swifts and swallows over the reeds tried in vain to wipe out the local mossie population. There were plenty of gulls and I think I recognised lesser black backed and herring gulls but dont quote me on that! I definately did recognise a common tern resting on a rusty wheel? in the mud by the waters edge. A walk along to the corner yielded oystercatchers, pipits and hundreds of rabbits. We spotted a stoat and he spotted us, boy can those guys run! It was funny to see the rabbits parting in front of him like moses with the waters of the red sea!
Back past the visitor down to the hide on the point but there was no sign of the bearded tits sadly. The walk along the bank from the point was made pretty unpleasant by the zillions of mossies in clouds, I think if wed stood still for more than a couple of seconds we would have been totally drained of blood. We tried calling the swifts to our aid but they didnt seem interested! We didnt lose the insect clouds until we passed the outlet where there was no sign of kingfishers. A grey heron was preening on a gate giving us a small insight into his feather maintenance routine.

Before we crossed the access road a (barn) swallow posed for pictures on a telegraph wire, his metallic feathers showing a range of beautiful colours in the warm sunshine. As we got to the other side of the road the mossies were again a problem so we didnt hang around to watch the whitethroat in the bushes to the left. Further up we heard the kingfisher but didnt get so much as a glimpse. After running the gauntlet of even more clouds of mossies we spent a little while in the old hide where we watched the sand martins and swallows in aerial ballet. Also added a greylag goose family complete with goslings, ahh!

By now we could almost hear the anguished cries of wives calling Mow the grass!...Wash the car!...Build me a pleasure dome! So we reluctantly headed for home.

Nothing out of the ordinary (If you dont count the barn owl and unless one of those gulls, pipits or warblers had secrets too complex for the likes me!) But I cant think of many better ways to way to spend a sunday morning, can you?

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Old Monday 24th May 2004, 10:39   #2
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Great stuff, Woody.

I was "under orders" myself yesterday so 5:45 found me at Grove Ferry. I hardly ever regret making the effort to get up early for a bit of birding and, like you, I sometimes go to Oare.

Grove was fairly quiet, although did see 4 drake garganey together - a record for me at one time. I also watched a LBB gull reduce the population of lapwing chicks by one. Horrific but strangely fascinating.

I was leaving just as the coach party arrived and felt rather smug at having had the reserve virtually to myself for much of the preceeding 4 hours.
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Old Monday 24th May 2004, 18:24   #3
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A great report Woody. A very entertaining read of your day's exploits
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Old Monday 24th May 2004, 18:34   #4
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nice report Woody

my sympathies over the Kingfisher I have had a nightmare with them this year!! My highlight yesterday afternoon was to see a family of just fledged Blue Tits. Boy were Mum & Dad working hard!!

ithhn't it
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Old Monday 24th May 2004, 21:35   #5
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Great story woody,

Went to see an old friend yesterday living right out in the countryside, he has 5 garages with a pair of swallows nesting in each one, lucky buggar!, he has to keep the doors open all year round, not half as good as your day by the sound of it though.

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Old Monday 31st May 2004, 16:09   #6
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Woody that was a great report. some nice bird's you just can't beat getting out early. I like the bit about the calling wive's!! mine has shouted some thing's, but build me a pleasure Dome!! now the mind boggle's


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Old Monday 31st May 2004, 16:30   #7
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A good read, Woody. Oare is definitely on my list of places to visit some day.
Come doleful owl, the messenger of woe,
Melancholy's bird, companion of Despair,
Sorrow's best friend and Mirth's professed foe
The chief discourser that delights sad Care.
O come, poor owl, and tell thy woes to me.
Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

(Anon c.1607)
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