|female Reed Bunting, the Ridge, 27/1/2018|
1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Falco sp. (south-west c.09:40), 4 Bramblings, 2 Yellowhammers, 2 Egyptian Geese (east), 30+ Lesser Redpolls, 40+ Linnets, 1 Sparrowhawk, 10+ Reed Buntings, 60+ Common Gulls, 3 Fieldfares (east), 10+ Redwings, 1 Red-legged Partridge, 2 Ravens, 6 Red Kites, 10 Greylag Geese (north) and 3 Buzzards.
A lengthy spell on the Ridge, with lots going on. On the walk up a Hawfinch sat up nicely in a tree in the garden of Raggetts. Once on the top, the finch/bunting flock was very much in evidence, and it didn’t take too long to pick up the Redpoll group, this time feeding in the north crop. After a little while a few flew into the hedgerow on the east side, and here the Mealy revealed itself, showing very well and at close range for an all too brief period of time.
|Lesser Redpolls, the Ridge, 27/1/2018|
Presumably this is just a very worn individual, and Wes A suggested it was a 1st-winter female type. At this time of year Redpolls begin to wear and become paler in some places, and the red develops around the head and breast. In all, this makes them even harder to ID!
A real moment of frustration came when I was watching the Mealy in flight. Having lost it, I turned around, and to the west, over the south crop, I saw the silhouette of a small and slender falcon disappear over the hedgerow and towards Slades, mobbed by a Carrion Crow as it went. The jizz screamed Merlin, and it probably was, but I just didn’t see it long enough.
I raced down to the top of Slades but couldn’t see the bird, and indeed it didn’t reappear in the next 45 minutes. Very annoying. Not quite classic Merlin habitat here, but with the Ridge teeming with birds as it currently is one could easily drop in, much like the Hen Harrier in December.
|female Kestrel (bearing two metal rings), Unknown Farm,|
1+ Bramblings, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd-winter south 08:11), 5+ Reed Buntings, 30+ Linnets+, 25+ Lesser Redpolls, 11 Red Kites, 4 Buzzards, 11 Herring Gulls (south) and 33 Common Gulls.
Another attempt to connect with and ideally photograph the Mealy, but in blustery conditions and low light I soon gave up. A gentle southerly trail of gulls included the first Lesser Black-backed of the year, in with several Herrings, and this movement continued throughout the morning.
Scotsland Brook to Tilsey Farm 09:00-10:35
20 Hawfinch (18 south over Hive Field 09:05 and 2 west over Juniper Hill 10:25), 2+ Crossbills (south over Coldbourne Copse 09:17), 1 Firecrest (Scotsland Brook), 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (adult and 1st-winter south over Hive Field c.09:00), 5 Herring Gulls (south), 2 Meadow Pipits, 2 Kestrels, 1 Red-legged Partridge, 4 Buzzards and 6 Red Kites.
|Hawfinch, Raggetts, 27/1/2017|
The birds of the day were the 2 Crossbills that were initially picked up on call, flying south over Coldboune Copse. There’s been no records since March, in what’s been a poor winter for them, but there’s possibly a few knocking about in Hascombe Hill. During the day a site record 18 Red Kites was tallied, surely indicative of a local roost.