Monday 9 October 2023

Out of the dawn

 It's vizmig season, finally. Despite the crazily nice weather, for the birds it is verging on winter. The first reports of large numbers of Thrushes came from further north last week, as well as the first Short-eared Owls coming off the North Sea. Winter. There was a smattering on Sunday which I missed, this morning the taps were properly turned on.

I managed to get out by about 7.15am. Would that I had managed to get my arse in gear a little earlier as from almost my very first pace it was clear that there was a lot of movement. I'd passed 150 Redwing within minutes, and once stationed at the Vizmig Point the counting began in earnest. I won't bore you with a blow by blow account, suffice it to say that the action was more or less non-stop until I left. In fact, even after I left...

I tallied 820 Redwing, 19 Fieldfare, 5 Mistle Thrush, 3 Song Thrush and a Ring Ouzel, almost all west. The largest flock of Redwing was in the mid-eighties, and I hadn't recorded a single Fieldfare until I'd got to over 400 Redwing. I'd seen Ring Ouzel in the spring, but it was still a special moment when it flew past on an off-kilter northerly heading before veering east and disappearing behind the trees of Coronation Copse. Maybe it landed, maybe it didn't. There were also the first decent numbers of Chaffinch and my first Siskin of the autumn.

Further quality came in the shape of a distant Great White Egret flopping slowly east at quite some height. Initially just an Egret, it took a little while to work out that something wasn't right,  piece together what those things were and happy conclude this was the better of the two; Remarkably this is my sixth on the patch, unthinkable only a few years ago. Everyone there was able to just about get on it as well which was rather good, particularly as it was so high; there were no landmarks and directions other than in most general sense were impossible.

I left the patch highly satisfied with my morning's work. Shortly afterwards Simon picked up a Short-eared Owl, a bird that I've been hoping for for a few weeks now. I thought about dashing back to try and get its rear end but I was late as it was, hopefully there will be another - I just looked up my patch records and I've seen 11, so they're not especially rare but neither are they annual. One thing is for certain, I will be back out tomorrow.

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