19 November 2010

150 Minutes on the 100-Acre Viewing Platform.

Having been reminded on Thursday afternoon that I had four and a half days still to take as holiday this year, I legitimately ducked out of work for a spot of Friday afternoon birding.

Frampton was beautiful (always is), and the 100-Acre / Green Lane area blissfully empty. Blue skies, sun, no wind. I was hopeful of something worth seeing. My pre-determined shift would run from 1400hrs to 1630hrs.

I'd thought there would be more Fieldfare about, but only three showed from the platform. A large flock in the trees enroute back to the canal made up for it, though. The main field infront of the platform was coated in Curlew - rarely taking flight but constantly piping away to each other. The Kestrel sat on the fenceposts to the right, frequently dropping to the ground to take (presumably) worms.

My notes say female, but should of course read male... it's only worth taking one's gloves off if absolutely necessary!

The Merlin was perched on the very far fenceposts, and so was never really within range of my camera. Respectible views were obtained through the scope, though, before the bird flew off at about 1515hrs. Throughout my audience, it appeared to be hunting Starlings (generously interspersed throughout the Curlew flock).

A Short-eared Owl showed up at 1545hrs, and was immediately harassed upwards and north-east by an army of Gulls and corvids. It came back ten minutes later, working its way along the far fenceposts where the Merlin had been stationed before disappearing over the river wall. Finally, at about 1610hrs, I was pleased to pick it up perched on the nearer fenceposts to the right-hand side of the platform, after which it finally obliged with a close fly past... before once again being chased off by corvids - this time towards Slimbridge. Even in the fading light I could've tried to take a good photograph of the Owl... but I decided I would rather just watch it.

The following are the finest pictures you will ever see of a Merlin (without a head) and a Short-eared Owl.

I also viewed a reasonable flock of Starlings wheeling around the Slimbridge grounds and large numbers of Lapwings moving upriver.

It was damn cold by 1630hrs.

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