Saturday, 19 January 2013

Patch Listing in the Snow

Last year I decided to take part in some Hampshire patch listing and opted for a 5km x 5km square covering my home, Curbridge and part of Manor Farm Country Park. I have to admit that my effort was sporadic to say the least, and I ended 2012 with a total of 121 species recorded on 'my patch'. This year I have decided to patch list again, covering the same patch, and with the aim of beating last years total. To make things more interesting, during quieter birding periods, I am also going to record other taxa that I encounter, such as mammals, butterflies and dragonflies etc., hopefully this will make my posts more varied!

A view of my Patch

My patch listing activity during 2013 to date has been limited to the area around my house,  a couple of visits to Manor Farm Country Park and a snowy visit to Curbridge. My garden has provided the usual suspects, with the common tit species bolstered with the usual wintering marsh tit, great spotted and green woodpecker, nuthatch, house sparrow and sparrowhawk. The surrounding area, in particular the River Meon valley and surrounding patches of woodland have, unsurprisingly produced a greater range of species, after the recent snow, some of these have become more visible. On the 13th January I wandered around the local woods and was rewarded with siskin, mistle thrush, nuthatch, goldcrest and the star bird of the day a cracking male firecrest.

Flooded meadows, a bird feeding Haven

Today I ventured out into a snow covered landscape, starting at the River Meon, where the high water levels are still breaching the river banks and flowing across the adjacent fields. With most of the grass snow covered, the flowing flushes were the best areas for feeding birds, and they flocked to them, 20 lapwing, 11 snipe, over 70 fieldfare, 80 redwing and a grey wagtail were present. A mixed flock of finches including siskin, lesser redpoll and goldfinches were also present in the alder trees, occasionally dropping down to the flush to drink.

Curbridge - on the rising tide

Moving on, my next stop was Curbridge; I had timed my visit to coincide with the rising tide in the hope of seeing birds that were pushed further up the estuary as the mud further down stream was covered up. My timing was perfect and I was able to add common redshank, greenshank, curlew, oystercatcher and common sandpiper to my patch list. Two little egrets and a mixed flock of several hundred gulls, black-headed, common, herring and lesser black-backed, were also present.

Greenshank, Curbridge

So by 19th January my patch list stands at 67 species, the recent snow has certainly made some species more visible, so whilst its still hanging around I will make to most of it, and back out again tomorrow.

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