This blog has been somewhat neglected in recent months, but as we are now very much into the latter part of the winter (hopefully!) and spring not too far away, it is time for an update.
A visit this afternoon in unpromising, cloudy and breezy conditions was more productive than expected. Two Water Rails were calling from reeds near one of the irrigation ponds; the first time more than a single has been recorded on the farm. A walk over the screed fields yielded a total of five Snipe and four Jack Snipe. The latter count being the largest count of this species on the farm. Excellent!
A flock of 49 Wigeon were spooked by a Peregrine which singled out a single female Wigeon and then spent the better part of 10 minutes trying to catch it, before ultimately giving up. Despite the cloudy conditions I managed a few reasonable photos.
With all the flooding in recent weeks, it is perhaps no great surprise that we have had good numbers of ducks on the farm recently. Teal peaked at 180 on 10th January, whilst two Pintail, two Gadwall and up to six Shoveler are all noteworthy here. A herd of swans have been frequenting the fields to the west of the farm for some weeks now, with over 30 Mutes and up to 35 Whoopers. These are locally significant numbers and have been roosting on the flooded areas on some nights at least.
Lapwings have been somewhat erratic in their appearances, and although at least 700 were in the area on 4th January, most counts have been much lower than this. A single Dunlin was seen on 12th January and a Grey Plover was seen on the same day. The plover was an addition to the farm bird list which now stands at and excellent 154 species (since 2009). A Curlew flew over on 13th January and is an unusually early sighting as this species does not usually return to the farm until late February or March.
Sky Larks are usually fairly scarce on the farm during the winter months, so 13 is a pretty good count, and singing birds have already appeared. There have been up to 27 Pied Wagtails feeding around the floods and small numbers of Meadow Pipits have also been noted.
The winter bird crops at Bogg Hall have been more productive this winter, hosting a nice mx of finches and buntings with peaks of 59 Greenfinches, 24 Goldfinches, 17 Linnets, 2 Lesser Redpolls, four Bramblings, 20 Tree Sparrows, 28 Reed Buntings and 12 Yellowhammers. At least 60 Yellowhammers were noted in fields just west of the farm on 4th January.
All in all, there has been plenty of interest this winter and hopefully with the spring not too far away now, an eventful breeding season is in prospect.