Saturday 9 March 2013

Woodcocks and owls

Started the day in the excellent company of Ian at Canons where we failed to see anything that might have been there for the fog, the only bird of any note was a Siskin over. When Ian left I had a quick check at a regular Woodcock spot and was amazed to see one just sitting there! This happened in the exact same spot just a few days more than a year ago. The light was crap and and I only had my SLR to hand but managed some record shots nonetheless. I got a text from Steve Gale about a flock of Hawfinches near Box Hill, just falling within my local area circle and the LNHS area so I was very keen to see these - I arranged to go with Phil and he picked me and Jamie up from the farm. We didn't see our quarry but heard a Tawny Owl hooting in the daylight and had a nice view of a singing Siskin. Phil needed to go so he dropped us back at mine and I took Jamie back to the Hawfinch site, again with no luck but up to five Tawnies hooted and a couple of Marsh Tits called away, best of all though was a Raven that flew over, tumbling and calling away!

Woodcock, Banstead Woods

Based on the Tawny Owl activity there, we thought it might be worth a listen at the patch as we needed this for the patch yearlist so we toddled back there (almost running a Woodcock over on the way, near Mickleham). We gave the usual Barn Owl field, Harrier Field a good look just in case but as per usual over the last few months there was no sign of life. Heading towards Banstead Woods, we followed Reads Rest Lane up to Lunch Wood at which point Jamie whispered (in excited shouting style) 'Barn Owl!' and lo and behold an unmistakable ghostly figure drifted past us, turned the corner and wasn't seen again. Magic! So I hadn't been seeing it/any because I'd been looking in the wrong place! Hopefully it will be regular over following evenings. No Tawnies though, despite Jamie putting his mastering of the call to good use - all owls in Banstead Woods must have been able to hear the desperate hoots but they all decided to blank him. Never mind, I'd sooner have seen the Barn Owl than heard a Tawny.