Sunday, 14 February 2016

Flocks and more flocks: starlings, lapwings, golden plovers....

I have been fending off  a cold this weekend but managed some local birding from the car.  The floods in the Upper Cherwell Valley have receded leaving some nicely soggy grassland which has attracted feeding lapwings, numbers building up to over two hundred by Sunday afternoon.   About twenty years ago lapwings nested in these fields, but now they are just occasional visitors, this is the largest flock I've seen actually feeding on the wet grassland.
lapwings with gulls and corvids

At Chacombe the golden plover flock is still present in a favoured field,  They are very well camouflaged against straw coloured stubble.  Just over seventy today.
It was all about flocks today, easily the largest was a very densely packed flock of starlings feeding in the pasture fields that surround Upper Wardington.  I estimated two thousand but took some photos for checking later.  Close inspection of the set of pics upped the count to 2700.  A few more smaller flocks were dotted around the local area, so easily three thousand birds, a definite increase on recent weeks.
part of the very densely packed flock of starlings
more starlings

There are still good numbers of fieldfares and redwings, a flock of about a hundred linnets, a few yellowhammers and a reed bunting.
Last week I took a few pics of the flood defences upriver of Banbury at work, just after the peak flows.  Not not quite enough for a spectacular flood but quite a sight nonetheless.
Banbury Flood Defences

A few pics also from a brief stop at Bicester Wetland Reserve in the week: fantastic views of water rails here at the moment.  A kingfisher perched very close to the hide but I couldn't quite get an unobstructed photo without twigs in the way, there is always next time....
water rail
roe deer (grey herons in background)

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