Monday, 2 May 2016

Upper Wardington: more wagtails, skylarks and fledglings

Sunday morning was cold, crisp and frosty but the early morning sunshine washed the yellow wagtails with a warm glow as they perched on the fence line.  I stopped to capture a few more images before continuing to Williamscot to survey a 1km square for the BOS summer random square survey.
male Yellow Wagtail
The idea of the survey is to find out approximately how many pairs of each bird species are breeding in the square.  Quite a challenge then! Fortunately there is quite good footpath access around the village and surrounding fields, largely sheep and cattle grazed pastures.  Nothing surprising to report, but nice to find a couple of pairs of Tree Sparrows, six singing Goldcrests and two drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a male Sparrowhawk.  It was interesting to find only two warblers, one of each of blackcap and chiffchaff.  There is very little suitable habitat for the scrub loving warbler species like Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat - the hedges are generally too well trimmed.
Back at home, the fledgling robins were soaking up the sun too, and growing up rapidly.  Great to see them doing well.
Robin fledgling
Today, Monday,  I was able to spend bit more time watching the wagtails first thing, and a friendly a Pied Wagtail decided to sit on the road right next to me.
Pied Wagtail
Skylarks were much in evidence too, they really like foraging in the pea field next to the road, giving me good opportunities to use the car as a hide and get some nice pics.  A single Wheatear also stopped off briefly before a Buzzard disturbed it, not to be seen again.
The Yellow Wagtails have taken suprisingly well to modern agriculture, nesting in monocultures of wheat, potatoes and beans, and feeding in pastures intensively managed for lamb and beef production. Though they are declining they do seem to be able to adapt to modern farming, unlike most other birds of this habitat.  Let's hope they continue to persist in our area and brighten up our spring birding.
Yellow Wagtails

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