Our favourite site is probably the area around Northbrook, just south of Lower Heyford. This a great place for farmland birds - the last Corn Bunting stronghold in the BOS area - and also close to the Cherwell Valley. Pretty much the first birds we saw were a pair of Grey Partridge, then a little further on, a large mixed flock of buntings and finches soon produced a good number of Corn Buntings (at least 30), as well as plenty of Yellowhammers and a single Reed Bunting. Our "purple patch" continued with a Little Owl appearing briefly in a barn window, then further on, we picked out a Yellow-legged Gull amongst a mixed group of gulls in the valley. Very surprisingly, given the abundance of farmland birds in this area we didn't locate any Skylarks, and we regretted not trying harder for them, as by dusk we hadn't found them anywhere else!
This afternoon I spent some more time watching farmland birds, this time a bit closer to home, near Thorpe Mandeville (Northants) This particular area is often quite good in winter, with large flocks of linnets every winter, for example. But this winter it seems to be better than normal, with a large flocks of Skylarks and Yellowhamers as well at the Linnets. Searching though bunting flock a week ago I was very pleased to find two Corn Buntings - now quite a scarce bird in Northamptonshire - giving hope they may just be hanging on as a breeding bird in this area. The star birds this afternoon though were Lapwings. A flock of about 300 were spread across the field, busy pulling earthworm after earthworm from the soil. It looked so easy for them to find the worms, they just had to make sure the attendant Black-headed Gulls didn't steal them.
|A flock of 300 Lapwings is a very notable sighting in our area|
|Busy swallowing an earthwor.|
|The flock were constantly filling the air with their wonderful calls|
For more about the Short Day Count look here and here.