There's a field on my patch at the corner of Chapel Lane and Hill Lane, not far from St Mary's Church. As an inexperienced birder, I remember spotting either skylarks or meadow pipits in it some years ago. I can't recall enough detail to pin down what they were, save for the fact that they delivered their song in flight, before falling back down into the grass. Since then, I've always referred to it as the magic field.
On Saturday, as I walked around the patch, the magic field delivered the goods once more. I always keep an eye out for lapwings here, a bird that seems to be present in variable numbers during the breeding season. Whilst scanning the field, I was certain I had heard the call of a lapwing, but I couldn't pick any out. Suddenly, one popped up and once I had it in the bins, I could see another one behind it. Two quickly became three, then four, then five, then six.
These are actually the first lapwings I have seen on the patch this year. I'd expected to bump into them quite early on, but I just never connected with them. I shall be keeping close tabs on them over the coming months to see if my suspicion that they breed in this area is correct.
The only other bird of note was a lesser redpoll in Brick Kiln Lane, just a few hundred yards from my house. Funnily enough, I was actually looking for siskins, which I am convinced I could hear in the treetops, but despite scanning patiently for a few minutes, the redpoll was the only thing I could see.
I had hoped to hear chiffchaffs on the patch this weekend, but none were present. Maybe next week?
The ticks and the miles are building up nicely now. Here are the scores on the doors ...
Birds Seen On Foot 2009: 59
Distance travelled: 45.4 miles
Dipping In The Wyre
On Sunday, I had another stroll through the Wyre Forest. I failed to connect with one or two target species, but did see some siskin, a great spotted woodpecker, at least one dipper, two grey wagtails and a pair of kingfishers. I got my bins onto my first chiffchaff of the year, which wasn't too difficult as there were several birds present and they were all typically vocal.
My second butterfly of the year was seen along Dowles Brook, but once again I was unable to see enough of it to determine what it was.
Good Willow Hunting
I think I'll have to devote the next couple of weekends to scouring the patch for migrants. I've never seen wheatear or willow warbler around the lanes that I traditionally cover, but if I'm ever going to find them, now is the time. The farmland around Weatheroak and Hopwood looks a likely spot for the former species, and although my chances of success are probably minimal, it's got to be worth a look. This is also a good site for yellowhammer, another notable absentee from my list.
Last year I saw willow warblers at both Bittell Reservoir and Earlswood Lakes, so this is one that I should be able to tick with a bit of luck.
My target of 75 species on the patch this year still looks achievable, but I'm taking nothing for granted and the next few weeks could be crucial. If I can bag one or two scarcer birds during this time then I can probably afford to have a more leisurely summer, and focus a bit more on trying to find and ID a few butterflies. Only time will tell.