Village Wildlife Diary for January 2020

Male Bullfinch
Female Bullfinch

30th January, Alan says the Goosanders and the Tufted Duck are still on the Canal, and he is regularly feeding a reassuringly nocturnal hedgehog. Terry and Sue report a butterfly on the wing, and I see a Small Tortoiseshell fly by and straight into a web next to an upstairs window. The sun is on it as it flaps furiously trying to break free but no. Do I knock on the said house door and say can I go upstairs and open your window to rescue a butterfly?

26th January, There are 60+ Goldfinches in a roosting flock near the Infant School, and a similar number of Starlings over Watson Road. Both areas have few tall ‘leylandi’ for them to roost in. There is a complaint about the lack of garden birds by few villagers on social media, also comments on the excessive numbers of Jackdaws. Primroses and Daffodils are in flower, and Great Tit and Blue Tit are heard singing. Red Kites seem daily.

Tufted Duck
Goosander Pair

20th January, Blackbird has joined the early morning singers. There are 50 Gulls roosting, feeding (and presumably fertilizing) the Rugby pitches off Station Road. David sees Blackcap in his garden on Ashmore.

19th January, I walk for about half a mile but apart from Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Magpie and Black-headed Gulls only see 4 Chaffinch and 1 Yellowhammer. Twenty years ago at on the same walk at this time of year, in these conditions, I would have easily had ‘tens’ of each of the latter two.

18th January, I can hear a commotion in the Poplar plantation behind the house and find 4 Great-spotted Woodpeckers in some sort of courtship display. They are engrossed in chasing each other, and calling loudly, show explosions of red, white and black each time they move. After a few minutes they pair off and I watch a male ‘dance’ in front of the female, quickly spinning his body from left to right, then they move off for more chasing and calling.

Robin Singing

16th January, There are singing Song Thrush, Dunnock, Wren and Robin out the back of the house. Brian rescues juvenile Great-crested Newts from the drains along Berryfield.

15th January, I am working on Pytchley Drive, look up, and am surprised to see a Merlin crossing the sky. It has a distinctive flight pattern, also size and jizz, and is in view for several seconds in good light. There several Snowdrops, and Aconites in flower. And to add to the sense of a lack of winter I see a squashed Hedgehog at Murcott.

dot the i

10th January, Richard reports Bullfinch, Redwing and Fieldfare from the Brington Road. Norman sees a Peacock Butterfly off East Street, and Alan sees a pair of Goosander on the canal at The Wharf. The County Bird Recorder tells me these winter visiting ducks are in low numbers this winter and normally prefer larger reservoirs. It is unusual for them to use the canal. We are driving home along the Foxhill Road and see a huge bright light through the back of the Poplar plantation. I stop the van and we realize it is the rising Moon. It is massive and dominates the Eastern horizon. An hour or so later I get some crude images, and through the ‘scope notice a darken area which my friend Steve suggests is the partial prenumbral eclipse.

7th January, Muntjac at The Wharf, also the noisy Ring-necked (aka Rose-ringed) Parakeet is still about. It is mild – there are midges.

4th January, 1 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Red Kite, 30 Redwings, at CEP. I am gifted a brace of hung French Partridge, and pluck, and gut them during my lunch break. Later I spatchcock them with carrots, leeks, cauliflower, roast potatoes and red currant jelly.

3rd January, at Murcott Lake there are 60+ Black-headed and 2 Common Gulls bathing. There are 14 Teal and 7 Gadwall as well as Moorhen and Mallard. I see 2 Tree Sparrows over Parkfield plus a Grey Wagtail. Alan reports a male Tufted Duck with the mallards, on the canal at The Wharf.

1st January, Trevor reports a bird which matches the Description of a Ruddy Shelduck, in with the flock of Canada Geese at Foxhill. The Shelduck (really an Asian bird – maybe an escapee from a wildfowl collection) has been resident at Hollowell Reservoir for quite a while and may be stretching its wings. Gina and Jimmy report Wigeon flying over Brington Road during the night. Wigeon are a wintering duck with a rather distinctive whistling call. Good record, thanks.

December 2019 late record – Cath sees Tree Sparrows, a hunting Owl and Raven at the end of Watson Road/Wright Road.

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