Tuesday, 13 November 2018
Belated evening discoveries
One of the joys of watching an area regularly is that you get to build up a picture of what occurs when, and how many birds are involved. But while it is understandable to think that, after several years of paying a patch a visit, you would have a very firm handle on such data, sometimes doing it differently can turn up unexpected results.
Epsom and Walton Downs today was a case in point. I most probably bird here 20-30 times a year, almost exclusively during fully formed daylight. Dawn and dusk visits are rare - in fact, apart from 'twitching' a Barn Owl a couple of years back, an end of daylight visit has not been made at all. After a couple of hours this morning (70+ Skylark, a handful of Fieldfare - pictured above) I returned to some high ground as night fell to scan the surrounding area for Barn Owl. Although I was not successful in this, a couple of roosts were discovered that I was unaware of. Firstly a Ring-necked Parakeet fly-line has been established, although I was too late to get a meaningful count, with up to 200 birds heading south in small groups. And then there was a gradual gathering of at least 650 Jackdaws, that took off in a noisy cloud when it was almost dark, and headed into the highest wood, seemingly settling although it was too dark to be sure. I will be back to count both throughout the winter. I should practice what I preach, as I always bang on to others that you should vary the timing of visits.