Falling Short

Today Pete and I had a day of Wiltshire Birding. We had set ourselves a target of sixty species and as can be seen from the post heading we didn’t make it. First call was Roves Farm where the Cattle Egrets couldn’t be found again. The only consolation being that they weren’t reported at all today. Then it was a look over Liddington from Folly Farm with no Short-eared Owls seen. On the way to the Downs west of Ogbourne we saw a small covey of Red-legged Partridges, plenty to see here with Yellowhammers and Chaffinches the most numerous. Then it was Marlborough sewage works where there were many Pied Wagtails, several Meadow Pipits and a single Grey Wagtail. Along the Kennet near to Axford six Siskins were a good find. Also around here were a couple of Bullfinches, a couple of Little Egrets and several Fieldfares and Redwings. Hens Wood was very quiet with a couple of Coal Tits and singles of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch the only birds of note. Froxfield was better with at least eight Snipe, two more Little Egrets and a single Lapwing along with dozens of thrushes. St Katherines to the south of Savernake got us two flyover Ravens. Wilton Water was next. We parked on the edge of Crofton, crossed over the railway and walked along the canal. There was shooting going on nearby so most of the water birds were at the canal end of the lake. It seems that a lot of birds had been moved on by the disturbance as there were only Mallards, a couple each of Gadwall and Mute Swan and eight Little Grebes here. A bit disappointing as we had hoped for a few more species. Final call was the east side of Salisbury Plain. A good start here with many birds found an a field along with cattle. There were lots of Fieldfare, Redwing, Starling  and Lapwing along with Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. From here on it went downhill with. other than Fieldfare very little seen, two Stonechats were the best and unfortunately we missed a ringtail Hen Harrier by a couple of minutes. This all may have sounded pretty hectic but most of the birding was done from or fairly close to the car, we only walked just over two miles. In all we managed fifty-four species so fell well short of the target. Stock Dove, Long-tailed Tit were two of the obvious misses. We only managed three types of raptor and in fact only saw two Red Kites all day. Still all said and done an enjoyable first proper day of birding for the year. Back to work for me tomorrow so a few quiet days ahead.

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