Searching the Stubble

On Sunday a Snow Bunting was seen along the Ridgeway not far from Barbury Castle. As this would be a county tick for me I was keen to try to find it. As with last week a busy work schedule meant that I wasn’t able to get out there until this afternoon. The last few days have been cold, sunny and relatively calm, typically today was not so pleasant with a cold wind and some light drizzle. A birding friend was looking on Monday and had told me that the flock of finches that the bunting had been with was in a stubble field a few minutes walk from the car park at Hackpen Hill. Heading along the Ridgeway the first birds encountered were a large mixed corvid flock. A couple of Wrens were squabbling in the hedgerow and a small flock of Stock Doves flew from the stubble. With no sign of the flock I reached the end of the stubble field not that far from Barbury Castle  Turning into the wind I started to retrace my steps. A cronking sound heralded the arrival of three Ravens, two of which alighted in the field for a short time before flying off. A few Skylarks also flew up but still no finches. I stopped the scan the field again finding a Hare that was hunkered down low. Something unseen startled it and as it ran off across the field it put up a flock of finches. With the light being so poor it was hard to pick out much detail but I identified Chaffinches and Linnets. Most of the flock landed back on the ground with others heading for the top of some trees. Then again they went up, this time all ending up in the trees. This was repeated a couple more times before they all headed off towards Barbury, most frustrating. There was no point chasing them so I headed back to the car. A return visit will be made. From here I visited a nearby site where I got a consolation tick of Tree Sparrow. We are very lucky to have good numbers of these in the area thanks to the hard work put in by Matt Prior and his team. Also seen were a few Greenfinches, a bird that is getting harder and harder to find nowadays. On the drive home Red Kite, Buzzard and Stonechat were added to the list for the afternoon.


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