23rd April An early morning walk on Norton common brought two additions to the Patch list, a Tawny owl female that called and a coal tit, singing high in a fir tree. I also popped down to the lagoon but the only interesting sighting there was a quartet of swimmers in skin diving suits for warmth who were doing a lap of the lake, two men and two women I think, and certainly hardier than me, that water must have been very cold. Patch list 83
24th April Another early walk around the common brought another coal tit singing and also at least three tree creepers calling, very few warblers though, just blackcap and chiffchaff
25th April Tim and I had decided that this should be our big day out on the patch, I joined him on the common at 0420 and he said I had just missed a couple of foxes and a muntjac passing where he was waiting. It was a heavily overcast misty morning, not ideal for birding but we pressed on. Robin was heard at 0430, woodpigeon mallard and blackbirds were heard by 0453 and at five we were fortunate enough to hear a woodcock. Very soon afterwards we had a probable wryneck fly over us calling loudly but the view and the call were too brief to say with absolute certainty which was most unfortunate but encouraging. Blue tit, crow, great tit, wren, song thrush, green woodpecker, magpie chaffinch and blackcap took us to 0452 and a minute later we were surprised to hear a cuckoo calling from somewhere towards the allotments. At 0546 a tawny owl called and we saw a jay chase it form a nearby low bush. Mistle thrush, great spotted woodpecker and Canada goose took us to twenty birds found by 0600 when we left the common to walk to Tims and get the car as the weather forecast had determined we should use it to maximise our time prior to the expected rain. Collared dove, house sparrow and starling were added on the trip to the car and then we headed off to Radwell lake. Mute swan, tufted duck, moorhen, coot gadwall and pied wagtail were on the lake, pheasant, chiffchaff, jackdaw and greylag goose were found in the surrounding area and then Tim found a pair of kingfishers nearby at 0710. Our next stop was Nortonbury where we had a bite to eat, we walked North west along the Greenway in the hope of finding some resident little owls but they could not be found, I then watched a female blackcap trying to pull animal hairs off of the barbed wire for her nest.A pair of linnets were added, closely followed by bullfinches, dunnocks, willow warblers, skylark and grey partridges taking us to 40 species seen. A whitethroat called at 0847 and we watched him briefly. We saw our first swallow at Nortonbury farm at 0901 and we then went to check out the flooded horse fields adjacent to the farm, goldfinches were added en route. Another pair of linnets on the horse fields lead us to seeing four yellow wagtails, when we scanned the wet edges of the fields this total rose to eleven, there was quite a large number of swallows hawking over the flood and quite a few mallard ducklings dodging about . Nearby were a lingering pair of fieldfares and a pair of greenfinches were noted en route back to the car at 10.00. We then headed for the Standalone area of the greenway, stock doves were calling at 1030, a drake teal and a pair of little grebes were seen and a long walk brought us our 50th species in the form of a Corn bunting at 1153. A number of rooks were seen (1204) and grey wagtail at 1239. After a bit more light refreshment we headed to the blue lagoon and quickly spotted great crested grebe at 1321. Tim then spotted some house martins mixed in with the swallows over the lagoon and while I was getting onto them he saw a pair of buzzards being mobbed by crows (1324), I saw a long tailed tit below us under the cliffs and then we headed back to the car finding a lesser whitethroat en route at 1341. Our final destination as it turned out were the fields next to the Norton to Baldock road near the dump. We found our last birds of the day, yellowhammer and feral pigeon and the the predicted rains came so we headed for the car at ten past two with a total of 59 species. Patch list 87
26th April no visit today, we had a wedding to attend
27th April I had a walk in the Nortonbury area, Willow warbles had arrived in force and were singing from lots of places, there were also a lot of swallows in the area but little else of note.
28th April no visit
29th April I had an early walk between Standalone and Stotfold along the Pix brook, the weather was raining through a heavy mist but it was totally windless. There were lots of whitethroats on territories, i disturbed a buzzard up from the ground in a horse pasture, lots of skylarks were singing in spite of the weather but I only heard two whitethroats. I was rewarded upon my return with my first garden warbler of the year behind the old pig testing station. On my way home i also saw yellowhammer and bullfinch. Patch list 88
This takes me to approximately one third of the year gone and adding species will become a lot tougher now...............