Tuesday 6 April 2010

A Ring-necked duck on a circular tour! Monday 29 March 2010

On Monday 29 March I planned a circular tour hoping to get up to my last year's total for the end of March, 145. I was on 144.

I started off at Aston Rowant NNR just off the M40 near Watlington, where a ring ouzel had been seen. I didn't see this potential lifer but I did see a nice female yellowhammer and of course some red kites. Watlington is the place for them. The red kite was year tick.

Female yellowhammer.

I moved on to Foxcote Reservoir for the ring-necked duck. Access was a little difficult via a public footpath which could only be accessed through a farmyard and the farmer wasn't too happy. He told me I should go to the hide 700m away. I asked if I could see the water from the public path and he told me I could but there were no rare birds there. I said I would just have a quick look. I quickly got onto the ring-necked duck on the far side of what was a fairly small reservoir. I got a very distant record shot and decided to move on as I had far to go.

Ring-necked duck.
Distant record shot.

Next stop was the RSPB headquarters at Sandy in Bedfordshire where a two bar crossbill had been around for a couple of days. I got there and it had been seen with a flock of about 40-50 common crossbills. I'd never seen so many crossbills but they proved elusive and, although a flock of about 20 flew in we couldn't see the two-bar. After about an hour I decided to move on but I then met a man who said the two-bar was showing well on the other side. The reserve isn't that big so I raced around but the bird had just flown. Then the flock came into a distant but bare tree and after a little scanning, I made out the two-bar crossbill. A nice year tick.

It was getting late. Although it was a two hour drive, I decided to go for the lesser kestrel at Minsmere RSPB, where Nick, local birder, had already been this morning and seen it. About half an hour into the jouney, it started to rain and it didn't stop. It was raining when I arrived and the lesser kestrel hadn't been since it had started to rain at about 3pm. I stayed only 10 minutes. After checking the forecast was rain for the rest of the day, I decided to call it a day and go home. With the red kite, ring-necked duck and two-bar crossbill I ended March on 147.


  1. Hi Phil , nice one with the two barred and RN duck , both top birds to see

  2. Hi Phil - Foxcote Hide is very accessible from the road (slight 3 car space opposite the entrance)and a short walk!Not sure where your directions were from...never been through a farm before! I'll give you directions next year when you decide to go again...as this particular duck spends every winter here!
    shame about the Lesser Kes....

  3. Lovely captures,love the Yellowhammer.
    Well done great ticks.

  4. Rob, Thank you. Hope you got to see the hawfinches in the end.

    Corinna, thank you. I'll be in touch next year. I was in a hurry and thought the farmer was just wanting to get rid of me, lol.

    JR&Sue, thank you both. I hope I bump into you when I'm down your way. All my family live in Plymouth and I'll be singing at the Minack in late July (Bartered Bride, eves) so I'll have the days to go birdwatching.

    Regards, Phil


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