On Saturday the first events of Robert Fuller's Autumn exhibition took place. My nephew returned from university in Middlesborough to act as and extra spotter. In the morning we looked at the Birds of Millington, whilst the afternoon session looked at the Red Kite roost and other birds of the area.
Barn Owl - just before dusk fell
We left Millington Wood and headed towards the pond. At first it looked very quiet, but soon a Kestrel was spotted on the skyline. We were to see this bird again several times. As we reached the hawthorn bushes a sneeze was heard, and we found a Marsh Tit. In all we saw 3 of them. There was a Treecreeper very near by, which we saw at very close quarters on a bare Elder bush. Meanwhile the thin seeps of overflying Redwings could be heard in the background. Some birds on the hillside flew down towards us and were found to be a Reed Bunting and a female Yellowhammer. Back on the road we could see a male Bullfinch very low down by the side of the road, apparently feeding on nettles. A Grey Wagtail flew straight past us, but we didn't locate it on the ground. Meanwhile Red Kites, Buzzards, and a Sparrowhawk were seen in the sky, usually on the brows of hills.
On the way back one of the highlights were 3 Redpolls, although only 1 posed for photos. We went into the wood, but the birds in there were relatively few and far between. We did spot a female Bullfinch, but this was surpassed by a pair of Goldcrests and a flock of Long-tailed Tits.
Reed Bunting [left] and Yellowhammer
Bullfinch in nettles
A Female Bullfinch in the woodland
One of the participants posted her recollections of the event, so I quote her remarks here: This was a two hour event, 10 -12 meeting in the Millington Wood car park and walking a relatively short distance, first along the road and then into the wood. It was a very beautiful morning and we saw a great variety of birds, most of which my husband and I would have failed to see without Michael's guidance. Amongst them were kite, buzzard, kestrels, sparrowhawk, treecreepers, robin, wren, marsh tits, long tailed tits, goldcrests, redpolls, reed bunting, yellow hammer, bullfinch and grey wagtail - we heard a tawny owl. Super.
In the afternoon we met in a village car park and shared cars to a small lay-by on a hillside. We had only just disembarked when a Woodcock flew straight past us, giving amazing views. That was a great surprise. Meanwhile we scanned the trees, and saw several Red Kites in various trees.
Woodcock taken on an earlier occasion (on the coast)
We walked down a hill, and were surprised to see a Heron settle on the hill where we had been standing only 5 minutes earlier!
A few Redwings were seen in the Hawthorn bushes on either side of the road. We searched a Millennium Wood for a Tawny Owl, but it wasn't on show this year, but we did hear it call later on. The walk in the village resulted in Siskins on an Alder Tree, and a Grey Wagtail in a stream. Some Red Kites also flew out of a tree, so it is possible they come down to drink at that point. When we ascended the hill more Red Kites had begun to assemble in the trees.
At the end of the afternoon one tree had a great number of Red Kites perched in it - 10 here?
We were just about to get in the cars again when George spotted a Barn Owl. We watched it hunting for a few minutes, before it plunged on its prey, which is must have decided to consume on the spot, as it didn't re-emerge whilst we waited for it to reappear. Overall, a lovely ending to a very pleasant, calm, and at times surprising afternoon.
Just before plunging for the kill!