Local sightings

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January 2014

an atrocious day of weather, raining from pre-dawn to post-dusk saw very little being recorded — a Red Kite over the village and a Mistle Thrush 'protecting' its Rowan from other wintering thrushes in Woodlands the best of the year to date. 20.3mm of rain fell during the day — what a way to start the New Year!
a Merlin moved through Southington late in the day where a Little Egret was on the pool at Southington Mill, another, Red Kite and Buzzard also being seen to move through pre-dusk. Both Grey and Pied Wagtail were about the Overton STW prior to moving off to roost. White Dead-nettle and a dandelion sp. were in flower on the edge of Lordsfield Plantation.
Water Rail wildfowl at The Source of The Test included five+ Teal, 18+ Gadwall and three Tufted Duck, a flock of 94+ Canada Geese there being a decent local count. Fields and hedgerows nearby held Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail and mixed flocks of thrushes, the latter perhaps attracting in a briefly seen Sparrowhawk.
a Little Egret was being closely followed by a Carrion Crow as it fed on Town Meadow later in the day. A Water Rail fed amongst Moorhen in the garden of Southington Mill at dusk, a Kingfisher, two Grey Wagtail and four Bullfinch all vocal nearby. The Canada Geese flock continued to make the most of the easy grazing at Lower Ashe.
Right: Water Rail, Rallus aquaticus — Barry Stalker (http://www.birdingbasingstokeanddeane.co.uk/)
a pair of Egyptian Geese at The Source of The Test was thought to be the first record for the Parish; 114 Canada Geese also present there. A Little Egret, Water Rail, Kingfisher and numbers of wildfowl, including Shoveler, were at the Filtration Pools, a further two Water Rail and a Chiffchaff being nearby at Flashetts. A Red Kite was over the village early afternoon, two Buzzard having been seen about Quidhampton earlier in the day. Numbers of wintering thrush continued to increase, the early morning frost perhaps driving even more in to the residential areas. The latter may have also accounted for the increased numbers of Meadow Pipit, Grey and Pied Wagtail recorded in fields about the village edges. A seemingly aberrantly plumaged Wren was seen in one garden — having a black lower and fawn upper breast area!
the warmest day of the month, the average being recorded at 10.4°C.
a Buzzard was seen over fields south of Polhampton Stud late afternoon, braving the deteriorating weather.
a male Kestrel was hunting over farmland north of the village late afternoon, a female then being seen on a Kingsclere Road lamppost before moving off over Great North Field.
Lungwort the pair of Egyptian Geese was still at The Source of The Test. A Little Owl was being harassed by a Chaffinch flock at Quidhampton Farm, at least half-a-dozen Lesser Redpoll also here or on the wing nearby. Both Little Egret and Water Rail were feeding in Flashetts. Buzzard were seen at Quidhampton Farm and between Straight Lane and Station Road, a male Yellowhammer visiting the horse paddocks closer to the latter road. A fair frost had almost cleared by mid-morning.
Lungwort was already in flower in some village gardens.
Right: Lungwort, Pulmonaria officinalis
a Shelduck was an unexpected visitor to the filtration pools, both Little Egret and Water Rail being nearby in The Test. Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Fieldfare and Redwing, all winter visitors to the Parish, were seen about Polhampton House. At least four Red Kite, two Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk were seen about the village. Another heavy frost this morning, this clearing and the weather then deteriorating to further rain by early afternoon, continuing intermittently in to the late evening. -2.9°C was recorded locally early morning, the lowest temperature to date this year.
two Raven moved south mid-morning. A Sparrowhawk spent time in a High Street garden whilst Buzzard were seen near the Sewage Treatment Works and off Court Drove. The hedgerows and trees north of the railway line, from The Lynch to The Harrow Way and back down Court Drove were found to contain at least 15 Grey Squirrel, an unprecedented count locally! Less notable but perhaps more appreciated were Brown Hare and Brown Trout, the latter off Bridge Street still having a Little Grebe for company. Both Greater Stitchwort and Lords-and-Ladies were seen to be well in 'stem', further White Dead-nettle being found in flower. King Alfred's Cakes were among numbers of fungi found in woodland off Court Drove. Fieldfare and Redwing were still obvious, the ornamental Rowans in Woodlands sill playing host to good numbers of the latter.
a Grey Heron was on the move, being seen over Greyhound Lane.
Shelduck a drake Mandarin was again seen at Southington, his mate however not putting in an appearance. A Red Kite was over The Test / Town Meadow area late afternoon.
the drake Shelduck was still on the Filtration Pools, two Chiffchaff also being seen there, a Grey Wagtail flying over.
Right: Shelduck, Tadorna tadorna — Barry Stalker (http://www.birdingbasingstokeanddeane.co.uk/)
the drake Mandarin yet again graced The Test in Southington. Two Gre"Fy Heron were in The Test off Kingsclere Road, another being seen by the dew pond at the Burley Lane crossroads mid-afternoon, the field across the B3400 still holding many grazing Canada Geese.
further frost, accompanied by heavy mist early in the day.
and yet more misting, though nowhere near as heavy as the previous morning.
late afternoon saw a Mute Swan on Town Meadow, a further four moving west there.
the Big Garden Birdwatch — how did you do? 13°C was recorded locally mid-afternoon, the highest temperature to date this year.
Egyptian Geese the Big Garden Birdwatch in one garden produced ……. Nothing, not a single bird visiting in the hour-long watch!
a / the pair of Egyptian Geese was seen on Town Meadow mid-afternoon, as was one of the more regular Mute Swan.
Right: Egyptian Goose, Alopochen aegyptiaca
a Long-eared Owl was seen early morning near David's Wood.
a Grey Heron was once again in The Test off Kingsclere Road.

Contributors: Jill Aburrow, Julian Aburrow,, John Barker, Mrs. Barker, Peter E. Hutchins, Veronique Kerguelen & Barry Stalker.

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