Sunday, 1 November 2020

BOS Balscote Quarry :: 30 October - 01 November 2020

It had been a funny week with my boiler breaking and being stuck at home due to wet weather or work. I got up late on Saturday morning and after breakfast started some housework. The rain set in so I didn't rush to see what had appeared on my phone. When I did eventually sit down I found that the Banbury Birders WhatsApp Group had been very busy - people had been enjoying a first ground feeding brambling (eventually 2m & 1f) at the BOS Balscote Quarry Reserve. The weather though had been foul but everyone thought it had been worth the visit.

I had lunch and decided to pop to the reserve to see if I could catch up with a brambling - by now the sun had made an appearance. I bumped into Mark Ribbons, Steve Holliday and others as they came and went but had no direct sightings of a brambling, although Adrian Bletchly pointed out a bird in a flyover finch flock - to be honest I didn't see the individual despite his best efforts.

After most had moved on, Mike Pollard dropped in and we continued our vigil watching green woodpeckers, song thrush, linnet and three muntjac deer.

Muntjac deer

We also enjoyed flocks of 20 lapwing and c.130 golden plover as they landed in fields behind and on the far edge of the water pool. As we waited Mike fetched his scope from his car and pulled out 9 snipe on the far bank. Kestrel, red kite and buzzard hunted over the site.

Golden plover

All very good but no brambling.

I woke on Sunday to my wife telling me there was a leak in the loft and water was dripping from the ceiling light onto the landing. I got dressed and brought step ladders in from the garage. I eventually located the likely culprit and contacted our plumber. As the leak was just a drip, I checked my phone and found that a brambling had been seen again and reported by Kevin Heath (Kev). I jumped into the car and headed to Balscote - the leak would wait.

I got to site and two cars were already in place. I found Adrian Tysoe watching below the feeders and made him jump as I crept behind. We waited and were joined briefly by Iain Brown. In Balscote he'd seen two brambling over and a flock of 30 continental blackbirds. Kev was also on site but down at the far screen watching yellowhammer amongst other species. Iain left us to continue the vigil. A pair of stonechat fed in the scrub between us and the water's edge.


After a little while we saw a male brambling drop down and feed from the ground. We shot off some photos and chatted, content that we'd connected with the bird. Adrian turned to look at the water in the bowl and reported that two little egrets had just dropped in - this was exciting as we believed this was a first for the year. We started to look through our bins and Adrian excitedly realised that the bird on the left was actually a cattle egret.

Cattle egret

Cattle egret

Adrian posted the sighting on the WhatsApp group and this brought the return of Iain. Just as well he was local as the egrets only stayed 10 minutes.

Cattle egret

A few others started to arrive but they would have to make do with a wait for the brambling - it did show again. I'd left by then as a sparrowhawk had cut through the feeders scattering what birds there were. Sandra Bletchly had also suggested that she'd not have let me leave the house with a water leak of any size and so I headed home - the plumber had looked at the photos I'd sent and suggested what I do to rememdy the situation.

Sightings included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, brambling, buzzard, carrion crow, cattle egret, chaffinch, coal tit, dunnock, fieldfare, golden plover, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, green woodpecker, greenfinch, kestrel, lapwing, linnet, little egret, long-tailed tit, mallard, pied wagtail, red kite, snipe, song thrush, stonechat, sparrowhawk and woodpigeon.

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