Sunday, 21 February 2021

Balscote Quarry :: 20 February 2021

Six ruff had been reported in floodwater in the field on the corner of the A422 and Ironstone Lane, near Wroxton - this was as the light had receded last night. Just after sunrise I went looking for them only to find they had already departed. It took a little while to confirm this at there were c140 golden plover and c90 lapwing to work my way through - at least a couple of the pover had partial summer plumage. The flocks were nervous and took to the wing on a couple of ocassions, but for no observable reason - it gave me an opportunity to check for the odd man out, especially with the lapwing. In addition, there were black-headed gulls (6) and Canada geese (18).

Golden plover and lapwing

A little disappointed, but not surprised, I decided to pop into Balscote Quarry to check that they hadn't relocated there. It was a nice thought but they hadn't. I stopped to see if the brambling would show and had views first of a male and then the paler of the two females I've seen.


The Banbury Ornithological Society Working Party have done good work on the reserve and a few months ago and have tried to make it easier for those wanting to take photographs. One initiative was to position a branch in the ground for birds to perch on but up until now I've never seen anything land on it. When I saw a robin there I couldn't resist taking a record to share with the team, if even slightly tongue in cheek.


At this point Steve Holliday arrived and set up his scope, almost immediately picking out the reserve's first moorhen and stonechat (m) of the year. He also mentioned a calling mistle thrush but this was never visible. There were numbers of linnet (14) in the bushes ahead, a flypast from c48 fieldfare and two raven. A great spotted woodpecker landed in the trees beyond the feeder area.

Great spotted woodpecker

The finder of the ruff from the night before (Mike Prentice) turned up and Steve left to check the floodwaters again, later reporting c200 golden plover. The only other birds of note were three stock doves that landed in the trees beside the owl box.

Watching the bramblings we could pick out two males then two females, with all four present together at one point. A very pleasant morning - home for breakfast!


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