Sunday, 14 March 2021

Balscote Quarry :: 12-13 March 2021

A trip back to Balscote Quarry on Friday morning, but too late for overnight roosting birds to still be present. All the usual suspects were there but with fewer brambling of late. There were a couple of teal on the water and another pass of sparrowhawk (f) in front of the screen. The snipe were again feeding in the margins of pools within view.


Reed bunting and yellowhammer joined the chaffinch around the feeder and the roe and muntjac both fed on the far bank.

Reed bunting

I popped back in the later afternoon as the merlin had been reported about this time again but still nothing doing. I bumped into Steve Holliday as he filled the feeders but later heard that Kevin Heath had seen a merlin (f) over the main road from the field behind us while we were talking.

The forecast for Saturday morning wasn't great but when I looked out the window at 6.00am the conditions were dry. I dragged myself into the car and set off, almost immediately running into rain. Thankfully it stopped as I arrived and the sky slowly cleared.

There were no roosting bird and they had likely departed even before I arrived. I stayed and had six brambling with four of them females. All the usual birds were on show but when Mike Prentice passed through we had a count of five little grebe.


After lunch I returned to sit and wait for the possible merlin. It was still cold and blustery but kestrel, red kite and buzzard were all hunting and cruising over.


The snipe were much more active with a count of five in the 'relative open'. I shared my scope with a visiting family, the youngester having become really interested in nature. Mike Prentice passed through as did a couple of rook, an unusual sight here.

I sat down at the viewing area and waited. Not 15 minutes later i scanned across the site from right to left and as I got to the centre a bird came into sharp focus. It was ultimately a fleeting view as it cut through but definitely not a sparrowhawk this time, as it has been many times before. I've seen both male and female sparrowhawk but this was dark slate grey and cut through at about the height of the gorse - a completely different feel with the almost swift-like wing flap/twitch as it banked and attacked the bushes to my right, sending the finches into the sky in panic. What a reward for the many days I've booked to see it.

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