Friday, 2 April 2021

King Sutton & Balscote Quarry :: 30 March 2021

I made the most of the weather and set out for a new walk starting from the Cherwell Silos facility on the road from Banbury to King Sutton. The sun was out but the sun was still to warm the air - a fleece top was required.

Through the gate, across the railway bridge and of up the track I went. Almost immediately, skylark could be heard and seen rising into the clear blue sky and two grey wagtail flew over in the direction I'd just come from. I reached the brow of the hill and found a pair of pied wagtail feeding in amongst the crops. A few steps on and these were joined by a dozen meadow pipits, unconcerned by my presence. A few linnet fed on the opposite side of the path.

I walked on and spotted a hare sunning itself on the slope - skylarks continued to rise while others chased one another low across the crops. I reached some trees and could hear a great-spotted woodpecker drumming. A green woodpecker fed out in the field in amongst 12 fieldfare, 2 magpies and 4 crows.

I reached the bend in the track and decided to continue on the path straight ahead. Chiffchaff called but were interupted by 3 great-spotted woodpecker all drumming in adjacent trees.

Great-spotted woodpecker

Ahead I saw yellowhammer, then heard and saw my first blackcap (male) of the year. It flew away and along the hedge but when I got to the trees I'd seen it land, I couldn't relocate it. I did however find a bird perched on a wire, but not one I had been expecting - a chiffchaff. I could hear more chiffcaff ahead, to my left and behind.


As I entered the next field and started to climb the slope the temperature was noticibly warmer. Two jays took to the wing and flew ahead to a house which I believe is called Keepers Cottage. Skylark continued to entertain as red kite and buzzard attempted to catch thermals.

Eventually I headed back and as I passed the area I'd seen the chiffchaff I spotted two long-tialed tits in a tree - this was fortunate as when watching them two treecreppers appeared. They were unconcerned by my presence but didn't stay still, feeding frantically.


I strolled back picking up more meadow pipits, some now also perched on the wires. I had a flyover yellow wagtail - this is early but when I got home I checked and there appeared to have been a fall the previous day with multiple reports across the country.

After lunch I went looking for corn bunting again at Barford but without success - I did locate a single male wheatear and saw a sparrowhawk fly past again. I moved on and decided to return to Balscote Quarry where it was quiet and allowed me to have another close encounter with a muntjac deer.

Muntjac deer

While I sat two jays could be heard in the far bushes, eventually one appearing at the rear of the feeder area. I started to take photos but in no time a magpie dived in and flushed the jay back along the hedge.


Sand martins gathered and investigated the right hand tower, sweeping sand from various nest holes. Two swallows dropped in, my first of the year.


What a pleasant day in very pleasant weather.

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