Thursday, 4 November 2021

Earls Barton & Balscote Quarry :: 30 October 2021

A juvenile osprey had been photographed on Friday and so a visit to Earls Barton was a must on Saturday morning. The rain was an inconvenience. We walked up and down the Nene Way but couldn't find any sign of the osprey. Calling Cetti's warbler, stonechat, redwing and a barn owl that had perished gave the walk interest, but we left disappointed. At least the weather had improved through the morning.

It was crushing to see photos and hear of the bird showing again, fishing in the same spot the following day.


The weather had improved substantially and so when Charlotte said she had a tennis match in the afternoon I resolved to visit Balscote Quarry to see how the water level had changed. Arriving I could see Mark Ribbons’ car at the site entrance, but there was no sign of Mark. I looked out across the reserve and could see four snipe down at the sand martin tower, but little other species than pied wagtail on the basin below.

I decided to focus on the feeder area and soon there was something to photograph - two female brambling. Enjoying them for a short while they were then spooked by the arrival of six pheasants, one a beautiful white specimen.


Mark appeared with his son on the opposite side of the basin making their way across to the sand martin towers. Posting on WhatsApp they said that they'd also seen the snipe but also a grey partridge. The maintenance work he posted later was fantastic to see - we will all benefit from it over the winter months. As he and his son worked on clearing bushes from the quarry wall a lone hare dashed across the basin, briefly pausing to look back at the workers.

Brown hare

I was treated by a great spotted woodpecker as it dropped out of a tree onto the nut feeder. It fed happily and spent a few minutes with me despite the sound of saws beyond.

Great spotted woodpecker
Great spotted woodpecker

Before leaving I was startled by a sparrowhawk tearing through the feeder area and out across the basin. It all happened so fast that I didn't bother with a photo as I'd just have a picture from behind. A very nice hour in the sun and a contrast to earlier in the morning.

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