Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve :: 14 June 2022

It was mid-afternoon on Tuesday and a message buzzed on my watch and phone. I stopped to look and noticed that the Bucks Bird News WhatsApp group was very busy - not an unusual occurrence I suppose as there is quite a bit of chat compared to most of the other groups I am a member of. However, there was news of a red-backed shrike at the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve (FFNR) - apparently discovered when someone had dropped in to view visiting shelducks. I sent a message to Kevin Heath as I was tied up with work - he said he'd get details and go. By 5.00pm he'd sent me a photo taken through his scope and said the bird was showing well - there was also a little owl showing in the trees behind the Manor Farm Hide.

It came to home time and I decided to call home and seek a pass to go and see the bird - it was given and I was there within the hour. I dropped down from the car park at Manor Farm Court and as I arrived at the hide I spotted the little own watching me from its perch - well it would have been rude not to take a photo!

Formerly pastureland, these fields were quarried for sand and gravel by Hanson between 2007 and 2014. Once quarrying ceased, the site was redeveloped with 2km of footpaths, bridges and boardwalks and three bird watching hides installed, giving great views across this new landscape. The nature reserve was finally opened to the public in August 2016.

Little owl

I entered the hide to find Kev and Karen Heath and Adrian Sparrowhawk amongst the onlookers. Kev stepped aside and let me look at the bird through his scope - done! The bird fed from a tree and worked along the hedge and scrub staying a constant distance from the hide. Kev said it had previously dropped into the scrub just in front and it was probably only a matter of time - I waited. Kev, Karen and Sparrow all went in search of the little owl and eventually departed having arrived more than an hour before me. Cuckoos called across the reserve - a nice place and new to me.

Red-backed shrike
Red-backed shrike
Red-backed shrike
Red-backed shrike

The shrike continued to show and feed at distance but was eventually flushed out of view by a juvenile starling. I waited 10 minutes, but my pass was about to expire and I left - the bird did too at the end of the day and could not be relocated the following morning.

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