Monday 16 February 2015

A Walk to the Village Shop

Feb 14/15 Brockweir, Wye Valley UK. Sun and Cloud 9c

The country lanes of Brockweir Common haven't changed very much since the turn of the century. Ancient hedgerows some dating back four to five hundred years are home to a myriad of wildlife. Badger, fox, rabbit, adder, and grass snakes make their homes in the surrounding fields. The upland areas were untouched when the glaciers retreated. Rare plants abound.
                                                                  More about hedges

The area is steeped in history. The Romans mined ore a few miles away at Redbrook, The village of Brockweir is mentioned in the Doomsday Book and the River Wye acted as a conduit for goods being shipped upstream to Hereford and Mid-Wales. Lord Nelson visited the village and poet William Wordsworth made the area famous after he visited Tintern Abbey. His poetry is said to have spawned the birth of tourism in the UK.
What's all that got to do with birding, not much but the area does have a wealth of birdlife and walking is the best way to see it.
On my way to the village shop to pick up the Sunday newspaper the first bird to show was the Robin. It can often be heard long before it jumps out onto a nearby branch. Like the North American Black-capped Chickadee it too will come to hand for seed. I haven't tried that yet but I am sure at tourist spots there are tame birds which will oblige.
(European) Robin (Erithacus rubella)
The Robin is a member of the thrush family.
Further down the lane I noticed some movement in an adjacent pasture, a small flock of colourful Goldfinch were busily feeding on something in the short grass, perhaps the warm weather had encouraged insect life to the surface. Around the next corner a small flock of Song Thrush were feeding in a muddy field. I couldn't get near them. I find in the less travelled parts of the UK the birds are far warier than those at places like Slimbridge or Newport Wetlands where there is more foot traffic.

The criss cross network of paths and lanes are broken up with open pasture where the Common Buzzard can be seen hunting for rabbits and a Sparrowhawk glides around in search of smaller prey.
A jogger stops to ask what I am looking at...birds I say, Oh, she replies and sets off into the distance, scattering a flock of thrush I had been patiently stalking.
Sparrowhawk (Accipter nisus)

Just outside the village shop I spotted what I thought were crows flying overhead. When I checked  with my newly acquired Collins Bird Guide the grey nape gave them away as Jackdaws. Jackdaws pair for life and can be quite tame. They nest in chimneys and crevices and often close to humans. They also nest on sea cliffs and mountainsides.

This not a Crow but a (Western ) Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Note the light grey nape. 

The atypical LBJ, the Dunnock or Hedge Sparrow (Prunella modularis) 
As I neared the last part of my walk I had hope to see the resident Common Buzzard but to my surprise I spotted two pheasants strutting across the cow pasture. The one bird seemed quite aggressive toward the other. I thought it might be a lek. Only when I started to edit the shots later that night did I realize that the birds had somewhat different markings.
Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

According to the Collins Bird Guide pheasants were introduced into the UK in the 11th/12th century. These two appear to be from two different races and perhaps they were duelling over territory or a female. Note the bird on the left has a white neck ring. Several races with differing markings occur throughout Europe. Pheasants occur naturally from the Black Sea east to China

The male on the left shows who is boss.

As I mentioned earlier these photographs were taken on a walk to the shop, a ninety minute round-trip.. If I had driven I most certainly missed the opportunity.

All shot handheld with the Nikon D7100 and Tamron 150mm-600mm.

"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon

British Columbia 

Management takes no responsibility for grammatical errors. 

1 comment:

  1. Lovely series glad you are enjoying your birding experience with these beautiful UK birds!