Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Winter delivers







Having given up on the motorised slalom event that is the ungritted slopes around Muswell Hill, I trudged through snow and ice this morning to get to the office, diverting my route to take in the best birding spots in Alexandra Park. Having had 18 Fieldfares over the site yesterday from the office window, and a drake Northern Shoveler on the boating lake on the way home, I thought it was worth a look again this morning.

The shoveler was still present today, even though the lake has gone from about 50 per cent to 98 per cent ice cover overnight; two Greylags were also a site year tick there. I went on to the crossroads of paths next to the deer enclosures to check the plane trees where the Bramblings were found last winter, and there was a female Kestrel sitting there hunched up while a flock of finches sat in the tree-tops nearby, calling. Initially, they were mainly Greenfinches, but when the Kestrel flew they mobbed her, and more finches began to appear and join the throng. Eventually, there were some 15 Greenfinches, six or seven Chaffinches, four or five Goldfinches and, tagging along with them, a cracking pale grey and white Mealy Redpoll. On colour alone the redpoll appeared very Arctic-like, with almost no brown tones in the plumage (and also no pink), but it had quite prominent dark flanks streaks and a typical Mealy bill and 'face' profile.

Elsewhere in the park, I had my best-ever local views of a Kingfisher at the tunnel reservoir, sitting preening in the sunshine on a snowy branch, and a Chiffchaff in the play area compound in the south-east corner by the filter beds. These and a few other additions take my patch total for the year to 50 species, with a few common birds still to locate.

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