Group 1 – During our planning meeting we had optimistically agreed that the RSPB Otmoor reserve might provide a starling murmuration, but only if we were lucky with both weather and birds. On a cold, bright day we drove to the Oxfordshire site. The local community owned Abingdon Arms pub in Beckley was an ideal base for lunch before an afternoon’s birdwatching which yielded our highest number of species yet! These included Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Redwing, Fieldfare, Stonechat, Golden Plover, Sparrow Hawk, Pheasant, Teal, Water Rail (heard), Snow Geese, Barnacle Geese, a large flock of Linnets and a Yellow Hammer. We also saw several hares and a deer.
However, the crowning glory was the huge murmuration of Starlings that spun patterns above our heads before eventually funnelling down into the nearby reeds as daylight faded.
Another treat followed when Fran and Dave magically produced piping hot tea and coffee from the boot of their car along with Dunn’s mince pies, just wonderful!
Photographs © Jon Raper
Group 2 – This was a local walk in Alexandra Palace Park where we were joined by four new members. The day was mild and dry, though cloudy. Setting off along the Farmers’ market strip wesaw Goldfinch, Robin, Blue and Great Tits, Goldcrest, Jays, Pigeons, Magpies and Starlings. As we approached a rowan tree a small group of Redwing took flight, leaving one behind in the tree –either too exhausted or too full of berries to follow! As we left the Grove, a buzzard mobbed by crows flew overhead. The lake provided a good view of Coot, Moorhen, Pochard, Mallard, Tufted ducks and a variety of Gull, and the Lakeside café a good hot drink!