This morning I did the second of my four bird-surveys of the grid square for Kingston Stert (SP70F) in south Oxfordshire. The survey is for the River Thame Conservation Trust, and I describe my route here. It was a very different day from my first visit last December, with blindingly bright sun and a strongish wind, both of which make bird counts difficult.
There was also a great deal of mud, and the walk along Sewell’s Lane bridleway north towards Sydenham was really hard work, partly because it had been deeply rutted by farm vehicles.
But what of the birds? I saw or heard 25 species, the same number as on my visit on 2 December.
Last time I had seen many fieldfares in the trees around the fields to the north-east of the village and they were the most numerous bird in my survey. This time I saw no fieldfares there and had given up on seeing any when, on my long walk over the fields south of the village I caught sight of one, the sun glinting on its chest, in a neighbouring grassy field. Then with my binoculars I saw that there were something like 200 there, apparently playing grandmother’s footsteps with surreptitious little hops and short flights. Their colours were strikingly beautiful but if it had not been sunny I might not have seen them.
Once again, fieldfares were the most numerous on my survey, followed a long way behind by rooks (23, but probably an underestimate), blackbirds (21) and blue tit (13). I saw my first greenfinches of the year. A skylark sang in the large fields stretching away to the Chiltern escarpment—a signal of spring!