2nd February 2019
It was a crisp cold morning. Over night yesterday’s snow had become frozen, creating a loud crunch underfoot. This Saturdays birding was watching farmland birds at the nearby Englefield farm. Whilst driving up the lane towards the main field, small gaps within the hawthorn hedge alongside the road alerted me to the presence of grey partridge. These shy but energetic game birds wandered around the field margins in small groups, and occasionally a few individuals took small flights, which is characteristic of this species, as red legged partridges tend to walk or run.
Grey partridges are subtly patterned, with delicate detail to give them camouflage in dense crop fields. When we parked at the top gate, I started to scan the surrounding fields: almost instantly a huge flock of meadow pipits graced the skies. Although these birds are not as majestic as that of a starling murmuration, they still create an elegant flock, often dropping into the crop stubble to feed.
The third farmland speciality was a singing yellowhammer perched in a young tree. Yellowhammers are a stunning vibrant species, performing intricate songs from their perch. To end the mornings birding, a group of a few hundred linnets arrived and started to feed in the distance. The little brown jobs massed on the tall crops, joined by a select few yellowhammers trailing behind.