Monday, 17 January 2011

There's Mandarins at Mill

I had an errand to run this morning, so on the way back I thought I'd take a  look on the river at Kempston Mill. It was  running pretty quick and reasonably high after all the recent rains, so I wasn't too optimistic about seeing much .However quite a few Mallards seemed to be coping reasonably well with the added flow. A couple of Mute Swans and a few Moorhens were also coping well, but it was down by the first island that I found the birds I had come looking for, - 2 Drake Mandarins. In the past I have seen double figures of these attractive birds, but just recently there doesn't seem to be as many here.
At lunchtime I popped up to Milton Keynes Centre again. I parked just out of the City and walked in past John Lewis' where I could already hear some Waxwings. About 50 of the little beauties were feeding on rosehips in the carpark of the retail giant. I carried on down to Lloyds court where I had seen the giant flock yesterday. Sure enough there were still masses here too, so whether the JL birds were different I'm not sure. It could be that they just range  right around the area.
Later on I took a walk along the river at Bury Fields in Newport, where again there were lots of Mallard and several Moorhens. A single Greylag looked lost as it swam amongst the tree branches, and then another bird thought that I couldn't see it as it tried to camoflague itself in amongst the bare twigs - a redhead Goosander.

Barn Owl
Reaching the far end of the Bury Field, I noticed a white shape floating around the rough grass area. A hunting Barn Owl. This was great to see as it flew up and down the field, a couple of times coming to within a few yards of me, before eventually drifting off over the river towards Lathbury. I've been reading some dreadful stories recently of many Barn Owls being picked up dead, having starved in the recent snowy weather, but this is the second one I've seen locally this year,so fingers crossed they're hanging on.

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