Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Best Bird Table in Oxfordshire ?

 Paul and I had planned a twitch today. Hopefully to see the Arctic Redpoll near the Bedford Town Football Ground. Unfortunately this decided to disappear on Thursday, so we decided on a change of plan.
 The Rufous Turtle Dove that has been present on and off in a garden in Chipping Norton was still around, so we decided this was a good alternative as obviously neither of us had ever seen one before.
 Setting off from Milton Keynes at 6:30 our journey was pretty uneventful other than a brief stop to admire a herd of seven Roe Deer that were browsing in a roadside field.
 We arrived at the house whose garden had been playing host to the Dove at around 7:30 and were allowed into the kitchen of Steve, where amazingly there were another twenty odd birders already gathered, peering expectantly through the patio doors waiting for the bird to arrive.
 Steve's feeding station was brilliant. It was packed with birds, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, around half a dozen Bullfinches that actually sat on the feeders and a minimum of 6 smart Bramblings almost in full summer plumage. There was a Great-spotted Woodpecker, Blue and Great Tits, Jackdaws, Woodpigeons, Blackbirds and Starlings, but as yet no Dove not even the Collared variety.
 Well an hour and a half  passed and we were starting to think our bird was not going to turn up today, when someone whispered 'There ! up in the tree !, It's here'. I couldn't see, but some well organised moving around by Steve got us to the front and fair but not brilliant views were obtained of the dainty Dove preening next to it's 2 Woodpigeon buddies. While watching, a Sparrowhawk passed close behind the tree the birds were in and back again a couple of minutes later, but this time escorted away from the area by a small group of Crows, luckily our bird was unperturbed.
After a while the Dove decided to come down to visit the bird table and we all had amazingly close views of the fantastic garden visitor for a couple of minutes before it departed.
The feeding station, still had another surprise for us. While watching the Dove a male Blackcap pecked at one of the suspended fatballs. Could you ask for more ?
 Thanks have to be said to Steve and his family for allowing us into their home, as they have been doing for the past month and have now raised over 2,500 pounds for Bird Life Malta from donations which will go towards helping preserve the European Turtle Dove.
 A very enjoyable morning, despite the long wait, but how many times have you ever birded from a hide with underfloor heating !

Rufous Turtle Dove (Photo courtesy of Geoff Dawes whom we met there)

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