Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Pre-snow Park

Wind back to Friday, cause for one reason or another I've not been arsed to sit at the PC to sort out some pics and post. For the first time in a fair while, I was forced to be up and out relatively early. It was bloody cold and frosty, requiring a good window scraping before I could get going. I was heading out to get my first Covid vaccine dose - yes, I can't believe it happened either and I'll put it down to the efficiency of my GP Surgery and local NHS Trust rather than anything to do with the shower in Parliament. I'm not the first in our household to have it, as Isabelle got hers the week before as a frontline Nurse. She had the 'Pfizer should be three-week interval between doses but being strung out to twelve' vaccine and I've had the 'AstraZeneca derived from adenovirus extracted from Chimpanzee shite' vaccine. There was no choice in the matter. My arm does ache like buggery, whilst when I had the flu vaccine I felt nowt. However I have not grown excess hair or started craving PG Tips tea.

Anyway, I had to go to a vaccination hub that has been set up in a large event hire type place called The Kube that is right next to Oadby racecourse. On the aerial shot below, it is the right-hand red dot. The other red dot denotes the car park for Knighton Park, which as you can see appears to have something resembling woodland. It also happens to be just within the 5MR boundary, and the roadway between the two is the main road to head back home ....

After the jab I nipped over to see my Mum, just a bit further north on the edge of the City boundary, and then on the way home I decided to drop into the park for a mooch about. By then it was c10:00, crisp and bright. But it was late enough that there were plenty of dog-walkers trawling the main path and also mums with tots starting to gather around the play areas. As ever, it's easy enough to walk away from the madding crowd and enjoy some space, and as usual I've managed to grab a few snaps that make the place look a whole lot emptier than it actually was. I couldn't erase the noise of screaming kids though.

Knighton Park is long established, and has big areas with planted trees, some formal gardens, kids play area and butts onto some big open sports fields. It is exactly the sort of place within my 5MR that is likely to be a good bet for some species that might otherwise be found in woodland. I had bins, and enjoyed the quick walk around, but sadly did not see or hear what I was hoping for, ie: Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Siskin. I suspect a proper look around earlier in the morning and perhaps a couple of weeks or so later will be much more productive. I did find a small group of Goldcrests in the conifers in the above shot though.

I could only give it c45mins as I had another GP Surgery appointment to get to. Later in the afternoon, I had a walk out into the square and a bit beyond, heading down the lane, onto the meadows area and then walked Whetstone Gorse Lane. Still no Skylark - where are they? Another Red Kite drifted over, and I found a big mixed flock of Fieldfare (c150) Redwing (c80) and Starlings feeding in a flooded stretch of the meadows. The whole flock was very flighty so I couldn't get anywhere near for closer shots and left them to it quickly.

Whilst walking back toward home along Whetstone Gorse Lane, I took this photo on my phone which preceded the most bizarre birding experience I've had for a while ....

Just as the phone hit my pocket, an unmistakeable raucous squawk hit my earholes and I lifted the bins to see a Ring-necked Parakeet flying directly above and following the line of the trees you can see on the left in the above shot. This is the middle of sterile farmland in Leics. - not Surrey. We have had numerous sightings over the years in Leics. and Rutland of odd individuals that the former County Recorder always dismissed. However in the last decade, and particularly in the last three or four years there has been an increase in sightings and it has been added to the County list. We now appear to have two resident and growing populations - one in Evington and one in Braunstone. Neither of which I've ever made an effort to see, so this bizarre flyover was a County Tick! And it's not even my first VC55 parrot - years ago I was bemused to find a Budgie at Ketton Quarry.

All of this preceded the snow that we've had since. It snowed a little on Friday night, but that didn't last much beyond Saturday late morning. It started again last night which has just continued on and off through the day. I've been watching the garden feeders expecting something to drop in but no - just the same regular crowd. No Great Spotted Woodpecker so far this year, and no Bullfinch either. We've been getting up to 15 or so Goldfinches at a time for weeks, but today we had a flock of c40 battling for feeder space. Also one or two Greenfinches at a time but only briefly and generally once or twice a day. This is completely the other way around to how our garden feeders were a couple of decades a go when Greenfinches always markedly outnumbered Goldfinches. We've also had a couple of brief Chaffinches today - again they used to turn up here much more regularly.

The snow is still lying now, and has already just about recovered footsteps around the feeders. It's not exactly deep, but the kids around the estate have made the most of the day. I doubt it'll last too long though, back to floods next week I expect.

Here's some charmingly witty jingoistic 70s/80s television advertising ....


Brian Moore said...

Have helped out as marshall at the Kube over the last few weeks, plus a couple of other sites

Skev said...

Good on you Brian; certainly seemed well organised and I know a lot of work behind the scenes to make it work.